Mohawk Games’ debut title, the real-time strategy game Offworld Trading Company, presented an interesting musical challenge: how to tell a story in a game with no characters, no combat, and no moving units? Set on Mars, the player assumes the role of CEO of a corporation, outmaneuvering your opponents through nothing more than building infrastructure and buying and selling stocks.
Offworld Trading Company is a retro-futurist blend of analog synths, industrial sounds and minimalist orchestration. Inspired by the steady chatter of ticker tape, the score mirrors the pulse of capitalism: dispassionate, robotic, and relentless. Many of the sounds undergo heavy processing; even the orchestra itself is an unconventional ensemble of 11 brass players and 8 violins.
Unlike Tin’s classical scores, where each musical phrase is carefully written out, Offworld’s score relies on a more programmatic approach. Using step-sequencers and arpeggiators, Tin programmed some basic musical behaviors into his computer, fed it rudimentary harmonies, and then recorded the outputs. He then surrounded this generative material with more traditionally composed musical phrases. The result is a score that is part robot, part human.
Mohawk Games was founded by Christopher Tin’s former college roommate, friend, and longtime collaborator, Soren Johnson. Their previous collaboration was Civilization IV--a partnership which yielded Christopher his first Grammy Award for the title song ‘Baba Yetu’.
One movement, ‘Brave New Planet’, takes its title from Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel, but also contains a direct quote of Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony #9, “From the New World”.