General:ESO Audio Team AUA

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On June 28, 2017, the audio team of The Elder Scrolls Online held an Ask Us Anything at the r/elderscrollsonline subreddit. The following devs were present answering questions:

  • Brad Derrick, Audio Director & Composer
  • Bill Mueller, Senior Sound Designer
  • Brian Brockett, Senior Sound Designer
  • Josh Smith, Senior Sound Designer
  • Matt Conway, Senior Sound Designer
  • Becky Ichnoski, Dialog Coordinator

ESO Audio Team AUA[edit]

Scarab-Phoenix: It was a lot of fun to discover the meaning of words in ESO: Morrowind main theme. Will we hear more songs in different languages (like Ald Chimeris) in future?

ZOS_BradDerrick: Mmmm...hard to say? :) I mean, the Lyrics for the title theme were the brainchild of Lawrence Schick, and were crafted specifically for that purpose. If / when we do another round of bard songs, I suppose that would be a possibility, but that would mean getting our bard singers to sing convincingly in that tongue. On the other hand, then we wouldn't have to localize them into French, German, and Spanish! So maybe you're on to something. :)
ZOS_BradDerrick: Did I say Spanish? I meant Japanese. Settle down...there's no Spanish client coming, that I'm aware of. :)

Alarra: Any news on whether the Thieves Guild/Dark Brotherhood soundtrack will get a release? I know Brad Derrick had said at one point on the forum that he wasn't sure.

ZOS_BradDerrick: Despite being very late (and out-of-sequence since the Morrowind OST has been released) it's still coming. I don't have an exact release date, but what I do know is - the longer we wait, the bigger it gets, since every unreleased piece is getting added to that "album". :)
Ixtyr: That's gonna be a big album.
ZOS_BradDerrick: Yes. Yes it is. It will (finally) include the boss fight music as well.

Ixtyr: What was your favorite part about working on the Morrowind soundtrack? It's really fantastic, I've been quite enjoying it :)

ZOS_BradDerrick: Thanks...glad you like it! My favorite part...hm...the downtime in Budapest between sessions that were filled with bathhouse sessions and Thai & Swedish massage? That was pretty great. :) But the sessions themselves were definitely the highlight. Working with a live orchestra, choir, and some unbelievably talented soloists is always an amazing thing...hearing the music complete its journey from crude bare-bones sketches to full-bodied symphonic expressions is an unparalleled experience I'll never grow tired of.

pigeoncount: Any auditory easter eggs no one has caught onto yet that you'll share with us now?

ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: There may just be a shitty flute player in the game somewhere. I may have brought in my sisters flute and the audio team may have recorded my sad attempt at playing "Red Diamonds" that sounds really terrible. So keep your eyes peeled for a NPC trying reeeealllly hard to be a flute player. ;P
ZOS_MattConway: Hey there pigeoncount!
This has probably been picked up on already, but I trolled our sound library and found the sweet, sweet sounds of the Cliff Racer (which is a processed Cockatiel btw) so I just had to attach those to the ambient flying one that is located throughout Vvardenfell. The good news is, in ESO, you won't have tons of them stacking up on top of you making their beautiful sounds all at once. ;)
TheSpaceWhale: "which is a processed Cockatiel btw"
As a parrot owner this is amazing. Is that from the original Morrowind files? Or did the sound team bring in parrots to record?
ZOS_JoshuaSmith: we have recordings of all kinds of different birds that we can draw on to make sounds with. So we have some cockatiel stuff in our libraries that we can work with.
ZOS_BillMueller: My then 3 year old son is in a few sounds just making random noises

Alarra: For the bard voices, I know Malukah was one of the female voices from the base game, and Gideon Emery and Cindy Robinson are two voices in Morrowind. Who are the other bard voices (and which songs did they sing)? I'm very interested in this and would love to be able to add it to the UESP wiki.

ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Hi there! Besides the singers you already mentioned, we also had Crispin Freeman, Jim Cummings, and Kari Wahlgren as bard singers. Kari and Jim did 6 songs each for the Ebonheart zones, and Crispin and Malukah each sang all 10 of the launch bard songs.

ironleviathan89: I'm sure it wasn't easy to coach the VO artists on pronunciation, considering how many place and NPC names are intentionally designed to invoke an atmosphere that's both foreign and fantasy. How do you handle that aspect of the VO process?

ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Hello! Good question! For each update we have our writers submit any pronunciation words to our Pronunciation Guide. Once those are all submitted, we record our loremaster, Lawrence Schick, pronouncing all of those words. We have over 6,500 currently! We then chop them up into nice little .wav files and during the VO sessions when the actor comes across a lore word we will play the file for them so they can hear the pronunciation. That way all actors pronounce everything correctly. :)
ironleviathan89: Wow! That's a lot of work for a sound bite -- but the quality really shows. The VO work is pretty consistently top-notch.
I guess it makes a lot of sense to NOT rely on written pronunciation guides but instead use audio clips. Thanks for the answer!
ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Thanks for you question!
ZOS_BillMueller: The amazing part to me is how quickly Lawrence can read off all the words as if they are just normal words he uses everyday. Which now that I think about it, maybe he does?

butterjoy92: I love the Mind-Shriven horse, but it's so loud compared to other mounts. Any chance of an adjustment?
Also, could the frequency of the same dialogue options in Belkarth be reduced? I'm sure everyone knows what I'm talking about: Ms. Loses-Her-Shirt and Mr. Float-Out-of-Craglorn.

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: Mind Shriven is still too loud huh? I keep turning it down. So, here's the little secret about the Mind Shriven. I tried something different with it. It actually has two "voices" one that other people would hear, and a different one that you the person riding it hear. that's the more screechy creepy voice. I have turned it down a few times, but I continue to see messages like this asking if it can be turned down. SO, I will yes, turn it down some more, hopefully this time it'll get down to a non-annoying level. :) I should be able to get it into the next audio package, so look out for that soon.
KRosen333: if only we could get a "dungeon finder programming team aua" now. Thanks a lot Josh.
ZOS_JoshuaSmith: One of our engineers is in the room right now, and he said, "you don't actually want that."
programmers are... ... a surly bunch. But hey, I will get that horse turned down.

PingPongDelay: Thank you so much for doing this AMA ! Love love the SFX and music in ESO.
I've always been fascinated by the process of gathering foley sounds. How was that process for you all in developing ESO? Any specific, fond moments when searching for real-world sounds to put in the game?
What was the process on developing the "magic" sounds in the game? As in, the sounds where there was no "real-world" counterpart.
How does proximity work with the sound in ESO? Is it handled by the audio middleware, or were there sounds physically recorded at different distances?
I appreciate you all taking the time to do an AMA here. Thank you !

