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Stay Awhile And Listen: Matt Uelmen Talks Torchlight

Stay Awhile And Listen: Matt Uelmen Talks Torchlight

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Hopefully this post title is enough of a hint for you.  Matt Uelmen is definitely one of my favorite composers out there, and while I realize he isn’t a household name (he’s only worked on a handful of titles over his 15-plus year career in game music), the ones he has worked on have been some of the biggest titles in the world.  I’m talkin’ Diablo, Diablo II, and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.

He’s currently finishing up work on Torchlight, a new single-player adventure created by Runic Games, a studio that includes a few former Blizzard North staffers who were responsible for the first two Diablo titles.  That should give you an idea of what to expect with Torchlight, and we’ve been very lucky to have snagged some time with Matt Uelmen during his dreaded “crunch time” to talk about his approach to the game’s score, how it differs from his past work at Blizzard, where certain instruments that were used in the Diablo series are used in Torchlight, and what classical music Easter eggs are hidden within the Torchlight soundtrack.

It’s been much too long since the world has heard from Matt Uelmen, so allow him to make up for it in our lengthy interview with him after the jump.
OSV:
Hello Matt. It’s been a long time since we’ve heard music from you, so most people are probably wondering what you’ve been up to since the release of The Burning Crusade back in 2007. How did you come to work at Runic Games and on Torchlight?

Uelmen: I try to stay in touch with many of the guys who were part of the Blizzard North crew, and seeing what the Schaefer brothers were up to after Flagship was part of that. I worked with that team through just about all of my twenties, so I have a pretty strong bond with many of them. So, talking with Max, a funny thing happened – I was trying to convince him that he needed to be up in Seattle to work with his team there, and he ended up convincing me that I could actually do it from L.A. Max has Jedi powers like that.

OSV: Awesome, so you’re working in-house at Runic now, or freelance given that you’re in Los Angeles and they’re in Seattle?

Uelmen: I’m in-house. I personally feel like there’s no way I could give enough attention to a project without it being an exclusive thing, at least if it was something which I thought had a chance to match up with my previous work in terms of quality.

OSV: Sounds like a pretty atypical setup. But I’m sure they’re glad to have you on board.  I know we’re happy to hear you’re writing music again.

Uelmen: Thanks! I’m excited to have my tunes out there. It is a really exceptional crew. Travis Baldree is a true polymath, and the whole experience has been a great chance to get my chops back in top shape by trying to keep up with a really talented young team.

OSV: So, the team is busily working away on Torchlight, which is due out at the end of the month. Tell us about your approach to Torchlight. We can’t help but draw comparisons to yours and the rest of the team’s work on the Diablo series, but what have you done in the audio department differentiate Torchlight from your past work?

Uelmen: Well, most people associate me with the Diablo series, which is natural – and I’m very proud of those games – though I actually released more music just going by the clock for WoW than for the Diablo series, believe it or not. So, this work is actually very different from my last two projects, those being WoW and Lord of Destruction.

WoW was all about extremely long play sessions, and 99% of the music I wrote for it was strictly for high-level characters, so, for players who had already clocked over a thousand hours in the game, if not much more. It was also, by default, referential to the original structure which was created so successfully by Jason, Glenn, Tracy and Derek.

This game, of course, is new IP, and it is really trying to tap into a much more casual market, so the music needs to reflect that. I’m actually still hoping to do some slight tweaks to the opening title theme in the week I have left, with that in mind.

In terms of the mechanics of it, I do try to emphasize a few different musical things than I did in tracks that were for similar environments. I use classical/Spanish guitar up front in the new town theme, and have some fairly up-front, romantic melodies in there as well, two things I tended to avoid in my previous work, with the big exception of of Lord of Destruction, though that was for full orchestra whereas this is structured around live performances by myself supplemented by samples, so the effect is very different.

OSV: That leads into my next question, actually. I have to ask you about the town theme you’ve written for Torchlight. It’s some amazing work. I recognize that distinctive 12-string guitar here, and while the mood is rather melancholy like some other town tracks you’ve created in the past, but this theme feels a bit more tinged with emotion and there are even parts that sound Spanish in style. What can you tell us about the creation of this track?

Uelmen: Thanks, I’m flattered that you like it! I took much longer to make it than some of the other tracks in the game, and tried to get a ton of live stuff in there – over 200 live takes, actually.  I had the melody you hear on the Spanish guitar in my head for a little while, and liked the idea that it would have some of the positive elements that people associate with the original “Diablo” town theme, while also being significantly different.

I actually bought a Mexican classical from some nice guys in Glendale especially for the recording, and was happy with how it worked out. The finger-picking phrase also worked out well in terms of trying to go for a sound that people didn’t necessarily associate with my past work but still had a distinctive effect that was unique to that style of guitar. I really love trying to exploit the individual quirks of instruments, whether it is overblown flutes, harmonics on bass piano strings, big resonant chords on twelve-string, or the kind of right-hand technique that has a nice rolling effect on a classical guitar.

