Dev Blog: Sound Design

In this developer blog, Sound Designer Anton highlights what it takes to add to and administer an already great sound landscape (soundscape) present in Vermintide 2.

My name is Anton and I’ve been working as a sound designer at Fatshark and Vermintide 2 for the past two and a half years. I have been working as a sound designer for the past ten years and have been working with and around music and sound for as long as I can remember.

Trivia about me:

  • I have the best dog named Håkan
  • I can tie my shoes really fast (worked part-time in a shoe store for a couple of years)
  • I’ll turn off a movie or show if they have bad-sounding doors.

In this developer blog, I’d like to highlight what it takes to add to and administer an already great sound landscape (soundscape) present in Vermintide 2. Mostly, I want to highlight some details in the sound design of Vermintide 2.

On Vermintide 2 we currently have two sound designers: myself and David. I create and implement most of the sound effects while our audio lead, David, handles the VO. Both of us started working at Fatshark post-launch of Vermintide 2, so we’ve worked a lot with managing the already great soundscape while still evolving and exploring new ideas.

How do we do that? Well - I try to incorporate my voice in as many assets as I can, literally. As of now, I’ve been a rat in a hat, Sienna’s skeletons, a giant pig in the Tower of Treachery, dying seagulls in Karak Azgaraz, Belakor’s flying skulls, poxwalker D (in Darktide), and now a lighthouse. Because I had a planned vacation, David got the honor of voicing our Nurglings - and I’m very jealous.

How I created the sounds for The Lighthouse


The lighthouse would be the centerpiece of the level, and it is possessed by Nurgle. Then and there I knew it needed some cool sounds. Obviously. When I started working on the first sound concepts, the gameplay implications were wild. I wanted to muffle all other sounds when you’re hit by the light beam emitting from the lighthouse. When you’re hit by the beam, voices would start whispering to you. All of these ideas were fun but from a gameplay standpoint, they were not feasible. However, the ideas were not in vain.

While working on this, our writer Matt Ward recorded some voice lines that we could use for testing and prototyping. Matt did a great job, but I wanted to test with a more guttural approach to the Grandfather of Sickness. And how did I achieve that? You guessed it - I recorded myself.

Sidenote - I tend to record myself because it’s very easy to iterate, press record, press export, start the game, listen, and do it again until you get the feeling right. I’m very easy to direct when I’m the director.

To make my voice sound like an ancient God of Chaos I used a lot of effects. I recorded myself at a very high sample rate, that’s a trick used when you want to change the pitch of the voice more freely without quality loss. Then I added my usual effects, compression, eq, delays, and reverbs. But something was still missing. It sounded a bit generic. Then I remembered an effect that could modify and blend multiple sounds in a very interesting way. I found this recording of stirring macaroni that sounded perfectly mushy, gross, wet, and sticky. That worked out great to get an even more guttural sound to my voice.

However, I was still not happy, it still sounded a bit human. Then I remembered Matt’s recordings. What would happen if I blended his voice lines with mine and added the macaroni? Success! It sounds so strange, so big, so gross in a cool way.

And this was only one layer. We still thought it would be too intrusive to have this played for the entire duration of the level. We also wanted to save the big guns for the big end event. I designed some drones with some synthesizers and rumbles, whispers, and gore. This would become what you hear when you’re far away. In the level, I added some zones where it’s not as audible, so you get natural dynamics in the soundscape.

I would love to talk even more about the process, but hopefully, this gives a small insight into the sound design workflow. It was a lot of trial and error, implementations, attenuation curves, balancing, playtesting, playtesting, and playtesting. In the end when we added the wonderful music from our composer Two Feathers it all came together.

With all this said, was this the most fun sound design task? No, I like designing rain the most, but that could be an entire blog post by itself.

Thank you for your time, and the next time you hear a random whuaaaargh remember - it’s probably me.

15 Likes

Not sure how I’m supposed to react now that I know the Rat in my Hat is actually a humans noise. This knowledge is more cursed than the lighthouse. Maybe that’s the voice Saltzpyre’s been hearing…?

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:rofl: :joy: :rofl: I love it!
I really do love the sounds in V2, I love the sounds the chaos guys make when they scream uncontrollably and I love the atmosphere and spacial effects i.e. the reverb when moving thru different spaces to give the feeling of being somewhere.

I do wish the 3D spacial sound of specials was more accurate, the way they can literally move 360 around you within seconds is always annyoying because its then hard to react accordingly (I find the sneakrats are the worst for this and unless I have headphones on I have no idea which direction they are coming from). I get the impression this is not your department tho and you are more a creator of sounds and not the person that incorporates the sounds? Im just assuming here tho, so please correct me if Im wrong.

Having worked with surround sound to make music in college I can safely say Im glad its not my job. I, like you (I assume from the way you describe what you enjoy) mostly enjoy the process of just making the noises and didnt really enjoy trying to move everything around in a 3D plane. I cant imagine how difficult it is to do this is an every changing environment!

Just know that I hear the noises and they make me smile and I appreciate you, especially as someone who has studied sound engineering and made music his whole life.

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Ahhh, so you’re tinkering with foley art on top of your sound design? I studied foley art at one point (under the blanket of media arts) and yeah… there’s some REALLY unexpected ways that we made the sounds!

We even had this cool little wooden contraption that was specifically designed for horror movie “creaking door/floorboard” sounds! The wooden contraption’s actual name escapes me now… but I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about about!

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Need art of Nurgle making the most mucculent Macaroni.

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You can’t write that without providing studio video footage of your recordings.

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Okay, the mac n’ cheese trick is simultaneously creative and disgusting. You did great!

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Unfortunately while you might not have known I have the best dog in the world, I’m sure Håkan is a close second!

Darktide mentioned

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I saw one! It was both amazing and hilarious. It looked like he was burping in the booth!

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A sound devblog! That reminds me of weapon sounds that can be improved.

Masterwork Pistol (Bardin): firing sound is unimpressive, compared to everything else. Needs to be more oomph with the stats it has, the shot is quite powerful. The charging mechanism (when preparing normal shot) should be slightly louder, will also help with clarity.

Crankgun sound bug (Bardin): the sound of barrels spinning (that increase with intensity as they sped up) is absent half of the time. Mainly, it is absent when you fire with pre-spin (holding RMB first). The sound is only there, if you previously attacked with LMB (instant shooting at lowest RoF).

Crankgun AP mod (Gromril-Plated Shot lvl 30 talent): just sounds weak. Glad to see it was changed to be more meaty! It was a long time since i checked it.

Volley Crossbow (Saltzpyre): reload sound is mismatched to animation. Also, on BountyHunter, the sound not only is mismatched, but also too high pitched and unbalanced (balance shifted towards Right channel).

Tuskgor Spear (Kruber): the sweeps on this weapon should have blunt sound fx when impacting on enemies, not blade sound fx. Because 1) the blade on the tip is small, 2) the sweep attacks of the spear are exactly the same in stats as Greathammer sweep (very high stagger, very high cleave).

It would be really nice if you could upload some of the sounds you made for us.

I played the new level only once and can’t remember the exact sound the light tower makes, but I really would like to hear it clear and good without going into the game.

This post is very interesting, but it is hard to imagine without some sound samples.

Thank you for your work!