ZOS_MattConway: Hey there, PingPongDelay! Appreciate the compliments!!!
First off, we've all contributed to the various ability/magic sounds over the years so I'm sure the other dudes will chime in here as well. :)
As for me, my process usually begins with using organic elements (natural sounds like fire, water, wind, etc.) whether that is from library sounds or raw recordings. Then I move on to shaping / mangling those into a serviceable SFX. I sometimes add synthetic elements via virtual instruments to add some tonality as well depending on the context.
As far as proximity goes, we utilize a middleware called Wwise to handle our audio playback and behavior at runtime. We still have to tell the sounds what "to do" so-to-speak so things don't get too out of control during gameplay, but Wwise basically handles most everything along with the tools and systems that our Audio Programmer has developed as well.
Finally, you're more than welcome! We appreciate your question and moreso, your continued support!! :)
ZOS_GinaBruno: I'll never forget years ago I opened my car door and it squeaked a little bit, and /u/ZOS_MattConway comes running over saying "that was a great squeak, mind if I record it?"
ZOS_MattConway: I have yet to find a place for that squeak in the game. Maybe for Clockwork.... :)
ZOS_JoshuaSmith: So, as far as foley, unfortunately we don't really have any exciting stories on that front. Due to the nature of making an MMO, we're usually pretty under the gun to get stuff done, so we pull a lot of material out of libraries, and manipulate it from there. We record what we can when we can, usually in our offices, but a lot of the time we're pulling together a lot of disparate sources and combining them to make something new.
As far as developing those magical sounds, I tend to mix a lot of different synths in with more natural sounding components to keep things from feeling too Sci-Fi. Once you can see what an ability looks like, and you know what it's supposed to do from a designer, you can, in your mind start coming up with an idea for the sound. Once you have that idea you kind of tease it apart and think, "ok, it would have some kind of "schingy" metal sound, how do I get that..." and you look for some sounds of swords being unsheathed, or metal sliding or banging against metal, for example. Then, drop that into your session, mix it into the sound so as to not obviously be what it is, and work it out from there.
Proximity is handled by wwise, most of the sounds are 3d, so they appear in space and play from where they are. we have settings and different types of ambience to be applied depending on where you are.
shoof, that is a lot, i'm not even sure i answered your question anymore. :)

EndSpacedPunctuation: Could we get a separate volume slider for pets and mounts? Or maybe just a reduction on major culprits like the frog?

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: So, believe it or not, this is something we have been tossing around doing for some time. It is much harder to get something like this implemented than you might think. It requires multiple teams and people to get it done. When your UI team is already working like crazy, it is hard to get some time to wiggle in a new slider for things like this. It's on the table, it might hopefully get done, but in the meantime I have just been keeping an eye out on what people complain about and turning them down. This is the first time I've seen the frog mentioned, so i will turn that guy down.

Jeremiah87: Is there even the slightest possibility of letting addon creators/players have control over music? Something like controlling when which in-game song is played as well as being able to use MP3s(and other formats) to add to the existing score?
For those of us who own the OSTs so the Elder Scrolls Games this would be fantastic to add to the feeling of familiar places. For example:
*Addon detects player is in Eastmarch or Riften Zones (which belong to Skyrim)
*Addon plays music from folder Skyrim (according to sub folders and in/out of combat state like Exploration, Combat, etc.)
Right now this would be able to further enhance places like Skyrim, Morrowind and Cyrodiil/Imperial themed zones as these games are recent enough to have high quality soundtracks.
Additionally/Alternatvely...In game music packs of the Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim Soundtrack via the crownstore...?

ZOS_BradDerrick: While this sounds pretty simple on the surface, the complexity of the music system makes something like this unsupportable. If the ESO music system worked in the way you described, then perhaps we could do something like that: IF in <zone>, then point to <user folder> or whatever. But it's just not like that. Sorry. :-/

JamieAubrey: Why does the thunder sometimes sound like Siege ? Sometimes I'm alone in a Keep and hear it I dunno if I should panic or drop my staff
What is with the PING sound when entering doors in MW
PS I'm horrid at asking in depth amazing thought out questions

ZOS_BillMueller: We just wanted to make sure you are always on your toes when in pvp ;)
As far as the ping sound, I honestly am not sure what that is, are you running any mods that might be doing something funny?
JamieAubrey: It could be an add on,I'll have to test it out with them off or record the sound for you guys to hear
ZOS_BillMueller: yea, if you have the ability to record it that would be AWESOME, would help us track it down. Thanks!!!
ZOS_MattConway: I called that "special thunder" in our project and it's supposed to spook ya! :)

claypot19: I just wanted to point out the things that I had noticed from the bards in Vanilla EP zone / morrowind. In EP , dunmer bards are playing Red mountain is burning , and some others in other places are playing it on other instruments (flute etc) all dunmer. Seeing the bards in morrowind playing the song and singing was a huge flavor win and I just wanted to let yall know that that little detail was super awesome

ZOS_BradDerrick: Glad you liked it! Those were a lot of fun to write. The writers came up with a bunch of Morrowind / Vvardenfell themed lyrics, and I had the joy of trying to set them to music and make them singable. Clearly, I'm no Malukah, but I think they turned out okay. :)

polar_fawkes: hello! i love this game. i mostly play on pc/mac. i recently accidentally smashed my mac. so i gave it a shot on xbox one.
the entirety of the game audio constantly cuts out on xbox one. it occurs once every 2-3 seconds in populated areas, and lasts a quarter of a second to a second. this includes the ambient audio and the music. it also occurs randomly in the wilderness, but i can reproduce it 100% of the time when visiting main towns, (Vulkhel Guard, for instance).
i've never seen a console game where the audio doesn't work a quarter of the time. are you guys planning on addressing this? posted a bug to your forums and got no response: https://forums.elderscrollsonline.com/en/discussion/342336/background-music-ambient-sfx-stutter-15-times-a-minute-in-populated-areas-xbox#latest
again, i love the game, and it sucks that i can't in good faith recommend it to my console playing friends. audio's dope on pc/mac. great work there.
edit: when it cuts out, there's no 'graceful' transition to silence, so the audio clips jarringly as it cuts out/in 15 times a minute

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: We're aware of this issue, and have been trying to figure out a lasting solution for a while. Unfortunately that's really the only answer I can give you. We know it's happening, we don't like it either, we've been trying various things to fix it, and while the situation has improved, there is work to be done.

Scarab-Phoenix: Will we get more musical instrument emotes in future? Flute, lute, and drum are cool but the more the merrier.

ZOS_BradDerrick: I honestly don't know. I mean...we've kicked around various ideas for a player music system forEVER, but haven't had the time or resources to make it a reality yet. If I had my way, we'd let the players be the Doof Warrior, but these things take time. :)
insidiat0r: /shittyflute?
ZOS_GinaBruno: I see what you did there.
insidiat0r: Psst, psst... Gina, make sure to nag them about it every so often until it happens ;)
ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Yes, pls Gina! Get my shitty flute playing in the game! ;P

Bob_Saget_Enthusiast: I'm really excited to play through ESO: Morrowind, so I hope I'll be hearing good things. I've listened to parts of the soundtrack and loved it!
Question is, was there anything odd that you recorded sound from to use as (or a part of) a sound effect in-game? As an example, Gears of War used the smashing of a watermelon to form the sound effect for a headshot in-game.