OSV: Well, it’s my favorite track from what I’ve heard so far. I was right though, about there being a 12-string?

Uelmen: Yes, the classical is featured in the beginning of the track, and my Leo Kottke Taylor is the guitar in the last minute. This isn’t the Seagull that was used in the original Diablo, incidentally. The Guild Starfire XII which people have heard before was used in “Mines,” the first interior, as well, though it is really more of a background thing.


[Left to Right: '68 Fender Jaguar, '73 Gibson SG, '67 Guild Starfire XII]

OSV: So, it sounds like there’s some live guitar. I know you’ve also been into the steel pedal in recent years, so what can you tell us about this instrument and how it was used in the game? Most people associate the instrument with country music, but it’s used in a completely different way here.

Uelmen: Yeah, I’ve been fascinated with the pedal steel for a long time, it made a very brief cameo at the end of “Wilderness” in Diablo II, but in “Mines” – the first interior – I had a chance to use it much more.

I’ve owned one for about a decade now, but have a strange habit of banging my head against it for a few months and then putting it away for a year or so, something I’ve done a few times now. It is an extremely challenging instrument, but what I love about it is the fact that it is relatively unexplored (probably due to how challenging and rare it is). It is a great secret weapon for all sorts of music, the way that it has been pigeon-holed into country is a bit strange in my opinion. I was happy to have an excuse to spend some time with it.

It would be hard for me to give an introduction to it, I would just recommend that people check out the wiki article, and maybe do a YouTube search of Buddy Emmons or Speedy West if they want to see it played well.

OSV: It’s definitely an odd instrument that really looks like you need a lot of coordination to play. Almost more like percussion but with even more ways to tweak the sound.

Uelmen: Yeah, it is incredibly challenging on many levels. You need to use both hands, both knees and both feet to do a variety of roles, and what is perhaps most challenging is the fact that the intonation is totally a product of your left hand. For someone accustomed to keyed winds, keyboards or fretted string instruments, that can be incredibly hard. Actually, in my “year off” in 2007, the steel really helped keep my musicianship from rotting too much. I played along with Jamey Abersold CDs doing jazz standards.

OSV: I think it’s only a matter of time before you’re recruited by some country band that needs a pedal steel player!

Uelmen: Well, my chops are far below that of a quality Nashville session guy – I don’t necessarily like the writing in contemporary country, but the virtuosity of the two dozen or so guys in Nashville that do all of the sessions is pretty mind-blowing, and are far above what I could aspire to.

OSV: Well, before I ask you about some specific tracks in the game, I have to say that the score sounds pretty realistic in a lot of ways, likely because you supplemented it with live performances. What tools did you use to create the score for Torchlight, and did you feel disadvantaged not being able to use a live orchestra for this project?

Uelmen: As far as live orchestra goes, yes, I did miss it, but I also knew that I needed to tune up my sample chops, and was generally very happy with the stock instruments that come with Logic and the orchestral palette that comes with the Vienna library.

Hopefully, this game is successful enough that we have a decent budget for live work. I’d love to work with Kirk Trevor and the SRSO again.

OSV: SRSO? Slovak Symphony Orchestra?

Uelmen: Yes, Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra. That is the group that I recorded with twice, and are prominently featured in Lord of Destruction and some of the orchestral moments in the work I did for WoW, like Naxxramas and Nagrand.

OSV: You’ve mentioned the first interior a few times, “Mines,” and on that topic, aside from the pedal steel and 12-string, there are even some electronic elements that make an entrance, although very briefly. What can you tell us about this track, and what went into the decision to include electronic elements?

Uelmen: Keyboards are really my home instrument, and I think Lord of Destruction, because I was really going for an explicitly orchestral sound, is the only project where synthesizer textures didn’t play a big role. The first project I did with Condor, Justice League, actually made a lot of references to techno-type musical techniques, even with some four-on-the-floor 130 bpm type stuff.

I think in “Mines,” the idea was to try to do something which referenced the whole process of mining, in terms of the rhythmic clanging process of mining that people (and non-people of the rodent variety) are engaged in, while also trying to do really subtle references to a kind of ghost town western vibe, in terms of a little bit of some of the more standard material you find from the pedal steel.

Of course, it is also an action type of cue, so, like with every action cue which I might write, I try to keep the tempo pushing things at least a little. Synth textures are a natural thing to reach for in terms of atmosphere, and the stock sythns in Logic are pretty irresistible.

OSV: As the first interior in the game, did you find this one particularly challenging to write?

Uelmen: I intentionally saved it for last along with the town theme, because they are the most important material in the game, and gave it more time. It actually flowed pretty well, which is good, because I didn’t have the luxury of writer’s block on this project!

