The Settlers


The Settlers: New Allies is the largest known procedural music score in history. This dynamic music score unfolds across 16,327 music files. The music is never the same twice and potentially never ends.   

The score adapts on the fly to each player’s individual style; it reacts to game play and delivers a thematic experience without being repetitive; it evolves in aesthetically delightful and meaningful ways. That is pretty much the holy grail of game music.  

Technically and creatively, this wildly ambitious score was the magnum opus of my music scoring career.     

But The Settlers also sucked all the life out of me. Months after delivering the last music file I was still an empty shell. No energy. No motivation. My mind was in a perpetual fog. I had days of borderline depression, other times inexplicable punchiness, laughing at nothing at all. Is this what a nervous breakdown looks like?  

Let us rewind the story and see how we got here...

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It was during those weeks of improvising at the keyboard that the realization struck me like lightning. 

Somewhere in my brain I had developed a probability table that drove my decisions about which chord to select "next" during any given improvisation. If I was noodling around in a pensive mood on an Am7 chord, there was a high probability that my next chord would be a Dm7. I realized that whichever chord I was playing during any given moment in time, would generate an intuitive range of probabilities for a host of other "next" chords, in order to drive a mood forward and give the music relevant vector. That internal probability table was a surefire predictor for the musicality of my improvisation. 

All I had to do was synthesize a harmonic probability table for each mood in order to drive the procedural branch of the score. With that realization, the project suddenly jumped from theoretical to likely...

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"An empowering career guidebook wrapped around a personal retrospective. A professional how-to manual woven into a memoir."