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Lars Hammer

DarkMatters Presents - Interview with Lars Hammer

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Hi,

 

a few days ago Gogo invited me here to DarkMatters (where is my free drink? :woot: ) and so I created an account here.

 

So I wanted to say HELLO to everyone...

 

 

Just in case you dont know me from the official Sacred 2 forums... I'm working at Studio II in Aachen/Germany and I am responsible for sound & music in Sacred 2. So please feel free to ask any questions about these topics and I will try to answer it (as far as my timetable and NDA allows me to).

 

 

Kind regards,

Lars

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Ah, ha!

 

Lars, I was hoping the offer of a home-brewed frosty could tantalize you into coming visit us. It's fantastic that you're able to take some time out and visit our little Sacred corner of the universe and even better have offered to answer questions if you've got time.

 

First off Welcome to Darkmatters! and...

 

muhahah...I hope you don't come to regret this, as there have been a great many questions I've been wanting to ask you especially for weeks now, and was even thinking of putting them together in an interview format, but if you're here now, I guess it works just as well if I I'm able to ask them here. ^^

 

(Beer after the question session? :woot:)

 

I know you and the other devs are short for time, so I'll put my questions into a a list for you, and hopefully you'll be able to pick at them when you wish. Sound's been a huge fascination of mine ever since the first Sacred came out. And right off the bat, I was taken back by the range and quality of sounds in the game. Having you here on site is a wonderful gift to the community, and with Sacred 2 about to be released, I'm sure your feedback on the game regarding your sound and music contribution to it will be a great read.

 

Onwards to the questions!

 

1- Lars, what would you say are ya few of your favorite games regarding sound? You must have some favorites? And would you say that these games inspired you to do even better then them for the release of Sacred 2?

 

2-What do you think is the single best sound effect for you that you've ever heard in a game?

 

3-What was the most difficult sound to create in Sacred 2? And was it because of technical reasons...or perhaps noone was able to envision what the sound would sound like? And how do you finally choose the sound for the graphical effect. Do you have to see the effect many times first before going ahhhhh...and then go look for it?

 

4-What sort of background do you have...is it mostly musical...are you related by any chance to the Vantrapps? :woot: Or do you have a mostly technical background that finally settled on doing sound for games? Is Sacred 2 the first game you've done sound for, or were there others?

 

5- Can you tell us about the difficulties of providing good melee sounds in games. I myself was a huge fan of Guild Wars. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the music in the game, I found the battle sounds horribly lacking. I was always comparing them to Sacred... in which the same weapon could make a different ring depending on the number of times you hit an enemy. I have always been particularly drawn to battle sounds, as I've always felt that a lot of games "cheaped out" on the quality of swords ringing and pole-axes...poling? :P. In the case of Guild Wars, for example, hitting an enemy with a weapon a number of times in a row always produced the same sound, with no variation. In Sacred, however, you get that range, and I've always believed that this range of sounds from melee in a game can draw in players because things sounds more natural, organic and more convincing. Will Sacred 2's battle sounds provide that same rich range?

 

6-Is there a specific sound in Sacred 2 that particularly delights you...something that you would perhaps be inclined to tell us to look for?

 

7-Can you tell us a bit about the music from Sacred 2...is there a part of the world that inspired you regarding this, or a sort of theme that you wanted the game score to convey?

 

8- Okay, no more questions ...I figure at this point you've come to realize how many questions we have, and of course, we do love our beers...

so here's one on us :woot:

 

Thank you for making it over here, and looking forward to your answers.

 

Once again, Welcome!

 

:)

 

 

gogo

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Welcome Lars.......great to see you posting here

welcome38gk.gif

 

gogo has pretty much asked you more than enough in one session :woot:

 

stubbs

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Hi everyone,

 

thanks for the welcome.

 

First of all I'd like to explain what exactly it is what I'm doing in the Sacred 2 team. I did not compose any of the music (OK, only one little track) or create soundeffects... we're doing this as a team. The project is way too big for one person to do all this alone.

 

I'm a programmer with musical training/background and I also did a few game soundtracks in the past. For Sacred2 I wrote the audio concept, designed the sound engine, programmed it. The music was composed to my proposals and concepts by the award-winning team of Dynamedion, a group of 4 composers and sound designers. The soundeffects are created by two of my colleagues at the Ascaron sound department. And I'm the one who supervises all audio content, checks and approves it, convert it und put it into the game. So actually the sound team is at least a group of 7 people and a few more guys (XBox/PS3 team, external composers) working on this.

 

Now to Gogo's questions...

 

1- Lars, what would you say are ya few of your favorite games regarding sound? You must have some favorites? And would you say that these games inspired you to do even better then them for the release of Sacred 2?

