Diablo IV Quarterly Update: Sound Design

Blizzard Entertainment has published the Diablo IV Quarterly Update (Oct 7) featuring the sound design of the game. The update starts with an introduction by Joe Shely — the new Diablo IV game director (after the post-DFEH lawsuit triggered the departure of Joe Mosqueira).

After the intro, Kris Giampa introduces himself as the sound supervisor; and shared several 50 minutes long YouTube videos showing a scene of Diablo IV with ambient sounds. and explains the process to record and refine the sounds digitally into something that may be used in the game.

The sound effects for the Sorceress abilities is explained, and they have video showing the sound team in field recording at Death Valley where there are many abandoned industrial vehicles and stuff like empty water tanks. The developers record the sounds these make when beaten or scratched.

This video (above) shows how they record some of the Sorceress fire spells… and personally, I wish they had protective gear to prevent accidents. After the DFEH lawsuit, I am more conscious about the developers.

A sound developer is vertically swinging a ball on fire near a boom mic. No protective gear at all. An OSHA violation, most likely, as his pants or jacket could easily catch on fire during an accident. Whether there is an extinguisher or Fire Department team nearby is unknown.

After the field recording, they show in-game footage of that recorded sound as the sorceress casts the spell. I think it is the first time we see this specific sorceress ability that transforms the fire into a large boa serpent of fire swirling and making a flame whooshing sound. Seems a large AOE ability that strangles and burns enemies.

Another example shown in this update is the sounds of a Wood Wraith monster, and its walking animation; and a Fly Host. After the in-house recording, they show a brief gameplay scene where the recording was used for.

Toward the end of this blog update, they share in-game footage with static gameplay locations and the ambience sounds of Dry Steppes, and Scosglen. You should check this blog out, and watch the videos.

I like the Dry Steppes video. Shows grass that moves with the wind, and at least two animal creatures causing the grass to part way as they move through it. Random tumbleweed moving across the landfield. Among the creatures: something akin to a porcupine, a crow, and a ferret. The landfield looks very photorealistic. I recommend to switch to 1080 manually at the gear icon, instead of the auto 1080 setting.

The Scosglen Coast ambience video looks great , but might need some tweaks. The waves move too fast. They should be slower. It is a sea, not a bathtumb. There should be wave crashing and random splashing against the coast.

There is another scene of Scosglen, that looks pretty awesome in terms of textures, PBR illumination, humidity on the ground, and projection of the trees’ shadows on the ground. I think the tree animations do need some work. They should move slower. As is, seems the trees are having seizures rather than being subtly moved about by the direction of the wind.

The blog update also shares dungeon sound effects, revealing they are creating tons of breakable objects, and therefore each need their own sound effect. This part of the blog is delightful in its own merit because we no longer need to kick only jars to find loot, but any furniture, or wooden crafted thing found on the walls, or edges of a room can be destroyed and you can listen to the crashing sound of gold. At least one of the objects reveal a glimmer of some gear that drops from of these props (as shown at 00:41)

One thing I don’t remember seeing before (or I forgot): characters have some kind of lunge ability. At 1:20, you can clearly see the Sorceress dashing forward 10+ feet, causing the wooden prop to break. I would have expected this lunge or dash ability on a melee class character, but Sorceress can do it too.

There are 8 videos in total in this new blog update, and I watched them all. Still left me with the apetite to see… as well as listen… to more of Diablo IV.

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