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Interviews

Blizzard's Russell Brower

The Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo composer reflects on his career...

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With a more rock-led, film-style score, how did you ensure it wasn't intrusive in the gameplay?
That notion of not playing music all the time is once again our friend. Balance s a very important tool and is a relative art - I truly believe that. If anything stays at one level for too long, the meaning isn't there.

You need contrast. With every laugh, there needs to be a tear, with every high there needs to be a low. Those are storytelling devices via music that actually transcend media, I believe. Although Starcraft and Warcraft aren't linear storytelling, the same principles apply.

Have you witnessed the almost tribal affection for Starcraft in the Far East? They can fill stadiums out there just to watch an in-game battle...
One of the highlights of my career was certainly the announcement of Starcraft II. We were over in Korea at an invitational event. I knew there was a lot of hope amongst the crowd that we might make an announcement, but we managed to keep it a secret.

The roof just came off the place when the logo came up. It was an amazing time. We had a full orchestra and choir and put on a real show for them.

Will you be doing more of that sort of thing in the coming year - perhaps at Blizzcon?
You'll have to ask our friendly PR about that [Laughs]. Blizzard always want to outdo ourselves and bring the very best we can to that show. But if any event deserves that kind of complexity and energy, we'll bring it.

What about Diablo III? Is that dark, brooding affair - again, how do you make sure it doesn't distract or overpower the gameplay?
It's a little early to talk about it, but I'll say this: The music in Diablo I, II and the expansion is some of the most iconic music in video game history.

We have a huge guidepost there and we're not going to violate that. Diablo III's story and gameplay expands into new areas as the game unfolds, and you'll hear us going bigger and going wider [with the music]. We'll take each scene as it comes and find a way to approach it.

If the music was to ever overpower, to bring too much attention to itself, it's probably not doing the job that it should.

Which of your work have you had the most fun with, and at the end of it all, which are you most proud of?
I constantly look for those moments where in-game music might move somebody, when it might cause an emotional response. That's happened with every franchise. The most recent thing was when I wrote a piece called Invincible, which was part of the Fall Of the Lich King content update.

I took a melodic phrase that originally appeared in Warcraft III and also later appeared in the opening cinematic for Wrath Of The Lich King. I brought back that chorus and then I wrote a verse to go with it - to expand the idea. It had a boys' choir and a young solo singer, as well as a full orchestra. The intent was to portray the complex, tragic life that is and was Arthas Menethil.

I've was thrilled to see people's reactions when we released it. People left comments telling me that they were literally weeping when they heard it. It caused them to reflect on the entire storyline; not just the epic battle at the end of Lich King, but the full arc of the Warcraft story. It's wonderful when your music can reach people on that level.

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