Legend of Dungeon tops the list of awesome games i've played this year. The game brings a fresh face to the rouge-like genre while keeping it true to its most basic dungeon exploration elements. One part of the mix that makes the game work so well is its score. I was able to contact David Dirig, the composer for The Legend of Dungeon score and he agreed to talk with me about it.

jdodson: When you started the process of creating the music for Legend of Dungeon, what was the sound and tone you were going for?

David Dirig: -When I started the project I wanted to maintain a very strict ancient/traditional sound. I had a very limited palette of instruments and sounds that I thought would fit the mood and spaces in the game. However, as the project progressed, I found that I needed to include more modern elements in the music. The introduction of various electronic elements allowed the music the opportunity to hold the interest of the listener while still maintaining my original goals. Plus it made it a lot more interesting for me as the composer.

jdodson: As I play Legend of Dungeon the score conveys a sense of dread and somber darkness. Was this something you planned or did it just come out naturally?

David Dirig: When I started the soundtrack I knew that I wanted to stay on the darker side when it came to the feel and atmosphere created and maintained by the music. I wanted the feel of the Dungeon to be ever present throughout the OST. When the music started I wanted it to almost give the listener a sense of spacial recognition. Incidentally, I wrote the entire soundtrack in a completely dark space lit only by my monitor.

jdodson: “Zombie” is a fantastic song. I really like the way it brings out the guitar and the strong drum rim hit with the synth. At what point in the score process for Legend of Dungeon did Zombie come and how long did it take to complete it?

David Dirig: Thank you. Zombie was actually the first song that I wrote and I used it as a measuring device for the rest of the soundtrack. It conveyed everything I wanted to say with the OST. As for the time, When I’m composing, I tend to get large pieces of music almost all at once. The first rough version of Zombie was done in around 20 minutes. I hope this doesn’t cheapen it’s value, but that’s just how the process works for me sometimes. Some of the other songs took an easy ten hours to rough out.

jdodson: What are you working on right now?

David Dirig: I have been working to complete a few projects, one of which is compiling an album of some of my newest compositions for release in the next few months.

jdodson: The landscape of composers is pretty broad, for you who stands out to you as someone you admire?

David Dirig: -I love listening to Zimmer. I particularly enjoy the Dark Knight score. I was obsessed with it while writing the LOD soundtrack. I also have to mention Zoe Keating. I came upon her work a few months ago and her compositions are both beautiful and mesmerizing.

jdodson: Did you have access to the game when you were composing it in some form to help the process?

David Dirig: Absolutely. I had access to nearly every version during it’s creation. It was incredibly helpful in adjusting the mood and feel of the music as well as finding what wasn’t working.

jdodson: Is there anything you haven’t done musically that you want to try or get into?

David Dirig: Scoring a film would be amazing. Most of the music I write has a visual inspiration at it’s inception and I would love the opportunity to work on a project where it’s possible to help someone else describe an Image or a particular set of emotions sonically.

jdodson: How involved were Alix and Calvin in how you went about writing the music for Legend of Dungeon?

David Dirig: I typically spoke with them nearly every week about the games progression and regularly presented them with ideas I had musically. They were wonderful to work with and allowed me every opportunity to be creative and just do what I do.

jdodson: I wonder what the typical setup you use to compose is? Do you use any particular gear, software or configuration?

David Dirig: I used garageband for the entire project. I wanted to see what I could do with it. Gear wise, iMac, Audio-Technica ATH-m50 Headphones, Jackson 7-string and a takamine tc28c Classical Guitar running through a Boss GT-5 processor and an M-audio interface, A Kawai ES-1 electric piano as a MIDI controller. Pretty plain and simple.

jdodson: Zombie starts off the Legend of Dungeon score and Succubus closes it. How did you compose these songs in relation to each other if at all?

David Dirig: The songs in the soundtrack are presented in the order that they were written. When writing Zombie, I wanted it to convey a sense of nervous anticipation and mystery. For Succubus I was going for after battle swagger. One opens, one closes. In addition, all of the songs in the soundtrack were written in the same key and tempo. The music heard during actual gameplay is randomly created from elements of each of the songs in the OST. I wanted the in game music to never get boring or predictable. I broke the 18 songs in the soundtrack down into the 244 tracks from which they are made. I then compressed the tracks into 2:08 loops. The song elements fit seamlessly due to their afore mentioned composition. The individual loops are randomly assigned to creatures, places and things in the levels and proximity controlled to fade in and out of the game audio mix. When you as the player hit the reset button the game music effectively changes completely while maintaining the same feel and hopefully staying interesting.

jdodson: When you look at Legend of Dungeon now, is there anything you may have changed in any of the music you created for it?

David Dirig: There is a single point in Minotaur when one of the tracks is too low in the mix. It bothers me every time I hear it, but no one else has complained. When composing, you can always find things that can be changed. There comes a point in the creative process when you have to recognize that the work is done and start the next creative endeavor. I reached that point and feel that I did my best.

jdodson: It’s awesome you were able to do this Dave, anything you want to say before we finish up?

David Dirig: This has been an amazing project. Thanks to all the people playing Legend of Dungeon.