A new post on Bloody Disgusting laments the fact that Matt Uelmen is not in charge of the music/sound in Diablo III. We’ve seen a lot of fan comments about this, and Blizzard has said their current sound guys are great, and pointed out that the DiabloWikiDiablo III music includes 90 minutes of acoustic guitar Matt recorded years ago.

    Maybe someone should tell that to the BD guy, as he doesn’t seem to like the sound of Diablo III. Here’s a quote from the post:

    One of my favorite aspects of DIABLO I & II – one of the things that really made it what it was – was Matt Uelmen’s soundtrack. Walking around the grasslands, in town – going down into the dungeons – no game before or after had been better enhanced by its music. I still burn one and stand there in Tristam just to listen. There’s something peaceful and serene and beautiful about is darkness.

    …Matt Uelmen is not the composer for DIABLO III. Its being done by DiabloWikiRussell Brower, who has a background founded in kiddie cartoons (Animaniacs, Goof Troop, Tiny Tunes Adventures) – you get the picture.


    I trade emails with Matt Uelmen now and then, and we’ve been planning a big interview covering everything from the early Diablo days up to his present work on Torchlight 2. (The interview keeps getting delayed along with TL2.) One thing I’m definitely going to ask him about is the way different games present sound and music, and how that affects the player’s experience. It’s a question many Diablo 3 beta players have considered, since the music in D3 is so much less impactful than the music was in D1 or D2.

    Click through for the rest of this article, with direct video/audio comparisons of the three Diablo titles.

    Like many of you guys, I really enjoyed the music in D1 and D2. I’m not sure about the music in D3, since despite playing a great deal of the beta, I don’t feel like I’ve actually heard it yet. Oh, I have the sound turned on and my speakers turned up, and there’s audio content, but it’s not really “music.” It’s ambient sounds; crickets chirping, wind blowing, water dripping in caves, etc. It sounds nice and does something to build the atmosphere and mood, at least during the rare seconds when it’s not drowned out by the massive explosion sound effects produced by virtually every skill in the game, but it’s not anything like the music that was themed to every level and dungeon in Diablo 2.

    This is somewhat odd, since there is music in Diablo 3. At least we’ve heard some sample tracks that aren’t bad, though it’s unclear when/if/where/how those are heard in the actual game, rather than just on the log in screen. Also, it’s not like Blizzard didn’t have time to hire musicians or record music for the game. No, what we’re listening to (or not) in the beta is a conscious design decision, and they clearly decided to go with ambient sounds, rather than big, present, noticeable symphonic compositions of the sort that we heard in D1 and D2. (Assuming the beta is representative of the final game. It may not be, and D3 release version could have much more music than we are hearing now.)

    If you want a very quick and easy comparison of past to present, check out that video comparison of Tristram that we posted this morning, and skip to about 4:58. There you see (and hear) a warrior enter the Cathedral in Diablo I, followed 15 seconds later by a Diablo III Barbarian entering the D3 version of that level.

    I’m a fan of Diablo I, so it’s no surprise that I really like that clip from the older game. But doesn’t everybody? (Listen to the whole piece.) It only takes a few seconds to get the whole mood and tone of foreboding danger and menace that fills the game. Spooky vocals, eerie echoing character voice, and then rising, pounding drums. It gives me a very strong sense that bad things are about to happen, and that it’s time to fight or die.

    Compare that to the Diablo 3 Cathedral entrance, which has… the faint sound of wind blowing. And something a bit like cars being parked half a mile away. Where’s the drama? Where’s the suspense? Where’s the horror and menace? I’m sure D3’s version sounds a lot more like what a real ruined subterranean catacomb would sound like, but are we going for realism or exciting video game action?

    True, the D3 Cathedral is not the first area of combat in the entire game, but it’s not like you get dramatic, mood-establishing music in the first or second brief zombie battles outside of Tristram. It’s also possible (I hope) that we’re not hearing the finished version of Diablo III. Maybe there will be a lot more dramatic, noticeable music in the final game?

    All that said, maybe I’m just old school on this, and loud, impactful music written to correspond to each individual area in the game is no longer the way things are done. Now it’s about atmospheric noises that don’t distract from the car crash sound effects of every Barbarian skill.

    What do you guys think? Do you miss the very present, impactful style of music from D1 and D2? Or do you prefer the subtle, ambient effects in D3, with the “music” only kicking in during dramatic moments like quest boss battles?

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