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Memoirs of Composer Chance Thomas

Chapter 28 - Sneak Peek Excerpt


Intense pain, radiating from my wrists back up through my arms. I shake my hands down at my sides, reposition my elbows and forearms, trying different angles throughout the day, and push forward. There are still so many files to edit and export.  

Fatigue. I am so tired. My eyes sting. My back aches. My ears are buzzing. I can barely keep going. But I still have over 200 files to get through before I can call it a night. I will not relent until I am done.  

Oh crap. I started misnaming the files 42 exports ago. Now I have to go back and fix all of the errors. As if this wasn’t overwhelming enough already.  

Grinding. This feels like the musician’s equivalent of digging graves with a spoon. Or maybe cutting an overgrown lawn with a hand sickle. Why am I doing this?  

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 inexplicably punchiness, laughing at nothing at all. Is this what a nervous breakdown looks like? 

Let’s rewind the story and see how we got here.