We recently got a chance to talk with Jack Wall and asked him how different it was for him scoring Call of Duty Black Ops 2 compared to his previous work. He also reflected on his time with the Mass Effect series, and asked him if he would be interested in returning.
This week, the Mass Effect trilogy box set is set to release. The saga came to an end last March with Commander Shepard finishing the fight against the reapers. Bioware and EA are gearing up to produce the next entry into the series, as Casey Hudson, the Executive Producer of the series was asking what fans would like in the upcoming installment. With Mass Effect 4 in the upcoming future could a fan favorite return to the series?
Jack Wall has been with the series lead composer since the very beginning. He has scored many music gems in the series like the Suicide Run played at the end of Mass Effect 2 or Noveria in the first entry into the franchise. However, surprising to fans Jack Wall didn’t return for Mass Effect 3 leaving many fans wondering why.
Jack Wall answered this question at GDC 2011 when he said “ I've had a great relationship with BioWare for five years, and I think, you know, as with any important relationship it's complicated." "Now I'm working with other clients and it feels fresh to me and I think they feel the same way, so I think it's just time to move on. I have nothing but love for those people. I'm sure I'll see them again. Its just time for a break, maybe," Wall said.
Who are those other clients you maybe wondering? Jack Wall has recently scored Call of Duty Black Ops 2, the best selling video game franchise to date. Unlike a traditional RPG, Black Ops 2 is a pure action shooter that has big set pieces to entertain players.We recently got a chance to talk with Jack Wall and asked him how different it was for him scoring Call of Duty Black Ops 2 compared to his previous work. He also reflected on his time with the Mass Effect series, and asked him if he would be interested in returning.
GamerHub.TV: Growing up, what composers did you listen to and now influence your professional work?
Jack Wall: I was more into rock and pop music artists growing up. Genesis, Peter Gabriel, and other art and prog rock bands like Yes, Roxy Music, ELP, Pink Floyd, and the like. I also loved acoustic folk like CSN&Y, Neil Young, Simon & Garfunkel. All of those were my heroes. It wasn’t until about 1996 that I really started digging into film music to enhance what I was trying to do with game music. I quickly fell in love with the work of John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman, Thomas Newman and James Horner – all for different things they did.
GamerHub.TV: What's the composing process for a video game, does inspiration come from visuals only or from written word?
Jack Wall: It’s a bit of both. We start with a script and I can craft some broad ideas from that. For Black Ops II, Niño Precioso was born solely from reading the script. There was one scene where Raul Menendez is sitting on a bed caring for his sister who is ill. I imagined that he was singing something softly to her. I dug around and found a Nicaraguan lullaby, Niño Precioso, which I rearranged for this purpose. It ended up being an important part of the score and is used throughout.
But for much of the game, I sat with Brian Tuey, the audio director and we either played through a level or played a video capture of a level. We would then spot where music should go and talk about palette, tone and length and any technical considerations. After we agreed on all that, I composed for the level. After it got approved, I finished the production with orchestra or other musicians – or even just a better, more final mix. We worked through the game from the most advanced levels first, through to the last level until we were done.