Interview with Paulo Bohrer, Sound Designer for Kaze and the Wild Masks

In addition to our review, Married Games had the pleasure of talking to Paulo Bohrer, musician who works with games and sound designer for Kaze and the Wild Masks.

Working with games is an incredible experience on many levels! You have the creative part, creation of levels and characters, screenwriters who create the story and give life to that world. But, an essential part of the games is the music.

Think of a game like Indiana Jones and The Master System's Last Crusade, where the stages had no music. Just some annoying, high-pitched sound effects. When there was music, it was a boring chip tune that was too high. Or, on the opposite, we had Ghostbusters, both the Master System and Nintendo 8-bit, which even had music. But only one! The famous theme composed by Ray Parker Jr. played in an infinite loop so that the music never leaves your head.

Indiana jones and the last crusade ... (master system)
No music or unbearable chip tune, you choose

The Importance of Music in Games

The evolution of the kaze character
The evolution of Kaze

Other songs are so iconic in their games that you hear only a little bit and you already know where it comes from, at what time, or at what stage. You hear the music in your mind, just by seeing an image. Doubt? If I tell you about the song of Super Mario's invincibility, the "little star song", you are certainly listening to it in your head right now.

And what about Guile's stage music in Street Fighter II? Or the Green Hill Zone theme song? The Final Fantasy VII victory fanfare? Or the apocalyptic theme sung in Latin by the villain Sepiroth? You certainly know these songs by heart. In fact, when the song starts to be sung in Latin, you can be sure that you are in serious trouble.

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And there are still those games with a soundtrack so striking that you even leave your character standing there, just to hear the music. One case that we can highlight is that of Life is Strange, which in addition to its orchestrated songs that create a peaceful and serene atmosphere of the peaceful Arcadia Bay, has several sung songs that make you want to forget about the game just to listen to them. Over and over again.

Makes you want to stop playing and listen

And doing that job is no easier than the job of a software developer or 3D modeler. In fact, I think that putting the right music at the right time and creating the right mood for the scene is even more difficult than just creating a 3D model that will then be used by the rest of the game. Without music, the game becomes tedious and with the wrong music, an epic moment can become a joke among gamers.

So we talked to the sound designer of the game Kaze and the Wild Masks, Paulo Bohrer. The national platform game that has already conquered gamers and has become a hit with both the younger gamers, who love a challenge, and the nostalgic players of the 8 and 16-bit era. You can read a full review of the game with our impressions!

In addition to Kaze, you can learn a little about his work in successful games, like the exclusive Sunset Overdrive, from PlayStation 4. But, it is easier to let him introduce himself, so get to know a little of this musician and gamer that he brought to the this incredible game.

Paulo Bohrer by Paulo Bohrer

My name is Paulo Bohrer, I am 31 years old and I have been working with composition and sound design for games for about 10 years. I have a degree in music from IPA University in Porto Alegre, and specialize in audio production for games at the Pyramind School, in San Francisco, CA. Before I started working directly with game audio, I worked for several years as a music teacher in schools specializing in music education (2007 - 2012).

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Paulo bohrer
Paulo Bohrer

From 2015 to 2019 I worked at an audio production company called Radioativa Produtora, where I had the opportunity to work on the dubbing of several Sony exclusive AAA titles (unfortunately because of NDAs I cannot name names) and in the production of various tracks and sound effects for national and international games. Since 2019 I work at Aquiris Game Studio as a sound designer.

In January 2016 I met my colleagues of what would become PixelHive in a Game Jam, and that was when I joined the development team of Kaze and the Wild Masks. Some titles that I had the opportunity to work on: Kaze and the Wild Masks, Sunset Overdrive, Horizon Chase Turbo, Looney Tunes World of Mayhem, Hero Versus, Cartoon Network: Superstar Soccer Goal !!!, Ballistic Overkill, Fatal Costumes, Super Volley, among others.

Married Games: Hi, Paulo! I would like to start by thanking you for agreeing to speak with Married Games. Can you talk a little about PixelHive and a little about the projects you have already carried out? What about Kaze? How was the game's development?

Paul Bohrer:
Helo! Very pleased to speak with you from Married Games. Thank you for the invite!

Kaze is the debut game from the PixelHive studio, although it is not our first game as developers. PixelHive is a union of developers with experience in the industry, who came together to produce the game Kaze and the Wild Masks.

It all started with a developer named Cristiano Bartel, a guy who is passionate about classic platformers, and who was already working on a prototype of what would become Kaze there in the early 2000s. In 2015, Bartel presented this prototype of Kaze for a game developer called VOX and the match happened instantly!

