Lo-Fi Listening: Chill to ‘Planet Zoo: Sounds Of Summer’ by JJ Ipsen
Are you into gaming and wild animals? Then Planet Zoo is right up your alley. Developed by Frontier Developments and first released in 2019, it has received commercial success, with over one million copies sold in the first month.
In a nutshell, Planet Zoo is a game where you build a zoo and connect with a global community.
Taking what JJ Ipsen has produced with the original soundtrack to You, Me & Other Animals: The Music Of Planet Zoo and giving it a breath of fresh air with the release of Planet Zoo: Sounds Of Summer in 2022 to celebrate its three years anniversary.
The 12 songs on the original album are stripped down with incredible lo-fi remixes by different members from the Frontier’s audio team while still maintaining the tranquillity essence of the game.
Whether you are listening to it while creating the perfect setting for your virtual zoo or after working hours, the chillhop-inspired tunes are ready to set you at ease.
We spoke with Jim Croft, the Director of Audio for Planet Zoo, behind the inspiration of Planet Zoo: Sounds Of Summer, the importance of score play, and the challenges of creating the soundscapes for a video game.
First of all, how did you all decide to create Planet Zoo: Sounds Of Summer? What was the motivation behind this remixed soundtrack?
It’s three years since we released Planet Zoo, so we wanted to do something creative and lasting to celebrate it!
Any particular inspiration behind remixing the soundtrack with lo-fi sounds?
With its hip-hop beats and chilled vibes, it’s the perfect genre for remixing the beautiful music we have in our game.
How different was the process of creating this remix compared to the actual soundtrack?
From our perspective it was just such a treat to unleash our own individual sound design and music skills on JJ Ipsen’s lovely work on the Planet Zoo soundtrack.
Is there a distinct memory or game that made you want to work in the industry? What was it about video game music in particular?
Video games had always excited me from a very young age. I had an early Atari console from my mum and dad for X’mas when I was 12. I went on to get into making my own games at home on the BBC Micro.
Then music happened and I left it behind for a few years. I took up learning to play the guitar and found myself fascinated with creating my own music. Then I realised that you could do that on computers and a beautiful synergy begun!
Was the team expecting the enthusiastic response from the Planet Zoo community? Has this opened up any other possible remixes or music work for your other games?
We have a lovely, passionate community of creative people who love what we do! We hoped that they would like it and it’s been really well received! Currently we have no plans to do this for any of our other games.
From a gaming point of view, what do you enjoy most about Planet Zoo? What makes it different?
It’s so refreshing to focus on creating and nurturing as opposed to shooting and destroying stuff! It’s such a chill experience playing Planet Zoo and being able to play at your own pace in your own style.
What role do you think sound and score play in the world of video games?
We are clearly biased but we feel that music and sound is at least 50% of the experience! We believe in supporting and enriching our games with detailed soundscapes and scores that emotionally underpin our games and stand up as great art in their own right.
In what stage of the development process do these sonic elements usually come into play?
From the very start! We like to be in discussions from the ground up so that we can influence features and integrate audio into them in cool ways. Some features are even audio driven, but it’s usually in the final year of the development cycle that audio really hits top speed and presence on the team.
Where and how do you find inspiration when creating these immersive soundtracks?
Inspiration is everywhere! For Planet Zoo we always use the mantra: “Make Quiet Interesting”, so nothing tends to stick out too much in the mix, everything works beautifully together, but there is a depth and an attention to detail in there. Everything is crafted. Even animals skin sounds!
What’s the most challenging aspect of creating the sonic world of a video game?
With Planet Zoo our goal is to always remain authentic to the animal world, however some recordings can be difficult to source or to record in person. For example, we licenced our Koala sounds from a zoo in Australia, using some of their keeper videos. It took a while but we got them and the end result was incredible!
And lastly, a fun one – if you were an animal, what would you be and why?
Meerkats look like they share a pretty happy, social, stimulating and community driven life. So I’ll choose them!
Cover Credit: Planet Zoo
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Writer | Kevin Yeoh
When he isn’t making sure Sound of Life stories are published in a timely manner, Kevin enjoys wandering aimlessly in Kuala Lumpur city, going down the YouTube rabbit hole and discovering new music.