THE BEST CLIENT I NEVER MET

“Sid Meier’s Civilization” was first released in 1991.  It was a turn-based strategy game, which turned into a highly successful series that continues today.  If you have ever played video games, or even just browsed the game section of your local store, you’ve probably seen, heard about, or played Civilization.

While working with Big Huge Games (BHG) on “Rise Of Legends,” I had a conversation with game designer Brian Reynolds.  He worked with Sid Meier before co-founding BHG and he mentioned that he had lunch with Sid and my name came up in the conversation.  Sid complimented my work on “Rise Of Nations.”  I was extremely flattered that Sid would call out the music as something that he really enjoyed.  Especially since the Civilization series is so well-known for its outstanding music scores.

A few years later, I received an e-mail from Barry Caudill who was producing a game at Firaxis, which is Sid Meier’s development studio.  The note said that Sid is a fan of my work and was wondering if I might be interested in scoring a new Civ game.  After recovering from the shock of having such a great opportunity appear out of nowhere, I responded saying that I would love to work with them on the project.  That project turned out to be “Civilization Revolution” (Civ Rev) which was the first game in the series that is designed for consoles and Apple’s iOS.

It turned out that the internal audio team at Firaxis was extremely busy working on “Civilization IV: Colonization,” which was set to be released at the same time as Civ Rev. So when Sid was faced with outsourcing the music, my name popped into his head.

The music implementation in the game was very unorthodox compared to any of the other games I had scored.  That wasn’t surprising, however, considering that the game would be released on multiple platforms, some of which had very limited memory resources.  I composed and produced a total of 108 music cues for the game.  The vast majority were short cues that could be strategically placed to reinforce the story line as you move throughout time from the Stone Age to the near future.  The handful of full length tracks were certainly a treat to create, since I was carrying on a legacy that was built over many years.

The oddest thing about the project, though, was the fact that I have never met Sid Meier or Barry Caudill in person.  In fact, I have never even talked to either of them on the phone.  Firaxis is located in Sparks, Maryland, which is outside of Baltimore.  At the time, my music production company, DDMusic LLC, was based in Woodinville, Washington, which is a suburb of Seattle.  So a 2,777-mile commute was not practical.

But it just worked!  Sid focused on designing both Civ games simultaneously.  And Barry and I were always in touch via e-mail.  I would upload my work to the FTP site, then Barry would run it past Sid to make sure that it worked within the context of the game.  Barry would then give me very clear feedback from Sid that would guide me through the completion of the project.  I think the important part to note here, though, is that Barry also has a deep musical history.  He is an outstanding sax player who also toured with the contemporary version of the “Glenn Miller Orchestra.”  There was definitely a lot of mutual musical respect going around between us throughout the project.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that sometimes the rules of how you get a gig are “more like guidelines.”  Give 100 percent to every project, no matter how big or how small, because your name is attached to it.  People will notice and remember your work, which leads to additional opportunities.  And the next time you’re waiting at the gate at the airport, peek over the shoulder of that person ahead of you, who is playing a game on his or her iPad.  It could very well be Civilization Revolution.

BTW – Does anyone know of any deals on flights to Baltimore?  I’d love to just walk into Firaxis one day and introduce myself…

One Comment to “THE BEST CLIENT I NEVER MET”

  1. So on the good side you didn’t have to move thousands of miles because of work, on the bad side you couldn’t meet your employers. In many cases that would be a godsend, but in your case I’m sure it would have been nice to meet them in person, especially Sid who is a video game legend. But I’m certain you will meet them one day :).

    The Internet has certainly simplified some things in life in the last decades, I couldn’t imagine living completely without it in the modern world (even those blasted mobile phones carry the Internet with you nowadays 🙂 ).

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