• Bernard A. Kyer

JURASSIC EXPLORER - A Retrospective (Part II)

Returning to The Island

I say "returning," but we never really left the project. Only a few weeks passed between Season 1 and the work starting on Season 2 for Jurassic Explorer. Once Season 1 was released and we saw how much people were loving it and how much potential there still was, we began to discuss our desires for the next season in earnest. Early in the process, Michael and I discussed some ideas we'd had for where the music could go and new uses for the music. One discussion was to emulate the 'feel' and sound of 'Remembering Petticoat Lane' from JURASSIC PARK. I've studied the JURASSIC PARK scores in depth over the years so I began to toy around with creating a mockup of that scenes music: specifically the synth celeste/ music box. This test translated into a new melody I developed for the track 'The Intrepid Explorer.'

Gyrosphere and Monorail from Jurassic Explorer Season 2
The Gyrosphere and Monorail from Season 2

Another exploration, the first true track I wrote for Season 2 was “Have No Sphere.” This energetic and cyclical piece was for the Gyrosphere valley where we allowed the player to drive the Gyrosphere through the habitat, seeing all kinds of dinosaurs! Season 1 only had a few dinosaurs present which the Gyrosphere Valley, home to many species, was intended to rectify. Michael would often say that this piece set the tone for Season 2: fun, energetic, and adventure!

Returning to Old Ideas

During Season 1, several ideas were never fully explored including melodic ideas I'd begun developing but didn't know where they would fit. Season 2 saw almost every one of these ideas grow into fruition. With Season 2 focusing so much on new areas and new experiences, I had some concern that the big experience from Season 1—Main street and all its shops recreated—might feel less interesting or alive. The amount of time, effort, and sheer WORK that went into producing Main Street didn't deserve to be lost in Season 2. During season 1 I had proposed creating music for most of the shops and areas so they would FEEL more alive but with the time we had and the amount of work needed it was never fully attempted. Now, with Season 2 begging the answer of how to keep Main Street fresh, this became more integral than ever. After some thought about about the layout of mainstreet and what would have the strongest need for music, I developed a list of music needs for about every other shop on the set. The different areas on Main Street that now included music were Starbucks, Nobu, Pandora/Brookstone, Dave & Busters, Margaritaville, Jurassic Traders, and the IMAX theatre. Michael jumped on this idea immediately! He began to develop these songs into new 'packs' where, if you unlocked the Margaritaville pack for example, the music would play and tables with chairs & a margarita would appear outside the location! In all, we did this for almost every major location seen on main street. This idea also fed into an idea Michael had been wanting to do but not found a good reason to include: a shop system. In this way, the music inspired these packs and the early beginnings of what items could be available was found leading to the full development of a shop system. The new shop developed for the game---represented by a small store location outside of the main experience---allowed players to use coins they collect to unlock custom content throughout the experience. For the shop, an energetic and fun piece of music was needed and once again, a piece I'd being developing for Season 1 but hadn't used came in handy! This track had been partially developed, including instruments chosen, but had no real place in Season 1. Developing this track completely, it now became one of two tracks that played for Mr. DNA's Emporium!

New Introductions

Mr DNA's Simulation Machine
Mr DNA's simulation machine

Mr. DNA played a small introductory role in Season 1, but with Season 2 he developed into a full character. Mr. DNA, as he explains in the new opening of the game, made a machine that re-created Jurassic World as seen before the fall for you to 'explore.' Mr. DNA ran the Simulation Machine to bring Jurassic World back to life and he was sharing it with the player. This new introduction included a narrator so new music replacing the more 'cartoony' music from Season 1 had to be written. After this new introduction to the story, the player clicked on the icon to begin the simulation. During early development I had discussed with Michael the possibility of having the Monorail station to travel the player to the park. Although the station wasn't built, Michael did build a working monorail--including live cinematic cut away views--creating that experience of traveling over the island and through the Main Gates! A cut scene then introduces the player to main-street as the monorail arrives. This sequence's music was actually birthed well before we had even decided to produce this changed intro based on a similar concept I'd imagined. Early in Season 2's development, storyboards for an unused montage sequence from JURASSIC WORLD--produced by David Lowery--were posted online. As I looked over these, I realized it was the montage I saw in my mind as I listened to the album track “As The Jurassic World Turns” before the movie was released! This sparked a thought in my mind: what WOULD this sequence musically sound like? I began developing this sequence musically, starting with the monorail journey--not included in the sequence--and then through each scene by scene, using melodies I had created for the Rex, the Gyrosphere Valley, and for Jurassic Explorer itself creating the “monorail-montage” or “Mono-Tage” for short.

A New First

Jurassic Explorer Season 2's Shop System (Mr DNA's Emporium)
Mr DNA's Emporium

While discussing the music for Season 1, Michael had been the one to broach the idea that I should include some recording of myself playing violin / viola in one of the pieces. With my setup and time as it had been, I never found an adequate placement for this. With 'The Intrepid Explorer,' however, a piece which plays as the Epilogue to the game experience, I found opportunities in the piece for me to record a few violin and viola lines and incorporate them into the cue adding a nice personal touch to our send off. One of the most humbling and exciting aspects of producing Season 1 was seeing just how many people enjoyed playing it and spent so much time in the experience. It was a bit mind blowing to realize how many people had played our "little game." Around this time, Spielberg's 'Ready Player One' had come out and while watching the movie in theatres I'd been moved by a scene near the end of the film which spoke directly to me and the experience with JURASSIC EXPLORER. After all was said and done, the man who had created The Oasis in the game, meets the main character and before turning it over to him, he turns around and says "Thanks for Playing My Game." I recall beginning to cry in the theatre because it hit me how powerful that feeling that gratitude resonated with me. In discussing it with Michael, a cut scene was produced for once the player had completely unlocked the game. Mr DNA would speak to the player and say how special the experience had been and thank the player for joining us on our Journey. With all this, it seemed only fitting that this track would also be the first to include the recordings of me playing viola & violin.

A Return to the Past

Isla Nublar 1993

One of the most exciting things about working with Michael and our team was that we worked so well together that near the end of production we were actually ahead of our timeline. Motivated by all the developing and excitement to share this experience, we produced Season 2 in record time! Near the end, we began to ask "what else can we do?" and the realization was we could include content from the original Jurassic Park trilogy. This included the tour from Jurassic Park and our own designed lab area on Sorna from The Lost World / JP3. For the music for 1993 JURASSIC PARK, I based a cue off of 'An History Lesson' from the first film. This cue of the same title had the excitement, joy, and beauty of the park wrapped up in one. The player could walk around the grounds of the Visitor Center, walk the park tour through the main gates and even see the main paddocks from the film--with narration by me as well! As someone whose been in the Jurassic Park community for many years, I helped lay out and develop this area, guiding Michael with my knowledge of the film and layout. For the Isla Sorna area, I developed a track based on "The Hunt" from The Lost World. This percussive, exciting, and energetic cue included some really fun orchestrations and ideas to build the excitement of being in a 'lost world.' This cue also had the benefit of being written around the time of Fallen Kingdom which had some really exciting big orchestral moments which helped inspire the ending of the track. All this still only scratches the surface of what we produced for Season 2.

Continued on Part III...

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