STARBURST: Were you familiar with the XCOM series before starting work on the music for the games?
Tim Wynn: As a gamer, I had heard about it but I didn’t have first-hand knowledge about the XCOM universe.
How did being in charge of the soundtrack for XCOM2 change your approach after working on music for XCOM: Enemy Unknown?
With XCOM 2, there was a different focus on how the story would play out. The music would attempt to highlight the plight and isolation of XCOM while still having heroic elements. The look of the game also played a major role in how the score ultimately sounded. Even though XCOM lost, there was still ‘order’. The music had to underscore both elements.
Was there a need to follow the themes put in place by Michael McCann, or could you go in a different direction?
We wanted to introduce new themes from the first game. The story was new and the thought was the themes would be too.
I know that the press release says that it ‘continues the legacy sound of the acclaimed reboot,’ but was there any consideration of taking a hard right turn into something different – or is it better to evolve the themes with new ideas, rather than start from scratch?
I think given the success of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, we didn’t think the score should be vastly different. It should be more an evolution of the sound from XCOM: Enemy Unknown rather than a remaking. New colours, new themes and energy but should still feel similar to the previous game.
What is the difference between music for turn-based games such as the XCOM series, and more active games such as Command & Conquer?
It mostly came from the battle music. For XCOM 2, I created battle tracks that had two different styles that would play at the same time. The music will cross fade depending on whose turn it is. Other than that the approach is the same. The in-game cut scenes and menu music are linear much like Command & Conquer.
Given that a lot of your music for games and television has been action-oriented, is there something that attracts you to that?
As someone who plays games, I guess I am comfortable writing music that gets your blood moving. I really love writing melodies and such but writing complex action music can be just as fulfilling. It’s really about what the project requires.
Alternately, your film work has been on the dramatic side. Does this allow you to work on themes you might not be able to approach your other work?
When I start to write themes for film or TV, I always come up with a handful of variations. I like to hear how they can evolve before committing to them. It’s similar to how I approach game scores too. If you write good themes, they will work for any genre. It’s really about how they get used that is different. In film and TV, all the inspiration you need is on the screen and the music doesn’t need to loop.
What upcoming work are you currently working on?
I am currently finishing up a new fantasy game with Creative Assembly and starting a new TV series with Disney coming later this year.
XCOM 2 is out now for Windows, Linux, and OS X. More information about Tim Wynn can be found at his website.