Q&A: Blind Guardian on music in games

German band Blind Guardian talk to GameSpot about their appearance in the upcoming Sacred 2, and what it's like to be a guitarist playing Guitar Hero.

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While there's a good chance you'll hear your favourite rock band's music in a game these days, it isn't every day that you get to go questing for the band in-game. That's exactly what fans of the German fantasy-metal band Blind Guardian will get to do in the hack-and-slash action RPG Sacred 2, planned for release on PC and Xbox 360 in late 2008.

The German band has been around since the mid-'80s, and is famous for lyrics and album covers inspired by its favourite fantasy and horror authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael Moorcock, and Stephen King. In keeping with Blind Guardian's fantasy style, the group's members are even called bards by their fans, thanks to an early definitive track called "The Bard's Song," inspired by the 1985 game, The Bard's Tale.

GameSpot UK caught up with Blind Guardian vocalist Hansi Kursch, and the band's guitarists, Andre Olbrich and Marcus Siepen, during their motion-capture session for Sacred 2 in Hungary last week. In between filming, the band members talked about their music in Sacred 2, being in the game, and their opinion on music-based games.

GameSpot UK: How did Blind Guardian get involved with Sacred 2?

Hansi Kursch: That's quite an interesting story. Having three very active fantasy computer game nerds in the band, it's easy to imagine the big impact Sacred 1 has had on us. Because of their passion for Blind Guardian, some of the people at Ascaron in charge of Sacred 2 saw it as an opportunity to have us in the game musically. Coincidence or predestination? We'll never know. Fact is, when we were finally contacted by Ascaron, asking if we were interested in doing a song for the game, we immediately agreed to do so. So far the whole thing has been great fun for us. The reason for that is quite simple: Blind Guardian's music and the world of Ancaria perfectly blend together.

GS UK: What exactly can we expect from Blind Guardian in Sacred 2?

HK: At first we were only asked to do a song which would be used in the game. Later on, the Ascaron guys came up with the splendid idea of having us as resident [non-playable characters] in the world of Ancaria. We perform in the game as a kind of prize after a quest which our characters are involved in. We're here today to do motion capture for that performance, so it's a big challenge, and the first time we've ever done anything like this.

GS UK: You're all big fantasy fans and some of you are avid gamers; how do you feel about being in a game like this?

Andre Olbrich: We've always wanted to do music for a video game, but now that we have the chance to actually appear in a game, it's like a player's dream come true.

Marcus Siepen: I've been playing video games since I was like 10 or 11 years old, and obviously if you play a good game you identify with the character you're playing. But meeting myself in a game? I'm thrilled! I'm not so thrilled about doing the motion capture, putting on those suits is not nice!

GS UK: What can you tell us about the track you're doing for Sacred 2?

HK: It's called "Sacred"--the easy stuff always works best! It's about six minutes long and there are a lot of musical changes in there, but I'm sure the hook line, which contains the word "Sacred" of course, will make it very easy for the listener to get into the track, even through it's quite a complicated number.

GS UK: What sort of things influenced the creation of the song?

HK: There was a combination of things, including seeing the Sacred 2 concept art and playing the previous game. I started the music prior to playing the game, so initially the music was inspired by regular video game music, or at least what I understood as computer game music. I started playing the game, to be honest it was the first game I've really played, I'm not really a computer games pundit! Andre and Marcus are the band's gamers, but I did four or five levels to get an idea, and then focused on the music. There was a certain amount of inspiration from Sacred 2 itself, as I asked the programmers and writers to give me an idea of where the game's story was going, so we wove that into the song.

GS UK: We heard you got to choose what your characters will be wearing in the game. What was that like? Are you happy with the end result?

HK: You'd be surprised at how picky we were! The lead designer was laughing, as she could see that we appreciated the work and development going in, but we were really picky about small details. But we're really satisfied with the work in progress. My 3D model was being handled by the lead artist, so I knew I was in good hands--my belly has disappeared, it's a miracle!

MS: We were involved from day one. We got sketches of how our characters would look and could give feedback and make changes. In the beginning my character had warriorlike armour, which I didn't like. I thought they should remove all that metal and make it more natural. They did that and I like it. Today we saw the first 3D models, they look awesome and I can't wait to see them in motion. That'll be great!

AO: Yes, yes it looks awesome, they have some really great artists doing the graphics, and I'm impressed at how quickly they got such great results. The armour's not too heavy or too light for our characters, it's a little bit elfish and leather based, which we thought was fitting for bards like us.

GS UK: This isn't your first game-related project, is it? Didn't Uwe Boll's recent game movie, In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, feature Blind Guardian music?

HK: It was slightly different with the Dungeon Siege movie--our record company came up with the idea because they'd been in contact with the German film company looking for bands like Blind Guardian to be involved in the movie. In the end it turned out they just needed some music for the credits. One of our songs they used was "Carry the Blessed Home," based on Stephen King's Dark Tower. We were willing to give them some of our stuff, but didn't have any creative input; it was music from our previous albums.

