Linux, Microsoft Windows, OS X, iOS, Xbox One and Android
A PlayStation 4 version is planned 3 months after its launch
A point and click adventure game by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick (Monkey Island, Maniac Mansion). The game is a spiritual successor to Gilbert and Winnick's previous games Maniac Mansion (1987) and The Secret of Monkey Island (1990), and is designed to be similar to graphic adventure games released in that time period, both visually and gameplay-wise.
The artwork and gameplay elements have a distinctively retro feel. However, Gilbert did not want the music to sound dated or low resolution in any way. The nature of the game required generally slower tempos -- dark, expansive, moody soundscapes that would, at the same time, bear as much repetition as possible. In a puzzle adventure game, a player may end up spending a great deal of time in one area. To accommodate this, the music was designed to be modular -- composed as one, large, two- or three-minute piece for the sake of continuity -- and then split up into five or six sections that would randomly shuffle within one environment, or "pool". Gilbert also loves guitars, a big plus for Steve, and some of the musical pools end up being very much like a concerto for baritone guitar and oddball orchestra. In spite of the previously mentioned form restrictions, the music covers a wide range of stylistic influences. Think Twin Peaks meets X-Files with a dash of creepy clown music. PC Gamer says, "The opening tune to Thimbleweed Park tells you exactly what kind of game it’s going to be. A cheesy, mysterious guitar hook invites you in and the elevator music convinces you to stay. Every character and location has a distinct theme, recalling everything from synth pop to a pixelated Hans Zimmer. There’s drama[,] and jokes abound in Thimbleweed Park, but they would feel hollow [without] such a diverse, playful score."
Beep Industries for Microsoft
Original Xbox, soon to be re-released in HD on Xbox One
For this creative and quirky game, Steve was hired to compose, arrange, prepare scores and individual parts, and mix and master over three hours of music within a period of only six months. The original soundtrack audio CD, released on the Sumthing Else label, received rave reviews from the industry as well as customers.
In 2017, 13 years later, Voodoo Vince got a makeover. "Voodoo Vince Remastered," contains over three hours of Steve's original music, plus one new piece and one re-orchestrated, and is slated for an April 18th, 2017 release on Xbox One and Windows.
"He (Steve) created an immense body of work…that distinguished the game and added untold mood and atmosphere to the experience…Steve's work …goes far beyond what you typically hear in a video game…Steve is great to work with. He enjoys collaboration and is very receptive to input, yet he keeps his creative integrity unbelievably high. His work incorporates an incredible range of influences, and I've seem him tackle classical, jazz and rock, all with equal ease."– Clayton Kauzlaric , Creative Director, Microsoft Studios Global Publishing
Read an article about the making of Voodoo Vince.
SGN (now Jam City)
iOS, Android and Facebook
The inspiration for "Cookie Jam Suite" was French pop music infused with a trippy, psychedelic element. Cookie Jam was a big hit on Facebook, as well as Android and iOS, and was the recipient of Facebook's 2014 Game of the Year.
Beep Games, designed by Clayton Kauzlaric and Ron Gilbert
The clients wanted a strong, defining theme song. In his initial excitement, Steve submitted a lush, orchestral Pirates of the Caribbean-style demo. The client said, "Well, that's good, but what we're looking for is something more like a threadbare, traveling pit orchestra full of miscreants and ne'er-do-wells."
One of the engine limitations of this game was not being able to crossfade between gameplay music cues or create seamless transitions. But the designers wanted as much variety as possible, so music cues were composed according to the intensity of the gameplay and loaded into the game accordingly. Instead of the music adhering to strict pop music tempos, the ends and beginnings of each cue slow down and speed up, making the space between each piece more musical and composerly.
Star Wars – The Old Republic
Steve was contacted by fellow composer Peter McConnell (Grim Fandango, Sly Cooper, Monkey Island 2) to compose an additional twenty minutes of "Cantina" music for this MMO game. Peter felt that Steve was the only other composer who could convincingly write in his style, and the two composers used the same sonic canvas for the sake of continuity.
Princess and the Frog
Wii and PC
A game based on the 2009 Disney animated film geared toward a younger, female playing audience. The contract called for original content, and also required instrumental arrangements of vocal music composed by Randy Newman. It didn't hurt to have some of the finest jazz musicians in the Bay Area to assist Steve with these recordings, as the style was New Orleans jazz and R&B, and their interpretive feel proved invaluable.
"Steve is an incredibly talented composer and outstanding performer. He was easily able to achieve the style we were after while still infusing his own signature sound in the mix…Steve was patient and attentive in working with design changes, and was willing to make 'emergency' deliveries when we really needed them…on time, on budget, and of the highest quality. Rarely do you get all three in the game industry!" – West Latta, Program Manager, Microsoft (Windows Experiences – Source)
While working on the Disney version of "Princess and the Frog," Steve got a call from Zynga Executive Producer David Gray, who wanted a 30-second theme and a handful of sound effects with a one-day turnaround for what would be one of the most popular games to appear on Facebook. David and Steve agreed on an approach that would stylistically pre-date rock or modern pop music, that wouldn't have drums (too distracting), and would have a country-ish feel without being overtly hillbilly in nature. Chet Atkins was an inspiration for this one for sure.
Zynga won the Best New Social/Online Game honor for the 10th annual Game Developers Choice awards in 2010.
Read an Adweek article about Steve as the composer of the Farmville theme
Read the transcript of an ABC TV (San Francisco) piece on Steve