Stellaris Dev Diary #48 - Roar! & Boom!

Long time no seen interstellar explores!

It’s time for me to make another entry about the Sound Design & Music (Jazzhole will write about his music). We want to write about our thoughts and what kind of direction we wanted to go with the music and sound design. But I also want to take the opportunity some of the improvements that will be included in Heinlein.

Sound Design:

Cuteness and Roar in space?!

When I first learned that we were going to create all the grand Guardians in the game my first thought was: “Time to sound even bigger!”. Not only should you notice that grand size of these Guardian by graphics, you should hear the sheer size of these mysterious beings.

If we are going to create big and awesome Dragon in space, you can bet that I’ll really excited to create audio assets. And now it was my time to shine as a VO artist! I wanted to try out my “inner beast” voice. It was great fun but I needed to a lot of test recordings and iterations before I could get the right voice. But I’m pleased with the result and I think that you as a player will hear and notice the Dragon whenever you’re in the same system.


But not only creating audio for when the Dragon is roaring I needed also create assets for when it’s breathing and flying around. *insert your joke about <there is no sound in space> here

As some of you have noticed we’re going to release cute Phenotype portraits along in Story Pack. If they are going to look cute they better sound cute as well! This was a bigger challenge than I thought since I’m used to create more “morbid” audio (I’m looking at you Crusader Kings 2). Since I don’t have such a “cute” voice I got help from coworkers who was very eager to help me creating fitting greetings sound.


Boom! Swoosh! More is More!

During the summer I got a opportunity to read feedback from game journalist, you guys, people in Reddit and so on. There was a lot of good praises on the Sound Design (Thanks a lot!) and especially the music, but I felt that there was headroom for improvement in the soundscape and mix of the game. So during the summer when most of my co-workers were on vacation I started to revisit all audio assets in the game. Now we’re talking about VO, Ambient, SFX and where I made some of the largest improvements: Combat!

To give you guys a reminder here is a video clip with the old combat SFX and mix:


In the last DD that was about Sound Design I mentioned:

But it is easy to forget that the sound effects needs to be consistent with the overall feeling so we didn’t want to go too “Michael Bay” on the sound effects (or just only a few times).

Well after seeing some feedback and not been listening to the mix for a while I realized that the Combat SFX needed more “Michael Bay”. So I started to give all weapons more “attack” and “umphf” whenever they were firing. I also went in the to mix to adjust the volume so there would be better balance from when you are view the space battle from a distance or what to admire the destruction close by.

Not only balancing and mixing I also got the chance to create new weapon SFX since we have created new “XL” weapon types, so I wanted them sound -even- larger than everything else. So the big challenge was to create even bigger sounding weapons in a game there the battles sounds a lot already. And not only that, I needed as well create SFX for Titan Laser which is insanely big and powerful (one shots Battleships).

But enough talking! Here is a video on the space combat will sound after the patch:


Of course there is a bunch more that I have done with the audio, but I’ll let you explore that on your own when we have released the patch and Story Pack.

Music:

Hi there, I am Jazzhole aka Andreas Waldetoft and I am the Senior Music Composer at Paradox.

I was kinda blown away with the response to the vanilla Stellaris Soundtrack and coming back making more music for Leviathans was even more fun and inspiring.

We had already laid the groundwork for the Stellaris atmosphere and mood. Our thoughts was that it should still be that Stellaris style of music, but with a clear emphasis on what Leviathans are all about. That is darker, mystic, bigger, louder, more uptempo and a bit more attitude.

When I studied music there was always this “less is more”, well this time we went with “more is more” which has become mine and Audio Director Björn’s go-to phrases when we just want to go over the top.

The track I want to share with you today is called Dragon Breath. It starts a bit unorthodox with my favourite ⅞ time signature and most of the instruments panned to the right. But when the Dragon finishes his roar and shows himself the sonic landscape widens to fill all of it.


Next week we will talk about new portraits and graphics changes.
 
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Magical Chicken

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So many pseudo-intellectuals ranting on about how there shouldn't be sound in the vacuum of space... If you really want to make the game realistic:
1) Remove of Laser/Partical effects. The only reason we see lasers on earth is because they reflect off particles in the air. In a vacuum you would not see them. Also nearly all the weapon types would be invisible to the naked eye anyway.
2) Increace the number of systems to 10-100 billion and decrease the number of planets around those stars.
3) Remove relativistic speeds (that is any FTL stuff). I'm sorry to disappoint any sci-fi fans but going faster than c is impossible (unless your mass is imaginary or you have negative energy). There are valid arguments for wormhole travel (if exotic matter exists), but I highly doubt humans will develop some kind of FTL drive before 2200 if ever.
4) Stop making ships fall downwards.
My point here is not to rant at paradox for making a scientifically inaccurate game. I love Stellaris, it is probably my favourite game of all time. It doesn't need 'realism' to be fun. Look at space entities. Do you really think there are space whales floating around, feeding off gas giants? But does it matter. Just enjoy the game as it is, or create a mod that disables of SFX in space.
 
