Pressure Cooker Studios is a full-service Music and Audio Studio based in Cape Town, South Africa. But being based in South Africa does not limit us to creating African soundscapes. We can create that authentic sound for whatever you need.
We take what is in your head and make it real, by pairing the right talent with the right project.
A fine example of this is our work on the game Manor Lords, the most highly anticipated upcoming strategy game release.
Manor Lords is being hand-crafted by independent game developer Grzegorz Styczeń of Slavic Magic. This medieval strategy game features in-depth organic city building and large-scale tactical battles amidst complex economic and social simulations.
This is a game we strongly believed in and the studio supported the project on its path to getting made. We reached out to Grzegorz in 2020 when we first saw what he was developing with Manor Lords and completed a music demo, which he loved. We then spent over two years developing authentic sonic landscapes for this realistic medieval game.
The benefit of getting involved early according to Grzegorz:
“It’s largely a game about building, so the atmosphere is very important, compared to some other genres. So you want to make sure your music and soundscapes bring life to whatever the player is creating, and sound in general makes it more real and satisfactory. The earlier that happens, the better of course, plus it allowed us to do that lengthy exploration we did over the years, fine tuning the musical direction.”
Getting involved early on in the project and collaborating with Grzegorz (who provided invaluable input throughout the process) meant that we were able to get started on a full game soundtrack before the alpha version of the game was released. We also developed early versions of the game music which were used in teasers, trailers and early game play demos to help elevate the world of the game and build hype as the game continued its development.
We asked Grzegorz what his background was and how he knew so much about music:
“Before Manor Lords I worked in video production so my background comes mainly from there, other than that, I love exploring all kinds of stuff, whether it’s programming or music, as a hobby, so I picked up tiny bits of info along the years. But just enough to annoy the composers with more feedback…”
This game Soundtrack preview was released on Youtube and received some epic comments from anticipating fans:
“This game is gonna be epic, soundtrack had me in tears.”
“This is hands down the best medieval music I have heard, game looks amazing too can’t wait for early access”
“I wish there was a “behind the scenes” footage with the orchestra, the actual making with the very legends who created these glorious tracks. I would love to see that…”
We strongly believe in collective collaboration, which we call our ‘made by many’ approach. We know that everyone has a specific role to play based on their specific skill set, and we ensure we pair the right talent with the right project to achieve the highest quality final product. We had a wealth of resources and people onboard with this project to bring it to life and ensure the soundtrack was a success.
In order to create this authentic sound we relied heavily on collaborating with live musicians both locally and abroad who specialise in medieval instruments.
We asked our composer for a list of some of the instruments that were recorded: “lutes and citoles, mandolins, a range of recorders and whistles, a lot of live percussion including frame drums, thatch sticks, finger cymbals and tambourines, medieval bowed instruments like the medieval viol, viola da gamba and renaissance violin and hurdy gurdy.” (Elben Schutte, Composer)
Composer Elben Schutte gives some insight into the process behind creating the authentic soundtrack:
“We really dove deep into exploring music that was written back in the 12th-14th centuries. Things were quite different back then when it came to making music. Nowadays, we’ve got a pretty structured and strict way of composing music, but in the 12th-14th centuries, they had their own unique set of ‘rules.’
Our first big challenge was all about breaking free from our modern musical habits and trying to think and create like the musicians and composers of that time. We also wanted to ensure we had the real deal when it came to the sound, so it was essential we use instruments that were actually used during that period, played like they were back then.
We got to team up with some seriously talented medieval minstrels from all corners of the world. These folks are true experts in this style of music, and you can feel their genuine passion for it. It’s like we brought a slice of history back to life in the most authentic way possible!”
We also wrote grand cinematic suites that captured the beauty and epic visuals of the game. We sent our key team to London to record at AIR Studios in London with a live orchestra. The score was supported by authentic choir motifs featuring the BBC Symphony Chorus, who we also recorded at AIR Studios.
Grzegorz believed strongly in the value of recording live to create this authentic soundscape and invested in recording the strings and choir on the soundtrack, at AIR studios.
Elben on recording with a live orchestra:
“There is nothing like recording with a live orchestra. With all our technological advancements and modern overdubbing and doubling techniques, working with a group of musicians in a beautiful sounding space is an unmatched experience. In our case, we had the privilege of recording at Air Studios in London with some of the best players in the world. The team we had to work with were remarkable, from the engineers to the orchestrators. The end result was something truly inspiring, real and beautiful.”
Grzegorz on the value of recording live instrumentalists:
“I think the value of real musicians versus just using a bunch of libraries is huge. Personally I think real performances are the very thing that makes the game soundtrack stand out in a sea of “inspiring cinematic” stock music, especially in today’s music world where it’s more and more about unique texture and instrumentation and less often about hummable themes.”
We love collaborating with Clients that are as strongly invested in Music and Audio as we are. Grzegorz had a very clear vision of what he wanted to achieve, and with his impeccable ear and input really pushed our team to achieve this vision.
We’ve brought our passion and experience for storytelling to the gaming world with our offering of through-the-line music and audio services for this ever-evolving industry. And with a team full of gamers, we also have a deep understanding of the need to create cinematic quality music for games to enhance the players’ experience.
We can not wait for the release of Manor Lords 1.0! Keep an ear out next month for some news on early access release.