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SDA 011: Jared Emerson-Johnson – Composing for Telltale Games

Sound Design Academy session 11

Today I am chattin’ it up with the amazingly talented Jared Emerson-Johnson. Jared has composed music for a ton of awesome titles including Jurassic Park the Game, Back to the Future the Game, Telltale’s The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead Season Two, Game of Thrones, plus Tales from the Borderlands!!! Jared also worked on many of the Sam and Max games. Another really cool aspect of Jared’s work is that he not only composes but has worked as a designer on many of these titles plus, Lego Stars Wars II: The Original Trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King, Knights of the Old Republic and Psychonauts. Guys… he worked on Psychonauts

Show Notes:


  • Jared grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area (02:10)
  • Did you always have games as target job area? (02:33)
  • Jared’s gambit of game designer from designer, to vocal lead, to composer (03:25)
  • Works for Bay Area Sound (04:02)
  • Sound Design in many ways can relate to Musique Concrete (04:50)
  • If only we got Pro Tools rigs at age 6 (06:03)
  • How did you get your first gaming gig? (06:51)
  • The cold call approach (10:16)
  • Jared’s work on Knights of the Old Republic (12:27)
  • Psychonauts (13:35)
  • Games becoming classics and staying fun permanently (14:48)
  • Why The Walking Dead works graphically (16:26)
  • Stepping up voice acting in games (18:02)
  • What’s you favorite synthesizer? (19:50)
  • Tales from the Borderlands (19:56)
  • Variety of styles to Jared’s music (22:08)
  • When did you transition over to Telltale? (23:37)
  • Telltale’s emphasis on story (25:43)
  • What’s your favorite Nintendo game? (27:07)
  • Why are many modern games so easy!? (28:20)
  • How’s it been working on Tales from the Borderlands? (29:24)
  • As a composer, are you more empathetic when you write? Does it take a toll? (30:32)
  • What instruments do you all play? (31:34)
  • Have you had a low point in any of the games you’ve worked on? (33:05)
  • Tricks of the trade in music production (36:27)
  • Building material when producing an episodic project (37:29)
  • What if AAA (yea… I said double… oops) titles like Halo were released episodically? (38:31)
  • The information collected in the games with your choices can influence the season. (39:54)
  • Have you had a favorite title that you’ve worked on? (43:22)
  • Did you have a moment when you knew this was what you wanted to do? (46:26)
  • What’s your favorite microphone? (49:25)
  • What book would you recommend? (50:37)
  • What was the best piece of advice you were ever given? (52:04)


Jared’s Website

Jared’s IMDB

Telltale Games


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Tales from the Borderlands