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How The Last of Us Part II's Incredible Sound Was Made

kyliethicc

Member
Just found this awesome in-depth interview with the audio devs from Naughty Dog who made The Last of Us Part II. Its a really cool (and really long) interview that's well worth a read.

...

"Naughty Dog's highly-anticipated The Last of Us Part II (available now for PS4) sold over 4 million copies in just 3 days, and the reviews are phenomenal. Here, we talk with the Naughty Dog sound team about building reactive environments, designing the Infected, the crucial role of Foley, developing better accessibility features, and much (much!) more in this huge interview:"

Interview by Jennifer Walden



Even before its release, Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us Part II was winning awards: for ‘Most Wanted Game’ and ‘Most Anticipated Game.’ That much fan pressure had to make the game development team sweat. Could they make another hit like The Last of Us? Would the fans love it?

The answer is yes. They can. They did. The Last of Us Part II has officially become Sony’s fastest-selling game. The wait is over and the fans are feasting on Naughty Dog’s latest offering. And like its predecessor, the game is a feast for the mind, the eyes, and the ears. Audio Lead Rob Krekel (who was a sound designer on the first release, working under Audio Lead Phil Kovats) and his sound team at Naughty Dog may have had a daunting task in front of them, to build on the success of The Last of Us, but they more than delivered.

Here, Krekel, Justin Mullens (Sound Designer), Neil Uchitel (Senior Sound Designer), Maged Khalil Ragab (Dialogue Supervisor), Mike Hourihan (Supervising Dialogue Designer), Grayson Stone (Dialogue Coordinator) and Beau Jimenez (Sound Designer) talk about ways of connecting the player to the game through sound — by building reactive environments, by using extensive Foley, by designing human attributes into the various deteriorated stages of Infected, and by enveloping the player with a rich, well-balanced surround m
ix.



Just a few small excerpts:

Foley and Motion Matching:

"It’s impossible to talk about Foley in The Last of Us Part II without discussing the implications of using a motion-matching animation system in a video game. Originally, our plan was to simply retune the existing hands/feet Foley system from Uncharted 4, but once we started to see what the Animation department was doing with motion matching, we realized that system wouldn’t be able to account for the staggering variety of traversal possibilities, and the analog nature of it.

Just getting Foley to work at all in a motion matching system was its own challenge, as anywhere between 1 to 6 animations are simultaneously playing on every game frame. Every previous modern game at Naughty Dog employed a sophisticated set of blends, and Foley sounds were simply played from whatever animation was playing at the time. It was a great system that, even on The Last of Us, still looks and sounds amazing."


...



On the shamblers...

"Some fun recording tidbits: the Shambler clicks were created by sticking the Sanken into a plastic bucket, and performing palatal click sounds though a vinyl tube into the bucket. For the Shambler pustule explosion, we recorded a life vest getting inflated with a CO2 cylinder, which created a beautifully aggressive airy burst sound. We also performed with a bellows filled with milk-soaked oatmeal which created some gross (aka awesome) source material and helped bring the pustule visuals to life."


...


While working, I would A/B against a few important references — The Last of Us, No Country for Old Men, and The Revenant — to help ensure consistency across the whole game.
 
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kyliethicc

Member
"In the end, 40 distinct surface types ended up in the game. Each comprised of anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 assets. Horse hooves and dog feet were also recorded for six archetypal base surfaces. By way of comparison, our Uncharted 4 Foley banks were anywhere from 300 to 400 sound IDs, and the banks in The Last of Us Part II were anywhere from 1,500 to 1,800 sound IDs. By every measure the scale of the Foley work was unparalleled in Naughty Dog’s history."

"Some special details of note: stepping in blood puddles plays special “sticky” sounds when you walk in them. And when you walk out, you leave footprints that are accompanied by progressively diminishing sticky footstep sounds. Surface probes are now multi-sampling, so, for example, the sound of stepping on broken glass changes depending upon how much glass is sampled underfoot. Finally, we implemented surface blending and additives, so when you step on a surface that is a blend between two art layers, it not only plays a blended sound, but an additional surface (e.g, glass or moss) can play on top of that blend. Feet and hands surface probe independently, but we couldn’t implement shoe on/off on the same character, due to in-game memory constraints.l

"I recorded water myself separately, along with Sam St. Clair, our audio implementer. I love the sound of water, and so over several games I’ve tried to push the level of detail in our water systems. I think water is often given short shrift in games as it is, understandably, very complex and expensive to implement successfully. So, for the first time in our games, water is “depth-aware.” There are six different depths of water footsteps, as well as splashes for both the player character and NPCs, including horses and dogs. This also includes variations for both foreground and background water — everything from slightly wet surfaces to full swimming — with shared assets across multiple systems. One of the little subtleties we added is that when the player crosses water that is at least ankle height, when you come out, wet socks play for a little while until they visually “dry out.”"
 
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kyliethicc

Member
Seriously, this interview just keeps going. Its stupidly detailed about everything. I'll leave it here for now since three posts is enough, but there's obviously a lot more in the linked page to sink into.



 
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Sosokrates

Founder of western console warring.
Does anyone know if you still get 3d audio if TLOU2 audio settings are "headphones" but the PS5s settings have 3d audio set to off?

I turned off the PS5s 3d audio because it dont jive well with movies.
 

Iced Arcade

Member
what year is it GIF


was my 2020 GOTY
 
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Bartski

Gold Member
calling it now (again): their next game will not have any kind of a visual "listen mode" outside accessibility as an option, it will all be done with player-controlled compression for tempest audio
 
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Yoboman

Member
calling it now (again): their next game will not have any kind of a visual "listen mode" outside accessibility as an option, it will all be done with player-controlled compression for tempest audio
It 100% will, its a player accessibility option

And the last two games are entirely beatable with headphones and positional audio
 

Bartski

Gold Member
It 100% will, its a player accessibility option

And the last two games are entirely beatable with headphones and positional audio
I did play the game on grounded+ and yes current spatiality emulation helps but it's not the same effect at all as with running real-time 3d convolution etc., being audio designed and made to run on the Tempest from the ground up. Which is what their next game should once again set the benchmark for.

What I mean is I think there will still be an additional "listen mode/focus" for normal difficulty but 100% audio, replacing any of the "x-ray view" visual effects from previous games by making them redundant.
That visual layer (colors fading, seeing silhouettes through walls) will remain only as an additional accessibility setting for players will hearing loss.

It would seem that with accurate surround it's just about putting a compressor on the R1, (in rough terms that's a device reducing audio dynamic range that can make quieter sounds louder), to deliver what the "listen mode" is really trying to emulate as a game mechanic - player character focusing to hear his surroundings better and louder.

The problem is - with headphone raytraced 3D audio things get really tricky when you start "squishing" all the convolution, ray-traced reverberation that way, so that you don't mess up the accurate spatiality, the perception of distance, and positioning within the 3D soundscape...

This might require much smarter (and way more complicated) procedural processing but I think this is what Tempest is made for that's where we're heading.
 
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