 

Actually, my taste in music has changed over the years. When I was starting to listen to game and movie soundtracks I was a huge fan of Orchestral soundtracks - Star Wars, John Williams and so on. Over the years my taste has changed to more subtle, minimalistic style of music. So its no wonder that I would call my favourite game soundtracks the Fallout/Fallout2 and Baldurs Gate/Baldurs Gate 2 game music. And of course I love the games and music of the old Origin games... Ultima, Wing Commander, Martian Dreams and so on. I'm listening to the music still today.

 

Has anything influenced the work on Sacred 2? Yes of course... if you listen to some of the desert/canyon tracks, there a hint of post-apocalyptic music in it... :P

 

 

2-What do you think is the single best sound effect for you that you've ever heard in a game?

 

There is one special sound in the old Bullfrog game "Syndicate", that haunts me over the years... I still have it in my ears. From time to time I did hear it again in other games (hmm... how does that happen? :) ), but it will always remind me of "Syndicate". I dont remember whre it was used in the game, it was a trademark sound.

 

 

3-What was the most difficult sound to create in Sacred 2? And was it because of technical reasons...or perhaps noone was able to envision what the sound would sound like? And how do you finally choose the sound for the graphical effect. Do you have to see the effect many times first before going ahhhhh...and then go look for it?

 

Most of the time I have a sound already in my head when I see a graphical FX. Usually I discuss this with my colleagues and they create it. But sometimes they surprise me with something that works even better.

 

Most difficult sound in Sacred 2... hmmm... I guess the T-Energy trademark sound was hard to find. We worked weeks on it. Everything in Ancaria that works with T-Energy does have a bit of it in it, so it had to be a non-annoying, but still recognizable sound.

 

 

 

4-What sort of background do you have...is it mostly musical...are you related by any chance to the Vantrapps? :) Or do you have a mostly technical background that finally settled on doing sound for games? Is Sacred 2 the first game you've done sound for, or were there others?

 

Like I already mentioned, I have a technical and a musical background. Sacred 2 is my ... <counting>... 8th big AAA-title I am doing programming stuff and the ... <counting again> fourth AAA-title I'm doing some sound/music for.

 

 

 

5- Can you tell us about the difficulties of providing good melee sounds in games. I myself was a huge fan of Guild Wars. And while I thoroughly enjoyed the music in the game, I found the battle sounds horribly lacking. I was always comparing them to Sacred... in which the same weapon could make a different ring depending on the number of times you hit an enemy. I have always been particularly drawn to battle sounds, as I've always felt that a lot of games "cheaped out" on the quality of swords ringing and pole-axes...poling? :P. In the case of Guild Wars, for example, hitting an enemy with a weapon a number of times in a row always produced the same sound, with no variation. In Sacred, however, you get that range, and I've always believed that this range of sounds from melee in a game can draw in players because things sounds more natural, organic and more convincing. Will Sacred 2's battle sounds provide that same rich range?

 

Yes, having big variations in any repeating sounds like hits, footsteps etc. is a must. We do have at least 4 to 8 different hit sounds per weapon and material. Often-used weapons even have more. For a standard sword we have 48 different sounds in Sacred2 - 12 for "hit-on-bare flesh", 12 for "hit-on-leather", 12 for "hit-on-chain" and finally 12 sounds for "hit-on-plate metal". And there are still a few tricks like pitch variation and realtime mixing with what we call "pre-hit" sounds that will make it sound interesting and realistic.

 

Actually I do hate it too when I play other games and I can hear that they are using exactly _two_ footstep sounds - one for left, one for right... always the same "tip-tap-tip-tap" :D

 

 

6-Is there a specific sound in Sacred 2 that particularly delights you...something that you would perhaps be inclined to tell us to look for?

 

 

No, not a specific one. I'm happy if you would stop in the game from time and just listen and enjoying the sound of Ancaria around you while playing Sacred2. Especially at nights it is a pleasure to walk through Ancaria (if there are no monsters nearby of course :) )

 

In an earlier project I was working on, some people wrote me that they sometimes started the game and go with their char into the woods and let their player char just stand around to enjoy the sounds and music - thats the best compliment one can get...

 

 

 

7-Can you tell us a bit about the music from Sacred 2...is there a part of the world that inspired you regarding this, or a sort of theme that you wanted the game score to convey?

 

 

The music in Sacred2 has a lot of taks to fullfill... there are the region music tracks - they have to be mellow and relaxing and still bringing you into the mood of the region where you are in. This is to relax you after a fight.

 

Then there are the fight themes. Every char has its own sets of fight music, its always just a short, dramatic, uptempo loop (most fights in Sacred are not that long). But the kind of fight music tells you about the strength and danger of your enemies - the "heavy" theme is way more guitar-driven, the "light" theme just warns you about the fight. And sometimes there is no music, just a dangerous warning noise that tells you that there is something coming up... some boss monsters do have their own fight theme.

