Gamasutra Interviews Matt Uelmen

Gamasutra interviewed Matt Uelmen to discuss details of his work in Torchlight. However, most of the interview has plenty of responses about his 13-years career at Blizzard Entertainment composing music for Diablo, Diablo II, its Lord of Destruction expansion and World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade.

The interview compares the optimistic and faerie tale-like music of Torchlight versus the doomy melody throughout the Diablo games. While the music in both games have differences, both have something in common: Matt Uelmen creates organic and texture-driven music with synth tracks plus the live-performance element of an instrument [like the live introduction of the guitar in the Tristram soundtrack] or a live orchestra.

How conscious are you that there’s someone out there working on Diablo III who is tasked with living up to this thing you’ve created?

MU: Well, I’m aware of it, but I think that that team definitely has all the talent they need to get the job done right. I’m good friends actually with Joseph Lawrence, who is doing a lot of the audio work. I’m looking forward to it being its own distinctive thing.

You know, I’d really love to hear Joseph’s ambient music out there more. I hope they don’t feel they need to be too influenced [by my music], and that they are free to do their own thing, because the gamer in me thinks that would be more entertaining.

For the four years prior to that, were you basically working on what Diablo III would have been, if Blizzard North had stayed around?

MU: I guess at this point I can say, yes, more or less. Blizzard has always had a number of projects, though, that may or may not see the light of day. Some of those have been talked about, but there definitely was more than one thing going on development-wise at the time.

I was really happy, though, that I did an orchestral session shortly before the studio was shut down, having that live orchestral stuff to draw on. That really was my life saver, and I was proud of the fact that I was able to motivate getting some orchestral stuff recorded despite the project and the team being in the kind of state where shutting down was on the table.

It’s also the largesse of Blizzard that they paid for a session in that context, which is to be thanked. But it actually worked out really well to have that material to work with later on.

This is what makes Uelmen’s music stand-out in comparison with the music in other video games. He left Blizzard Entertainment on 2007, but he is enthusiastic with the work Joseph Laurence is doing in Diablo III. Uelmen is a friend of his personally, but admits Blizzard’s Diablo III Team is heading in a different direction with the sound and music, and not necessarily taking Uelmen’s ambient music soundtrack approach. He thinks it is alright to do their own thing.


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