ZOS_MattConway: Heya there Bob_Saget_Enthusiast!
We've recorded quite a number of things with varying degrees of oddity and success haha. The thing that comes to my mind atm is the sound for /sick we did for the Drunk Personality. It's nothing crazy and it is very literal, but it was quite hilarious in how we recorded it. Basically, Josh, Bill and I all went out behind the building here at the studio with a portable recorder, a full water bottle and a coffee mug. We quickly "poured" the water into the mug multiple times to get that "puke in stein" sound while trying not to soak each other, laugh, etc. Needless to say we ended up with some wet shoes and some pretty hilarious outtakes, though in the end we got some really good source and the sound turned out great. Good times that day. :)
Thanks for the question!!
ZOS_JoshuaSmith: Probably my proudest moment as a sound designer was when a group of content designers came running up to me and said, "we heard you make the best throw up sounds!"
I like to use my voice for sounds when I can, just layer it in there somewhere. Sometimes you want a particular sound, and you can make it with your mouth and run it through effects.
ZOS_BillMueller: This is random, but for the new life festival there is one part where the player needs to burp to a few different NPCs. The animation of the burping was realllly long, and I was having issues getting something to sound good. I can't burp very well haha. But actually found a world builder who said he could not only burp on demand but do really long ones. He comes into my office, and lays one down for me and my jaw dropped. It was perfect.
It's days like those that make me go "yup. I picked the right job" haha

WanderingThespian: For Brad:
Your soundtrack for Morrowind is just gorgeous. I have it on a constant loop on Spotify at the moment! "Magnus smiles on Suran" and "Reverie of the Netchimen" are genuinely beautiful as well as the full on riffs of "Peaceful Waters" in "Azura's Coast" which made me grin ear to ear.
So, what areas of Tamriel that aren't in game at the moment would you love to compose music for? Would you include more of those wonderful themes and motifs from older ES soundtracks as you did with some of the Morrowind music?
Also, what kind of musical motif will you be going for with Clockwork City? ;)

ZOS_BradDerrick: Thanks for the kind words! Heh...you say that now, but years from now you'll be like, "Not again...turn...that...OFF."' ;) I think the answer to your "areas of Tamriel" question is actually Clockwork City. Which leads into your "musical motif" question...which I can't quite answer yet, because I haven't quite nailed that down! I do know that I want it to be unlike any music we've heard yet in ESO, which is one of the reasons I'm looking forward to working on that area - the opportunity to do something fresh, that pushes the boundaries of What Is Elder Scrolls Music a little bit. Obviously, the nature of the zone and its inhabitants suggests something more...mechanical, percussive, rigid...perhaps less melodic or flowing... Like I said, I'm still mulling that one over. But it probably won't have an abundance of lyrical, verbed-out harp melodies. :)

TheApexPredators: This games combat system all around is phenomenal, no small part of that being the sound effects. Over time, the distinct sounds of each ability become quite familiar and beloved. In the end it comes together very nicely and I really like how the sounds of an ability coincide with their visual and conceptual effects.
My question is, how much communication is there between the combat, art, and sound departments in determining how an ability is to sound? What does the process look like in arriving upon the final audio signatures of each ability going from mechanic concept to the final audio/visual affects? How much input does the audio team get in the process?
Also, any cool stories on the instrumentation of any particular ability? Like how the roar of the T-Rex in Jurassic park was derived by combining the cries of various real animals.

ZOS_BillMueller: Hey! Thanks for the compliment!
So we work with all departments, we try to get into the process as early as possible. It makes our job easier if we have a full understanding of the class or the ability as it grows from concept to reality.
We review the art and animation as well as audio as a full team so everyone can provide feedback on all elements, we also review the sounds internally ( in a meeting we call the "fart party" ) so we can provide more "audiocentric" feedback to each other.
Coming up with the audio signature of an ability is probably the most tricky, but a lot of it comes from having a good understanding of the class itself and honestly just trying different things until something really sticks and running with it.
When working on some of the abilities for the Templar I wanted a lot of things to "snap" so i took a lot of mechanical sounds and processed them heavily while mixing in other elements so they don't sound mechanical but gave me the "snap" sound i was looking for
ZOS_BrianBrockett: I'm actually the sound designer who heads up the Gameplay team (who handles all the abilities) and the audio department definitely works very directly with them as well as the art team.
In general, the overall direction of ability sounds is up to the individual sound designer (and ultimately the audio director), but we do collaborate with gameplay for an overall aesthetic and spend some time reviewing them, getting feedback and then iterating on those sounds.
For the most part we use what the VFX team creates as a sort of guide/inspiration in terms of realism. And then it is up to each individual sound designer to try to give each ability its own distinct sound.
Speaking just for me, I've spent a good deal of time over the past couple of years trying to make things more identifiable, but at the same time communicating what the ability is doing to you. It's a difficult balance but when you get it right, I think the players really appreciate it.

Alarra: It's fun to use the /lute, /flute, and /drum emotes, but due to the fact that the song played is random and they play at different speeds, it's pretty cacophonous when players try to play a song together. Is it possible that someday you might rework it for players to be able to synchronize the emotes and music?

Scarab-Phoenix: Synchronize ftw! LOTRO did an awesome thing with their players' orchestras.
ZOS_BradDerrick: What always cracks me up about this line of questioning is...the idea that anyone would try and synchronize those in the first place. :) I mean, when we put those in, they were intended as one-off, solo emotes. That's it. But of course you give players something like that, and they're going to put it through its paces and try that sort of thing. Consequently, I remember Massively voting ESO's "player music" system as one of the worst ever. And I'm like...WE DON'T HAVE A BLOODY PLAYER MUSIC SYSTEM!! :) But as I've said elsewhere, I do want one, very much. LOTROs is fantastic, no doubt. If we roll one out, it's got to be better than that...and that's going to take some time. Until then, I guess you'll just have to keep grouping up to pump out that atonal free jazz in the Worst Player Music System Ever! :)

Thtithil: I would love to know whether it'd be possible to expose lute, flute, drum and perhaps other samples, categorized by amplitude and pitch, to the API for add-ons so that some enterprising add-on developer can create a sequencing add-on that will allow we would-be bards to compose our own songs and play them in-game?

ZOS_BradDerrick: See below for earlier comments. Or TL;DR - I do want a player music system that gives players all kinds of flexibility like this, but we just haven't been able to devote the time & resources to it yet.

TherionMEC: When can we expect a fix for audio input/output cutting out from headsets on Xbox? My friends and I are rather tired of having to unplug and replug our headsets to fix the audio, and we never have this issue with any other game.

ZOS_BillMueller: unfortunately this has been a pretty hard one for us to repro internally. It is something that is being looked at however.

recremen: Hello my friends, this one is so happy you have come to visit and share glorious knowledge and idiom with the community!! Men'Do of course loves all the work, and has taken special note of new regional bardic music he hears while wandering about the homeland of nusty Dunmer. He wonders, naturally, if maybe we shall hear more and from a greatly diverse selection of regional songs and styles?? Please to consider for example one of the many illustrious Khajiit musical traditions like what is heard when battling in the Maw of Lorkhaj! Surely these bring a joy to every kitten's ear, and Men'Do looks forward to hearing the beautiful instrumentations of all people from Redguard to Orc to Nord to wee Bosmer. You think about this, yes?
Many thank for your time!!

ZOS_BradDerrick: Well this one...no...no...I'm no good at roleplay. :) All I can say is - it's possible that with future zone- or race-themed content, there is always a possibility of adding more bard songs. Producing them is a little resource-intensive however and involves a lot of people, which is why we add them so infrequently. If I played and sang all the parts myself, I could add them with every update. But you don't want that. :)

CyanPancake: Thank you for doing this AmA, they're always very informative and interesting to read.
If you could get any three celebrities to provide their voices in the game, who would they be? (I'd pick Tommy Wiseau, Peter Cullen, and Benedict Cumberbatch)
Have you considered bringing in voice actors from Morrowind and Oblivion like Wes Johnson and Jeff Baker?
If it's not too much trouble, could we get the names of the voice actors for Almalexia, Divayth Fyr, Seryn, Sun-in-Shadow, and Stibbons?

