Miro Magazine’s Music Editor Ruby Flanagan chats to Gina Loughlin, an emerging composer from Manchester about her latest project: the story-driven computer game Towertale.

Gina Loughlin is a 22-year-old Music Graduate from Manchester. Having recently graduated from the University of Hull with a degree in Music, she is now freelancing as a composer.

Having composed for small indie projects throughout university including two small films called ‘Brother Sister’ and ‘Blue’s Story’ by GaryFlyer Films. Gina has now taken the step into the world of gaming and has composed music for the new online game Towertale.

Created by MiSou Games and to be released through Steam, Towertale is a 2D, story-driven action game that focuses on boss battles. Four characters take the step to fight their way through the elusive Tower and challenge the bosses on each level to unveil the mystery that lies up in its peak. The four different stories unlock multiple different endings and outcomes for the characters.

Our Music Editor Ruby Flanagan chatted to Gina all about her work on Towertale, the steps she takes when composing, her inspirations, her favourite character, and the importance of music in games:

Gina Loughlin – Official (Illustration done by: @Soultyragevin)

You’re a composer straight out of university, may I ask how you gained this job? and what you made you go for it?

Gina: I was searching for composing work on Reddit when I came across this job. I was incredibly lucky to stumble across the advertisement for this role and I thought: just go for it! I contacted them with links to my Soundcloud showing some examples of my work. They responded and said they liked my stuff and they gave me a mini test. They sent me a story scene from the game and asked me to compose a track to go along with it. They gave me details about the background and the character Lionel, but this scene was when he was a child, so they wanted it to be warm and childlike in its feeling and not too serious! The test was more of a case of seeing if the way I write would fit well with the other composer on board. It was a 30 second clip so it wasn’t a huge amount of work but I sent a track off and they liked it so they signed me up!

Images taken from official Towertale website: https://bit.ly/2J0mLnl

What did you work on and create for Towertale?

Gina: I wrote the music for the cut scenes in the game, or the visual novel aspect where it tells the stories of the characters. There are four characters that you can play and they are: Lionel Blueheart, Faindrel Ashelm, Lord Snicklefritz and Dark Echo. I mostly wrote the character themes but there was some circumstantial music too, so the music for a plot reveal, a battle commencing or a danger is coming track. I worked with another brilliant composer, Mordi90, who composed the music for the battle scenes.

How did you create the tracks in the game – did you get provided with character descriptions, background info, etc?

Gina: Yeah so what happened was, with the character themes I got a picture of the character and a scene they were in so I could see what they looked like. One of the characters is a rabbit, so his track stands out from the rest because it’s very light-hearted, a bit curious and inquisitive in its nature. You get a back story which told me who they are, what their story is and what their personality is like. One character is called Dark Echo and he is quite chaotic, showy and flashy so his music tries to reflect that. The character Faindrel Ashelm has quite a traumatic backstory so her theme had to reflect that. I was given a lot to work with which was great and helped me create the right vibe for them.

Images taken from official Towertale website: https://bit.ly/2J0mLnl

What were the steps you took to compose the pieces for Towertale?

Gina: When composing something, I either work at my piano or my keyboard that is attached to all my software’s. I usually play little snippets of random melodies or chord progressions and write every single one of these snippets down. If something feels right, I’ll stick with it and see if I can get it to grow. Sometimes Ill play for ten minutes straight and record the whole thing on my phone and Ill go back and pull out small things and fix things together so I can have a bare skeleton to work on.

If I’m at my computer I’ll use an instrument that I feel fits a character and play about trying to make some sort of a melody. It’s all just trial and error and it’s frustrating! I would send off so many drafts for them to check out it’s unbelievable.

How often have you had to scrap ideas?

Gina: When I was working on the character Snicklefritz and I sent my idea off the first time and that got completely scrapped and I had to start a fresh but thankfully we ended up using that theme later for another scenario which was obviously great. There have been a few times that the work I’ve sent off has had the feedback of ‘it’s good but it’s not going to fit’ and I’ve had to start again but you have to just take it as a learning curve.

Images taken from official Towertale website: https://bit.ly/2J0mLnl

Did you have a character that you enjoyed writing for the most?

Gina: I think Lionel was the character I clicked with the most. In that first task I was asked to do, I remember seeing the first images and videos of him from the game, and they looked great and glossy and I just knew what I wanted to hear from this character, I knew what I wanted to do with him. It didn’t take me too long to write and when I sent it over, I knew that it was going to fit, I knew it was it. But I think my favourite character has got to be Faindrel Ashelm, she’s amazing.

Are there any game soundtracks that you love and have inspired your work for this project?

Gina: There are so many soundtracks from games that I absolute love and am inspired by like The Ori and the Blind Forest soundtrack is brilliant! Recently I’ve been listening to the Hollow Knight soundtrack. It’s amazing, I listen to it on the bus on my way to my day job. I’ve picked pieces apart from the soundtrack and pinched some ideas, such as orchestral arrangements and instrumental pairings to then use in my work and create my melodies in those pinched ideas.

Images taken from official Towertale website: https://bit.ly/2J0mLnl

How important is the soundtrack to a game?

Gina: I think the music can make or break a game; it just provides so much. If you play a game and mute the games audio and listen to your own music, yes the game will be fun and interesting but you won’t be engrossed into the world of the game. I believe the soundtrack makes a huge difference and is important, like an atmospheric game is complimented by an atmospheric soundtrack. There are people who play games because of the music in them, well, maybe not everyone but people do it! I know I do!

So you’ve played Towertale, what do you think of it?

Gina: Honestly? I have really really enjoyed it! It’s their first game and I have to say it’s extremely well done and polished. It did take me a few days to complete it and it was on the lowest difficulty too, but it is really a great game, I’m so happy to have been apart of it.

The Towertale game is released 30th July 2019. Visit the official website to learn more and download the demo here.