The SimAnimals soundtrack is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful soundtracks I’ve listened to yet. I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Phillip’s work, but now I’ll be on the lookout for any future work from her. Gamezone managed to sneak in an interview with her busy schedule. She speaks about SimAnimals as well as her other projects:
With SimAnimals being a new property (The Maw too, actually), you’ve said that you had creative control from the start with nothing to compare the game to. Ultimately that’s what everyone wants – creative freedom – but does it ever prove to be daunting, having so many options but not an existing starting point?
Winifred Phillips: It was very exciting, and The SimAnimals Team was very helpful during those early days when my music producer, Winnie Waldron, and I were experimenting and developing a music style that would work for SimAnimals. The development team sent lots of videos and still images for inspiration. I submitted short musical ‘sketch’ tracks at the beginning of the project, which encapsulated possible directions that the score might pursue in terms of the style and aesthetic, and the development team offered some really helpful feedback. Working with The SimAnimals Team was a really great experience – they gave me a lot of room to be creative and define the musical style of the game, but they also offered a strong sounding-board and support system too.
The Maw was a similar experience, but taken to the extreme. Winnie and I would approach the guys at Twisted Pixel and say, “what do you think about this musical style for the game?” and they’d say, “whatever you think is best.” Winnie and I even developed the design for the musical interactivity and implementation for the game, and wrote a document for the developers detailing exactly how the music should react to gameplay. They gave us the go-ahead to define The Maw’s musical content at every level of the experience. It was incredibly empowering.
However, since there are other Sims games, SimAnimals is not entirely on its own. Did you consider The Sims franchise when working on SimAnimals?
WP: The team at EA didn’t really want us to do that – they made it very clear that this was a brand new franchise joining the Sims family, and as such it should have its own musical identity. Early in the life of the project, Winnie and I visited the development studio and had lots of meetings with the developers. During the meetings at the studio, we talked with the developers about the musical ideas that were embodied in the theme track I’d already written for SimAnimals, and how that style would integrate into the SimAnimals game. When we walked away from those meetings, we had a very clear vision of the unique identity of this new franchise, which was forging into the natural world while still retaining the innate charm that has always made The Sims so much fun to play.