Episode #229: Cris Velasco on Assassin’s Creed Unity: Dead Kings

March 26, 2015 · 21:24
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The Assassin’s Creed series of video games has sold more than 73 million copies worldwide, with more than 15 games to the franchise. Their settings span the globe, from modern America to ancient China. The scope is massive, and the following passionate. Joining the team for any Assassin’s Creed game means pressure to produce quality work.

Assassin’s Creed Unity: Dead Kings takes place in revolution-era France, and its developers wanted a soundtrack that reflected the period. A fusion of Baroque styling and VGM energy is hard to achieve, and they turned to composer Cris Velasco to make it happen.

Cris put together a score featuring a small chamber ensemble with unusual instruments. Aside from the usual strings and brass, he included harpsichord, contrabassoon, bass clarinet, alto flute, and bass flute. After dusting off his Baroque-era lessons from UCLA, and listening to plenty of Bach, Vivaldi, Handel, and Telemann, he started writing.

The soundtrack is not overtly Baroque nor classical. But if you peer beneath the modern orchestral surface, you can hear traditional sounds. Arpeggios, counterpoint, and specific intervals make an appearance here and there, with harpsichord glistening in the background.

And as a side note for guitarists – Cris’s cat demonstrates an advanced technique near the end of the interview. It’s not recommended for beginners, nor the orthodontically-challenged.