GS UK: Following these experiences, would you be interested in doing more game music?

HK: Yes, we'd like to. In the past we were always really looking to do things like movies and games, but as an independent band on a major label with EMI and Virgin, we never got the chance--they always gave anything like that to one of their major bands. But we terminated that contract in 2000 and luckily they let us go, which leaves us open to this kind of thing.

GS UK: Who are the hardcore gamers in the band and what are you currently playing?

MS: Andre and I are the addicted ones! For about three years it's all been about World of Warcraft, the global addiction! It's the leading game at the moment, and it's a brilliant game, so they deserve the place they hold.

GS UK: As professional musicians, what do you think of music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band? Would you be happy to see Blind Guardian's music in them?

HK: Sure, but to be honest I'd be more comfortable if we had the chance to create something particular for the game. I know that in most cases they use an existing song and put it in the game, but Andre does a lot of challenging stuff on guitar and it'd be important for us to make it interesting for the guys being guitar heroes.

AO: I think we would be a good fit in games like that. Those games are great, especially for kids, although just as many dads play too, I think it's a great thing bringing music into the video game genre. There isn't the same emphasis on music as entertainment this generation; it's switched towards video games and movies. Music feels like it's lagging behind sometimes, so I like that music, and rock music in particular, is coming through in this medium.

MS: I have Guitar Hero myself. I was kind of sceptical about it in the beginning, until my wife and I played Guitar Hero II at a friend's place, and found it was actually a lot of fun. We went out the next day and bought Guitar Hero III and played through, unlocking all the songs! As a party game Rock Band looks like fun; the only danger I can see with it is kids thinking, "OK, I'll buy this game for my PlayStation as a way to be a musician"--No you're not!

GS UK: Don't you think that these kinds of games could help inspire a passion in people, for playing real music?

MS: That might be the case of course. If they grab Guitar Hero, play a little plastic guitar and love doing that, they might get attracted to it and say, "I'd like to try the real thing"--which would be a good thing. As I said, the game is fun, it's entertaining and that's OK, it just shouldn't be confused with being a musician.

GS UK: Blind Guardian's music is driven by your guitar work, but are you any good at playing Guitar Hero?

AO: No! I tried it once and couldn't figure it out! It's strange; I think I just need more time to get used to it.

MS: The funny thing is that if you're actually able to play the guitar, the game's more difficult, because what the game expects you to play is not what the real guitars are playing. As a real guitarist you tend to try to play what you hear--it gets complicated! We wouldn't miss the chance of putting a song into something like Guitar Hero IV, it would be fun, but if I played our song in the game, I'd fail! I'd be trying to play the real song--either that or it would mess up our live performance on the next tour. I'd be screaming things like, "Where's the green button!" Perhaps I should speak to Gibson about getting us guitars with buttons!

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fighterguard

it's way cool to see Bilnd Guardian in a videogame, but has everyone forgotten about WinterHeart's Guild (or maybe it's no one knows about that game)? For the ones who ignore it, WHG is a game where the MAIN CHARACTERS are the members of Sonata Arctica! They'll release the game along with an eponymous album this holiday season (or at least that was what they said). I know that previous ventures of metal bands into game genres different from rythm/music games have been desastrous (Ed-Hunter anyone?), but this game seems so be shaping up pretty well. I don't know if GS has any info regarding to WHG (and I'm too lazy to look for it myself right now), so keep an eye on it!

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Spore-net

Blind Guardian?!? In a GAME!?! I'm getting the next sacred simply for that :D One of the world's best European power metal bands in the sequel to a great RPG - what's not to like? Desparado's right though - it's a shame most people only listen to dragonforce due to their status on Guitar hero whilst the best bands like Blind Guardian don't get a look in

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WushuFighter

Blind Guardian? What about Gamma Ray?!?!?!

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thedaxxman

the bundles gonna be like 180 bucks for GHWT

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megamaster32

Well this game does look good i might get it for christmas just need to know what cost it is NOTE: ignore the 1970 on my year thing got messed up

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desperado2503

Sweet... this couldn't be much better. But i'm thinking that a guitar hero game, that features at least 2 or 3 songs of blind guardian. That would make an "INSTANT" buy. Demons & Wizards is the fusion ever... ignore all those ignorant haters who listens only to power crap like Dragonforce.

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Denny_Carmassi

I'm getting a 360 for this. Now bring on Sonata Arctica's game Winterheart's Guild and 2008 will be complete for me.

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amirtheonly

Their music is beautiful, but not everyone can taste it. Sometimes I can't myself! But it's an interesting idea, to play a hack-n-slash game with a Rock band playing just for you!

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avatarofwoe314

Blind Guardian is rules. Hopefully they make another album soon and tour again because they are amazing live!

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ZhugeMarc

This is the first time I've heard anything of Sam Bandah on GSUK since last year.

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Lord_Omikron666

Power metal in Rock Band or Guitar Hero that ISN'T Dragonforce. I'm sold

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Shadowsouled

Blind Guardian on Rock Band or Guitar Hero would make for an instant buy.

