Runic Games has posted a juicy page of info, pics, and two musical samples from Torchlight 2. The composer of the music is Matt Uelmen, justly famous for his great work in Diablo 1 and Diablo 2, and if you’re a fan of the music in those games, you’ll certainly want to check it out. For TL2, Matt returned to Bratislava , where he recorded with the local symphony, just like he did for Diablo 2 and yes, Diablo 3, back in 2005.
I’ve embedded the video clip to the right, but you can listen to a proper sample of the soundtrack via the page on Runic Games. Here’s a quote:
Tell us how the scope for composing for Torchlight II differs from the original; it’s a much bigger game; how did that affect your vision for the music?
Matt: It is much bigger than TL. The game has multiple towns, dozens of dungeons, and a ton of open explorable space, with some strong cultural references, especially in the middle third of the game. All of that makes different demands on what the score should do. On top of that, I am really hoping to have some randomization and calibration to day/night cycles in the music for the various NPC hubs, which also has its own set of demands. Generally, it is much more like the work I did in Diablo II and Burning Crusade, in that I am trying to emphasize a sense of progress and travel as the backgrounds change. There was some of this in Diablo, Lord of Destruction and Torchlight, but it wasn’t a primary focus of the soundtracks.
This goes along with what Max talked about when I interviewed him recently. Torchlight 2 is a much larger, much better, much more polished game than Torchlight 1 was. They’ve spent much more time creating it, and that goes for Matt’s music as well, and he thinks that will really show in the quality.
As a special bonus, I spoke with Matt Uelmen last night, and in addition to the usual secret tidbits I can’t repeat (chatting with Matt is a bit like being in the friend zone with a supermodel) he gave me some extra tidbits about the TL2 recording sessions that I’m free to share with you guys.
We crammed all three sessions into less than 24 hours, using a very late shift followed by a very early shift. The big string run at 0:40 is actually a dozen or so small phrases stitched together (you can sort of hear a “stitch” in the violins at 0:50 if you listen closely – a good example of choosing phrasing/performance over seamlessness). Christopher Young was doing a remote recording of his “Priest” score there the night we were leaving – I thought that was kind of cool, just because he’s had an amazing career and is still obviously at the peak of his powers. Going by the glimpse I saw of the opening page of the score, it should be a killer soundtrack!
Also, the music in the video clip seemed a little too slow to me too – when you play it in the game, the whole thing is actually sped up by a half step.
Update: I forwarded some of the comments to Matt, and he replied with some more info on the recording sessions. Click through for that.
I forwarded Lanth’s question (from comments) to Matt, and here’s his reply:
Lanthanide: I?d be interested in knowing how these sessions with the orchestras work. Presumably they send the finished music over a few weeks in advance so they can practice it, and then go over to record it when they?re ready? I guess they?d need to pay for all that practice time as well? Or are they just super-duper-awesome and can practice and play a piece to perfection within 24 hours?
Matt Uelmen: The orchestra usually wants copies of the score at least a week in advance for homework, though they are totally capable of reading almost anything cold (and the quality of the players has become much better in the three times I’ve gone there).
If you give them something very tricky, it just means more time to get it right. Much of being a decent orchestrator, of course, is not writing stuff that requires an incredible amount of work or exceptional technique.
Keep in mind that some of these players go all the way back to the sessions for Naxos in the nineties, where they recorded just about everything in the classical cannon, and many of them have consistently recorded for over twenty hours a week in the time since, so it takes something special to throw them for a loop.
Of course, this is also why I work with Kirk Trevor, who has a great relationship with the orchestra.