Sound of the Dead: Audio Design in Dead Nation, Sample Track

35 0

It’s been a big month for Dead Nation! We’ve confirmed that online co-op play will be included from day one and also shown off three special zombies – the Mouth, Jumper, and Bombie — in our new “Know Your Enemies” video and there’s still more to come in October.

But one thing we haven’t yet discussed is audio. With Dead Nation, it’s vital that we create a skin-crawling atmosphere; more importantly, the music needs to adapt to the intensity of the on-screen carnage. I thought it would be fun to address some common questions related to Dead Nation’s audio design, everything from the zombie groans to dynamic music to soundtrack inspirations. I hope you enjoy it, and be sure to listen to the sample track below.

Dead Nation: Necropolis

[audio:https://blog.us.playstation.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/ari_pulkkinen-dead_nation_main_theme.mp3]

How did you start working with Housemarque?

The first game that I worked on with Housemarque was Super Stardust HD, the original soundtrack and sound design. I was in-house audio director in Frozenbyte Inc. back then and working outsourced. SSHD was a awesome project for me since I’ve grown up with retro arcade games and I got my chance to finally make style of my own.

What was your reaction when Housemarque originally came to you with the Dead Nation concept?

I’m a huge fan of apocalyptic and zombie movies and games, and when I first time heard about making a “really nasty R-rated zombie shooter” I was thrilled! Harri (the creative director) explained me of all the cool things you could do to the zombies and how gory everything would be. If you’re gonna do a great zombie game or a movie, it’s gotta be R-rated! The top-down perspective allows an interesting angle for the game audio design, too. You perceive the big picture of the soundscape much more broadly than in FPS games.


Has the music changed a lot since you took a first pass on it?

My first tracks for the game were a bit too slow and we ended up setting the tempo up to 162bpm for the highest intensity levels. The soundtrack is a mash-up of different genres like industrial, orchestral and ambient. We wanted it to sound dark, gritty, and dynamic so we ended up having six different intensity levels for every dynamic music group. It works really great — the music adapts seamlessly to the in-game events.

How difficult did you find putting together a concept soundtrack for Dead Nation?

It was not an easy task! There was not much reference for the Dead Nation soundtrack, I had to invent almost everything from scratch. The closest resemblance was found in the Dawn of the Dead remake OST, but I still had no reference for the highest intensity levels. The in-game music is almost sound design in some parts, since it doesn’t have much in the way of melody and it relies heavily on dark tones and gritty sounds. Overall, I achieved the feeling that we were after, it does sound unique and it fits in the game atmosphere perfectly.

What can you say about the sound design?

Well, first of all, I have to mention that Dead Nation has a huge amount of sounds. It features over 8000 unique sound files and craploads of near-authentic zombie vocals. The aim of the sound design was to make Dead Nation feel as gory and gritty as it plays — players will have to endure (or enjoy) quite twisted sounds! This is my most ambitious and biggest audio design work so far, I’m hoping players to have just the right feeling while playing.

What is your favorite part of Dead Nation?

I really like the feeling of nailing down the zombies. It just has this realness to it, feels like the zombies are really getting hurt in every way possible! I like the overall atmosphere too, I’m already hooked to the game!

Comments are closed.

35 Comments

  • This will go perfectly with the PS3 Surround Bar coming out next week, won’t it? :)

    I was secretly hoping that you would include the release date in here… Guess I’ll keep waiting. I’ll be patient, I’m just excited!

  • Craploads of near-authentic zombie vocals? Do you guys know something the general public doesn’t? Haha :P

    That sample is pretty awesome though :) Cannot wait to pick this up and enjoy blasting some zombies with friends!

  • I am guessing this will be out by Halloween. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  • Amazing track it sounded fantastic. Eagerly awaiting launch day.

  • This game can’t come out soon enough.
    I think I’ll go back and play some more Super Stardust HD just for good measure.

  • You haven’t disussed a release date. That’s paramount to audio, I think.

  • Really looking forward to this game…

    @#6 – Would you like for the game to be released, yet have no sound?