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Judakel

Considering that the game is just another hack n' slash they need as much publicity as possible, so it is not surprising they would enlist some well-known artists. I would prefer an orchestral score rather than a rock soundtrack, specially considering I am not a fan of Blind Guardian's brand of metal. This may no stop me from buying the game, but it is certainly not a plus for me.

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ScionofEntropy

A little off-topic, but I'd love to see some Blind Guardian of Demons & Wizards in Rock Band as DLC. It's cool that BG is doing a new song just for this game, and actually being put into the game as an added perk. I wonder if the track they came up with will be released as a single?

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gRAYmatter05

Demons and Wizards FTW.

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grey-flood

HAIIIIIIIILS HANSI !!!! :twisted: now there are some true bards on a RPgame!!!! HAIIIIIIIIL :twisted:

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giventofly462

HANSI!

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jamesseda

I have the album "Demons & Wizards" and it is wonderful!!!

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Absolutezerr

There are people who don't know about Blind Guardian? o_O I thought they were just as big as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. I've been wanting some of their stuff in RB since the game came out. We need Welcome to Dying and The Bard's Song... Although personally I like Hansi's work with Jon Schafer in Demons & Wizards even more. Having that as an album download would kick ass.

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mooswab

never heard of the band but, hey, sounds good that they are getting "big name bands" for the release. should be interesting

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Pete5506

Sweet I would like to see some of this in GH or Rock Band

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gRAYmatter05

Awesome. :) Now all we need is Iced Earth and we're all set.

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Lucas325

i would love to see some Blind Guardian in a GH game

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Dr_Corndog

Listening to some Blind Guardian right now. This is one of those bands I've been curious about for a while. Maybe I'll buy one of their albums.

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bacchus2

I have no idea who these guy are, but I am glad that Gamespot does interviews like these, and give various takes on the game industry. Off to youtube to check these guys out...

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denter21

Not really necessary, as Sacred 2 will be AWESOME anyways... but hey, it's can't hurt to have a big name band do the soundtrack. Between this and Warhammer Online I won't have much time for school, food, sunlight....

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GDCalibur

How cool is that. Would love to see Blind Guardian in concert. =)

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peeweeshift

but i want a be in a game too. i am altair didnt u guys know that

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Taegre

They're actually in the game? SWEEEEET! Hopefully it'll be as good as when Level appeared in the stadium stage of Twisted Metal: Head On!

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lpfan809

I'll definitely keeping an eye on Sacred 2 now and I would love to see news of Blind Guardian as DLC for Rock Band in the news in the next few months. My fingers are crossed!

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Berem

BLIND GUARDIAN RULES!!!! \m/ GOOD JOB GAMESPOT!!!

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KnightsofRound

Blind Guardian kick ASS!

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Magatsu23

nice. BG is one of the best bands around (if not in the history of metal). nice to see them in the game bussiness

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Tingle-Tuner

I can't wait to hear the song! Knowing that BG is actually IN the game makes me really want to play it.

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marriage0

yeah i totally need to get this game now, this made my day too, BG are easily my favourite band, hopefully this will make them more popular they deserve more attention!!! iv never heard a band which has such melodic and epic songs....its amazing. Bards song FTW!!!

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1valiantknight

This just totally made my day. Blind Guardian rocks!

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SweetPandaLove

would be funny to actually see him on stage screaming "WHERE'S THE GREEN BUTTON!!!"

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sentenced83

my favs for them are : the minstrel and the knight and bright eyes

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OrkHammer007

@artanis: The problem with "...And Then There Was Silence" on GH or RB is, the song is 13 minutes long!!! It would be awesome on many levels, but I don't think anyone would go for it. :?

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Ahiru-San

Unfortunately, they didn't get to score on LoTR movies... I hope S2 turn out a great game, would love to play something with BG music that is off their albums...

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Schillinger

Interviewing Blind Guardian about music is like interviewing Stevie Wonder about the colour settings on his TV, or Stephen Hawking about running a marathon.

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Rhubarb9

blind guardian rules hope sacred 2 is good enough to deserve the soundtrack :]

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DethZero

Blind Guardian rulez!

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MetroidPrimePwn

Well, I'm buying this. It has Blind Guardian in it. It must be bought.

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johncraven

BLIND GUARDIAN!!! It'd be awesome to play their songs on GH or RB!

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Faller88

In My Humble Opinion, Their Song The Soulforged, based of Rastlin Majere from the ragonlance series is.......Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!

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guile_charlie

If I played our song in the game, I'd fail! I'd be trying to play the real song--either that or it would mess up our live performance on the next tour. I'd be screaming things like, "Where's the green button!" Perhaps I should speak to Gibson about getting us guitars with buttons!" That's hilarious!

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edgeofforever

Awesome! One of my all time favourites.

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darthzew

That's a good read. I've never heard Blind Guardian before, I should check them out!

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Oktoberfest

Blind Guardian owns!! It would be cool to see them in the next GH... haha playing And Then There Was Silence... that would be awesome

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