Hey, my name is Aaron Miller, I’m the Visual Effects Artist on Abandon Ship, I work with Alex and Adam to create some of the crazy graphical things that happen in the game. I’m also the composer on the project, so I’m writing the music for the game too.
My love for Games and Music
I’ve been in the games industry since 2005, but for me games and music go back a long, long way.
I started out with the Atari 2600 in the early 80’s, which my brother and I got between us for Christmas. God knows how our parents could afford such an insanely new and advanced machine back in those days! Each year we seemed to progress onto the next new machine; I think my dad was into it way more than he let on. The Atari 600XL and Commodore 64 came along and blew our minds when we were kids, the Commodore 64 in particular. We were both die hard Commodore users back then, and used to recoil in horror at the mention of bitter rivals the Spectrum! Those who are old enough know that you were either one or the other!
In the late 80’s I got an Atari 520ST, I recall my brother had gotten more into Warhammer 40K by this stage, but regardless that machine stayed with me for a long time. Even after I had got an Amiga 500+ in the early 90’s, I was still using my Atari, but now mainly to write music with, using an old program called Quartet. I was able to sample things into the ST and use them to create music. I think by the mid 90’s I was sampling drum hits from Pantera albums and using them to write my own drum tracks. If I wasn’t doing that, I was doing the whole double cassette deck trick, and overdubbing my own guitar lines to write songs, using two cassette tapes to record onto each other whilst using the crappiest mic ever to record my awful guitar playing! Some of this musical experimentation was guitar based, while other things I wrote were electronic tracks, but I have always gravitated toward real musicians playing real instruments. At the time I didn’t know anyone else that could play or do what I wanted, because I was very picky (some might say a massive Diva!)
Eventually I had started to move away from games and got into the realm of writing music on PC. I was certain that was where my path lay, and from that moment on I was focused on music. I spent many years in bands and came close to that big break a few times, but never quite got to the final step.
It wasn’t until the PS2 came out that I got back into games. I skipped all the Nintendo and Sega systems; even the PS1. I was still playing games on my PC, but back then the games were very different from their console cousins. PC had the added bonus of multi-tasking, so I could both compose music whilst dabbling in games.
My Work and how I got into the Industry
After spending years doing the rock-star thing, and countless people telling me “You’ll never make a living from music” and “Why don’t you get a real job”, plus the bands I was in just not working out, those seeds of doubt started to take their toll. I started to look at other options.
So off to University I went at 27 (2002), and got my Degree in 3D Animation. I was recommended by my University Course Leader to Climax Studios and I got a job there back in 2005 doing Visual Effects for games. At the time I had never heard of VFX for games before!
I’ve worked on a whole bunch of games and demos in that time, 11 years on and I’ve been lucky enough to work on two Silent Hill games, and an Assassin’s Creed. I have specialised in Games VFX for over a decade now, having to know game engines inside-out is a crucial part of the job, and that’s before getting to any artwork or dynamics! My background means I am able to troubleshoot technical problems well.
I also wrote the complete score for Bloodforge (an XBLA game), and I composed music for the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles games which included all the main themes. The India main theme is a piece I’m particularly proud of! I’m still writing music for my own personal projects, and I also write music for adverts, short films, and anything else that comes my way that I think sounds like a cool thing to try out. I also believe my experience as a VFX artist gives me a totally unique insight that helps compose music for games.
I think that’s it for me right now; there’s a whole other lifetime of musical adventures that I could talk about, but this would go on forever!
One day I would love to write an epic Meshuggah inspired soundtrack to a game. That would be awesome!