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May 22, 2020 / KingsIsle Community

KingsIsle’s Got Talent!

Do you hear that steady beat? KingsIsle staff members don’t just keep pace with game development, they also hit the right note in their free time as well! Since today is National Buy a Musical Instrument Day, we thought it’d be rocking to share musical stories and samples from our talented KingsIsle musicians.


Oliver Hudson, Associate QA Analyst

“Many a moon ago there were two close friends of mine. They inspired me with their beatbox talents, one could make a didgeridoo sound with his mouth, the other a solid drumkit, high hats and bass drum included. Since then I practice casual beatboxing, in my own style.”


Dennis Bestafka, Senior Audio Designer

“Being on the Audio Team, it’s safe to say that musical skills play into much of what we do. Of course, this comes in handy for composing in-house music for the games, but additionally, sound design can be very musical by nature, with timing, frequency, and even key. I grew up playing trombone, concert bass and percussion in wind ensembles, orchestras and marching bands, from Jr. high, through high school, and into college. I have also played guitar in Rock bands throughout the years, which led me into studio recording, as well as other instruments such as drums, bass & keyboards. All of these experiences, paired with my love for video games, play direct roles into why I chose game audio as a career; which I knew would be the best job in the world for me (second to rock star, of course).”

His current musical project: Buona Sueno 

An older project (he’s playing the guitar):


Justin Meisse, Senior Artist

“This is my modular synth, it’s a lot for me to explain but basically I’m connecting different modules with patch cables to create different sounds and patterns. I started out modifying old electronic toys and keyboards from flea markets and yard sales, this is usually referred to as Circuit Bending. Later I started making inexpensive diy electronic noise makers like the Atari Punk Console and then eventually got into modular synths when I wanted to make more musically pleasing sounds. If you’re interested in modular synthesis, I recommend the 2014 documentary “I Dream of Wires” … it will explain it better than I can!”


Tom Purdue, Game Designer

“In 4th grade my mom had me take a year of Piano lessons, which was great, but I knew it wasn’t really “me.” In 5th grade, I convinced my mom to let me switch to the drums . . . and now we were talking! (Even if the neighbors hated it. 😉)

By my senior year in high school I was first chair in my age group, but playing drums with the big boys in college was a big eye opener. These guys were really good, like insanely good. Since I couldn’t hold a candle to their talent (and didn’t want to be a band teacher), I switched majors, and that’s how I ended up working at KingsIsle in a section that *isn’t* the Audio department.

I still play my drum set from time to time with a couple of dads like me from my neighborhood. Here’s a video of us jamming on a tune in a secret music studio in downtown Austin right off 6th street—the very heartbeat of the live music capital of the world!”


Rachel Ripstra, Lead Software Engineer

“I grew up playing classical upright bass, but I always used the school’s loaner. When I went to college I couldn’t afford an upright, so I bought an electric bass and taught myself jazz walking lines and some improvisation – although that part of my skill-set has gone rusty due to disuse. Even so, when my family gathers for the holidays on occasion, I still play Christmas carols with my sisters who also play various instruments.

Last year I went in the entirely opposite direction and got a tenor Ukulele and started teaching myself some songs and chords. I still practice with it a few hours a week building the muscle memory in my fingers and extending the number of chords I have easily at my fingertips.

What I enjoy most about playing music is how the whole is larger than the parts. One note here or there heard in isolation might mean nothing, it may be noise, but when done with others at the right moment it can add an emotional push just where it needs to be. When we play together, my playing feels bigger and better. Music can also be ironic in the best way: somehow bringing my mind to another place while at the same time being absolutely present in the moment. Magical!

I’ve only recently gotten the bug to compose my own music. Usually I just have bass line running though my head, but I’ve started using the Ukulele to find chord progressions that have the emotional vibe that I’m going for and setting out an 8 or 16 bar loop that I can riff on bass over or pluck out a melody. Right now it’s all amateurish, but once I have something that I like I’ll be looking at investing time and energy in that part of things. Next time Kingsisle does a Game Jam, I aim to contribute some music as well as my engineering ability!

The bass I play right now is a refurbished Vantage VA900B. Some knobs and switches have been replaced over the years, along with some of the internal wiring. It’s just such a lovely instrument! I mean, it LOOKS like the late 70’s/early 80’s, doesn’t it?

My Ukulele is a Cordoba 20TM, which is an ‘affordable’ beginners instrument that has a surprisingly warm tone for such a non-bassy instrument.”



KingsIsle staff members aren’t the only ones who have incredible musical gifts though – the KingsIsle community does too! What kind of instruments do you play when you’re not casting spells or sailing the skyways? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Buy a Musical Instrument Day!


Leave a Comment
  1. Kingurz (@MidusThistles) / May 22 2020 4:31 pm

    With that musical talent, you all should get together, add in King Thermidor and rock out.

  2. victoriawildsong / May 22 2020 7:18 pm

    How beautiful! All such great artists, congratulations!

    Music is a special form of art and expression for some of us, players, I am among them. What a pleasant surprise I had to discover the musical instruments in-game when I started! The “Playable Piano” is my favorite, and it would be awesome if there were an accordion and a harmonica available, as playable instruments. I even tried to record in-game some of my favorite pieces.

    We played sometimes together, with a friend of mine (he likes the guitar and the playable drum kit), and once I had this idea that we could even make an in-game “Wizard Band”… organize “jam sessions” in our houses. So, we called other friends, tried and we were not perfect, but we had so much fun 🙂 Thank you for letting us enjoy such moments in-game!

    I wish you all the best and good luck with your artistic projects!

    Victoria Wildsong

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