Though often unsung compared to the thrill of gameplay innovations and the majesty of ever-increasingly realistic graphic rendering, the importance of sound design can deeply affect how we interpret the "feel" of a game. It may be an overused term, but the sensorial effect that good sound design can have on players affects us on a visceral level–so it better be good.
Riffing off a March segment NPR's "On The Media" ran which discussed the changing portrayal of violence in film in terms of sound–from the crunches and cracks of yesteryear to the fleshy, mushy sounds we're used to today–Kill Screen's Yannick LeJacq spoke with Blizzard's sound design supervisor, Joseph Lawrence, on the gooey sounds of Diablo III.
Lawrence talks about where the inspiration came for certain sounds and what creative tools were used to make them, saying,
"Well when we started this game, we all knew that we were going to need an absolutely metric ton of gushy, gooey, squishy sounds. 'Cause that kind of stuff is everywhere in the game. Over the years we’ve done numerous sessions for those—we’ve put our hands in giant vats of yogurt, glue. One particularly disgusting session that just looked horribleby the time we got done was this pile of stuff I’d been manipulating with my hands—it started off as bits of spaghetti, then I mixed in some yogurt [and] chocolate sauce; I think there were some packing peanuts. All these different liquids have a different viscosity and way they sound sticky. We used all manner of vegetables; by the time it was done there was this big pile of disgusting brown goo. There was even a New York steak at the bottom of it that I was slapping against to make splat sounds."
The interview also contains some sound bites to help you put Lawrence's explanations in perspective, as well as just to gross yourself out. The whole thing is a really neat look at an aspect of videogames we tend to take for granted. Whether or not you're interested in sound design, the rest of the interview is worth a read and can be found here.