By: Cabal, 23rd March 2003
Here is an interview with Keith Arem conducted by Scott
"Cabal" Daniells. Keith used to work at Virgin Interactive and
Westwood Pacific as Director of Audio. His company has been responsible
for audio in many games, and you can hear their soundtracks and post
production in movies such as Spriggan, Hide & Seek, Skinner and The
Chosen One. They have also worked on the Tony Hawk games.
He may or may not be a person you have heard much about... but he's a person
that has done a lot of great work that we should be thankful for. His
company's website is http://www.pcbproductions.com
. Check it out.
Cabal : Could you introduce yourself for
the people that don't know you?
Keith : I am the president of PCB
Productions in Los Angeles. I was the Director of Audio for Virgin Interactive /
Westwood Pacific from 1994-1999. Some of my recent projects include Tony Hawk
2,3,4, X-men 2,3, Spiderman 2, Ridge Racer 64, Spriggan, and Everquest.
Cabal : What are you working on at the moment??
Keith : I am presently working on Planetside
(Sony Online), Everquest 2 (Sony Online), Sierra's Metal Arms (Sierra), as
well as several unannounced titles for Activision and Encore. We're also
finishing final dialog and mixing on .Hack//Sign and Gene Shaft animated
television series for Bandai.
Cabal : How did working on the games with Westwood differ
from the work you are doing now??
Keith : At Virgin and Westwood, my
department supervised and produced all internal and external audio projects in
development. Our studios were responsible for over 15-20 titles per year, so it
was great experience working and managing a team of creative people around the
clock. I used the success of that model to launch PCB Productions, to ensure all
of our projects could retain the highest quality, while managing multiple titles
Cabal : If you could pick one of the projects you have
worked on as your favorite, what would it be and why?
Keith : I've have so many great experiences
working with teams and developers, that I tend to associate the quality of the
game with the relationship with the developer. Some of my favorite games are the
result of the process of making the game with the team. One of my favorite
titles of all time has to be Thrill Kill, even though the amount of effort
put in was never viewed by the public (Thrill Kill was killed by EA 2 weeks
before going gold, so the game never saw the "official" light of day).
We spent the majority of our time on the project creating excessively gruesome
sound effects (many of which were censored by the MSRB prior to release), and my
group Contagion did the soundtrack for the game. The game was a 4-player
fighter, and incredibly fun to play. It will go down in history as the one of
the most violent games never released...
Cabal : Describe a typical day for you.
Keith : The great part about my job is that
there is never a typical day. Each project has it's own unique challenges and
requirements, so I'm always looking for new ways to improve the way we do sound
for games. It's a great thing to focus on one skill, but I honestly think I'd
get bored if I stayed doing one thing for too long.
Cabal : Do you play computer games a lot? If you do then
what are your favorites?
Keith : Yeah, but when work gets crazy, I
don't get to play as much as I'd like to. Back when C&C first came out, I
played so much that my wife was going to print T-shirts that read "C&C
Widow". I've always been an RTS fan, and the C&C series has always been
Cabal : Do you have any tips for somebody that wants a job
similar to yours?
Keith : Working first hand in-house with a
developer is absolutely the best experience you can get. Seeing the daily needs
of a team, and keeping up with the evolution of a project is an amazing
experience. A good sound designer/composer/director needs to recognize the
strengths of their team, and know when to delegate work to others.
Cabal : If you could be any character from the C&C
series... who would it be and why?
Keith : I'm definitely the Engineer type. I
love the idea of quietly sneaking in under the radar, and changing something
from the inside.
Thanks a lot for replying Keith.