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The VOX team, led by André Schaan (current executive producer at Kaze), decided to go all out on this project and close a partnership with Bartel. Then, the same happened with Daniel Romanenco, our lead artist, and with me too: we saw the game and felt all its charisma and potential, and we decided to join forces with the VOX team and Cristiano Bartel to develop Kaze, founding a new one studio: PixelHive.

Enjoy the sound of Paulo Bohrer

Married Games: What are Kaze's influences? We see the “Igloo is for Jacu” jokes and Kaze has as much patience to wait as Sonic. The game was born out of the desire to play a game like this and you didn't find any out there?

Paul Bohrer: Kaze really is a very impatient rabbit! Haha We try whenever possible to bring a little game of our language to the game, such as the "Igloo is for Jacu" stage or also "Mãe Mona" who is a very nervous castor boss. Kaze and the Wild Masks is a love letter to several platform games that we loved playing in the 90s: Sonic, Donkey Kong Country, Rayman, Mario, Megaman among many others. We chose several elements that we like the most from these inspirations to create our own celebration of that style.

Our approach was to make a game that looked the way people remember games from the time, but not quite as they really were. For this, we took several aspects and modernized them for a current gameplay, such as more accurate game feel, intense challenges (but without wasting the player's time), visual and sound with the aesthetics of the time (but using technologies that we only have today) , etc.

There are several independent games out there with references to classic games, but I believe that, with the elements that we particularly chose to bring back, we still don't have many titles on the market, so we saw opportunity in that gap.

Married Games: Mona Mona's reference was really cool! Can we say that she and her allies are "killer monsters"?

Paul Bohrer: Hahahaha For sure !!! We have to give a touch of Brazilianness whenever possible. I think 'killer monsters' works perfectly within this proposal! 🙂

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The Development of Kaze

Married Games: Among all the platforms for which the game will be released, which was the most difficult to do and why? What were the difficulties you had in the development?

Paul Bohrer: Each platform had its own challenges and peculiarities. For some areas, development can go more smoothly for one platform than for another. For example, speaking particularly in my area, the PS4 version took a little more work on the audio side. That's because Sony has very specific rules regarding file formats, compression, loudness and several other technical aspects of gaming audio production.

It was a little more intense work of revising and mixing the sound until everything was approved. The good thing about this is that these settings have been “mirrored” to the other platforms, so the game’s audio was pretty uniform when comparing the versions of each system.

Married Games: And the musical part of Kaze, what were your main influences? Was that 16-bit era with chip tunes or did you want to escape that nostalgia?

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Paul Bohrer: It has a lot of influence from the 16-bit era, yes! I am a huge fan of the composers of that time, especially David Wise and his work on the DKC series, and of Japanese game composers and songwriters in the 90s.

The games of that time were filled with strong melodies, and we tried to bring this to the maximum for Kaze, but maintaining a unique sound (we used many tribal and Brazilian instruments in the soundtrack). In addition, many timbres and production techniques that we use in Kaze are purposefully more modern, as we want the game to still feel fresh and fresh.

Each song has a very traditional song format, with melodic verses and choruses that can be easily hummed by the players and that are not repetitive. Even this was one of the coolest differentials of working on the Kaze soundtrack. It is the focus on producing songs that are just cool, fun and enjoyable to hear for the players.

Married Games: Did the pandemic really hinder the development of Kaze or any PixelHive project? Did it affect your routine a lot?

Paul Bohrer: Certainly our routine had a big impact. As we used to work in person at the office, we had to adapt to new methods and work tools, especially with regard to communication. We look for alternative ways to keep the office climate still present in our lives, since the exchange of ideas and feedbacks in the chat has always been important to us.

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About hindering development, I would say no. With the exception of these first few weeks of adapting to the home office model, our production pace has not let the shuttlecock drop, and I think we should continue to do so in the short to medium term. Finally, things are already supernatural for our team in this new model.

A Triple A Musician at the Indies Games

Interview with paulo bohrer, the sound designer of kaze and the wild masks | 0225316a paulo bohrer 2 | google stadia, kaze and the wild masks, music, nintendo switch, pc, pixelhive, playstation 4, single player, soedesco, xbox one | paulo bohrer news

Married Games: Indie games are well known for their nostalgic references, be it easter eggs or gameplay elements. Don't you think that this could become a standard for indies and end up with a label of "games for old people who want to be reminiscent of childhood"?

Paul Bohrer: I don't think so, you know? There are a plethora of indie games out there, from highly innovative games to games that pay homage to collective nostalgia. I believe that as long as we have developers with the freedom to produce games in the vision they want, we will always have the best of both worlds. There are hundreds of independent games being released daily, and that is the most important.

