Interview originally made on the 24th of May of 2007
With the confirmed return of Video Games Live to Brazil we can’t help ourselves but ask how it all started. Jack Wall and Tommy Tallarico are the answer. They are the founders of this famous concert that stopped by last November and now promises to com back. Wall talks about this and other topics in the interview.
Jack Wall is a veteran game industry composer that recently brought to Brazil what was one only a video-game addict’s dream. The Video Games Live concert used music in a way that surpassed that simple concept that only interested gamers. VGL has been touring since 2005 throughout the world and has shown that not only can the gamers enjoy their favorite tunes, but also those who have never touched a controller before. Long story short: The VGL concert has revealed that video game music in orchestrated form can in fact please everyone. Jack, before any questions, thank you for this opportunity.
Arthur Protasio: So…How was Blizzard’s Worldwide Invitational? It looks like VGL scored in Asia too.
Jack Wall: It was fantastic! What a set we had!! State of the art LED screens with video strips and 3 giant screens. Loads of lights and effects. We spent a week programming all of that before we went. It was a very exciting show! Loved it!
AP: Did you get to play a lot of WoW or was it the Starcraft 2 trailer that interested you the most?
JW: Actually, I did not get to play anything! I was too busy producing the show with the folks at Blizzard and my partner Tommy. It was fun though – we did get to walk around here and there and see thousands of people enjoying themselves and I did get to watch some of the Starcraft competition.
AP: It’s amazing to see how much you’ve achieved. How did it all start? Why did you get started working with games and what was your first job?
JW: Hey I’m just interested in music I guess. I really like the career I have – every day is different and exciting! I started back in 1996 with a very little known game called ‘Flying Saucer’. It was only released in Germany by a now defunct company called Software2000. It was actually a very fun PC game and I loved it and the experience of making the game. It was so eerie and ethereal at the same time. From there, I continued to do several games by the developer (also out of business) called Postlinear Entertainment up in San Francisco, CA. I made good contacts at that company and then went off and started work on Myst III: Exile and that game really put me on the map!
AP: Which soundtrack would you consider to be your most successful, and which game did you get the most involved with?
JW: Probably the one I’m doing right now! I have had a pretty good run. Myst III, Myst IV, Splinter Cell, Jade Empire. Now I’m working on Mass Effect that one will be really big in North America on the Xbox 360. I know the Xbox isn’t so big in Brazil, but I hope some of you get to play it. It’s amazing!! It’s a role playing game with a serious action element set in the future – a great sci-fi drama. It will compete directly with Halo I think, but realistically, people who play Halo will also want to play this game and there really won’t be so much competition!
AP: How did you come up with the idea of turning reality into what is now the most successful live touring game concert in the world?
JW: My partner, Tommy Tallarico, and I got together about 5 years ago and started brainstorming on some things we might want to do together. This idea of creating a live touring concert experience quickly rose to the top of our list! We wanted to bring gaming to a communal setting and we’ve had some really nice success with it.
AP: Did the Brazilian edition of VGL meet your expectations?
JW: So far, the Brazilian audience is the most excited audience in the world!! We loved it and we’re coming back!!!!
AP: With the second edition of VGL being confirmed to Brazil in the month of September. How does it feel to come back?
JW: We love coming back to the same market again – especially in Brazil! Last year, we only confirmed our show in Rio mere weeks before we came and just about sold out! Well, we’re hoping to have tickets on sale much earlier this year and we hope to do multiple shows!!!
AP: What can the audience expect? Any special scores like last year?
JW: We’re planning that now and I really don’t want to say until we are ready to announce. We might just come and surprise you!
AP: Do you enjoy playing games? If so, what are your favorite games and what do you think is the most important aspect of a game?
JW: Well, I have a 10 year old daughter. We play a lot of Mario and Guitar Hero together. I also love the Halo series, Myst, Splinter Cell and a few others.
AP: What is your advice for anyone who wants to follow your footsteps?
JW: For composing, it’s all about the mixture of talent and your network of people in the industry. There’s a great network in the states – especially in California, so if you can get out to California and meet some people that goes a long way. Also, you can join the Game Audio Network Guild (www.audiogang.org) and learn more about how to do all of that. I would recommend a great conference called the Game Developers Conference (www.gdconf.com). It’s held in March every year in San Francisco, CA in the US. For putting on concerts? Uh… no… no advice.
AP: What are your future plans or upcoming projects?
JW: I have some irons in the fire for composing, but I’m also planning a European Tour for VGL with Tommy right now. Beyond that, we’re getting fired up in Asia as we speak. But this summer, it’s all about 9 shows in North America, followed by… BRAZIL in September!!
AP: Any last thoughts?
JW: You BETTER come see our shows in Brazil!! Take care!