ZOS_BillMueller: I keep asking for bobcat goldthwait but keep getting shut down...:(
ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Hello! Tommy Wiseau would actually be pretty amazing as he directed my favorite movie of all time, The Room. ;) We actually brought in 2 new voice actors for Morrowind - EG Daily and Fryda Wolff and I hope to continue to bring in more new voice actors for upcoming DLCs. Almalexia is Michelle Arthur, Divayth Fyr is JB Blanc, Seryn is Fryda Wolff, Sun-in-Shadows is EG Daily, and Stibbons is Andre Sogliuzzo.
Thallassa: I have another character I'd like to know the voice actor for - Chief Bazrag.
(I'm a bit salty about that one. I met him on the very first quest, and went to google his voice actor. Came up empty on the voice actor, but the very first line on the uesp and teswiki articles spoils the entire orsinium questline....)
Thank you!
ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: I love Chief Bazrag! That would be Neil Kaplan. Nice guy! :)

TheAmazingX: Mind sending me functional headers for the bard .riff files?

Paulingtons: One can dream eh? :).
ZOS_BradDerrick: Um...say what now?

insidiat0r: Are there any plans to publish sheet music for orchestras? The soundtrack is really good and it would be nice to have a medly or something which can be performed by your local musical institutions. ;)

ZOS_BradDerrick: No, there are no plans for that...because I've never been asked that before! I have no idea what would be involved (legally, logistically) in doing that, but I can ask around, because now I'm curious myself. :)

eochiduh: One thing that I enjoy in TES titles is deadric sounds/voices.
What ones from ESO are your guys favorites?
Also, what character do you guys has the most fitting voice?

ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Favorite Daedric voice? Hmm, I'd probably go with Barbas who is voiced by Keith Szarabajka in our game.
ZOS_BillMueller: Cadwell has the most fitting voice for me, I love him.
As far as deadric voices, Molag Bal was a lot of fun to work on
eochiduh: I loooove Molag Bals voice in ESO how much voice modification was needed to get his voice to where it is?
ZOS_BillMueller: I pitched his voice down, but not as much as you would think, I still wanted Malcolm McDowell to be heard a bit. I then added some harmonizer, and some reverb at the end to make him sound a bit bigger. I spent a lot of time and got a lot of feedback from the dudes before landing on the final voice

MissBizz: Can I ask here, any plans to add a jukebox feature where we can have our own choice of in-game songs in our homes? And any plans to expand combat music to more variety like previous elder scrolls games? The common drums gets annoying. I'd also like a smart combat music system where if you are decked out in legendary gear on a high cp char a common bandit won't interupt your ambient music in a fight that lasts less than 10 seconds

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: We are discussing several audio/music based features we'd like to introduce for housing. I don't wanna go into specifics, but we want people to get what they want, and what you're describing is one of those things. It's all a question of priorities and time for the studio.

Vectornaut: Question 1. What kind of references did you use when starting to design the soundscape for zones that had not yet appear in the games? In example Black marsh, Summerset isles and Valenwood.
Question 2. Did you have difficulties in creating the ambience for any certain zone?
Btw as someone who is very interested in sound design, I love that you are doing this ama!

ZOS_BillMueller: When I worked on the ambiance for Orsinium, which was fun because it has a few different bioms, I actually tried to use real life experiences. There is a part of Orsinium that is a forest in the snow. I am from New Hampshire, so snow and trees are sort of my thing haha.
One of the coolest things I can remember growing up was going for a walk after a big snow storm later in the evening. There is this really cool "silence" you get when during the day all you hear are the snow plows, kids playing, people clearing the snow, etc. It's nice to just walk and hear the wind, or a distant tree branch snap under the weight of the snow. That is something I really tried to capture in that area. We do different ambiance in the game based off time of day, and when it gets dark you will notice a lot of the wild life will go silent, and the base ambiance gets turned down a lot. You hear the wind a bit more, and things like snow falling off of trees in the distant become more distinct.
It's actually one of my favorite places to chill in as a player because it reminds me of home :)
ZOS_JoshuaSmith: Well, we go with what the zone is like and kind of take it from there. Black Marsh is a swamp, so it's going to sound swampy. ;) With YouTube in the world it's easy to bring up examples to kind of inspire you and give you ideas, figure out what sort of birds or animals might be in the ambient soundscape of these places and build out your loops and oneshots from there.
I have done a lot of the ambience for the game, and I would say that Craglorn has actually been the most difficult zone to develop ambience for. As it is an arid, desolate landscape, making something that communicated that emptiness, while still being interesting was difficult.
Next difficult is gonna be Clockwork City which I am going to start working the ambience for soon. I don't want to get too into what we're doing with unreleased content, but, it's gonna be quite a bit different than anything we've done before... I have IDEAS.
ZOS_MattConway: Hey there, Vectornaut!
1) For me, I'll look at concept art for the zone, run through the actual zone (depending on what state it is in, but we usually come in when things are fleshed out a bit so we can see how things are going to look and such) and/or speak with designers/artists. From there, it's just about piecing together different elements, "auditioning" them in the environment while playing and running around and seeing how it "feels" while doing that. Adjusting elements, mixing, tweaking EQ's, frequencies of oneshots, etc.
2) There have been a few more challenging areas where ambience has been difficult. Spellscar and the Aetherian Archive were a couple that posed a challenge. For Spellscar I created a POI (point of interest) rumble loop as well as little oneshots for the "magic rain" that occurs around there. For the Aetherian Archive, that was another POI situation, but with even more distance involved and a LOD (level of detail) component. Both were challenging because no real world equivalent exists and also due to their technical setups. Each, though, came out pretty cool imo.
An additional tidbit for you since you are interested in Sound Design and asked about ambience is how important DSP (reverb, delay, etc.) is when it comes to immersing the listener into the environment. Also, when it comes to the actual sounds of ambience (wind, streams, animals, everything haha), use what the real world has taught you. Sometimes when things are recorded, they don't sound quite "right". They sound too present and/or artificial. Experiment with shaping the frequencies with an EQ and either adding/subtracting things in order to make things fit. Also, feel free to experiment with reverb/delay to liven up "dead" and/or dry sounds.
Okay, there's a little free sound design lesson for ya! Good luck! :)
ZOS_MattConway: reply fail!! :)
ZOS_BrianBrockett: For Dark Brotherood (The Gold Coast) I actually went back and played Oblivion to get a sense for what that area sounded like. After getting the gist of it I sort of got some inspiration for how the zone was supposed to feel from the storyline and what the designers were trying to do in the zone. In this case we were trying to add a lot more tension to the zone since the overall arc of the story is very foreboding. I ended up trying to make exteriors sound more lively and the interiors sound more quiet to increase the tension.
One of the hardest spots to nail in Dark Brotherhood was the Arena in Kvatch. It was kind of hard to get a good sort of small crowd walla that meshed well with the cheers as well as the announcer's VO. Beyond that it was really a crazy feat that involved myself, Becky and a designer to get the announcer VO to sound different inside the arena as opposed to being somebody passing by hearing it outside to draw your attention. I think it came out pretty well in the end.
The last tough one to nail was actually the sound of the Dark Brotherhood Sanctuary Door. It was tough to not only sort of recreate something that existed in another game (since it was in Skryim as well), but to get it to both fit in the existing ambience and at the same time stick out enough that it would draw the players over to it (if they weren't specifically looking for the location).
Vectornaut: Was the Arena in Kvatch harder to create than Dragonstar Arena?
ZOS_BrianBrockett: Unfortunately yes. As I recall, Dragonstar did not have any (or very little) VO that was outside the arena and it was also a private instance, so you only had a group of players to deal with.
For Kvatch, every single line that the announcer said had to be duplicated by in order to have an inside version and an outside version. The VO had to be processed two separate ways to sound appropriate for each space they were spoken in. On top of all that the exterior ones had to be set up in a specific way to only play when PCs are outside of the Arena (in 3D) and then play a more annoucer-y 2D version when PCs are inside.
It was definitely a lot of work under the hood.

