Interviews & Profiles

Interview with video game composer Matthew Carl Earl on Tencent’s ‘Arena of Valor’

The days of simple jingles accompanying video games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong are long over.  Today, video game scores are held on the same level as blockbuster films, with A-list composers whom also score TV and film entering the medium. With so much emphasis being put on this industry, we decided to speak with video game composer Matthew Carl Earl of Hexany Audio and discuss his recent projects, including the widely successful Arena of Valor and what his dream IP to score would be.

When you first sign on to a project, what sort of research do you do before starting work?

M: It depends on the project of course, but usually it’s gathering materials from the game team, like art or story, as much as I can to immerse myself in the game. Also, even if something is 100% fantasy, there usually is some sort of tie to something in our own natural history and I find it incredibly inspiring to learn about those cultures and their music and try and bring elements from our real world into the fantasy world.

You are one of the composers of Tencent’s Arena of Valor. Were you familiar with the game before you started working on it?

M: I was familiar with the predecessor Honor of Kings, but as they contacted us about Arena of Valor before it was even announced there was no way we could have known about its existence.

Was there a particular sequence in Arena of Valor or a specific piece of music in the game that you found especially challenging to create?

M: I found that one of the biggest challenges was actually the most fun. The holiday music from late last year was an interesting blend of traditional Christmas music and the modern, blood-pumping style already established in Arena of Valor.

Is there a standout piece in Arena of Valor that you are particularly proud of?

M: I am actually quite fond of the aforementioned piece as Christmas music is super fun to write and I also love to listen to it. Additionally, I thought that the intro cinematic turned out pretty well.

Can you tell us anything about your work on the upcoming Blade Runner Revelations? 

M: Absolutely. Our team handled the sound design and implementation of Sean Beeson’s awesome score. I did however get to contribute some fun diegetic music in the Chinatown scene.

If you could be hired to do music for any known IP, which would be your dream title and why?

M: I would have to say World of Warcraft. It has been some of my favourite music and lore in a game for over a decade and really means a lot to me as a gamer and as a composer. The vast style of the game lends itself to some really great variation in the musical ideas and allows certain styles of music that you don’t often hear in popular media, yet here it is in one of the most popular games of all time!

Is there a composer right now that you would say inspires your sound?

M: Every time I listen to any of my contemporaries’ music I’m always pretty blown away by the amount of skill around me. I like to pick up little things from everything that I listen to because it all has something unique to offer. That being said, I always return to some of my favourites for inspiration; Giacomo Puccini, Krystoff Penderecki, Igor Stravinsky, John Powell, and John Williams are all titanic composers and are huge influences to my own music.

Do you play video games regularly? If so, what are some of your favourite titles?

M: Of course! Most recently I’ve been playing the recent Nintendo Switch titles like Super Mario Odyssey and Zelda: Breath of The Wild. As for my all time favourites; Ocarina of Time is tough to beat. The Dead Space series also made a lasting impact on me.

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