 

And there are some special locations with their own music... you have to find out about this yourself... I think you'll be surprised... :)

 

 

Did I mentioned that all tracks are mixed in real 5.1?

 

 

After all Sacred 2 is the biggest project I ever worked on. The sound assets are huge... over 100 different music tracks, over 11.000 soundeffects samples and 27.000 speech samples per language. I hope you'll like it!

 

 

 

And now for that beer.... cheers!

 

 

Lars

Edited by Lars Hammer

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Lars, that's fantastic...thank you! I was hoping you wouldn't find my barrage of questions too much. As I mentioned, I'm a sound junkie... guess you know what that's like huh ^^ lol, and it's great seeing that you have a sound that echoes in your head that's especially made it's mark. For myself, it was a very very old game, called Impossible Mission... think it was Commodore 64? My Cousin had it at the time, and I'll always remember the steps of character running... as well as the opening welcome voiced by a great voice.... "Stay a while...say...forevah!" (maniacal laughter)

 

I especially like how you described how a sound in a game is "found". That you already have a sound in your head that you discuss with your colleagues, and then see if it can be made. There must be a lot of surprises when this happens, and it must delight you when someone creates that perfect sound that you "heard" in your head.

 

It seems lately like sound design has become more and more an important part of gaming. I often wonder how good the really good games are with only mediocre sound. And I especially enjoyed hearing you speak about how important and time consuming it can be when getting battles to sound good. You actually surprised me when you mentioned how many different variations have to be looked at, as well as coming up with the sounds of the weapons against all the different materials. I'm happy that Sacred 2 sound is this involved, this complex (ahh, you poor designers you :)), and demands so much craft.

 

It's a reflection of the artistry and hard work that you and your team have been putting into this anticipated release that we can hear in the released videos. And after listening over and over again to what's on screen come alive...I'm thrilled, and absolutely confident that the spirit of the game as first personified by Sacred 5 years ago will once again breathe on our screens next month.

 

Thank you for that great response

 

:P

 

gogo

 

p.s. heh, course, I have more questions, Lars...but after me getting first digs in here, I'll let the others ask if they want a chance with you. :D

 

p.s.s. And that great response was worth not just one but an entire case!

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The sound assets are huge... over 100 different music tracks, over 11.000 soundeffects samples and 27.000 speech samples per language. I hope you'll like it!

In my case there's no need for hoping... I love it right now :)

 

Ok, I've got a question or two.

 

1. You wrote really awesome info about fight sounds in Sacred 2, a lot of diffrent sounds for each weapon, so I wanted to ask if the spells have also so many sound variations? Maybe my memory is playing tricks, but I remember in S1 there's not any diffrent kinds of sound for spells (I mean typical magic spells). Or they're, but not so noticeable.

(maybe I miss-read it, quite plausible)

 

2. How about sounds of nature? In S1 I loved the sound of north winds and glaciers breaking, really awesome. But except that region and maybe the desert there wasn't any sounds of wind. Of course I'm not only asking about wind. I've watched some nice videos, including one with storm and I was quite impressed.

That's all for now, I think I'll remind a few another questions, just not right now.

 

And big welcome to FDM :P

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Really enjoyable answers to read Lars. Welcome welcome and it's a real treat for us here. Thank you! :)

 

Something you said in your answers which I was planning to ask was of sounds that might be found only in specific places or place. I think this is such a cool idea that not only can we seek things to see but also to hear. Very nice!

 

*slides Lars a cold one*

:P

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Hey there! :P

 

First I'd like to welcome you here, at the DarkMatters, Lars! I'm very pleased to see such a big person here!

And also a big pleasure for me to have a chance asking question from you!

As I'm only a kid yet, please sorry if I asked some ridiculous questions. I don't have much information

about the secrets of music.

 

Ohh and our beer is cool! :P:whip:

 

Well gogo asked most of the questions I wanted to ask, and you told us everything, and I'm really thankful for that!

 

-First I'd like to ask about the build of the music. I never new the answer but I was always intrested in this.

Like, is the music made by different parts?

 

 

-How do you make music, battle effects? You [and your team :P] "simply" make it in a computer, or you make rec-s of

real life voices and edit those? Or it has several ways?

 

-What are the instruments mostly used for battle- and nature effects? Or you dont use instrumental voices?

 

-Can you tell us how many Blind Guardian songs are in the game. (They're one of my personal favorite!) :)

 

:)

 

 

I always liked the sound effects in sacred, and in other games. The weapons' and spells' effects, the

foot steps, the nature musics, and the sounds of activating, equiping an item. I'd be very happy if I had such a great

work like you do. :)

 

That's all for now. I hope, asking so many questions is not a problem.

