Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jazz Jackrabbit Review and Documentary

I found out about this video by way of Jazz2Online (yes, I do still keep tabs on some of my nostalgia). It's a documentary by Lazy Game Reviews about Jazz Jackrabbit, a video game that was quite possibly the most influential piece of my pre-adulthood.



And yes, I own a Gravis Gamepad too.

Jazz Jackrabbit is the game that got me into music composition while I was in Junior High School. That was the start of my creative endeavors, which eventually led to creative writing, illustration, and finally starting our company Lumaglyph. Jazz Jackrabbit isn't my favorite game of all time (that honor goes to Descent), but it is certainly the defining moment that pushed my life in the direction it is going today.

So how did Jazz Jackrabbit lead me to music composition? For one the music in the game rocked. In retrospect it was probably a combination of the music, setting and characters that made me love playing the game (it certainly wasn't the gameplay). At the time my brothers were really into the demo scene, so I knew about Scream Tracker and I used it to listen to sound modules (a music file format). After buying the game I read in the manual that they used Scream Tracker to compose the music! Wait. You can use Scream Tracker to actually compose music? I had no idea! After that I started learning Scream Tracker like crazy, and started making my own songs, many of them had samples from the Jazz Jackrabbit soundtrack. That's what started it all.

The video does a good job talking about the video game and the history behind it. At the 12:50 minute mark the video features a clip of the soundtrack. So if you want to quickly hear what got me into music composition, that's what did it.

If you are wondering after reading this why I don't compose music anymore, the short answer is that I'm a better artist than musician, and I've found that every hobby I've ever had always had story telling as the root of it. Every song I wrote was based on a story in my head. Every doodle I did was based some story that I had in my head. Even my game designs ended up being more about the story as opposed to the gameplay. I realized that I liked writing stories more, and illustration seemed to be the best way to do it.

Also there are flaws with how I learned music as opposed to learning art, which prevented me from becoming a better composer. But that's a topic I might write about later.

1 comment:

Ashley said...

Hi Glenn, my old friend. I'm networking previous acquaintances from my art education days, I hope you don't mind.

Yeah, I know what you mean about music versus art. I didn't have a one on one music education until after I graduated college. Thus, I never felt my music skills were as good as my artistic skills. In a church setting, everyone thinks I majored in music or something, which is surprising. Most people don't know that I am an illustrator (yeah, I made the switch to full time illustrator in February- best career move I ever made).

What have you been up to lately? You started your own company? That's great!

I've been doing illustrations and soon I'll be doing concept art for an up and coming MMO called Dark Relic.