Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Where are they now? - Frank Klepacki

Screenshot of Command & Conquer: Red Alert
Hell March, the main theme for C&C: Red Alert, is one of Klepacki's most famous and critically acclaimed works

Frank Klepacki is probably a man who needs little introduction as he's no doubt one of the best PC game composers of all time. This guy has worked at many of the big name publishers such as Electronic Arts, Sega, Ubisoft, Disney, SSI, Hasbro and Virgin Interactive and if you ever played a game by Westwood Studios or Petroglyph, there's a very strong chance you've already heard his music before. I've actually played quite a few games by both of these developers, in fact I've probably played at least 12 of them which means I've also heard 12 soundtracks composed by this giant of video games music.

What some people might not know is that despite having a prolific career with game soundtracks, he's also done a lot of composing for other media too. Since the 2000s, Klepacki has licensed music for film and television, as well as releasing several independent albums over the years. He's also toured with the band The Family Stone (of Sly & The Family Stone fame) as a drummer between 2008 - 2011.

So he's done quite a bit with his life and he has a legion of fans but what is he up to nowadays? Well he's still composing music as Audio Director of Petroglyph Games (a developer that came into existence shortly after the demise of Westwood Studios) and his most recent work can be heard in a Free-to-Play strategy game called Battle Battalions.

1974 - Frank Klepacki is born on 25 May 1974.

1982 - Klepacki receives his first drum set at age 8.

1985 - Klepacki begins performing as a professional drummer at age 11.

1991 - After learning to program in BASIC on a Tandy 1000, Klepacki developed an interest in computer games. At the age of 17 he applied for the role of game tester at Westwood Studios but also submitted in a demo tape. The company liked what they heard and Klepacki was made responsible for scoring the NES port of Dungeons & Dragons: Dragonstrike as well as the PC game Eye of the Beholder II.

1992 - The Legend of Kyrandia is released. Klepacki was responsible for scoring its music. It was also this year that Dune II, arguably the first Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game in history, was released. Klepacki was responsible for composing Dune II's soundtrack too.

1993 - Lands of Lore is released. Klepacki was responsible for scoring its music.

1995 - Command & Conquer is released. Klepacki composed the soundtrack as well as acted as one of the soldiers in the cutscenes. He also provided his voice for the GDI Commando.

1996 - Command & Conquer: Red Alert is released. Klepacki composed the soundtrack and the game ended up winning a PC Gamer award for Best Game Soundtrack. Klepacki was originally developing Hell March to be a NOD track for the Command & Conquer expansion Covert Operations but after Westwood Studios director Brett Sperry heard it, he insisted Klepacki use it as the theme song for Red Alert. Klepacki initially wanted to give the Red Alert soundtrack a sci-fi camp feel to it but was instructed to make it grittier (it seems like he got his wish for Red Alert 2 though).



1997 - Blade Runner is released. Klepacki composed the soundtrack mimicking a lot of Vangelis's work on the film soundtrack. The reason for this is that Westwood Studios had the rights to use the music but unfortunately couldn't get access to the original master recordings.

1998 - Westwood Studios is acquired by EA. Dune 2000 is also released this year where Klepacki had the opportunity to update the soundtrack he composed for its predecessor, Dune II.

1999 - Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun is released. Klepacki was responsible for scoring the soundtrack.

2000 - Red Alert 2 is released. Klepacki was responsible for scoring the soundtrack.

2001 - Emperor: Battle for Dune is released. Klepacki focused on composing the cinematic and Atreides music.

2002 - Westwood Studios is liquidated. Klepacki offered to score Command & Conquer: Generals but didn't hear back from EA. Klepacki's last contribution to Westwood Studios was providing music and additional voices for the online sci-fi RPG Earth & Beyond. He also composed the soundtrack for Command & Conquer: Renegade which was also released in 2002.

2004 - Klepacki joined Petroglyph Games as its Audio Director.

2005 - Star Wars: Empire at War is released. Klepacki is a big fan of Star Wars and despite leaving most of John Williams's score intact, he claims that 20% of the score is original content.

2007 - Universe at War: Earth Assault is released. Klepacki is credited as the Audio Director.

2008 - Red Alert 3 is released. Despite Klepacki no longer working at EA he was invited back to compose three tracks for the game: Hell March 3, Grinder 2 and The Red Menace.

2012 - Hell March is ranked #7 on the Top 100 video game themes of all time by Computerandvideogames.com

2015 - Grey Goo and Battle Battalions are released. Klepacki composed the soundtracks to both of these games.

LINKS
[ Wikipedia: Frank Klepacki ]
[ Frank Klepacki's official website ]
[ MobyGames: Frank Klepacki ]

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