We asked a few questions of our Audio Director, David Chow, who has been with us from way back when we were known as Newtoy. He created the music and sounds for all the current With Friends games, as well as Newtoy’s game for Ngmoco:), We Rule.
What did you do before you came to Newtoy/Zynga to make delightful music and sounds?
I double-majored in Biopsychology and Music in college. Just before I joined the Zynga With Friends family, I finished my Ph.D. in Neurobiology at UCLA where I was researching the genetics and biology of Autism. I miss science, but working on audio in games has been the most fun I’ve had in a loooooooong time!
Where do you get your ideas for game audio?
- Our artists! The work of our artists is so fun, lively and beautiful that I have to work crazy hard to build a soundscape with enough color and joy to live up to their work. The lead artist on Gems With Friends, Shannon Dees, helped me imagine a shimmery, airy and open toned set of sounds with which to create the audio for the game.
- Old games!
- New games!
- Thin Air!
…In that order.
How do you come up with sound effects? (For example, back with Words With Friends you used a “bloop” sound you made with your mouth for the placement of tiles.)
Mouth pops, wooden floor squeaks, finger snaps, door locks and latches, cinder block impacts — you name it. Everything in the world makes a sound and most of the time those sounds are awesome.
To create the sounds for picking up and dropping gems in Gems With Friends, I went on a treasure hunt around my house to find all manner of trinkets that might make the most glorious and satisfying “plink” sound. I scavenged my fiancée’s bracelets, rings, and earrings, as well as small pieces from boardgames, push pins, magnets, paper clips and my Magic The Gathering dice…
Then I started dropping them into bowls, counter tops, sidewalks, tile floors, mugs, shower stalls, etc. One of my fiancée’s rings combined with a mortar (from a mortar and pestle set) worked the best! My fiancée had to replace a few pieces of jewelry, but it was all worth it (to me)!
What are your musical influences?
I love ALL kinds of music. Though I don’t keep up with them as much, I grew up listening to country, folk/folk blues and classical music. Since college, I’ve found something to love about almost every genre, but have become especially obsessed with various corners of jazz, electronic/dub-step, underground hip-hop and different versions of rock music ensembles.
Currently, I’m listening to: James Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Sepalcure, J Dilla, Niki and the Dove and Hammers of Misfortune.
***Disclaimer! Neither I, nor Zynga, in any way endorse the language or messages represented by these artists :-) ***
Also, I just went back and listened to early Whitney Houston, and OMG, she was otherworldly…very sad she is gone.
What video games have inspired you?
For music and audio: the Zelda games, Secret of Mana, Command and Conquer, Braid, Flower, Journey, Final Fantasy VIII, MegaMan II.
Games I played the crap out of: Super Mario Kart, Tetris Attack, Quake III, Left 4 Dead I and II, World of Warcraft and Metroid.
Anything else you think our fans would find interesting?
I love to hear people’s favorite music and game recommendations. Anyone have any???
[post your suggestions on our fan page or tweet us]
P.S. David made one of his music tracks for Gems With Friends available as an MP3. Download it here!