  • I’m making an indie zombie survival game. It’s more strategy than arcade (such as Dead Nation) but I’m jealous of their graphical and audio resources. :P

  • keep the info coming to help ease the time till a release date. The audio sounds great, roughly how many tracks will be in the game?
    I also have to ask are you still going to include custom in-game music as well?

  • Can’t wait for the game. It’s been a long wait but I have a feeling it’ll be worth it.

  • Awesome, good to see Ari return for Dead Nation – his soundtrack for SSHD is still one of my absolute favourites.

  • Might have to get a nice surround sound system, with Dead Nation and Dead Space 2 around the corner.

  • Dear Housemarque:

    I think you guys STRUCK GOLD! I am so getting this game, on day 1 release!

  • PlayStation Network Down ?

  • ..neat sound-track sample :) Really like your music – with the way it sets the tone very clearly, but without dominating everything else.

    Question: these soundtracks, like the ones in Trine and SSHD, seem to be complete tracks that run from start to finish in a game-level. Have you thought anything about music that shifts intensity and tempo depending on the gameplay? Having changed soundscapes, loops inside the song, bridges determined by game-events.. that kind of thing? (..like, Riff: everyday shooter, or maybe Motoi Sakuraba’s soundtrack in Resonance of Fate, pixeljunk Shooter to some extent)..? How difficult is this to do together with a developer – do you need more involvement in the development process.. that kind of thing?

  • Sounds really awesome.

    Will we get to hear this great music in 24-bit, losslessly compressed bluray-quality?

    Pllllllease don’t let us down on this front by using an awful 360-quality MP3 encode!

  • I can’t wait for this game.
    This games lookin awesome! Thanks for your hard work.

  • PCM 7.1 support please. And release the game before Halloween please.

  • Awesome. I’m sure I’ll hear a bit of it just before my custom soundtrack kicks on. XD

    Nah, considering there’s an actual storyline and distinct emotion (fear) they’re going after with this game, I think at least the first time through I’ll keep the original BGM on. But mark my words, after that I’ll be blowing zombies’ brains out to the upbeat stylings of French Pop.

  • Great sound and tone in that track. It has a lot of suspense rather than an arcadey kind of feel. Helps give the game a more serious/mature feel.

  • sounds creepy good, love it :)

  • Release date plz.

  • I really want to kill zombies in this game.ps well u wait for this game buy zombie apocalypse.

  • this game is gonna be awesome

  • Awesome Track!Best part is after 1:20, when can we buy the soundtrack on iTunes?

  • That track is sweet- Will purchase game for sure based on how good Super Stardust HD was, will buy soundtrack if avail. on iTunes.

  • BAH, I love the track, but WHEN IS THE RELEASE DATE???!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I played the beta and was in love instantly…I can’t wait to play the full game.

  • The reason they won’t announce a release date, guess what happened when the big name racing game got its release date announced.

  • @ fleinn

    “Question: these soundtracks, like the ones in Trine and SSHD, seem to be complete tracks that run from start to finish in a game-level. Have you thought anything about music that shifts intensity and tempo depending on the gameplay? Having changed soundscapes, loops inside the song, bridges determined by game-events.. that kind of thing? (..like, Riff: everyday shooter, or maybe Motoi Sakuraba’s soundtrack in Resonance of Fate, pixeljunk Shooter to some extent)..? How difficult is this to do together with a developer – do you need more involvement in the development process.. that kind of thing?”

    Eh I think you need to read the interview, Mr. Pulkkinen states that the music is dynamic and that it adjusts in tempo and intensity to suit the gameplay.

  • For myself, music is a huge part of the game, and if the music is crap the game is no good. From listening to this sample I am really excited for this awesome new survival horror game! I just hope you keep some real FMV scenes in the game as shown in the trailer. :) FMV cutscenes or intro plus great soundtrack and gameplay + day 1 purchase here!

  • Day one buy for me just for the online co op… much props if this released before halloween (*_*)

  • Great music, they seem to have nailed it judging by this track. Absolutely a day one buy, I can’t wait!

  • can’t wait for this!
    is it definitely coming this year?

  • Release Date PLEASE!

  • whens this game coming out!!!

Please enter your date of birth.