Interview with Attila Heger

Topic: Ecco 2: Tides of Time Music and Composition


  This is a copy of an interview between Moduvator and Attila Heger, one of the composers of the music for Ecco 2: Tides of Time for the MegaDrive/Genesis. We'd like to thank Moduvator for the interview and Mr. Heger for giving us his time to demystify another part of the Ecco universe!  

Interview with Attila Heger

  Moduvator: It is believed that all music for Tides of Time was all written by you. Is that really so?

Heger: No. As far as I know, Ecco ToT music was composed by

- a composer(s) brought by SEGA (I do not know her/him)
- my colleague at that time, Andras Magyari (who has worked on SEGA CD version of Ecco too);
- (probably) Gabor Lippenyi - a songwriter

If I am right, I added 6-7 tracks to ToT.

I gave Attila all the ToT music tracks to listen and he could remember which of them were added by him. They are:
(Click the links below to listen to or download these songs.

Moduvator: The most intriguing question is how exactly did you write music for the MegaDrive music synth? Did you have to use only the instruments its sound chip could offer (which from your own words have been very poor), or did you first write the music on your favorite equipment and then convert the instruments to MegaDrive?

Heger: In case of MegaDrive we had special software, which enabled us to compose music directly to the MD chip - which was good and bad at the same time. It was good, since we could listen to the music as it was played actually in the game...and it was bad since the chip was quite limited: we had to face crashes and bugs very often. And of course we created the sounds for ourselves. The chip had only 5-notes polyphony! In each music there could be only 5 MIDI tracks, all of them must have been monophonic. If the note-on and the note-off events met, the sound chip cracked and remained silent. Actually there was a 6th channel in the chip, but it was used for sound effects.

Moduvator: Yes, I remember YM2612 had 6 FM channels, one DAC channel and noise generator?

Heger: The noise generator was our secret weapon :) When we were out of the channels, we could use it for simpler music sounds. And we have to mention that due to the strict monophonic rule, we had to check every track, note by note manually - which took more time than composing the music itself. At that time I really hated my 16th arpeggios :)

Moduvator: How much time did it usually take you to make one music track for ToT?

Heger: Composing the music took 3-4 hours and to check and correct it took a whole day

Moduvator: Most of the music for Defender of The Future was written by Tim Follin as it is known. But you say that you have also written a soundtrack for it. How come Sega used your music only in the cinematics? What do you think about that?

Heger: Originally I was in charge of all DoTF music and I composed both in-game and cinematic music. As the development improved, Tim Follin was brought in to the project from the publisher side. So they planned to use his music too - it is always the client's right to decide. As far as I know, in the final game there are more levels than the amount or number of the in-game music composed by Tim Follin, so there is a chance that some of my in-game music can be heard in the game too - apart from the cinematics music, which is mine.

Moduvator: Do you have any soundtracks you have written for DotF preserved?

Heger: Yes. And since Sega hasn’t used them the copyright is back mine. I am uncertain whether I am going to make those tracks available for public though. The time will tell.

Moduvator: Spencer Nilsen with co-operation with Sega has released the Ecco soundtrack album in 1996 called “The Songs of Time”. Do you have any future plans on maybe creating something like this too?

Heger: The thing is that I can’t release anything under “Ecco the Dolphin” title since it is still copyrighted by SEGA. And I did not have plans to make anything like Spencer’s album in the nearest future.


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