For many, the best way to achieve a professional career in music is to pick up that covered guitar or keyboard and to try and write that elusive hit single. Maybe, after a few years of gigging, you might have enough of a presence to release some music, and then you can throw yourself into the increasingly shark-ridden waters of the music industry.
But for Chris Geehan and Dan Byrne-McCullough, fate showed them another way. Having both completed their music degrees in England, and dipped their toes into the waters of jazz, they found themselves with an offer to compose a piece of music for a video game, and found a whole host of doors opening to them.
Gaming is big business these days, and alongside an interesting, immersive story and some neat graphics, sound design and music is perhaps one of the most important parts of the puzzle when it comes to scoring a hit title. And with many high-profile games now resembling big-budget Hollywood movies, the appropriate soundtrack becomes increasingly important.
HyperDuck SoundWorks grew out of Byrne-McCullough and Geehan's initial foray into this world on the award-winning free game Iji, and, along the way, they’ve racked up an impressive resume, working with clients from countries around the world. At their Belfast studio, their awards shelf is groaning under the praise of an industry crying out for quality musical content.
Their work on Dust: An Elysian Tale garnered them a ‘Best Score: Independent’ award at the 2012 Game Music Awards, for example, and with over a million sales worldwide, showed that the Northern Irish duo were a force to be reckoned with. Now, Hyperduck Soundworks are finding their skills increasingly in demand.
And, according to them, the design scene in Northern Ireland is on the up, too. With the freedom granted by digital communication, it is no longer required for designers to up sticks and move to America to make a name for themselves, with home studios and bedrooms proving to be the design studios of tomorrow. Not bad for something you used to get told off for doing instead of your homework. Game on.
Visit the Hyperduck Soundworks website for more information.
By Steven Rainey