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Technically fire does happen underwater, but requires white phosphorous or other internal heat to white fire levels.

If space people really wanted to hear sounds, they would just create a skin armor layer that automatically translates light and energy outside, into vibrations if humans are really complaining about the lack of sound in space. Although ships creaking is like bicycles creaking, people will worry more about that.

A lot of the better no sound in space theme is an update to submarine stealth gameplay, where if you don't make a noise, shut everything down, then the enemy can't detect your heat trails and thermal blooms.

Auditory information is also something the brain can process in parallel to other stimuli, in order to better grasp situational awareness in combat or rather before combat starts. If there's too many sound effects going off in a space battle, humans can't pick out the difference (it's not like they trained to hear instruments for years, not that the sfx correlates to many instruments in an orchestra) in the chaotic jumble.

Homeworld used the sedate, slow pace setting to make sure each sound and music had meaning, as well as gameplay benefits. Instead of seeing what your fighter groups are doing, you can hear them talking about it while the user processes visual information elsewhere. The brain is already multi cpu capable, although computer programmers have been loath to make use of that given the over focus on visual graphics.

It's pretty hard to create new monsters, since human mythology already has them and all most people can do is copy them. It takes world building if you want to make them unique in details. I would have probably made some kind of eco system, with a life cycle. Similar to the archnemesis in Gargantia, which turned out to be more complicated than just space monsters. It would be fun to encounter a bunch of random species, which the user thinks is unrelated, only to find out later through a crisis that they are basically the same organism, at different growth stages. And the final growth stage is then the boss to defeat. Could key in some mysterious loyalty variables based on what happened with the early life cycles. If the life forms are made really strange, analogous to no human conception, then it can be randomized so that nobody will know what goes where, each time they play, which maintains the illusion for awhile at least. I believe Spore tried to capitalize on that, but something was missing in the last stage.
 
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Technically fire does happen underwater, but requires white phosphorous or other internal heat to white fire levels.

If space people really wanted to hear sounds, they would just create a skin armor layer that automatically translates light and energy outside, into vibrations if humans are really complaining about the lack of sound in space. Although ships creaking is like bicycles creaking, people will worry more about that.

A lot of the better no sound in space theme is an update to submarine stealth gameplay, where if you don't make a noise, shut everything down, then the enemy can't detect your heat trails and thermal blooms.

Auditory information is also something the brain can process in parallel to other stimuli, in order to better grasp situational awareness in combat or rather before combat starts. If there's too many sound effects going off in a space battle, humans can't pick out the difference (it's not like they trained to hear instruments for years, not that the sfx correlates to many instruments in an orchestra) in the chaotic jumble.

Homeworld used the sedate, slow pace setting to make sure each sound and music had meaning, as well as gameplay benefits. Instead of seeing what your fighter groups are doing, you can hear them talking about it while the user processes visual information elsewhere. The brain is already multi cpu capable, although computer programmers have been loath to make use of that given the over focus on visual graphics.
I always imagine the sound in space games to be simulated by a computer, so the leader (me) has an easier time understanding & reacting to what is going on. That actually sounds fairly logical to me.
But I have to be honest, I took that thought from a book I read a while back where all starship bridges had such a sound simulator.
 

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I always imagine the sound in space games to be simulated by a computer, so the leader (me) has an easier time understanding & reacting to what is going on. That actually sounds fairly logical to me.
But I have to be honest, I took that thought from a book I read a while back where all starship bridges had such a sound simulator.

I would think unless it was an Ender type commander, most starship and submarine captains need things to be quiet so they can hear what the crew is reporting. Specialized sonar operators, of course, can devote their attention to such things. The tactical officer and the targeting computers would gain a lot of info from background radiation "noise" in detecting stealthed ships or small objects that's crossing across stars and light sources, but it would be difficult for a higher level officer to micro all that and manage the crew.
 

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Music:

Hi there, I am Jazzhole aka Andreas Waldetoft and I am the Senior Music Composer at Paradox.

.

Perhaps it may be because I am a "melómano" (music lover), but the new songs in Leviathans are absolutely wonderful and give a totally different atmosphere to the game that fits like a glove in the Alexis Kennedy´s hands. You have created a really good piece of art.
 

Metal King

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Perhaps it may be because I am a "melómano" (music lover), but the new songs in Leviathans are absolutely wonderful and give a totally different atmosphere to the game that fits like a glove in the Alexis Kennedy´s hands. You have created a really good piece of art.

Thank you for your kind words! We put in a lot of effort for this music pack and it's great to hear that you appreciate it so much! :)