Glaiceana: I love the music in ESO. One of my favourites is a Coldharbour one, this one specifically: https://youtu.be/vZgMIaf6lXM I am wondering if it has a name and who was responsible for it? :)
Also I would like to ask how many sound effects are created and recorded in house, by yourselves, for instance actually making sounds like footsteps and such. Or is a lot of that sourced from pre-recorded things?

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: It's a mixture, we record what we can, but a lot of stuff is from libraries. But, and this is crucial, we never use anything straight from a library. Any sound you hear, from footsteps to fireballs is a layering of sounds to get the desired affect. We also use a lot of plugins and synths to generate audio, Reaktor, Massive, SoundToys, Izotope Trash, are some of my go-tos.
ZOS_BillMueller: Yea as Josh said it's a pretty big mixture. One of the more fun ones I did was there is a quest that allows you to use a certain powder to knock out enemy NPCs instead of fighting of them. I wanted to do something a little unique for throwing the powder so I actually gathered up a bunch of dry oatmeal and recorded it hitting different surfaces and such. It ended up working really well for me...until I realized the mess I just made in my office haha.
But I think one thing we all try to do when creating sounds either as abilities or anything else, is we try to use real world elements to help root the sound into something "natural". We layer them with other things of course, but having something to root the sound helps give it a sense of "yea...that is something I would hear in a normal day to day thing" which helps sell the idea that magic is a pretty normal day to day thing in Tamriel
ZOS_BradDerrick: Thanks! That piece is called "Flickering Shadows". I wrote it ages ago for some trailer...or maybe some internal demo or something.... Anyway, I liked it enough that I polished it up and put it in-game.

lordrichter: I just wanted to say that the audio in this game rocks, from the music to the different sounds and effects. It took me minutes to log into Morrowind the first time because I got lost listening to the music and forgot to press Enter. I like how footfalls sound differently on different surfaces. One thing that caught me off guard, lest you think I am sucking up. I forgot to ready boots one day after crafting and didn't notice right away because there is no barefoot sound.

ZOS_BillMueller: HA! That would actually take some tech to get working. Footstep sounds actually change based on the terrain you are standing on, then we layer in the sounds of the armor you are currently wearing a bit so you hear that as well. But the base sound of the step is the same no matter what. So if you had nothing on, then you would just hear the step itself if that makes sense?

HorsieJuice: What was in the sangria on Saturday? That shit was potent

ZOS_BillMueller: lot's of Skooma

MissBizz: Question for /u/ZOS_BradDerrick Did you learn how the forums quote system works yet? :)

ZOS_GinaBruno: You know, I was going to tell him but when I saw how much it was bothering you, I decided not to say anything. ;D
MissBizz: I'm pretty sure you just confirmed he also has no idea how notifications worked, as I did ping him. I also feel he doesn't get 50k notifications a day like some ;)
ZOS_GinaBruno: To be fair, that's 50k notifications over the course of a few months. ;) I'll school him in forum-quoting one of these days!
ZOS_BradDerrick: "Did you learn how the forums quote system works yet? :)"
YEP. I SURE DID, MISSY. :P

probablywrongtho: How do you go about getting started in audio work? Is there a direct career route (certain degrees)? I want to pursue audio design but have no clue how to get involved.

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: The story is different for all of us. I have been an electronic music producer for years, and an opening happened at a game studio in Colorado where I was living at the time. Through some friends that worked in games I got an into the position, and I basically learned to be a sound designer on the fly. I've been doing it for almost 8 years now.
I did not study music, sound or anything like that in school, it was basically through my own personal interests in sound, music and games that got me here. A good way to get your feet wet is to look for a game trailer that you like and re-do the sound for it, and see how that goes. maybe try and find a passion project that needs a sound designer and volunteer your time.
The truth is, you ask 30 people in the game industry how they got in to it, and you will get 30 answers. if you are passionate about games, stay focused on that goal, and you'll find your way in. But definitely be developing the skills of the discipline you hope to work in in that time, because you'll need something to show.
All that being said, studying audio engineering, or music, or some sort of audio based degree is not gonna hurt. :)
ZOS_BrianBrockett: If you haven't gone to school or taken any courses, that's a faster way to get going. You can definitely do what Josh said and just try picking a game trailer and re-creating the sound for it. That's a good starting point.
There's a lot of information out there if you look hard enough for it, but I'd say beyond that, get in Facebook groups or on forums and get chatting with people who are knowledgeable already. There are plenty of folks out there who are willing to give feedback/advice.
There are even groups like The Audio Mentoring Project (http://audiomentoring.com/) consisting of a number of seasoned sound designers who work directly with less experienced designers to try to help that designer hone their skills.
Once you've gotten far enough with your skill set, I'd say the next step is to network like crazy. Unfortunately, we're part of the entertainment business in more ways than one and often the key to getting any job in the industry often comes down to who you know.

Paulingtons: Do you remember who voices Rakkhat? Even if not, how much fun did you have putting together the tremendous speech he does during the boss fight?
Really enjoying the Morrowind music, I can hear how much effort you guys put in to making the nostalgia come through. How many hours did you all put in to Morrowind to get a feel for the music?

ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Rakkhat was voiced by Christopher Smith. He's got great range and I always enjoy working with him! Also u/ZOS_BillMueller added some effects to his voice.
ZOS_BillMueller: The speech was a lot of fun, especially trying to get the timing correct on doing the post processing. The hard part when doing that kind of work that requires the timing is getting it correct in the other languages as well.
ZOS_BradDerrick: RE: The music...that's kind of a hard one to answer, because in a way it includes all my time playing older Elder Scrolls games, my time playing ESO: Morrowind during development, and all the time I spent thinking about and writing what would ultimately become the soundtrack. So...the answer is "many many hours". :) But more concretely, I spent a couple months writing the music, a few weeks recording the orchestral, choir, and soloists, and a few more weeks mixing, mastering, and integrating. From start to finish it was about a six month commitment.

stargazer143: Why do you have four Senior Sound Designers? Shouldn't their be some sort of fight to rank you all accordingly?

