‘God of War’ creators talk media and music

By Andrew Street
Staff Writer

On Friday, Oct. 30, Cecile Kim and Gerard Marino, who both significantly contributed to the famous “God of War” games, provided the College’s students with insight on creating music and art for games. With lunches in hand, students flocked to Mayo Concert Hall for the Brown Bag Series. The two artists spoke to students about making music, gaining inspiration, creating for media and facing difficulties.

Marino, who has been the lead composer on the entire “God of War” series, started the lecture by speaking about his career origins. He told tales of failed attempts, becoming a rockstar and his eventual steps into his musical career.

It was here that he began discussing his first professional composing position on the “God of War” series. He spoke about his experiences creating music for video games, which differs from traditional media, and the general difficulty of combining all aspects for a final product.

Kim and Marino discuss challenges in their artistic careers. (David Colby / Staff Photographer)
Kim and Marino discuss challenges in their artistic careers. (David Colby / Staff Photographer)

He went on to speak of how he would create songs with no imagery for basis. At times he would have  to select pieces of Kim’s concept art, but typically he was directed using words. He recalled that the game designers told him, “This is the most evil character in a game, ever. Make the most evil music you can.”

After much difficulty and rejected works, Marino created a main theme that captured what the creators were looking for. He described the music he created as “stabby music for a stabby game.” This would go on to become the “Kratos Theme,” which Marino conducted with the TCNJ Wind Ensemble later in the evening at the “Pixel Music” concert.

Kim also spoke about his time as a concept artist for the famous video game series. As an artist, he expressed the numerous challenges that he personally faced while devoting himself to his work.

One of the major issues he spoke of focused on concepting Greek architecture, clothing and weapons. The difficulty for inspiration comes from the lack of remaining structures or items from ancient Greece. As a result, Kim had to use what little ancient artifacts remained and texts to create a world that matched the Greek styling the creators wanted.

One of Kim’s biggest inspirations for significant concept art stemmed from Marino’s music. 

“We hadn’t met yet, but people would show us each others works and allow us to be inspired,” he said.

Both Kim and Marino had insight to offer the artists and musicians eagerly watching in the audience. Marino explained the grueling process of making art in media. He expressed that handling harsh criticism, approval and constant revisions can be draining.

“You must be strong,” Marino said. “You will take damage throughout your career, but you must use it to make your work better.”

Before exiting the stage, the two creators decided to answer some questions from the audience.

“We are trying to get a project going together to show the world how badass we are,” Marino said of a possible future collaboration with Kim.

Whether this was a light-hearted joke or a hint at future games is yet to be known. It isn’t unlikely as both parties have continued to work on video games beyond “God of War.”

The Brown Bag tied in with an array of video game-related events occurring around campus this month. The TCNJ Wind Ensemble’s “Pixel Music” concert and the Art Department’s “Palette of Pixels” art gallery have both aimed to demonstrate the artistic reality of games, and how much they’ve grown. Much like the art they created, both Marino and Kim entertained, informed and inspired students at the College.

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