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Jesper Kyd: Music Serves the Same Purpose Regardless of the Platform

July 18, 2014 — by Gamesauce Staff

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Jesper Kyd Headshot 1
Jesper Kyd (Photo Credit: Fitz Carlile)

As a composer, it’s no surprise Jesper Kyd loves music. Even from a young age, when Kyd started playing classic guitar and piano, his passion for melodies and harmonies was evident.

As he grew, so did his musical expertise. He started messing with music in an electronic medium when he got his first computer, a Commodore 64, at age 13. At 15, he got his first keyboard, a Roland D-20, and began composing music with that as well. “I’ve always loved experimenting with electronics and creating unique sounds,” he says.

Once More, With Feeling

Some of Kyd’s favorite bands and influences include The Knife and Royksopp, as well as classical composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Ottorino Respighi. For him, music is all about the feeling. “Music can take you far away and make you feel something different,” he notes. “I’m drawn to the emotion of music.”

This fundamental trait of music is what makes it so enjoyable to work with and is a component of the music-making process for Kyd — allowing him to find inspiration in whatever the focus of his latest project is. “There is always a lot of inspiration when working on games, film, and TV as your music needs to fit into a certain world so that world should always be able to inspire ideas.”

“Music is there to set the mood and deepen the experience, to add atmosphere and immerse you in the world.”

Regardless of the platform or genre, music has the same purpose in a game. “Music is there to set the mood and deepen the experience, to add atmosphere and immerse you in the world,” Kyd says. “Music can also make you play a game longer. For example, if some music comes on that you feel like listening to, then you might stay in the game world longer and that might be all it took for you to find something new and now you end up playing the game for another hour or more.”

The process is also the same no matter the game. Kyd will generally work alongside the creative director, audio director, or game director, discussing what the music needs to do along with the wider game story and its characters. At times, he will be directly involved with how the music is applied in the game, and other times everything has already been sorted before he’s even brought in. He loves being involved as much as possible in the process though. A score can take anywhere from three to nine months to put together, depending on how early he is brought in to the process and how much music is required — and it’s not unusual for him to write around three hours of music on a single project.

Reflections and Pushing Forward

“I’m always trying to push my music forward so there is not really a project where I can say ‘that’s the one.’ I think there is always room to improve and that is something I feel when listening to my music.”

There’s no such thing as a crowning accomplishment for Kyd and each project brings more knowledge and new ways of thinking to the table. “I’m always trying to push my music forward so there is not really a project where I can say ‘that’s the one.’ I think there is always room to improve and that is something I feel when listening to my music. I develop my music all the time and so when I go back to listen to a score after I have grown in other areas of music making, I feel I can go back to that style and add something new.”

Even though he won’t call it a crowning achievement, his scores on the first four Assassin’s Creed games were certainly a milestone, and it makes him happy to know the Assassin’s Creed community still enjoys the “Ezio’s Family” theme and connects to it, noting it was intended to go beyond gameplay. He is also proud to have established the sound of Assassin’s Creed, saying “It seems there now are very high expectations from the music in the Assassin’s Creed series, and I feel good about having planted that seed.”

In keeping with his theme of pushing forward, Kyd has recently made the jump to social games. He was approached by Plarium, who were looking to create interesting and unique music for their games. “Plarium gave me full creative reign and that’s (one thing) I look for when working on a project. I liked their ideas and they were very open to mine, so we connected on a creative level and started working together.”

Whatever projects may come in the future, for Kyd, “It’s always about working in a fun environment with creative people who share the same kind of enthusiasm and passion.”

Asia 2014Video Coverage

Momchil Kyurkchiev on How to Solve Problems in Mobile Development | Casual Connect Video

June 6, 2014 — by Catherine Quinton

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“Everybody looks at acquisition costs, but then the LTV (Life Time Value) is also really important,” Momchil Kyurkchiev explains during Casual Connect Asia 2014. “And how do you make the most out of the users that you have already acquired? Well, you need to make sure you have the most ideal user experience in your mobile game. That’s really the art behind A/B testing.”

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Momchil Kyurkchiev, Co-Founder and CEO, Leanplum

Momchil Kyurkchiev, Co-Founder and CEO of Leanplum, claims the proudest moment of his career was when they were selected for Techstars in Seattle. The support and networking opportunities the program created have been invaluable to Kyurkchiev and Leanplum in reaching the success they are experiencing today.

Building The Team

Kyurkchiev and Andrew First, Co-Founder and CTO of Leanplum, worked extremely hard to be chosen from a pool of thousands and gain acceptance by this elite incubator. Techstars provided them with access to great mentors, and allowed them to build an exciting initial product and to secure funding. Shortly after, with a compelling vision and a team focused on enabling mobile developers, PMs and marketers to optimize content and messaging within their apps, they launched their product into the market.

Kyurkchiev and First met when they were both lead techs for the ad team for Youtube at Google. While there, they gained valuable experience in understanding how to approach A/B testing, all the while thinking about features that would help end users. They were inspired by the Lean Startup methodology around their iterative development and feedback cycles, so their intent is to have Leanplum reflect, live, and evangelize that data-driven philosophy.

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The team at Techstars in Seattle

Doing What You Know

The inspiration for Leanplum evolved as they discovered the Lean Startup model breaks on mobile as companies are struggling to iterate quickly. When they realized there was no good way to do A/B testing on mobile, they turned their passion for A/B testing into a company that offers a platform for optimizing mission critical metrics specifically for apps.

Leanplum customers have told them that they need more use-case driven dashboards and recipes, so the company is now focusing on making sure these customers get exactly what they need. They have published a cookbook of A/B testing recipes for game developers, and they are also working to bake the use cases directly into their dashboard.

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The company is now focusing on making sure their customers get exactly what they need.

Trends For The Future?

Kyurkchiev believes the next big trend coming to the games industry will be the shift to wearables and VR. He says, “As devices shrink, developers are going to have to think about how to create compelling experiences on any device. Those that can keep up will be richly rewarded.” And he feels this applies equally to middleware companies such as Leanplum.

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“As devices shrink, developers are going to have to think about how to create compelling experiences on any device. Those that can keep up will be richly rewarded.”

When not working, Kyurkchiev, enjoys relaxing, exercising and spending time with his wife. His interest in gaming has him currently playing Assassin’s Creed on Xbox, saying, “It’s one of the most immersive experiences out there.”

He also tells us he loves free-to-play, since games have become a service that can change and evolve with their players. Unfortunately, free-to-play also includes some irritating upsell mechanics.

At Casual Connect Asia, Kyurkchiev announced Leanplum’s launch of behavioral push notifications and in-app messaging into public beta. The new feature comes fully integrated with A/B testing, and will enable mobile app developers, product managers, and marketers to A/B test and trigger messaging based off in-app behaviors in order to create more personalized and relevant player communications.

 

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