 

Again, welcome to DarkMatters! Good to see you here!

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Thanks everyone for the welcome. I will try to answer all of your questions... Thanks gogo for pinning this thread!

 

1. You wrote really awesome info about fight sounds in Sacred 2, a lot of diffrent sounds for each weapon, so I wanted to ask if the spells have also so many sound variations? Maybe my memory is playing tricks, but I remember in S1 there's not any diffrent kinds of sound for spells (I mean typical magic spells). Or they're, but not so noticeable.

 

I'm not sure if I understood you correctly - there is a specific sound for each spell and there will be a variation in time - some spells will be cast faster at a higher level. But it is not as sophisticated as the weapon sound system.

 

 

2. How about sounds of nature? In S1 I loved the sound of north winds and glaciers breaking, really awesome. But except that region and maybe the desert there wasn't any sounds of wind. Of course I'm not only asking about wind. I've watched some nice videos, including one with storm and I was quite impressed.

 

Yes, there will be a lot of nature sounds in the game, depending on the region and on the time of day. We have four different "timezones" per region - daytime, "highnoon" (time betwenn 10am and 2pm), nighttime and of course the dungeons. All sets are different - for instance, in the highelven region, most of the birds are active in the morning and in the evening hours. At highnoon you will hear more bees, bumblebees and sounds like that. In the night you'll hear a completely different soundset - owls, howling wolves far away, cracking branches, wind and so on.

 

We put a lot of detail in the atmospheric sound for each region to make it believable for the player.

 

The rain/thunder/storm is a different thing... there will be a mix of three different rain layers - easy, medium and hard. The layers will be faded accordingly to the current strength of the rain. With stronger rain there will be storm sounds added. Birds are still active in "light" rain, but will be muted when the rain gets stronger. Actually I watched rain and thunderstorm in the real world before I started programming the weather sound effects to make it sound realistic.

 

 

 

-First I'd like to ask about the build of the music. I never new the answer but I was always intrested in this.

Like, is the music made by different parts?

 

What do you mean by "different parts"?

 

 

-How do you make music, battle effects? You [and your team :)] "simply" make it in a computer, or you make rec-s of

real life voices and edit those? Or it has several ways?

 

-What are the instruments mostly used for battle- and nature effects? Or you dont use instrumental voices?

 

Soundeffects are done by different ways - we use special sound effect libraries and we record new samples. Its usually a mix of both ways. Some samples are created by artificial synthesis programs and some are recorded the old-fhasioned way: hit with a sword in front of a microphone. :whip:

 

 

-Can you tell us how many Blind Guardian songs are in the game. (They're one of my personal favorite!) :P

 

Just one song - "Sacred". There is an instrumental version of the song in the game and of course the full version with voices.

 

 

 

Kind regards,

Lars

Edited by Lars Hammer

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ooo thanks a lot! [I've forgot this thread for some time...sorry]

 

What do you mean by "different parts"?

 

Well my question would be...does music has a build? Or...how to ask lol

Set-up maybe?

 

k if you still dont understand what I mean...then think that I've deleted that question lol

 

Thanks again! :D

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A bump to set this topic up and on it's way amount our many new thousands of members since the game was released. Lars is perhaps one of the nicest, most generous with his time devs on the Ascaron team. His time here at DarkMatters gave us some rare insight regarding his contribution to Ascaron's game.

 

:)

 

gogo

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Wow... I never saw this topic! :dance:

 

Lars, if you ever happen to stop by again, I had a few (silly) sound related questions,

 

1. Is it just me, or does the Inquisitor start making a sound similar to Darth Vader's breathing noises when he wears one of the Blood Poison/Ilgard helmets? I'm pretty sure I am not confusing the sound with Soul Reaver/Seelen Faenger's sound effect.

 

2. Do you know if the expansion will be making use of the un-used voice recordings that were made for the game? Specifically, I mean there are some recordings called "region_pacified" and also a few story-dialogue specific recordings that are never used in the current game.

 

3. Who's Eliza...?

 

Thanks for visiting us!

Edited by Cthulhu

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Thanks for the great music and the ambient sounds in the game.

 

I have a question though.

 

I want the flute sound for me cell phone.

 

Please?

 

Anyone?

 

:whistle:

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heh, not a bad idea...another way of raising money for the franchise? Count me in for a few of the Goblins' screams

 

:whistle:

 

gogo

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Another interview bump so that this season's crop of new Sacred 2 players can get some inside insight into this genius mind who orchestrated the sound and sonic feel of this game.

 

:lol:

 

gogo

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