Married Games: I am playing Kaze and it is not being easy, but I am motivated to see the story that we opened up by taking the letters of her name. Was the issue of difficulty something that you thought would make it higher for more hardcore games or am I really bad?

Paul Bohrer: Well, the game is very challenging, but our proposal was never to be a “Souls style game for side-scrollers” hahaha. We purposely made it a challenging game, yes. We try to dose this difficulty to the maximum, for example, we make some decisions like do not use a system of lives, or bonus stages that can only be played once and cannot be repeated in case of failure.

Quality of life is important for us, and we don't want to waste the players' time, so we quickly realized that these elements would not add up to the proposal of what we wanted to deliver, no matter how much they were present in most of our references.

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Speaking of progression, the game has a difficulty curve that increases with each completed world. The inspiration for the challenge comes from classic 90s games that are based on reflex and quick decision making by players. Our proposal is that the player or player quickly understand what resulted in failure, and what could be done differently to advance further next time.

It is also important to note that the game has two difficulty modes: casual and normal. The casual mode is more friendly and can be the ideal choice for those with a more exploratory profile. This mode has extra checkpoints and more resistance from Kaze against enemy damage.

The Difficulty and the Challenge

Married Games: Kaze has no lives, a "game over" or a "continue", something that was quite common in games of the 16-bit era. Why did you choose not to give this "end" to the game? Do you think it is something that the current generation would not like and could disrupt Kaze? Or do you consider this to be an evolution of games?

Paul Bohrer:
Yes, that was really a very conscious choice of ours. This is one of the aspects that we consider an evolution in games in the platform genre. I think it is important to respect the player's time, so not having a number of lives and game over matches that.

However, this decision was not made in a simple way. Even in the first years of Kaze's development, the game had a system of lives and a game over screen, and it was through a lot of feedback, tests and discussions, that we realized that these mechanics were not adding to the game and only worked in a bureaucratic way of “nostalgia for nostalgia”.

Married Games: Since Kaze is your first job, weren't you tempted to launch it first on mobile, where there is a very active player base, instead of PCs and fighting with mobas and battle royales? Or does Kaze have its own audience?

Paul Bohrer: This is an interesting curiosity! Initially Kaze and the Wild Masks was supposed to be a mobile game. Even the first build of the game (that prototype we saw from Cristiano Bartel that I mentioned earlier) was mobile. Quickly, for several reasons, we changed plans.

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The 2015 prototype with on-screen mobile control
Before… the 2015 prototype with the cellphone control on the screen

Firstly, because we realized that our audience would not be on these devices, but on consoles and PCs (by the way, we don't see mobas or battle royale as competitors), which is where people like us grew up playing these games and where they would have the greatest feeling of go back in time with the nostalgia of playing Kaze (we are even very happy that the game also came out for Nintendo Switch, a platform that greatly reinforces Kaze's proposal).

Final version released in 2021
… And afterwards, the final version released in 2021

Second, fundamentally speaking, the classic 2D side-scrolling platform game style was not working as well on mobile as we would like. However, who knows one day we can go back and make a mobile version of Kaze? Only time will tell! =)

That said, Kaze and the Wild Masks is also available for Google Stadia, where you can play on the small screen without losing the essence of a game for consoles.

Married Games: And can you send a final message to Kaze fans who follow the news at Married Games?

Paul Bohrer: I would like once again to thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in this interview! We are too happy with the public reception. Brazilian players have given us the greatest support, and that means a lot to us! I wanted to invite everyone to access our page and follow our social networks on Twitter, Instagram ITA e Facebook to follow all the news from Kaze and the Wild Masks. Thank you guys!

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A Modern Mascot

Join Kaze on this incredible journey inspired by the greatest platform classics of the 90s. When a terrible curse falls on the Crystal Islands, Kaze must find the Wild Masks and summon the power of the legendary guardians to face enraged vegetables and thus save his friend Hogo. .

In Kaze and the Wild Masks, you venture through the Crystal Islands in the style of classic platform games. Play as Kaze and save your friend Hogo from a curse that spreads chaos across the archipelago. Climb walls fiercely like a tiger, cross the skies like an eagle, run with the tenacity of a lizard and dominate the ocean like a shark.

So, did you like to know Paulo Bohrer's work? Talk to us in the comments and take the time to read more about and other game reviews from Our site!

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Paulo Fabris is a journalist, writer, RPG player, gamer, cosplayer, nerd and fan of anime since the time of TV Manchete.