|Marshall R. Parker
Marshall Parker is an Australian composer and sound designer, known for his work at Beam Software. While he was still young, he played in bands with former Beam Software musician Gavan Anderson. When Gavan couldn't do the work by himself anymore, he had Tania Smith work on music, but when she was touring with Kylie Minogue as their keyboardist, she was forced to leave Beam Software. She asked Marshall if he would like to start working on music for games and Marshall started his work at Beam in November 1990, when he was 38. His first work was for the NES Star Wars game. Marshall Parker's video game music got popular when he composed the music to Shadowrun on the SNES, though he has worked on other memorable titles, such as Nightshade for the NES. It is interesting to note as soon as Marshall joined Beam, the company put credits in all of their NES games, though for some reason, Marshall wasn't credited in the NES port of Smash T.V. Besides composition, Marshall has also taken on the task of music porting from arcade and computer games such as Smash T.V. and Narc, as well as arranging the Star Wars soundtrack to the NES' 2A03 sound chip.
When Beam Software's UK division Teeny Weeny Games was formed, the company didn't have any composers working there for their Nintendo games, so they had Marshall send his music from Beam Software to them. Some of the titles he composed for TWG included Choplifter II and FireFighter for the Game Boy, as well as their only NES game Last Action Hero. When they were developing Sega games, Matt Furniss would work on the music and sound for most of them.
In the Game Boy version of Terminator 2: The Arcade Game, the music is ported from the arcade game NARC. It is possible that Beam Software was planning to develop that instead of Terminator 2.
In 2007, Marshall left Beam Software and started working at RealU in June the same year and then left in February 2013. Marshall is currently working at UBISoft's Singapore division as an audio director. He is currently working on the sound for a new Assassin's Creed game, working with many different sound designers.
Marshall also has a son Gavin Parker who has worked with him on numerous projects for music composition.
| What was it like composing for the NES and GameBoy?
|| It was interesting and of course challenging.
I was working at the time doing record production and writing songs and advertising jingles with my friend David Briggs in his full blown recording studio, and was going in to Beam 3 afternoons each week and composing music and SFX for their titles.
Composing with the limitations of 1 noise channel, 2 square waves and a triangle wave was certainly something new!
| How were the improvements of composing on the SNES and Mega Drive?
|| The SNES.... we could use samples of real sounds and we had 8 channels so of course it was a huge improvement at the time.
Memory was very limited of course, but it was still a huge step forward.
Mega Drive were FM synth sounds with 1 channel for samples... but we could compose using midi.. and directly using the Mega Drive sounds, so that was actually quite cool.
| How did you come up with the music for a game? Did you play/see the game first or just wrote whatever came to your mind?
|| I would always see the game first, and discuss with the game director as to what we were trying to achieve.
Style, emotion etc was always discussed.
Then I would try things, get them in the game and see how they worked.
Keep going until we were all happy.
| How was the staff at Beam Software? Were they fun to work with?
|| Yes, lots of fun people. You must be able to relax and have fun making games.
If you are not having fun making it, then it will probably not be fun to play.
In the early days it was a lot more relaxed than it is now.
These days production values and costs are so much higher so there is a lot more at stake.
| In earlier Beam Software games, I have seen you and Gavan both listed for music and sound. Did you both make music and sound or did you just make music while Gavan did the sounds?
|| I did it all, as I recall. Gavin had worked on music in his earlier days at Beam, but then he moved into I.T.
He did help a little at times, as he is a fine guitar player, so every now and then I would get his contibution.
| Shadowrun is considered possibly your best work on the SNES. Do you agree with this?
|| Well it is the game that I am best known for I guess, but best is subjective.
It was a good and well received game for sure.
| What is your favorite game so far in your career?
|| Probably Tranformers for PS2...that was a great game and done in a very short time frame.
My son Gavin actually did all the music for that game.
I worked on SFX and direction.
That game was quite an achievment at the time.
Le Mans 24hr on Dreamcast was also excellent.
And of course I have just finished working on Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag.
I was Audio Director on the levels done here at the Ubisoft Singapore studio and it really is great to be working on AAA titles.
| How do you react to your fans?
|| Do I have fans? :)
I try to be courteous and answer any questions that they may have as best as possible
| You are currently working on the new Assassin's Creed game and doing sound design. What is it like compared to when you were doing music at Beam?
|| I am actually enjoying working at Ubisoft a lot.
It's a big developer, but has a lot of great people that are really good to work with.
Very professional but still a lot of fun.
I have an excellent Audio Team here so life is good.
Marshall wrote in Music Macro Language using Beam Software's GameBoy sound driver which was programmed by Brian Post.
Marshall wrote his music on his sequencers which were converted to Trevor Nuridin's sound driver.
Marshall wrote the music in Music Macro Language using Brian Post's version of the Beam Software sound driver.
Marshall sequenced his music and it was then converted to Andrew Bailey's sound driver. The instrument samples were taken from Marshall's Roland MIDI devices. Mainly the MV30, but also the MC500, D550, and S550. In True Lies, the game uses real guitar samples by Domenic Morabito.
From Marshall's facebook page.
Cropped image from Marshall Parker's facebook page.
Beam Software (standing row, second from the right). Unknown source.