An Interview with Ghorthalon

To begin our creator interviews here on the blog, I chatted with producer and programmer Ghorthalon who is here to share a little about what he does and who he is with us. Ghorthalon is my extremely talented and amazing partner who I met online through a tweet about sonic the hedgehog. He is my inspiration, which is one of the reasons he was the first torture victim…I mean…volunteer for the first interview spot here on the blog.

Tell us a little about yourself?

Hi. I’m Talon or Ghorthalon. I love technology, music, and am slowly getting into people and human interaction. And that’s been a hard thing to learn. I’ve been trying this for 21 years now, closing in on 22, and it’s hard to judge my progress. I’d say I’m getting there though.
I also love animals. I have two cats and they’re truly adorable. I’m generally interested in anything I can wrap my head around. And the bigger my head grows, the more I can wrap in it.
I also love walking and exploring outdoors. The beautiful quiet sounds of nature, even some of nature’s aggressive calls, are music in my ears as much as rhythms and polyrhythms that make up music, speech, and anything else you might receive through your auditory sensors.

How long have you been coding?

I’ve been coding on and off for nearly 10 years now. It all started with Python. A friend tried to get me interested, but I could never quite understand it. I gave up.
Then another friend sent me his Visual Basic 6.0 CD. That was awesome. I got a few basic things working, but also got confused because I didn’t read any books. I was simply experimenting. At the time I didn’t realize this as a bad idea.
Then another year later I’ve been introduced to AutoIt. I loved it because it was super simple to get setup, super simple to start coding and have amazing results. That’s when I really started. Couple years later and I released my first couple of real games.
There were others before then, but they’ve since largely fallen under the carpet. I’m quite happy about that.

How did you get started with code?

I truly started after reading code for a very simple dice game a friend of mine wrote. It seemed so easy. So, I wrote my own dice.
It worked out well, so I next coded high and low. I was ecstatic. It was amazing to me that I could enter commands and my computer played sounds, showed message boxes, and generally remembered what I told it to do. It was all through experimentation and reading things on the internet that I slowly learned how to code.

Did or do you have any inspirations?

Not very big inspirations. I didn’t really think about it much before I started the third time. When my efforts were met with success is when I got really intrigued. My friends were inspirations to me because they had figured this out and I could ask them. This was very important to me, having someone to talk to while I learned.

How did you start learning?

By experimentation. At first, I took some code, pasted it into another notepad and modified some things. And things changed. So eventually I started my own scripts. I copied things from the old scripts into my new window and built my first dice game up like a Lego set. And then I started googling and went down the rabbit hole.

Do you remember the first thing you made?</h3

Well I started with a hello world program. Just a message box that displayed a message on screen.
Then I started programming a dice game. You rolled a dice. That was pretty much it.
Then high and low. As you can see, I was super inspired by games. I loved gaming. It provided a way for me to escape into a world where I could have fun. And I loved fun. So, I always tried to make new games.
There were some programs that I made along the way that weren’t games, but they weren’t very advanced. Somehow, I was really focused on game related things.

What sort of things do you code?

Mainly audio games. Games that can be played by someone that can’t see, like myself, using only their ears. I’ve created several games that simply don’t display any graphics at all on the computer screen, including things like a first-person shooter, a bike racing game, and several more.
I’ve always loved games, so those are the things I focus most on. Maybe that will change, but I highly doubt it.

How did you discover your love for music?

My parents helped me a lot on my way to loving music. This was way before I even discovered computers. I loved playing the keyboard they got me from a neighbour. I used to hang around him all the time, and once I got that keyboard and heard something playing on the radio I would always try to play alongside it and hit keys that would make sense and sound good to me.
My parents noticed that and signed me up for keyboard lessons. I really loved those, and when it got to school I continued on that journey, joining the school band at a very young age.

Who was your inspiration for learning music?

Music itself was a huge inspiration to me. I grew up listening to a lot of different genres of music that my parents were listening to, rock, pop, electronic. I remember Scooter a lot. My dad would turn it up way loud in the living room and it was amazing. Special-D was also one of my favorites at that time, so I discovered my love for electronic music from very young.

Did you self-teach or were you taught?

I started out on my own. I listened to the radio and pressed buttons on the keyboard, hoping to eventually get sounds that sounded right to my ears. My parents also got me a harmonica and a tiny toy drum set. I think they have a video of this somewhere, me banging on the drums and playing that harmonica, and that eventually lead them to sign me up for keyboard lessons.

I had an old technix KM1000. Even by then it was really old, but it had a floppy diskette drive. That was really cool. I wanted to know how to record my own songs and upload them to the disk, but I don’t think I ever quite got there. Haha

What genre or genre’s do you produce?

