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Mandy Kowara: The Young, Talented Game Music Composer

Last December, our studio was visited by a special guest who came all the way from Boston to Indonesia for winter break. It was supposed to be a short visit just to see what Touchten Games looks like, but then this girl came to the studio everyday for 2 weeks as an intern. It’s Mandy Kowara!

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In the picture, Mandy’s the cool-looking one in the middle wearing green T-shirt and holding a piece of paper.

In case you don’t know who this young girl is, just listen to her awesome work. Actually I’ve mentioned her name once in previous blog post about Manami Matsumae.

YES! She’s the one who composed the cover song of C.A.T.N.I.P. that was originally composed by Manami Matsumae. “Slightly embarrassing since Manami Matsumae’s compositions are epic, but I suppose it’s nice to have it there as a bonus…thingamajig,” said Mandy about having her song in the same album as Manami Matsumae’s for Target Acquired soundtrack.  Anyways, I’m here to introduce Mandy to you guys.

Mandy currently studies in Berklee College of Music, dual major in Film Scoring and Electronic Production & Design with minor in Video Game Scoring. She learned how to play piano when she was young, but never actually composed anything significant until she got to 9th grade. “Our school had a program called GCSE, which also includes Music in it,” said Mandy. “Since one of the required coursework was to compose three pieces in various styles, I started learning a music software called Logic Pro and wrote an orchestral piece for one of them. That was probably my first proper composition.”

Mandy was inspired a lot by orchestral music in the Romantic period (around 1800s). She started listening critically to orchestral music and video game soundtracks in 9th grade because of analyzing music in GCSE, and also started noticing more of the music when she played older video games for nostalgic reasons. In 11th and 12th grade, she took IB Music, which was when she finally decided that she wanted to work with composing music as a career. “It was probably because of the fun experience I had with scoring two of my friend’s short animations at that time, and composing an orchestral piece based on a story concept that my friend and I wrote together but unfortunately never got to finish.”

I asked her who her favorite music composer is, and she said she is a fan of Yoko Shimomura, Nobuo Uematsu, and Masashi Hamauzu. “Although I tend to listen to a lot of their older stuff more. Haha!” Mandy added.

“It was a very fun experience,” Mandy answered when she was asked how it was working at Touchten Games, “It’s much easier to work alongside the development team rather than working remotely because I can get input about the music drafts immediately and apply the changes as soon as I get the feedback.”

Mandy is currently helping Touchten to work on the music and sound effects for several game titles, such as Pandora ChronicleBrave Warrior, and Fishing Town. And for the record, she could finished several pieces of music within 2 weeks during her internship at Touchten Games. She is really passionate about composing music, indeed!

Mandy previously has done a bunch of projects for schoolwork and two Game Jam projects, but the games she worked on for Touchten are the first commercially-released ones that she’s done. Mandy does a lot of orchestral compositions, she said it is probably because she also compose concert orchestral music outside of film or video game scoring. She most of the time try to mix world music instruments and influences in her music for a bit of flavor, especially Indonesian music, since she’s quite strongly attached to it, being Indonesian and all. “I also like composing melodic or ambient-like electronic music. Much of the melodies I compose are tonal, but atonality in music is nice, too.”

In composing music for games, her inspiration is the gameplay, concept art, and story, all contribute to the process when composing, but in various degrees of importance. “First, I get inspired to compose through hearing about the concept and story of what I’m writing for–a lighthearted game or an action-filled game.” After knowing the concept and story, she then tries to imagine the world or universe where the music would exist in, and that is when she would see the available concept art or ask about the environment in the game. “For instance, I would write a lot of electronic music if the setting is futuristic, or a lot of orchestral music if it’s a traditional sword-and-magic fantasy world. If the music is to accompany a character, then I would see the character concept art and ask about the character’s personality traits,” she explained. If the gameplay is available, she would usually loop the music draft while she plays the game to see if it fits or not.

Every job has at least one obstacle that has to be faced. For Mandy, in one word: MIXING. “Actually two words if I include mastering,” Mandy added. “To put it shortly, mixing can take up more time and/or effort than the actual composing process. But if we’re talking about troubles in composing, the I’d say that I often get stuck on making the piece sound… not so empty. I usually analyze more scores and soundtracks to overcome this issue.” Another issue for Mandy  is making percussion parts, which she admits she’s also bad at doing. She overcomes the problem by listening to people playing drums or percussive instruments and try to figure out the patterns that they use for different styles of music. “Oh, and composing for guitar is hard since I can’t play and don’t owe one.”

Things she wants to achieve in 2015 is to have better mixing/mastering skills and better orchestration skills. Also, working on sound designing. She’s also looking around for internship opportunities in the USA. “AND GETTING MORE COOL PROJECT AAAAA!” (Sorry Mandy, I need to put this in the post because I can’t stop smiling imagining your expression when you say that…)

Here’s a message from Mandy to Touchten team:

“Keep doing awesome work! Jangan stress! Don’t forget me ya!”

Awww… Thanks! Of course we won’t forget you. See you real soon, Mandy! We hope your dream of being awesome game music composer come true! Woohoo!

– Ten Ten

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Yura & Cammy Wallpaper: Valentine’s Day & CNY Edition

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

How was your Valentine’s Day? I spent the whole day with my dearest Chiba-kun (it’s my dog BTW hahaha).

So I posted a picture of my iPad with Yura and Cammy wallpaper on Facebook page and seems like some of you are interested to download the wallpaper. I used it as my desktop wallpaper also. Ho ho ho. And since it’s Valentine’s Day, I’m here to spread the love! I’m letting you guys download the image so you can use it as your device’s wallpaper.

The thing is, I’m not sure what resolution I should provide, so here’s the thing. Let me know what your device or screen resolution is, and I’ll make the right size for you. For now, I only provide ones for iPad 2.

Here’s how it looks like on my iPad 2.

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Click here to download Yura Valentine Edition wallpaper!

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Click here to download Cammy CNY Edition wallpaper!

Do let me know if you want one of these designs as your wallpaper and let me know the size you want by commenting here or leave a comment in our Facebook page.

Thanks and have a lovely day! *virtual hugs*

- Ten Ten

Ten Ten’s Rocket – Level 2: Select Your Job (Part 2)

First I really want to say SORRY for the late update of Ten Ten’s Rocket. It took a reaaaaally long time for you guys to read the second part of this chapter. Been kinda hectic lately at the studio.

Anyway… ENJOY!

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TO BE CONTINUED! And there you go! The appearance of the real game producer! We’ll show you event more of  awesome characters on the next chapter. Click here in case you haven’t read the first part. Can’t really promise you if the artist could finish the new chapter by next month. We’ll do our best, though.

See you on next chapter!


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