I recently presented "The Sound of God of War" at the famed industry event "Digital Dragons" in Poland. I'm excited to share with you the presentation in the full video below. The talk I gave was really well received and had a lot of people coming up to me after with questions or just to say how much they loved the game. The two most commented on aspects were the sheer scope of the production and the Dragon sounds. When preparing the presentation, I asked my manager to help me gather data about the scope of audio production that this game required. It is by far the largest game I have ever worked on, and I thought it would be interesting to share that information. After adding all man-hours for music, dialog and sound effects, the number we came up to was 48,920 man-hours, which is 23.3 work years!
Another thing I thought was worth sharing was how I created sounds for the Mountain Dragon. I took a scene from the game and made a few game captures, each with only certain sound elements playing to showcase the creature sound design. What everyone seemed to love the most was the breakdown of a single roar. I went back to the source and isolated all the layers I used to build this sound and played them back one after another. In addition to my voice, which was, of course, processed to sound huge, I added a number of animal vocals, metal screeches, bowed cymbals, and synthesizer sounds resulting in 21 layers. That one roar then became the basis for creating many, many variations for all of the Dragon’s moves and expressions.
A little more about me...before joining the Sony family, I worked at Activision and, before that, at Seven Studios. Doing sound design, however, is not my first career. My background is in music, specifically performance. I was trained as a classical percussion player and I have an M.A. in Music from Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland. I used to perform with orchestras, small ensembles and solo. I also played drums with different groups and different styles of music, which made it possible to meet my future wife in one of the bands. At the age of 27, I decided to go back to school and went on to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Like a lot of my college friends, I started as a performance major but changed my major and graduated with a Music Synthesis degree. I was always interested in technology in music, but Berklee opened my eyes to a lot more of it. I fell in love with everything related to sound and tech. After graduation, I moved to Los Angeles, where I worked in music and film for a few years before realizing that I wanted to do sound design for video games. An opportunity came up to join a now defunct developer and I made a jump. I knew how to make sounds but had no clue about game development. As I was thrown in the middle of the production, I had to learn as we went on to produce my first game, “The Sopranos”. I realized very quickly that I made a right decision to work in game dev. I love the combination of creative and technical worlds and going between the two keeps me fresh and motivated, pushing me to learn new things. This is true especially here at Sony, where I had a chance to work on a number of very different games and each of them presented a unique challenge. It’s always something new and I love it.
When I joined the God of War team, the game had already been in production for some time. Initially, I was responsible for a number of large levels (Peak’s Pass and Stone Mason) and some smaller ones. It meant taking creative and technical responsibility for how the levels sounded all the while they were being developed. I would typically start with ambiances and design an overall tone for each area. The goal was to make each area sound unique and interesting. I would then work on any objects in the level that can make sounds like cranks, pulleys, flags, torches, etc. We always try to find as many of those sources as we can because they make the world sound more alive and helps create a more immersive environment. Even small things like water dripping from the wall or snow being blown on the ridge make a difference when added together.
As the big moments like Stone Mason’s hammer collapse, or a lot of puzzles were being added to the game, I created sounds for them as well. They vary in complexity, but are usually much more involving and comprised of many elements.
After adding all man-hours for music, dialog and sound effects, the number we came up to was 48,920 man-hours, which is 23.3 work years”
I was also responsible for the Mountain Dragon and Magni and Modi boss fights. Working on the huge creature like the Dragon was particularly interesting. There were a lot of elements that needed to be created: the voice, movement sounds, footsteps, electricity layer for special attacks etc. My goal was to create a unique sound that would convey the dragon’s size, sense of danger, and above all make the fight very special for the player.
If you'd like to learn more about my work, venture on over to my site at www.sounddesigncentral.com, thanks for listening!
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