Archive for NDBlog

Manitoba Music “Video Game Composition Seminar” 2010 – Part 1

Posted in Kenley, Local Music, Public with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2010 by Kenley

It’s been quite some time since the blog has been updated, but it’s been busy! So expect a few posts coming up!

The first thing that we can report is that Kenley was part of a seminar series for Manitoba Music (industry association for Manitoba musicians) on composing music for video games!

Alec Holowka talking about Indie Game Development (photo courtesy of Chrissy Chubala)

The line-up for the presentations was legendary! There were:

– Indie composers (Alec Holowka of Infinite Ammo, maker of Aquaria and Marion, and Danny Baranowsky, composer of such hits as Semi Secret’s Canabalt, as well as the upcoming and highly-anticipated, Super Meat Boy).

– Film and TV (Steffan Andrews of Orchetect, composer for YTV’s League of Super Evil and of the animated feature Kung Fu Magoo)

– Audio Engineering (Andrew Yankiwski and Skot Moat from “Precursor Productions” here in Winnipeg)

– Writing and Game Development (Ryan FitzGerald of “Rogue Nations Studios,” who have worked on everything from ARGs to online media.  I’m a big fan of RadioFreeKrakow, so definitely check them out!)

I hope that I didn’t miss anyone!

In which case, we had five students from all walks of writing – from songwriting, to writing for bands, to writing for NBC!

I spoke about a few different topics of composing for games, 4 of the 7 sessions, actually.  I gave the “Introduction to Composing for Video Games,” “Repertoire,” “Loops” (with Alec) and  “Traditional Orchestration Techniques in VGM Composition,
(with some killer input from Steffan).

All the sessions were really cool – Ryan’s totally blew my mind.  In particular, he spoke about the ideas of narrative involving free will (agency) and of rewards (affordances).  I don’t want to give his whole presentation away, but he looks at storytelling in a way unlike any other – in a very interactive, open and collaborative way.  It’s as though it’s more about the dialogue creating the story rather than the “sage on the stage” model of telling and listening.  Put another way, it’s more like going to the bank and setting up your financial future with a manager and both crafting your economic tale together, rather than the deposit/withdrawl pattern of an ATM.  I could listen to that guy talk all day – go check out his work.

There will be subsequent parts, so stay tuned! I’ll leave you with a teaser – if you were to write a caption for Danny Baranowsky’s moment below, what would it be? Write your answer in the comment box!

What will the caption be?

Good luck!



Local Music that Kenley Wants to Share!

Posted in Kenley, Local Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2010 by Kenley

After a heavy last post, it’s time to lighten up and share some local music with you!

Moses Mayes

First, in the “Paris of the Prairies,” we have the Fusion Funk band, “Moses Mayes.”  Moses Mayes isn’t a person, but rather, the name is a dynamic and hard-groovin’ group that I’ve seen MANY times – if you haven’t seen them yet, there is no time like present!

I first saw them in Grade 10 at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival and they blew my mind – I don’t think that I’ve ever danced so hard in my life.  The tune below is called “Intrafusion” and it’s from their third disc, Second Ring, which I recommend as highly as possible!

Moses Mayes’ Website –
Moses Mayes’ MySpace –

The ladies of "Oh My Darling."

Next, we have the killer all-female folk group, Oh! My Darling, consisting of the very awesome Vanessa Kuzina (vocals/guitar/songwriter), Allison de Groot (banjo/vocals), Rosalyn Dennett (fiddle/vocals) and Marie-Josée Dandeneau (upright bass) – all of them are brilliant musicians.

Manitoba Music (the industry association for MB’s musicians) describes them as “…a powerhouse of superb female musicianship. Utilizing their keen sense of stylistic versatility, these young women have an vastly eclectic repertoire. Drawing inspiration from traditional music, their original songs are energetic and moving. They infuse their unique brand of country music with Appalachian Old Time, a Southern twang, and some funk inspired bass lines that’ll get your hips swinging while your toes are tapping…”

Their tune, “Pixou Falls” is one of the some pensive, yet driving lines that I can think of.  It’s a weird combination, it’s almost mournful, but it’s got this forward momentum that just pulls you along for the ride.

Pixou Falls – Oh My Darling (care of
OMD’s Website
Buy their Album (which I highly recommend!)

Singer/Songwriter and Fiddler, Sierra Noble

Next on my list is singer/songwriter (and unbelievable fiddler!), Sierra Noble.  She’s hardly a hidden gem anymore, with a strong new EP called “Possibilities” and having played with some of the best fiddlers in the world on radio and TV, but she had humble Manitoba beginnings; therefore, making it onto the list!

I’ve only met her once, but she’s super cool and super nice, which is always a bonus.  I’ve included the title track from her EP below, which is a really nice track (earning her a spot on CMT, which is pretty incredible!), though I’ve also included a fiddle duet with Donny Parenteau that she did at the 2008 Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards this past year.  It’s totally unbelievable…


Sierra Noble and Donny Parenteau at the 2008 Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Awards:

Okay, that’s enough for right now, but expect me to post more about local music that is amazing and deserves to be highlighted! We live in a great area for the arts and for music, so let’s support our local musicians!


First Post by Jeremy!

Posted in Jeremy with tags , , , , , , , on January 30, 2010 by Jeremy

When not in the studio...

Well, I guess it’s about time I introduced myself to this blog. So I’m Jeremy and I am the Creative Sound Designer/Audio Engineer at NDB Studio Productions. If you have read Kenley’s posts you know about the studio already. So I don’t need to really talk about that. Hmm… I guess I’ll just rant about something then.

