April 2014 - stevencoltart

Steven Coltart Interviewed and Featured by MASSIVELY.com

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Jukebox Heroes: Talking with The Repopulation’s Steven Coltart

by Justin Olivetti on Apr 8th 2014 8:00PM

Sci-Fi, Interviews, Sandbox, Jukebox Heroes, Music, The Repopulation

The Repopulation

Massively: Even in the far distant future on alien worlds, we’ll still need music. This is why it’s great that Composer Steven Coltart is providing The Repopulation with an original soundtrack, because otherwise the silence would be too much to bear. So Steven, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Steven Coltart: I’m a full-time professional composer based in the UK and was commissioned to be lead composer on The Repopulation in 2013. Previous projects include Outer Empires, the first MMO of its kind created for iOS, which went on to sell over 200,000 copies and boasted the largest ever network of players online at that time. 2014 has seen me complete the soundtrack for a soon to be announced iOS game, and I’m currently putting the finishing touches to US-based sci-fi film Downward. I’ve worked incredibly hard to get to this point, but I’m lucky to have what I consider the best job in the world. Writing music for a living and getting to work with talented developers and producers, it doesn’t get much better for me!

How did you get involved with The Repopulation? What drew you to this project?

I’m a gamer myself, and as a MMO fan, I came across The Repopulation website. I was really impressed and wanted to be part of it. I approached the guys directly via their site asking if they were in need of a professional composer for the game. We had a chat via email; they checked out my online showreel and asked me to compose a single theme for the game under a set deadline. That was my interview. From there I went on to become their lead composer on the project. I guess they must have been pleased; I definitely was! I’m as excited about the game now as I was at the start.

What are some of the unique challenges and opportunities of making a soundtrack for this game?

As I was involved in The Repopulation from an early stage, I scored all my music without gameplay and artwork references. Instead, I composed purely from email description, which was a challenge, but one in which I feel can offer great opportunity to a composer as you have the chance to write something truly original from your own imagination. I enjoyed that! Attention to detail is everything; that’s something I always pride myself on with my work, and I spent a lot of extra time tweaking individual sounds to make sure they blended correctly.

Some composers overlook the importance of the post production stage, but it’s as crucial, if not more so, than composing the music itself. You can have a great theme, but if the production isn’t right, you lose that professionalism. Each project I work on becomes a key part of my life, and I truly become immersed in it. This helps me to achieve music and production continuity, which I feel is important to give the game an overall identity. I chose to select a few musical keys, used the same virtual instruments and same signal chain (mics, preamps, etc.) across my tracks. An interesting uniqueness for me on this project was that besides my commissioned soundtrack, there are contributors who have supplied additional audio content. That’s where my title of lead composer rather than exclusive composer comes in.

How would you describe The Repopulation’s soundtrack?

Memorable, epic, and emotional with a sci-fi edge. Live performance is a must for me, even with virtual instruments, and all my music features live playing rather than pure programming. There has to be a mixture of the two. I play keys myself, and if I get the chance to record live strings, I always do as I feel it adds such great value to a track. I’m actually planning to work on brand-new, extended re-writes of my music from The Repopulation featuring live strings, which I intend to make available online. The original music will be derivative of my The Repopulation soundtrack and not featured in the game itself.

What are some of the motifs and themes that you’ve worked into this score?

My main melodies do not jump too many semitones apart. I remember reading that you can latch onto music much better this way and it helps to create a true catchiness. That’s something that I feel has worked well on this soundtrack, but knowing when to use them and when its better to have something more atmospheric is also key as it’s my job to compliment gameplay, not distract from it.

What are some of your favorite pieces that you’ve written?

My top three are Battle March, Mysterious, and Wastelands. The initial ideas all took less than 24 hours to compose, and sometimes my favorite themes just come naturally. There’s catchiness to Battle March and Mysterious, and I am particularly pleased with the string layers and automation in Wastelands to achieve subtle atmospheric movements.

How did you derive inspiration for this soundtrack?

My music always begins from the piano; sparse emotional or big epic arrangements and my main inspirations for this soundtrack were from the film Avatar and Two Steps from Hell. I wanted a very lush, smooth-sounding production with that sci-fi edge, but more importantly one with memorable melodies. I think there will be one or two of my tracks that are “hum” tracks, and I apologize in advance if you can’t get them out of your head!

What emotions do you want players to feel while listening to these pieces?

There’s hope, mystery, danger, and unease, and my music goes across industrial lands, combat, and safe cities. Throughout I hope listeners feel my soundtrack is memorable and complements the brilliant work of The Repopulation team.

Do you have a favorite story from your time with this project?

Besides being featured on Massively? I think just being involved on this game is my favorite story — I really mean that. With each month’s update, the game gets bigger and better, and I can’t wait to play the final version myself. JC and Josh in particular have done a great job, and I hope you all enjoy my in-game soundtrack too. It’s great to be part of it.