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: I know, it's funny that we're all seniors, it just kind of worked out that way. The way we do things around here, all of us sound designers are kind of in charge of our respective parts of the project, so all of us being a senior is pretty accurate.
That being said, we DO fight for rank, it's part of Brad's management style, but its all internal, not public facing. Right after we're done her, Bill and I have a knife fight scheduled in the parking lot to see who gets to be boss next week.
ZOS_BillMueller: I fight dirty....you going down
stargazer143: Haha Hi Bill!
ZOS_BillMueller: Hi!!!!!!!
ZOS_BillMueller: Our rank is actually based on age, we are all old. Now get off my lawn.

guraqt2t: Hey guys, absolutely love the work that you all do!
I'm looking to get into the world of video game audio. I've been a music producer and audio engineer in the music industry for 5+ years now, and I have a college degree in music production. If possible, could any of you provide some advice as to how someone in my situation could land a job working with video game audio, and how I might begin to make the transition from the music industry to the gaming industry?
Thanks for doing this! I'm a huge fan of the audio production in ESO. The great work that you all do helped spark my interest in pursuing a career in gaming.

ZOS_BillMueller: We have all had different paths to get here. For me I studied sound recording technology and actually started my audio career in broadcasting. I always loved games, and always wanted to work in them so when not working my "day" jobs, I would sit at home and strip out the audio for video game movies. Like gameplay or trailers and replace it with my own stuff. I would do this constantly. I am from Boston, and at the time we had a few big studios like Turbine, Irrational Games, Harmonix to name a few. Once a month there was a meeting anyone could go too, so I would show up and meet some of the guys. Get to know them, show them my stuff, get feedback and show it to them again. Eventually a job opened up for a producer ( not sound design, but I got to work with the sound team) so I took it. It was a great way to get my foot in the door. I kept working on making my stuff better until I was hired as a full time sound designer and the rest is history.
I will say this. Audio in the games industry is a niche within a niche. We are the smallest team at the studio, there are thousands of people who want these jobs, it's a lot of competition. So keep working at getting better, non stop and get yourself out there. Try to find indie developers who need audio help to get that into your portfolio.
ZOS_JoshuaSmith: I answered this some below, but I'll give you a succinct answer. The truth is, there is no one sure fire way to get in, we all have different stories. But, there are things you can do to help yourself is, make some demo reels, because you're going to need to show your work, for example.
Are you in an area where there are game studios? If so, look for meetups, game developers love meetups, go to them, meet people, make friends, keep your eyes open for opportunities. Like any industry, knowing people covers a lot of ground.
I too was a music producer before going into sound design, and my first experience was a trial by fire. If you're willing to move around, it opens up your prospects a lot, as you can apply for positions in other areas.
This answer was not succinct. :) Get some practice in, look for a project that needs a sound designer that you can volunteer your time to. Get some game trailers, strip the audio out, redo it. get a feel for the process of creating sounds.

Scarab-Phoenix: Thanks for the silt striders sounds with lot more varieties than in TES3. Can we have a music track with only light/atmospheric melody with silt striders making their sounds from time to time? It would be sooo damn nostalgic.

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: It was fun to do the Silt Striders, I knew that I had to get it right, or I'd have gamers out for my blood. Also, I would have been out for my blood. We have access to all the old TES audio, so I took the original silt strider sounds, cleaned them up, because, audio has advanced quite a bit in the years between Morrowind and now, sorted out what it was (whale sounds heavily processed through effects) and made like 10 or 12 new ones that matched the old style. I wanted to make sure that nostalgia factor was there, while making sure we were expanding the palette and adding our own touch.
Brad will deny it publicly, but he has been wanting to collaborate with me on music for years, so you might get your wish.
ZOS_BradDerrick: I will never work with Josh. He is a VaporWave TryHard.
ZOS_JoshuaSmith: you are just intimidated by my A E S T H E T I C S.
ZOS_BradDerrick: /unsubscribe

roll0ver: Please address the repetitive NPC dialogue questions here, I end up turning voiceovers off completely to keep my sanity and therefore miss some I would like to hear

ZOS_BillMueller: This is something we def try to address, and will take a look at some of the ones that were mentioned. Thanks!
ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: I am not quite sure what you are referring to by "repetitive NPC dialogue". Could you elaborate?
Ixtyr: "You mean cart my goods up a road crawling with sand warriors and wild creatures? To a school where they lob off the heads of the unworthy? No, thank you - someone is bound to show up eventually..."
Paulingtons: I've also heard that the rejection of a certain person in Mournhold by Shad Astula is probably just a clerical error.
ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Thanks! Specific examples always make it easier for us to track down and work on. I'll see what I can do! :)

LinuxMage: Two things - Any chance that when Horns of the Reach releases, the music of Morrowind can be then be transferred for use in Stonefalls and Deshaan?
And secondly (A frequent request) - can we have a combat music on/off switch please?

ZOS_BradDerrick: Question 1 - I'm not sure. There was a discussion on the ESO forums about the pros & cons of rolling newer music (Orsinium, TG, DB, etc.) back into Vanilla zones...and it was pretty split. Some players like the added variety, while some players think it cheapens the uniqueness of those pieces and their association with the locales for which they were originally composed. After DB, I had pretty much decided not to roll any more pieces back into Vanilla zones. I suspect that for every person that says "Hey, new music in Stonefalls!", somebody else will say "Hey, where did the old Stonefalls music go, and why am I hearing Vvardenfell music?" So...I think at this point I might just leave well enough alone and leave the Vvardenfell music in Vvardenfell only. That said, if time allows I might try and create some new music that is only for Vanilla - to add more variety to Vanilla without stealing from new DLCs to do so. Question 2 - I have been kicking that idea around for a bit. I'm not sure if you were part of the discussions on the ESO forums about this, but I myself don't appreciate combat music constantly interrupting the ambient music...just to fight a trash mob for 5 seconds. At the same time, I do want combat music for sustained / serious combat. So yes, we are looking into a couple of things. One would be what you suggested - a combat music on/off switch. Another would be a system that only fires up the combat music for more sustained / serious encounters, and not for clearing out trash. No promises of course (I'm required by law to say that), but it is in active discussion.

Alarra: I like that one goofy goblin vocal noise (a sort of "growling", I guess I'd describe it) that you can hear sometimes in Fungal Grotto. Is there a story behind that one? A couple guildmates and I were talking about that a bit ago and we figured that must have been a fun sound to record.

ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: I think I know what you are talking about. That is probably Jason Spisak who is a super funny guy. Always has me rolling in the sessions and does a ton of hilarious voices. He plays several Argonians too, including Flicks-His-Tongue, the hilarious exotic Argonian dancer. :)

venom113344: Why does the doom wolf mount sound like a dying cow?

ZOS_MattConway: There might be a cow trapped inside of it? :P
That was a difficult sound to come up with tbh. We've had our run of jokes internally here about the sound as well. I meant for it to be ethereal and somewhat demonic-ish, not to be comedic, but it kind of can be interpreted that way. The main explanation I could give is that a wolf howl is somewhat atonal and I happened to put it through a doubler/harmonizer and that can make the tonality unpleasant and awkward. Some peeps like it, some peeps don't. It's all subjective. I do appreciate the comment and I will add it to the running list of feedback on that particular mount audio haha :P

-MVP: Was there a decision to make the Ashlanders sound as posh as Dunmer in towns, or was it a matter of convenience? I can't imagine Ashlanders who have no formal education sounding as proper as house-raised Dunmer. Also, why aren't there any guttural and harsh-sounding dunmer like Jeff Baker's performance Here?

ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: We talked about making the Ashlanders sound more "guttural" for Morrowind and would have liked to do that but unfortunately we couldn't. We set the precedent before launch to have our Dunmer NPCs sound a bit less posh, snootier, and overall a bit deeper than the Altmer. And we have tons of pre-recorded VO already in place (NPC combat sounds, proximity greetings, etc). So it would have been too much to record and more tech to implement than we had time, to get the Ashlanders to sound more guttural. However, we do have plans to use less pre-recorded VO and more custom VO going forward.

SleeplessTuesday: This isn't so much a question but I just wanted to thank everyone for such an amazing job on the base game, DLC and Morrowind. The soundtrack for ESO is so good, from the soft remix of Greenheart, to the ancient and wise sounding music of Orsinium. I love the old tracks made new in Morrowind. So thank you! I suppose a fun question, if it's not been asked already, is... Do you have a favourite track?

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: Hey, thanks! I dunno that I have a particular piece that is my favorite, we kind of think of things in terms of the release that they're part of and the work Brad did for Thieves Guild is still some of my favorite. But, honestly, that jerk does something even more amazing with every release. And I am not saying that because he is my boss. :)
ZOS_BillMueller: Thanks!!! Dark Brotherhood is some really awesome music in general, I think Brad crushed it there.
ZOS_BrianBrockett: I'm gonna have to agree with Bill and not because I worked on that zone. The designers were definitely going for mysterious and making the whole zone feel very tense. I remember specifically the day that he got the final music in and listening and thinking, wow, now, finally, this is The Dark Brotherhood.
My absolute favorite musical moment is on the main quest when Fortunata gets killed and falls off the edge of Anvil Castle. The music he wrote for that was just perfect both in tone and timing.
ZOS_BradDerrick: I'm not sure I can pick a favorite from six hours of music or whatever we're up to these days...but the newest stuff is probably most near and dear to my heart, just by virtue of being the freshest. And I do suppose I think I've gotten closer to the spirit of Elder Scrolls music with each release, and better at my craft in general. So yeah - the Morrowind music is my favorite. :) And amongst those, "Ancestral Tomb" is a standout for me, because it's a dark moment in the midst of all the light, uplifting pieces. And also (music nerd alert) at its core it is an octatonic adagio reworking of the classic Elder Scrolls theme. So it takes something hopeful and makes it gloomy. :)

-De-Koenisch-: Hemaues Mora was my favourite character in Skyrim due to the amazing voice acting job by Wes Johnson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0oydhPSfrF4
My absolute dream for story content would be some kind of Hermaeus Mora DLC complete with that amazing voice from Skyrim and I wondered if that was even possible? From what I've seen and heard there weren't many Skyrim voice actors used for ESO.

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: I do not really work on the VO, but, were we ever to have Hermaeus Mora in the game, I don't see why we -couldn't- use him. That might be the sort of thing we go out of our way to do to make fans happy, believe it or not we do -sometimes- try to make y'all happy. ;)
insidiat0r: Only sometimes? :(
ZOS_JoshuaSmith: See, here is a case where I am going to make you not happy. Everyone is telling me that Hermaeus Mora -is- in the game, and I do not think Wes is the voice actor. doh!
ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Yea, he is in the game and he is voiced by David Shaugnessy. This casting was done before I was a part of the team. But David is really awesome. :)
insidiat0r: tbh I think I like the current voice better *ducks*
ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: THANK YOU!

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: Feel free to keep asking us questions, we will likely be popping back in here for the next couple of weeks in hopes that someone wants to talk to us!

ZOS_BillMueller: translation: WE NEED FRIENDS

eochiduh: How was the sound for the anchors opening and closing made?
If I'm not to late

ZOS_MattConway: Not too late at all!
(sound spoilers ahead) :)
I made those sounds a few years ago so it's all a bit foggy, but I will try and give ya a good answer! For the opening, I had u/ZOS_BradDerrick hook me up with some horn recordings. I pitched that down/around a bit and mixed that with the sound of an I-beam sliding on concrete. That is the main element of the anchor appearing.
When the anchor drops, the main element is the sound of a roller coaster, then an explosion plus some chains. When it tightens, I used the sound of a train passing by (reversed) plus some oil rig/wires/tension and a big metal thunk plus thunder.
For the closing, I used a big train metal coupler sound mixed with an airliner tone (reversed) PLUS, giving away my secret sauce here haha, the sound of the space shuttle breaking the sound barrier.... The latter I felt worked best because of the amount of air-distortion occurring with the portal of the dark anchor. That, and the stereo image of that particular recording was perfect for the application of something appearing up in the sky.
Finally, for the explosion, that is a mixture of boom, plus jet flyby (lots of planes and trains for this btw haha) and a long tail of thunder plus a slightly defeated roar of Molag Bal. That's basically it! Thanks for the question, it was fun to go back and reminisce!

crazyisraeli: Can you explain the differences in the versions? My girlfriend and I are looking for a new game to play together, and we have no idea which version to get that includes both the main game and the Morrowind expansion.

ZOS_BillMueller: If you buy Morrowind, you will get access to the base game :)

CdeBaca: You guys should sell Bards in the crown store (like Merchants and Bankers) and players should be able to purchase the Bards, and place them in their house like furniture. nothing would be cooler than chillin' at your primary residence with a Bard playing music in the background! And if we could control what instrument the Bard was playing, that'd be a huge plus!!

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: We have plans for music stuff for housing in mind, some stuff has had a design done, what you're asking for is one of those ideas. That being said, I can't promise it's going to happen, as it is a question of time and priorities for the studio.
if we had our way, you'd be rockin' mad bards up in your house hole and jammin' sweet tunes with them.

Elvenwerewolf: Seeing the number of characters in the game and how each one is unique in personality despite such a large number, I really admire the work of the Audio team. Not to mention the awesome sound track and cool sound effects. First off, how do you manage to pull off voicing all the characters in such a small time frame between each game update for such a ginormous cast of characters? Not to mention that each patch comes with new new music tracks?
On another note, the warden's bear summoning ultimate has an awesome summoning sound effect and is accompanied with chanting in an unknown language, how did you guys make the SFX and what language is the chanting in?

ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: As far as the Voice aspect goes, it is a lot of work. When we have an update we cast depending on how big the zone is. So, for Morrowind we had 30 actors (not our entire cast). I work with a lovely group, Verite Entertainment, who helps with scheduling, dealing with agents, and directing the sessions. A lot of work goes into casting each character. Most of it is manual but our VO tools can auto assign the less significant characters (merchants, for example) using proximity checks and other really nifty features. Once casting is complete, scripts are made which is a half auto/half manual process. Then we are recording in the studio every day - for Morrowind it took us almost 3 weeks of recording. We have editors that then cut and clean up the files and send them to us. Then I clean them up even more and integrate them into the game with the help of our audio engineer, David Jorgenson. At least, that is the simplified version of how things work. It usually entails a lot of late hours. :)
ZOS_BrianBrockett: Thank you so much the compliment!
I have actually been waiting for this question since I put the chanting VO. I thought for sure somebody would be like, who or what is that?
Although we don't actually call it out in any tooltips or anything, the chanting VO is actually supposed to be the voice of Y'ffre, as if you were channeling its voice to help you cast the ability. I'm actually not sure what language Yffre's speaking in, but I can definitely find out and get back to you.
In terms of sound design for both the SFX, I had actually created a whole bunch of new source material from a mish mash of sources (both synthetic and natural) that was going to be the overall sound of the Warden. Basically I spent a lot of time trying to develop something that sounded natural but magical. From that library of stuff I siphoned everything down to things that worked well as buildups, casts and general effect sounds. Overall what I ended up with just felt like the Warden and I was pull from it to keep the overall Warden magic cohesive.
Feral Guardian actually has one of the longest cast times so it presented me with a good chance to create a long buildup, which was mostly made from the source I created for the Warden. The summon sound is actually a combination of something I created that felt magical and powerful combined with a processed Bear VO that was processed with delay, reverb and a doubler to give it more power. Finally the VO is actually a combination of three voices. The first two are VO actors Debra Wilson and Cindy Robinson saying the same chants, but pitched down a little bit to make it sound neither male nor female as well as another voice that was heavily processed with reverb and delay to sort of make it feel less human and more like an echo.
Elvenwerewolf: Thanks, for both you and Becky's reply! I honestly wish there was a way for the community to really give you a satisfying reaction to the amazing audio work you do:) And I am really amazed how you manage to keep it up with the game constantly updating at such a fast rate. I can imagine the sleepless nights with pockets forming under the eyes, the mug of coffee always sitting nearby and the zombie like gaze into the computer monitor. I hope you recieve as much motivation as possible from the community to keep going! That goes to all the departments at ZOS.
Oh, and before I forget! I love that you guys made the tune the guy at the ebony flasks hums about Cliffstriders -and that the innkeeper keeps complaining how off-key and annoying he's singing is- and put it into Morrowinds new bard songs. It my favorite bard new song actually. Piss on our Pillows and smells for years always makes me chuckle. XD
ZOS_BrianBrockett: Pretty sure anything bard is all Brad's doing.
Thanks again for the kind words!
If you have any other questions at all, definitely feel free to ask them. We will probably pop back on this periodically to see if anybody else asked something we may have missed.
ZOS_BrianBrockett: Sorry for the delay, but I checked up on your question about what language the Y'ffre chanting VO was in and found out it's actually Elvish.

Tony1697: Please let us mute City NPC dialogs separate from other NPCs. You can talk to almost all NPCs maybe everyone of them that has a repeating speach shoud have a dialog option "shut up" to mute them.
Please let us adjust environment sound separate from bard songs so we can hear this better

ZOS_BillMueller: Muting specific NPCs would be a lot of work not only for us but for engineering and design. However, as I said below we do try to find these in game and adjust how often they trigger, and will take a look at some of the specific ones called out.

sunlitsonata: Hi Brad! It's me! The person who was begging you to put in The Road Most Traveled for Vvardenfell! I just want to thank you again for delivering in such a spectacular fashion. It makes me so happy to hear it in the world (and on Spotify, props on marketing or whoever for getting that out quickly!).
I guess since I should probably be asking a question, who came up with the idea of including the Cliff Racer song from Oblivion for that quest in Stonefalls? Flyyyying in the skyyyyy...

ZOS_BradDerrick: Hey...you're welcome! That was fun to do...love the original piece. And as far as your actual question, sorry to disappoint but I just don't know. In fact, I wasn't even aware that was in the game until I stumbled on it myself as a player. I was just surprised / pleased at the reference as any other Oblivion player. :)

Throren: More VO related, but I'm more curious why Wes Johnson wasnt asked to reprise his role as Sheogorath and Hermeaus Mora in ESO when he voiced them in all previous games.
I suppose the ESO Hermeaus Mora is okay, but the ESO Sheo sounds like someone just attempting to Mimic Wes' voice, and he said on twitter he was never aproached to do the voices. I miss good ol Uncle Sheo

ZOS_BeckyIchnoski: Tbh those NPCs were cast before I joined the team in 2013 so sadly I do not know the answer to that one. Our previous VO designer left shortly after launch and I'm not sure if it was his decision or someone else's. Sorry!

Versuvius: Whoever did the voice for goblins, I often wonder what it looks like during recording, because it sounds like someone is having a seizure. My friends and I start laughing every time we hear them in Fungal Grotto. Seriously, its a commitment and a job well done.

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: I wanna say that the goblin, at least one of them, is an actor by the name of Enn Reitel, who is awesome, and I have some pretty hilarious outtakes of him making jokes between lines. I'm not positive it's him, but I no what you're talking about and I -believe- he was the actor, Becky would know for sure.
The goblins made me laugh the first time I listened to them too.
edit: oh, it's Jason Spisak! duh. He is hilarious as well, and I also have some great outtakes from him.
Versuvius: Spectacular voice acting on their part and also the High Kinlord Rilis voice actor really knows how to make people hate a character.
Edit: Wrong Rilis, i meant the banished cells boss.
Edit 2: Will there be a Bards' College DLC in the future? Cus I'd pay for that. Incorporate all what people are demanding with synchronous orchestras and overhaul it into questlines and skill lines. That would be phenomenal.
ZOS_JoshuaSmith: I can't really comment on any future DLC, but, man, I wish you were a designer here, because that seems like a great way for us to justify all the new audio systems we'd like to have. :)

imbenny: I don't have any questions but I just wanted to say how awesome your work on ESO is. Sound design and composition is right up my alley when playing any games and ESO is always spot on. :)

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: Thanks! We are tryin' our best. It's always nice to hear that someone's listening and enjoying.

Draggo_Nordlicht: What are some fun facts about the sources of some of the sounds (Like the Cliff Racer actually being a processed Cockatiel)
I always love to see the creativity in stuff like that :D

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: Silt Striders are processed whale sounds.
The sounds for when you go into/out of stealth are me breathing into a microphone.
I am the "voice" of the rats in the game.
The Tomb Guardians are what happens when you bring a very deep voiced man in front of a microphone and say, "can you do, like, Tibetan throat singing?"
I am the voice of the Mantikora.
Umm... you'd be surprised how many lion, and elephant sounds get mixed into monster voices. Also, a lot of pitched down chicken sounds are useful... horses... when you take these disparate sound sources, and mix them into something completely unrelated, it is easy to hide the origin of the sounds.
There's a lot more, but that's what i could come up with off the top of my head. When we were making the Elk mounts, we bought actual Elk calls, and were going to make the sounds ourselves, I think Matt ended up using a few, regardless, we managed to piss off an entire floor of game devs that day.

finnmoo: Hey all hope I'm not too late! Love all your work, the amazing music and VO really makes this game stand out IMO
I was wondering if you have any in-house VAs? I want to do game concept & scripting but also love acting, and was wondering if that's a common occurrence in the sound design sector?

ZOS_JoshuaSmith: We do not have anyone in house, and in fact couldn't use anyone, unfrotunately. There is a guy at the studio who has the most amazing voice, and at one point we actually wanted him to be Molag Bal, but, the way SAG works is if you use one SAG actor for a game, you can -only- use SAG actors, so we can't use anyone who isn't a member.
I would say that it is probably pretty uncommon for there to be in house actors. When we need to temp stuff, we usually drag in people from QA. So, I would say pursue your other goals of game design, and when your sound team asks for volunteers, jump up and wave your hands around in their faces so they know that you want to do it.