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Audio Input – Chipzel Talks about Hexagons and Composing for Games

 

Super Hexagon Title Screen

Simplicity isn’t always a negative. Sometimes, it’s the reason a game succeeds. This is the case with Terry Cavanagh’s 2012 game Super Hexagon, lauded as one of the best indie rhythm/action games ever made.

Three backing tracks for each level were composed by Chipzel, a chiptune artist out of Northern Ireland. These songs are a huge part of what keeps people playing, even if they only hear the songs in 5-second intervals. With Terry’s nerve-wracking gameplay and Chipzel’s electric tracks, these two artists complement each other with impeccable chemistry.

I got a chance to talk to Chipzel about her work on the game, and what she’s been working on.

 Super Hexagon screenie 1

IGM: How did you get started with Terry on Super Hexagon?

Chipzel: Apparently he’d been listening to some of my tracks when he was creating the original version – Hexagon, which was a free flash game. He emailed me to see if it was cool to use it in the game and I said yeah! I loved the idea. So when he came to me in August 2012 saying he was developing an advanced version of the game for iOS I was all over that.

IGM: What are some other video game soundtracks (or artists) that inspired you for the Super Hexagon EP?

Chipzel: Oh loads of stuff. I listen to a variety of music and I’m kind of inspired by all of it – mainly House, Trance, Drum and Bass and anything melodic with interesting progression and rhythm.

Super Hexagon Screenie 2

IGM: How is your composition process different when working on a game? Do you have certain restrictions or is it a more relaxed environment?

Chipzel: It’s difficult to get into the mind frame of working on music to suit a scenario and add to a developer’s work. Before, I would just write whatever I felt and it would progress naturally but with games you sort of need to write what you see. It’s an interesting process which is difficult at first but it ends up really rewarding and fun.

IGM: What do you think makes an effective soundtrack? Is it just catchy beats or do you think there’s more to it?

Chipzel: I think the soundtrack needs to go hand in hand with the game – the style, the art and the overall atmosphere to make it into an experience. My favorite game soundtrack is The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion (also my favorite game). It created this atmosphere that just added to the gameplay and the world. Everything about the game was just beautiful at the time.

Super Hexagon Screenie 3

IGM: Do you see yourself composing for other games in the future?

Chipzel: Yeah definitely! It’s been something I’ve wanted to get into for a while now. I owe so much to Terry for asking me to work on Super Hexagon – he’s an absolute gem.

IGM: Lastly, are you working on anything at the moment that you’d like to share?

Chipzel: I’m working on a new album which should be released in the next two months or so. I haven’t got an exact date but it’s coming along well! Other than that, there are a lot of shows coming up- UK and abroad which I’ll be keeping everyone updated about when I can announce them!

 

Super Hexagon is currently on sale on Steam, and is also available for iOS and Android devices. Check out the Super Hexagon EP and Chipzel’s other albums at her Bandcamp page, and follow @Chipzel on Twitter for news on the new album.