Dildo Sound Effects & Showtunes: The Music Of Saints Row IV
Game Front: Returning back to the original score, your composer leaps all over the map, it’s a lot more diverse and thematic. Can you talk about that?
Brandon Bray: We dabbled a bit with it in Saints Row: The Third. We had roughly 40 minutes or so of original score in that game. With Saints Row IV and with the traversal, we wanted to do kind of interactive music, where music will come in and play off of what you’re doing in the open world. That was the big drive for composition for this game. I think there’s around 30-40 minutes of composition for just being in the open world. If you’re sprinting, the music changes. When you do a super jump there’s this, you know, a nice big stab of music to help accentuate that. As your altitude increases the music changes. And there’s different music for every island of the city.
That was one of the big driving forces for us. And when we decided to offer the radio on foot, that was kind of challenging because in a game like Saints Row, you have to have player choice. We want to make sure if the player wants to play the radio they can play the radio, if they don’t want to play the radio they have the interactive music system that will help accentuate their super powers and their traversal of the city. Or they can go into options and turn that aspect off.
Game Front: I’m glad you brought that up – it’s rare when you play a game and a developer adds something in and you’re thinking, “why has this not been in every other game?” Now I don’t know how I’m going to be able to do open world games without accessing the soundtrack whenever I want. How did that feature come about?
Brandon Bray: There were some limitations that kept us from doing it on Saints Row: The Third, but with IV it was brought about by necessity. Our director was playing the game a lot, running around the city and the interactive music system isn’t really playing much, it was just a little bland and not quite as fun as it could be, so we decided to just offer the player the radio. And also, with the super powers, cars and other vehicles aren’t quite as necessary, and if we limit the radio stations to vehicles we’re kind of saying “here are all these awesome super powers, but if you want to listen to music you have to get into a car.”
“We originally wanted Zinyak to have his own station, and have it so that in addition to his love of classical literature, he also loves showtunes.”
That just didn’t make sense, so we decided to just offer the radio no matter what. Of course, we take the radio away for certain missions and scripted activities because we want to make sure the music showcased is going to enhance the game the most. But in the open world, we’ll let ‘em do whatever they want to.
Game Front: Related to this, the classic station seems pretty deliberate. Maybe I’m off base, but in Saints Row: The Third there were a lot of classic tracks that made me think, specifically, of A Clockwork Orange. Obviously, you didn’t use the Wendy Carlos versions, but there are a lot of tracks that Wendy Carlos recorded for that soundtrack. In this game, you picked stuff like “Mars, Bringer of War.” Was there a different process by which you went about selecting the classical music for these games?
Brandon Bray: (Laughs) It actually wasn’t that detailed. We looked back on the previous games, we didn’t want to repeat ourselves, we wanted to keep everything fresh. Looking at what we already had, and what was available, and going from there. Thinking about classical music, unless you’re just a huge huge classical music fan, you’re really only going to know the most recognizable tracks. And so we just made sure that whatever we picked, as soon as it played the players would recognize what it is.
In Saints Row IV, I wanted to add some opera because I thought it would be really funny. In Saints Row: The Third we stayed away from opera because [we felt like] it didn’t fit. But especially with adding Zinyak as the DJ of the classical station, and all his love of classic literature, I thought adding opera would be hilarious.