Uses This

Interview

What do people use to get the job done?

Chris Remo

Chris Remo

Game designer, composer (Campo Santo), podcaster (Idle Thumbs)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Chris Remo. I'm a video game designer and writer, a music composer, and a podcast host. I work for a video game studio called Campo Santo, and we recently released our first game, Firewatch. I also co-run a podcast network called Idle Thumbs, and co-host and produce some of its podcasts including the flagship Idle Thumbs Podcast, as well as the Idle Book Club with my wife Sarah.

What hardware do you use?

It depends on the project. As far as computers, for video game development I use Windows machines pretty much exclusively. I've always built my home PCs myself. For web development I use either my Windows PC or my MacBook Pro, depending on whether I'm at home. For music and podcast production, I mainly use an iMac in the studio or my MacBook at home.

Outside the realm of computers, to record our podcasts we use Behringer C-1 condenser mics routed into a MOTU Firewire audio interface running into the studio iMac. (MOTU, amazingly, stands for "Mark of the Unicorn". Yes, really. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to figure out why.) When I'm making music, I use a Martin acoustic guitar, a Fender Stratocaster electric, a Fender Jazz Bass, and a genuine mechanical-action electric piano made by Vintage Vibe, one of the few remaining manufacturers of non-synth electric pianos, and I love it a lot. For other instruments I don't own or play, I use samples or synth controlled with a simple MIDI keyboard.

I don't know if this qualifies as hardware, but Idle Thumbs has also spent the last few weeks and a bunch of money building out our new recording studio space, which is colocated with Campo Santo. We have been covering the walls in orange acoustic foam as a direct reference to the secure conference room in the film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy because we are obsessed with it and we thought it would be hilarious. The room is approaching completion, and I think our assumption of hilarity has been proven out.

And what software?

Firewatch was developed with the Unity engine, which is a pretty full-service game development environment. I love it. We augmented it with various plug-ins and middleware, including Wwise, an extremely powerful sound engine I used to implement all sound and music playback. We use Perforce for version control.

For music composition and production I use Logic Pro exclusively, which is why I only use Macs for music. That's also the software I use to edit all our podcasts, although lately I've been using Adobe Audition for various post-processing such as noise reduction before bringing the files into Logic for editing.

For web development I work mainly in Sublime Text, although sometimes I'll use Coda if I'm working on my MacBook. Hooray for Panic! I also end up using Photoshop just about every day for some reason or another, because that is the way of the world.

Across all projects and disciplines, I use Dropbox obsessively. I don't know what I'd do without Dropbox. Google Drive, I guess??

What would be your dream setup?

I honestly feel that I am not enough of a trained professional in any of my fields to know what my dream setup is supposed to be. Every time I see the setup of a composer or designer or podcast person or whatever, it always looks way more impressive than mine, but I'm such a generalist who's spread across so many different disciplines that I've never really narrowed down the specifics of what my complete environment should look like. In a totally ideal world, I'd have my own isolated soundproof room at home where I could play and record music, but given that I live in the middle of San Francisco, that world is an utter economic impossibility. Broadly, I can say that across all the things I do, the thing I always, always want is for my computer screens to be bigger, higher resolution, and greater in number. Also, I hate trackpads.

Even the nice Apple ones on MacBooks?

Yes, they are all bad. Here is my dream setup: Always having a mouse, and never having a trackpad.