Posted on October 31, 2011, CJ Miozzi BlizzCon 2011: Diablo 3 Has 15,000 Lines of Dialogue & a Soundtrack That Can be Recognized by a Single Chord
Who can forget the Warcraft 2 menu music? The StarCraft Terran theme? Or, most memorable of all, Diablo’s melancholy Tristram guitar riff? Blizzard has created some unforgettable soundtracks over the years, and at the BlizzCon 2011 Diablo 3 Sound panel, we received special insight on the creation of Blizzard’s iconic music, visceral sound effects, and loriffic voice acting. That’s right — loriffic: adjective; possessing or invoking lore.
Voice Acting: Heroes and Horrors
One way in which Diablo 3 stands apart from any other game Blizzard has made is with the staggering number of lines of dialogue recorded: between 13,000 and 16,000, versus StarCraft 2′s and World of Warcraft’s 3000 lines. Each of D3′s heroes has 1200 lines of dialogue — factor in male and female variants of the five classes, and that’s 12,000 lines right there. Further, the development team worked hard to populate the world with bit characters with speaking roles to make Sanctuary come alive.
On the more monstrous side of things, Sanctuary is home to sixteen unique creature types, each with its own sound palette. Specialized voice actors were hired to perform creature vocalizations, and animal noises were often mixed in with human vocals to produce a final monstrous sound board.
Music and Sound Effects: Randomization is King
Senior Sound Designer Kris Giampa explained how, as a gamer, one of his pet peeves is hearing the looping sounds of character attack sequences. In Diablo 3, character skill sounds are broken into three distinct phases: an initial “casting” phase, an in-action loop, and a final impact. To break the monotony of sounds you’ll be hearing often, each of these three phases has randomized effects applied to it — variations in volume, length, pitch — so that the overall attack sequence sounds different each time. With the current degree of randomization, players shouldn’t hear the exact same sound twice.
On the musical side of things, it turns out that Diablo was possibly the first series of games to include orchestrals. Matt Uelmen, the man responsible for the unforgettable music of Diablo and Diablo 2, left some big shoes to fill after his departure from Blizzard in 2007, and the team wanted to ensure they continued his vision. Throughout Act I of Diablo 3, the team payed homage to Uelmen’s haunting guitar riffs.
Diablo’s music is so iconic, in fact, that when Diablo 3 was first announced, it was not a video, an image, or a spoken message the made the big revealed: it was the simple strumming of a guitar. At the Blizzard 2008 Worldwide Invitational in Paris, composer Laurence Juber, former lead guitarist of Wings, played one chord on stage, and the crowd immediately knew Diablo would once again walk the world of Sanctuary.
Listen to the crowd go wild as they hear Juber strumming: