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Talking To The Composer Behind Night In The Woods

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In development for over three and a half years, Night in the Woods came out last week and has been making waves with its unique art style and intimate take on daily life in a small, stagnant town. The game’s soundtrack, which Riley MacLeod called “intensely beautiful” in Kotaku’s review, is a big part of that. The person behind the music is Alec Holowka and this is his desk.

The designer and composer behind a number of other games, including Aquaria and I’m O.K – A Murder Simulator, Holowka has founded a number of small development companies and collaborated with lots of different designers, including most recently Scott Benson and Bethany Hockenberry for Night in the Woods.


I asked Holowka what his work space was like and he offered the above picture of his apartment in Winnipeg, Canada. On top of the L-shaped desk sits his 2013 MacBook Pro along with a Retina + Thunderbolt display. Next to both sits a MIDI keyboard wired to a pedal that sits under the desk so he can switch between coding and composing on the fly. It’s the kind of clean and unassuming setup you might expect given some of the music it’s produced.


From there, Holowka can easily un-dock and head to his favorite cafe: Forth. It’s less than a minute from his apartment and housed in the same building as an art gallery. “It’s located in a heritage building, they have an art gallery in the basement,” he says. “They make really good food, and lots of other creative types regularly hang out there.”

A AKAI MPK Mini MIDI keyboard lets him compose wherever he wants, including next to a cup of espresso in one of the city’s intersections for humble culture and creativity. “Getting out to the cafe is a great way to help myself stay focused and force myself to put on pants,” said Holowka. “The Night in the Woods team is spread out all over the world (Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Michigan, etc) so it can get lonely sometimes. It’s nice to be able to get out and be around other human beings without having to travel very far.”

I’ve always been very interested in how people work, play, and create, as well as the spaces they choose to do those things in. I’ve reached out to a number of people to doing interesting things in gaming, whether making them, competing in them, or simply playing them, starting with Holowka, who was kind enough to share some insight about his work and also answer following brief questionnaire.


1. How are you feeling right now?

I’m doing okay. It’s fine. We’re gonna be okay.

2. What did you have for breakfast?

A can of coke. That isn’t my regular meal, but I still feel regretful about it.

3. What’s the best/worst game you’ve ever played?

Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. It’s pretty broken in hilarious ways and SUPER melodramatic, but I kinda love it.


4. What is your greatest regret?

Not going into therapy sooner. Also that “having a can of coke for breakfast” thing I mentioned earlier.


5. When and where were you happiest?

Whenever I’m with a group of awesome people collaborating on some kinda cool project, in person. I’ve been lucky to be in that situation a few times, I hope I can make it happen a few more times before I kick the bucket.


6. If you died and came back as a character or object from a game, what would it be?

This is super embarrassing, but I wouldn’t mind being Raziel from the Soul Reaver games. He’s pretty MOODY and AWESOME.


7. What inspires you?

Broken games.