Very excited to bring you our interview with the amazing Scott Lloyd Shelly. Don't hold the applause.
jdodson: The music in Terraria is incredibly iconic. From the first time I heard “Overworld Day” to hearing the new tracks from the 1.2 update, the world of Terraria seems boundless and magical. When you were first considering scoring the game, what kinds of ideas or concepts did you want to express with the music?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: Overworld Day was the very first piece of music I wrote for the game. Andrew sent me a few pictures and a very early build of the game (I was slain - a lot...) My first two thoughts were; a) this is a 2D game, with a retroish 80's style pixelated look (which was/is loveable) - I need to pay musical homage to that 8 bit era and b) potentially huge (and magical) worlds are getting created, so maybe some big orchestral sounds can be included as well. I was pretty much trying to create a hybrid of those two elements that would hopefully become unique to the game.
WhiteboySlim: How closely did you work with Andrew Spinks on the soundtrack? Was there frequent feedback or were you given pretty free reign to craft the music yourself?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: Andrew Spinks has been my favorite game developer to work with - after I submitted the first track, he pretty much turned me loose - that doesn't happen very often with soundtracks in my experience.
jdodson: Interested what your thoughts are on Terraria and the very large and passionate community that surrounds the game?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: I'm not at all surprised that so many people have come to love playing Terraria, and I try and watch as many playthroughs posted on YouTube as I can to try and keep up. Some of the soundtrack remixes are pretty cool too.
Travis: The music for each area and event really sets the mood well. Two of the tracks that stand out to me are both of the Hallow tracks, overworld and underground. What real world inspiration did you use when composing for this imaginary world?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: Andrew would send me graphics for each level and biome, and that was a big help for me, and probably the main real world inspiration. For Hallow, I think it was the mention of Unicorns and Rainbows that got me started musically on that one; Hallow/Underground was more of a result of me playing in my musical sandbox, mainly Logic Pro.
WhiteboySlim: How did you originally get involved in the video game industry?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: Good question. Way back in 1993, I was studying orchestration privately, and I started to get interested in what was happening in San Francisco and Silicon Valley; buzzwords like "multimedia" and "virtual reality" were flying around, and I wanted to get involved creatively. I started to send demos and resumes to some of the game companies (after phoning first...) and a company called Accolade asked if I could come up from LA for a meeting.
I ended up doing the music for an unreleased title for the Sega Genesis and SNES console platforms for them, and really enjoyed the experience, and moved to San Francisco for a few years after that to be closer the the action.
jdodson: When you were first composing music for Terraria did you have a version of the game you could play or did you work off ideas and concepts only? What did you think of things after you played the game with your music added to it?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: I had a very early build, a few graphics, and emails with the developer. I haven't played the game a whole lot (mostly on PC and now on iPhone) but for me, it (the music) pretty much works. By that I mean it's evocative of the different levels, recognizable as Terraria music, and (hopefully) doesn't drive most people crazy after hours of gameplay (there are always going to be a few haters out there...you can't please everybody.)
I also hope that Andrew Spinks is happy with the soundtrack and that it works for him - Terraria is his vision.
WhiteboySlim: The Empire has attacked your ship (which was totally just on a diplomatic mission). You only have time to grab 2 or 3 things before running to the escape pods. What do you grab?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: My wife, my daughter, and my Fender Telecaster (guitar) - not necessarily in that order:)
jdodson: Track 13 on the Terraria Soundtrack Volume 2 ends with “Lunar Boss” yet to date no such boss exists in the game? Andrew Spinks has noted that he plans on adding an end game boss and I am curious if you know some details about it you don’t mind sharing?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: Sorry, I haven't heard anything about that yet. He does ask for additional music tracks occasionally, so he could be planning something.
Travis: What’s your favorite video game soundtrack that you *didn’t* work on?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: Wow, that's hard. Skyrim, for sure; (Jeremy Soule); Super Meat Boy; Where Is My Heart (Alessandro Coronas); Botanicula; Spore; and Dungeon Seige 2 would be a few.
WhiteboySlim: Andrew Spinks has already stated he plans on making Terraria 2. Do you think you’ll be back for the sequel?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: That's up to Andrew. I'd be absolutely up for it.
jdodson: What have you worked on over your career that you are especially proud of?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: Putt-Putt Joins The Circus for Humongous Entertainment, Reader Rabbit 1st Grade (classic version) and The Crocodile Hunter TV shows.
Travis: I’ve heard these songs countless times, and if it was any other music I would have gotten really sick of it by now. When you were writing the music for Terraria, were you considering the fact that people would be hearing this music over and over and write it with that in mind? How do you keep it catchy after the thousandth time?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: Thanks, Travis - I thought about that a lot. Part of it is not letting the music stay on one section for too long. I figure if I'm getting bored listening to a loop a few times, someone who's playing the game for hours will for sure. I also try to keep the arrangements fairly sparse (except for the boss music) and hopefully that helps too.
jdodson: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, is there anything you want to
say before we finish up?
Scott Lloyd Shelly: Thanks to you guys for asking questions! We music people are pretty much behind the scenes most of the time, and it's really nice to know somebody's listening. Thanks again, and please keep me posted.