Someday, somewhere, someone will make a video game musical. Legendary game designer Warren Spector hopes it will be him. His latest game, Epic Mickey 2, is something of a video game musical, but it's still not a realization of Spector's musical ambitions.
I sat down with Spector last weekend in Seattle to talk about Epic Mickey 2, and the moment I asked about the idea of a video game musical, his eyes lit up. The man is, quite simply, a real dyed-in-the-wool musical fan. (Quote: "Kristin Chenoweth is the most talented human in the world.) He described growing up in Manhattan and going to Broadway shows with his mom, seeing the original casts of Oliver, Camelot and Godspell as a kid, and says that in his opinion, On The Town is one of the two or three greatest films ever made.
"I'd love to do a musical [game], no one has been crazy enough to let me do it," said Spector when "Especially because the way I approach it is, 'I have no idea how to do the interactive musical of my dreams.' That is why I wanna do it!"
When I asked him to elaborate on some of those ideas, he wouldn't go into too much detail, presumably so he can save them and use them in his game. He did say, however, that he is interested in a video game musical that isn't performance-based. (Hey, sort of like the now-funded Dominique Pamplemousse!)
"I'm not going to talk about the specific ideas," he said. "I will tell you that I have a lot of crazy ideas about how to use songs as mechanical bits that do not involve performance. That's the thing I think—everybody makes a mistake, and music games are always about beat-matching or performance. And I think there are other ways to use songs or music that are more interesting. And that's all you're gonna get out of me."
He did say a bit more: "Games are all about action, but it doesn't necessarily mean you have to play notes or beat-match. So. For me, [What is a musical?] is too big a question, but, I think if you look at Disney films, and at the musicals that I love, they use songs to advance the story. And they use songs to allow the characters to express their emotions.
Of course, some people on the game aren't sold on the idea of songs in a game, some of the people overseeing Epic Mickey 2. "There are forces at work that believe that songs are dangerous," Spector said, with a slightly overdramatic smile. Our PR handler laughed. "I have literally been told that if there are songs in a game, gamers will reject it and not buy it. And I think it's nonsense, and I want to prove that I am right, and that the doubters are wrong."
I told him I hoped they were wrong, as well. "It doesn't matter," Spector said. "Because I'm gonna do it anyway."