Eventually my love for computers and music met and I learned how to make music on the computer. This was a very slow process and it took me forever. I tried different software, starting from Sonar and eventually ending up with Reaper. Reaper was amazing. I really started loving what I was doing. Before Reaper I used to write my music in Quick Windows Sequencer, which was really just a sequencer. It could just send midi data to either software midi processors like the standard Microsoft Wavetable or midi devices connected to your computer. There was a program that simulated a virtual midi cable to plug into software synthesizers etc, and I used to record all those into wav files and mix them together in something like Audacity or GoldWave.
But with Reaper I could do all this in one program. I used this method for quite some time and I discovered my love for Future Bass. I tried everything. I started making a lot of rap instrumental beats. I made about 120 or 130 of those before I eventually moved on to making electronic music like House until I settled on Trap and Future Bass.
I love Future Bass because it’s melodic and has a lot of electronic elements like trap drums and deep basses and lots of crazy synths. Somehow it stuck with me, and that’s what I’ve been making for years now.
Then late last year I got myself a Macbook and started using Logic and oh my gods it’s amazing. Somehow, I click with that much more than I did with Reaper. And that’s basically a very short version of the story. There’s much more, but it would probably warrant its own blog post. Maybe I could do that, too.

What would you say is your favourite piece of music or coded project?

This changes from project to project, and sometimes from day to day. My last few tracks I uploaded to My SoundCloud are definitely my favorite. No Other Way, Heart, Dance Of The Wolves, Mizu, Answer… Those would have to be my favorite.
As far as code projects, my favorites would be CHARM, the program that turns your computer’s load into soundscapes. The more your computer does, the more intense the soundscapes. Then there’s The Road To Rage of course, which a lot of people still play, a first-person shooter in the style of Call Of Duty or Counter Strike. Cyclepath as well, I’m really proud of that one. The sound design is truly amazing in that game, thanks to @pitermach and I learned so much making that project that it inspired me to rethink my career.

What would you say is your least favourite?

Keeping the same structure and starting with music, on my SoundCloud page I’d have to say Tropix. It was fun, but it gets to be super repetitive. And next would be Sparkles. I could never get the thing to sound right, and eventually just gave up and posted it because people wanted me to.
Code wise I’d have to say maybe ScapeSkate. It was my first game after removing all my old crap off of the website, but I didn’t do a lot with it. I had so many ideas that never got anywhere with that game.
If we go back further there were a lot of horrible, horrible games that I uploaded that barely worked. Maybe if you know anyone that’s blind and has been playing audio games for a long time you could ask them about DZK Games’ Bonusgame. Oh my god. Horrible. Horrible horrible horrible.

Do you have any advice for people just starting out with music or code?

Never give up. This sounds very cheesy I know, but starting out in either of those fields is a learning curve and it’s going to take time to get there. Try not to be impatient, and go for your instinct. I know especially with code it can be very tricky for me, because I want to do things the right way. But there is no the “right” way. There are ways that are recommended, ways that might be beneficial, but when you’re starting out you really shouldn’t need to concern yourself with that.
I’m a very hands on learner. Things broke, of course, and while it might be demotivating at the time, give it a few minutes, maybe hours, and come back to it with a clean mind. Try again. And if necessary repeat that process. If it’s something you really want to do, then by all means do it.
Same goes for music. TO be good at something you need experience, and the only way to get experience is to do things. Do them again and again and again, and even if you don’t notice yourself doing anything different eventually you will, and you will see that you’re learning. The internet is an amazing place to look up tutorials, information, etc. on how to get started, what to do. Utilize this great resource of knowledge.
Finally, don’t strive to envy, strive to learn. Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to your former self and you’ll get there. And don’t be afraid to ask for help!

How can people contact you?

I have a Twitter (@dragon1424 ) and that’s the easiest and quickest way to get me. I also have a bunch of ways to get a hold of me listed on my website

Any other comments?

I know that you’re not the only one making decisions about your life. People are so quick to say that if they can do it, so can you, but I believe this not to be true. What you can do, however, is try. Try to fail, try to succeed. But at least try. This is super important. Don’t be disheartened by failure. Every action we make is influenced by others that have made actions, and if those actions are negative you might be hindering a person at becoming someone great, this includes yourself. I struggle with this a lot. I generally am a very positive person but sometimes my self-conscious just rips me out of it, and it’s hard to keep control. At least that’s what I think in those times.
But other actions influencing ours doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Be open for new things and you just might find something for you, even if you think there’s nothing. There is. And it’s waiting for you. Maybe you need help to find it, but help is never ever a bad thing. We’re enabled to do many, many great things in this time. We, us all. We just need to take care of each other.
Don’t strive to envy, strive to learn.

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