Thank you Steven!

The Repopulation MMOPRG: End of March 2014 Report

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Heres the latest news from MMORPG ‘The Repopulation’. A game in which I am working as the lead composer.


Written by J.C. Smith

With the wild ride that was March behind us, we have a chance to reflect the month that was and to look ahead to April. We had originally planned on launching Alpha 3 on March 28th, but the new server hardware required for this update arrived late (just yesterday), causing us to push the start back slightly. Our preparations for it though resulted in one of our busiest months ever from a development standpoint. Before we look ahead to the start of Alpha 3 let’s first take a look back on the changes made to the game in March.

We spent a lot of time working on the User Interface as we continue to streamline it and make it easier to use. You can move some frames which previously were locked into place, such as the status and target bars. There are new ease of use options for abilities, and an on-deck ability system is now supported. Abilities will now grey out if you can not use them with your currently equipped weapon, as well. For complete details on the interface changes see the User Interface notes below.

Trade skills are a pretty massive part of our economy and we focused heavily on them in the latter stages of the month. You can now create all of the armor shells in the game through the Armor Crafting skill, with some new armor sets being introduced. Vehicle Engineering and Disguise Creation are also now functional, and there are an assortment of new recipes and results in many other lines.

Speaking of Disguise, that system received a significant level of updates this month. You can now disguise as non-human species. There is a greater variety and level of customization in the types of disguises you can don, and the system is just working much better all around. Entertainer types may enjoy a new interactive music system which was implemented which allows you to play instrument notes which can be heard by nearby players. This system is still in its infancy and we expect it to grow and improve in the coming months. Pets also received a slew of updates and now feature improved pathing, and new variations of pets. We also spent time on smoothening out the transitions for tamers, so that they have a steady rise on the types of animals they can tame.

A heavy focus was also placed on the mission system this month. We added a ton of new mission templates this month, which should provide players with a lot more variety in Alpha 3. Our mission team has really begun to move full steam and you can expect to see a lot of improvements there moving forward. Feature wise, missions were also improved. Arch-rivals and Allies are now tracked on a per character basis. This allows for NPCs to remember players better and to use their relationship with that player as a filter for generating new opportunities. We also made numerous improvements on how Missions and Achievements interact. Missions can now add and remove achievements through any action, and they can hide these changes from players.

We then had some additions which were targeted directly at what will soon be a flood of new players. The Repopulation is not a game which is heavy on instancing, but in some cases such as the Training Grounds or certain mission instances, it is a necesity. We spent a lot of time this month improving our instancing support. The Training Grounds can now automatically spin up new instances when they reach a certain threshold of players. Engagements also now support instancing.

Hero Engine also released a major patch this month which brought a ton of great changes on the final week of the month. We took several days and upgraded a number of areas to take advantage of those features. They have allowed us to improve our weather effects, and fixed some perceived latency issues that were caused by a timer mismatch issue. Unfortunately they also introduced a physics bug which is currently being investigated, which has prevented us from pushing these changes to the alpha server at this point. Those changes will be coming very soon though.

This brings us to the big question, when will Alpha 3 begin and what can we expect from April? First and foremost is Alpha 3, which will be starting soon. The physics issue will need to be resolved, and we need to work out the best schedule due to PAX East next week, but keep an eye on your mailbox (and spam folder) as we’ll be sending out keys and instructions as soon as we have this all finalized. On a sidenote if you are a backer and have not yet confirmed your pledge, you should also be keeping an eye out on the mailbox, as we will be sending a fresh batch of confirmation emails to those who have not yet confirmed their web site account within the next few days, as well. You need to click on those confirmation links as it is how we associate your forum account with pledges which were made in the Kickstarter campaign, and is necessary for testing access. If you have any questions or did not receive a confirmation email when you purchased a pledge please contact us at support@therepopulation.com and we will try to get to the bottom of it. When we send out invites for Alpha 3 it will be from confirmed pledges so please make sure you have validated your purchase.

We will not have a booth at PAX East this year with testing being our priority, but Joshua Halls will be in attendance and has numerous things lined up for it. If anyone would like to schedule any meetings with him please drop us an email at leads@therepopulation.com and he can try to work it in.

If there is a silver lining to the hardware delay, it’s that it gave us a couple of weeks of extra time to cram in new content, and we’ve already have a massive slew of additions over the first few days of this month. This includes a slew of trade skill additions to Artillery, Culinary Arts, and other lines, and some significant improvements to how the game handles in high latency situations. We’re really looking forward to getting all of the new testers in game very soon. Keep an eye on those mailboxes, it’s going to be a fun (but stressful) month for the game.

"Thanks for your amazing contribution to the project, we could not have done it without you"
Martin Alltimes, Imaginati CEO - Planet of The Apes: Last Frontier
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