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Wilco's Domain Interviews Mark Seibert
Veteran Sierra Music Composer

This interview originally appeared at the now-defunct Wilco's Domain and appears here courtesy of the Domain's former webmaster and Freelance Space Quest Historian, Troels Pleimert. The original interview was conducted in 1997.

Wilco's Domain: When did you first get aboard Sierra, and what was your first project?

       Mark Seibert: I started at Sierra in 1987 (if I remember correctly). The first project I worked on was King's Quest 4. I edited all of the music and wrote one very short little piece.

WD: What was your first experience with Space Quest?

       MS: My first experience with Space Quest was doing music for Space Quest II Amiga (or some such platform). It was the same summer I worked on KQ4. Later that fall I worked on Space Quest III along with Bob Siebenberg from Supertramp. He wrote most of the music. I did all of the editing and sound effects and patch editing for him. This was the first game we did sound effects on.

WD: How many music pieces does a Sierra-game contain, usually? And how long does it take to create them?

       MS: It has changed a lot over the years. When we started doing music (KQ4 was the first game ever made with MIDI music), I'd say there was probably 45 minutes of music in the game. Those games were still on floppy disk so size was an issue even for MIDI-files. I think the biggest game musically that I ever worked on was probably King's Quest 5. It had about 3 hours of music if you just played all of the MIDI-files back to back. In Phantasmagoria I wrote about an hour of music for all of the movie sequences. Since we're not doing MIDI music anymore, size of wave files is becoming a big issue.

       For the older MIDI-games it used to take about 3 to 4 months to do a game. Now I have musicians working on a project from start to finish (usually about 9 to 18 months).

WD: What utilities does the Sierra-musicians use to create music?

       MS: Each musician is allowed to use whatever software tools they choose. Most of the musicians work on PC's, but there are still a few around here that are hanging on to their MAC's. In my studio I use Wave for Windows, Voyetra Seq Gold, Voyetra DOP and several in-house tools.

WD: Although the credits state otherwise, you told me yourself [in previous personal e-mail correspondances. -ed] that you hardly did any music work for SQ4 and SQ1VGA. Why is that?

       MS: The credits for SQ4 list me as the Music Director, which was my title at the time. The credits also show myself and another person [Ken Allen, -ed] as the people who wrote the music. At that time I was directing and writing for every game that came out of Sierra. Typically I would work with each musician on staff both writing new material and editing staff musicians works to get the game to sound the way we wanted them. On SQ4 the musician/composer assigned to the title [Ken again, -ed] was a little more experienced than some of the other people on staff. I was able to do much less editing and writing on this project because of this. The SQ4 theme itself remained mostly intact as written with very few changes by myself.

WD: Since 1991, it'd almost become a sort of tradition that new SQ-games would feature work from the Allen/Seibert team. Why didn't this happen for SQ6?

       MS: Mr. Allen left Sierra several years ago to persue other things.

       In 1992, I changed roles here at Sierra and became a Producer. Since then I have produced the following titles: Pepper's Adventures, Shadows of Yserbius off-line, King's Quest 7, Phantasmagoria, Torin's Passage, Larry 7, and I'm currently working on King's Quest 8. One of the nice things about being a producer is that I now get to pick and choose what music I want to write and how it should go into a game. For example, I wrote most of the music for Phantasmagoria. Here lately I have been doing less writing since I have been very busy working on projects with both Roberta Williams and Al Lowe. My involvement in game design has grown a lot which has given me less time for writing.

WD: Now that we've heard that an SQ7 project is underway, do you think you'll be doing any musical work on that? Would you like to do work on an SQ-project someday?

       MS: Hmmm ... I was unaware that SQ7 was in the works. I assume that if it is, it will be produced down in the Oakhurst-office. Since I am now working in the Seattle office I would guess that all of the music will be written down there.

WD: From SQ3 to SQ4 to SQ1VGA, it seems you (and Ken) enjoy making some heavy alterations to the original theme, composed by Mark Crowe. Why didn't you stick to the original theme?

       MS: As I recall, Mark always started our discussions about music with suggesting that maybe we should write a new theme. Actually, I kind of liked his theme and always pushed to keep it, or at least use the motif's from it to make something new.

WD: In all the Space Quest games, which one do you think has the best score? And which is your favourite music piece?

       MS: Space Quest 3 and 4, I think, have the best music. These two are very different in style. However, if I have to pick one, I think it would be 4. There's a lot of fun stuff in there. If you hear it on the old MT-32 today, it still sounds pretty good.

WD: You just finished "Leisure Suit Larry 7". What is your future projects?

       MS: Well I think I beat you to this question. As I stated above, I'm working with both Roberta Williams and Al Lowe. This year we plan on shipping KQ8. While I'm working on that, it looks like I'll be working with Al on what he will be designing for 1998.

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