I’ve spent years sitting on the fence, thinking that it is a strange thing to blog and share your life with the world. Then I realized, wait a second, I share my life on Facebook and twitter every day, what difference is blogging about it going to make?! I feel kind of like the person who finally decided to get on Facebook years after all their friends, mostly due to the desire for social interaction, like I’m missing out on something that everyone else is rockin’ hard. So, I’m not really sure what I’m going to share with you. To be truthfully honest, I am quite glad that I am only a co-author of this Blog. We can all rest assured that Kenley will likely contribute the majority of content to the NDBlog. Although I think that the idea of a blog as a place to rant might be growing on me the more I think about it!

So on Thursday, January 28th, I attended the All Access – The Digital Incubator conference, at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg, as I sat there listening to some great minds talking, it became clear to me Digital Media is on the rise. If NDB is to grow into what we want it to, that means staying up to date and growing digitally.  Getting on board with anything Digital and Interactive, it’s the future, the development of all things digital…..the digital Brand.

NDB Studios is working hard to build our digital brand. Our new website is in the works, and were super pumped for its launch in the near future. The old website, which was a sad attempt at web design made by us (lol), is definitely an antique in the world of New/Digital Media. So keep an eye out for that.  Your reading this so you know about the NDBlog, but make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out on anything!  You can also follow us on Twitter, or become a fan of NDB Studios on Facebook. We’ve got our hands in all kinds of cookie jars, so keep your ears open for our Brand of Local Organic Audio coming to Digital Media near you!

Pirates Ahoy!

Posted in Projects with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2010 by ndbstudios

Good morning, everyone!

NDB is pumped to have worked on the music for Complex Games‘ release of Pirates Ahoy, for the Facebook platform! It’s a social/casual, so you get to play with people, but you don’t have to devote 10 weeks of your life to get through it – you start when you want and you end when you want.

But, that’s not to say that you can’t devote a lot of time.  I (Kenley) love customizing and outfitting – I know, it’s a weakness, but I want to pick my captain (name/picture/all that fun stuff), then hire out my crew, pick my ship, set up all of its weapons and colours and make it exactly the way that I want.  You can do that in Pirates Ahoy, and that makes me happy.

There be swabbin' on this deck... some killer artwork by Jonas van Niekerk

I do want to talk about Complex Games for a little bit too.  They’re a Winnipeg-based game developer that has been on the scene for quite some time.  They’ve worked on (and are working on) multiple titles for multiple platforms, be they PC, Mac, Wii or iPhone.  The CEO of the company, Noah Decter-Jackson is the head of Winnipeg’s chapter of the International Game Developers’ Association (IGDA) and has been instrumental in Winnipeg’s growing New Media industry.  We’ve done a lot of work for them and, like all the developer’s we work with, we want to help them get their project off of the ground as much as possible, including blogging about it, sharing the final copy with our friends and other colleagues, sharing media on facebook – it’s all about collaboration.

Wait for that post, that’s going to be a good one – I want an entire post to be on the awesomeness of collaboration.

In which case, if you want to check out Pirates Ahoy on facebook, then click the link here to have a go at it.  Also, make sure that you become a fan of them on facebook and follow up on what’s happening with the game!

I bet you want to hear some music too – okay, you win.

This is the music playing from the Volcano Level of the game, where there are lots of deep browns/blacks and reds.  The music should a “slave ship”-type, with big drums and sleighbells driving home the beat, while a mournful and haunting melody sails overtop of the ostinato with Irish tin whistle and solo violin.  Then, as we move into the A Section for the second time, the bagpipes come in with a deep drone and take over the melody, while the strings break into harmony and fill in that harmonic blanket, deepening the sound into a lamenting, yet persistent feel…

The next music is a short loop when you’re in your home port and customizing your ship (a task which in which I relish!).  It’s very reminiscent of “home”, but not just in geography, but more the feelings that are associated with the idea of “home:” Comfort, Security, Happiness and really, the notion of “everything being as it should be.”

I tried to accomplish this with keeping in the Irish-style of writing, with an Irish whistle holding the melody and a really warm blanket of strings and a resonant harp underneath.  The bodhran (pronounced “BEAU-ron,” with “beau” like the front of a ship) keeps the compound meter running and the music, while relaxing and peaceful, always has a sense of forward momentum.

It’s just… home.

Stay posted for updates on Pirates Ahoy!

Clones – Tomkorp Computer Solutions!

Posted in Projects with tags , , , , , , on January 15, 2010 by Kenley

Hey all!

NDB is happy to say that we’ve worked on a home-grown, independent puzzle game called “Clones,” by Tomkorp Computer Solutions! Jeremy covered all of the sound effects, while Kenley composed half of the music (with other half independently-composed by Eric Nordquist, of the VGM cover band “Mode 7,” a band of which everyone should become a fan on facebook!

Clones is a game that is similar to Lemmings (for PC/Mac/SNES… well, almost every console after 1983), but has a boss battle and awesome multiplayer functionality.  The artwork is great, the animations are clean, the programming is slick and yeah, the sound is pretty epic too! It’s a really fun game, and I mean that it’s presented in this really bubbly, cute and colourful way.  I love it because it’s not a game that it takes itself too seriously – you never feel emotionally drained after, but you always feel lighter and happier when you’re done.

They’ve put a lot of work into level design and puzzle setup, so that the game is never impossible, but it’s always challenging, which is key.

Just so you get a sense of all of these different aspects, take a look at one of the trailers and you’ll see exactly what I mean!

For more information, check out!