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Success Stories: Game music for Grand Cru

Harri Granholm, Creative Director & Co-Founder of game company Grand Cru, tells us about their experiences AudioDraft contest. Grand Cru’s A superhero MMO game needs a catchy title theme sound design contest collected almost 250 entries and finally the company decided to award three additional winners.

Hi Harri! The Supernauts will be Grand Cru’s first game. Can you first tell us a little bit about the history of Grand Cru and The Supernauts?
Well, The Cru is a strike force of old Finnish mobile game veterans from Mr.Goodliving combined with virtual world development experience from Sulake with some fresh blood thrown in. Our mission, in short, is to take this thing called social gaming to the next level. There’s still a huge gap between mainstream social games and hardcore online games. We think a lot of people are ready for something that’s more social and has more game to it.

The Supernauts lets you create your superhero alter ego online. Not your traditional superhero, but something more “interesting” as you can see from the competition brief. You can just play superhero missions if you like, but the main event is the creative core of the game. It’s a huge sandbox for you to build your own hideout, create complete worlds or even make your own games. We’re trying to give everybody powerful tools to make things with while keeping the interface intuitive and out of the way. Naturally, the game is best when played together, so we support real-time multiplayer on a massive scale. You can also just hang out.

The Supernauts seem to be super social game. So it wasn’t an accident that you decided to crowdsource some of the music through AudioDraft as well?
Well, I don’t think everything can be crowdsourced, but this was a natural match. Some of us were already familiar with AudioDraft thanks to past projects and we’ve heard nothing but good things since then.

You started looking for the game theme music even before the game title was released. How big role will the music play in this game?
We hope players will return to the game almost daily for weeks, months or even years. A constant barrage of epic superhero themes will test anybody’s sanity, so we’ll have to use music sparingly. Most of the soundtrack will probably be ambience and dynamic sound effects. The AudioDraft sound design contest was made specifically for the trailer or teaser videos in mind. However, we were also looking for a theme that we could use in the game soundtrack.

Generally speaking, I think the role of music in games has diminished compared to the old days when games came on carts or magnetic media. Production values may be big now, but back in the day I used to play many games just to listen to the music. That doesn’t happen much anymore and, personally, I’d like to bring that back into fashion. In The Supernauts we’re aiming for a recognizable hit theme that can be used in all game materials and certain parts of the game, even though it won’t suit the core gameplay.

It seems to us that you were very satisfied with the results because instead of just one winner you decided to select 2 winners and 2 runner-ups. What’s the story behind this decision?
Indeed! We really weren’t expecting to get so many great entries. It takes a lot of effort to create a brief for a new concept and you don’t get to cherry-pick from tunes like this every day, so we just had to reward more than one. Thank you to all the designers, once again!

So will one of these tunes become the title theme? What do you have in store for the others?
Well, right now we’re planning the next trailer/teaser video and will definitely build it around one winner track. How we go on from there is still open. We have several great options and it will definitely include some interesting co-operation.

You were very active contest holder during the contest. How many people from Grand Cru participated in managing progress and selecting the winners?
I did the feedback and rating by myself, but the whole team listened through at least all the highest rated tracks and we got a lot of input from everybody including friends for the final selections. I tried to give usable feedback to everybody who had clearly put some effort into the entries. It ended up eating a lot more of my time than I had anticipated! But I think there was a really good vibe in the competition. I feel like we should make a space superhero themed album from the entries, or something.

You had a very well made brief from the get go with references and everything. How well did the designers follow your brief? Did you leave any room for surprises?
Well, if you don’t invest time into the brief, then you’re wasting everybody’s time, right? We actually had one local audio production team helping us to get the concept down. And the designers really got what we were after. But, I also wanted to leave the brief open for free interpretation. That’s why the visuals were important. In fact, this is one of the main reasons why I wanted to use AudioDraft: it’s a great way to get some wild left-field entries, and I’m glad to say that we got some good ones!

How possible it is that you’re going to use AudioDraft in the future as well? What would you like to say to all of those companies out there maybe thinking of trying out AudioDraft?
We will definitely use AudioDraft again. We got fantastic results and the support from the AudioDraft team was also quick and professional. To other companies I would say that naturally put some serious effort into the brief, but leave something open to the imagination of the designers. To me it seems that inspiring and fun briefs get more and better results. And be prepared to invest a lot of time into communication with the designers.

What is the schedule for releasing The Supernauts? Your website states that the alpha testing will begin soon, but when will the official launch take place?
Later this year. We will gradually begin closed testing, so go ahead and sign up at www.supernauts.com

Thanks for your time Harri! We are impatiently waiting for The Supernauts and hearing the music in action.
Thank you, it was my pleasure! We also can’t wait to see what happens when we let everybody in…

Links:
“A superhero MMO game needs a catchy title theme” sound design contest
Grand Cru website

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