OSV: Well, you saved the best for last, I suppose. That’s not to say that the rest of the material isn’t good, either. I noticed that once you progress through the mines, you reach a lava area where you work in some really nice guitar work that’s rather warm in contrast to the rather blistering sound of the rest of the music. What’s this all about, and what were you using to record this guitar section?

Uelmen: Well, I wanted to have at least one section with more of a straight-ahead rock approach, just to see if I could make it work and to try to avoid the kind of plodding 80 bpm rut I have a tendency to fall into. If you’re in the lava level, you also are somewhat committed to the game, and could probably use something a little more aggressive to not get too stuck into a rut as a player. Also, lava and vaguely heavy metal textures just go naturally together, much like dusty old miners demand vaguely western textures.

You may be referencing the bass solo that happens right before the louder rock part – that was just a transition that worked to move from the more ambient stuff and helped set up the rolling steady eighth notes.


[Left to Right: '94 Seagull Cedar ("Tristram" gutiar), '02 Lakland 5-String Fretless Bass, '83 Fender Jazz, '99 Taylor Leo Kottke 12-string]

OSV: Oh yeah, it is a bass, now that you mention it. It’s quite nice.

Uelmen: Thanks! That’s my early 80s Fender Jazz with EMG pickups, which was featured in “Crypt” and “Desert” in Diablo II. It works really well as a multipurpose axe.

OSV: [Laughs] I think that’s going to be the most interesting information out of you. Finding out which instruments were used on what from the Diablo universe.

Uelmen: Well, I have healthier and deeper relationships with them than most people, so I’m happy to talk about them all day.

OSV: One of the later areas in the game sports an almost playful sound with some steel drum-esque sounds and twinkling synths in the background. Was this area meant to be more bright than the others?

Uelmen: Good ear! Steel drum is actually an instrument which I always wanted to explore, but still haven’t given myself the chance to. Those are just the stock samples from Logic, which are good, though I have wanted to really explore tremolo effects with the real thing. They have a nice ability to cut through arrangements and present something kind of foreign but familiar. It is actually much like using pedal steel in that when you take it out of its natural habitat – country and caribbean cocktail music, respectively – it can have a nice effect. The level it takes place in is also somewhat green and wet, so it seems to fit.

OSV: Alright, so I had to come back and get an instrument right after messing up on the bass from the lava area. There’s also a track later in the game that sports a sort of evil circus sound with wonky brass, triangles, and some spooky pads. What can you tell us about you were going for here?

Uelmen: Well, it wouldn’t be a circus without the little people, and that is what is going on there, you’re exploring a Dwarven civilization at that point. I don’t want to give away too many spoilers, but the brassy sound seems to lend itself to the kind of semi-comic, semi-heroic quality that are hard not to link with dwarves.

OSV: Do you have a favorite piece that you’ve created for Torchlight? Why is this one your favorite?

Uelmen: Yes, I was really happy with how the theme for town worked out, just because it is always nice as a writer when things materialize as you visualize them, and because it was such a challenge to do something which filled a similar role in the game as “Tristram” while also being appreciably different and unique. Hopefully people who play the game feel like I was able to do that. I also gave myself the luxury of a little time to work on it and use a bunch of live takes, and, hopefully, the tune reflects that work in a good way.

Because it used so many live elements, it made sense to write it on paper first, and I’ve always found it satisfying to make music the old-fashioned way and put it on paper with pencil first. Hopefully I’ll have plenty of that kind of experience with our next project.


[Matt Uelmen's filthy hand-written sheet music for "Theme of Town"]

OSV: “Theme for Town.” That’s the official title? [Laughs]

Uelmen: I actually just call the tune “Torchlight,” I guess. For me, it is hard not see it as something functional as much as a stand-alone composition, so giving things big titles can almost seem pretentious. That’s why when I’ve bothered to name things, they tend to get one-word names. I like the classical tradition where tunes just get numbers and keys, personally. We can call it opus 285 in A minor if you want! That’s probably where I’m about at in terms of total commercial cues written, if you count the half-minute stingers I did for WoW.

OSV: I think naming your tracks with classical conventions would be way more pretentious.

Uelmen: Probably true!

OSV: And if “Torchlight” is the town theme, what’s the title theme called?

Uelmen: It is called “Something I hope to add a good opening thirty seconds to before Monday while working on ambient background loops.”

OSV: [Laughs] I think you’ve got it.

Uelmen: Actually, I currently have something which uses a Verdi theme, we’ll see if it makes it.

OSV: Quit jumping ahead. I have a question about your tendency to do that coming up.

Uelmen: If I don’t use it, it truly will be “Traviata.”

OSV: Wait, so the town in the game is called “Torchlight?” Is that why you’d call the piece that?

Uelmen: Yes, that is the name of the town.

OSV: Ah, guess I should have done my research.

Uelmen: We are all drawn there by the lure of ember!

OSV: I definitely am. About that classical thing, you’ve been known to work in familiar pieces of classical music into some of your compositions in the past. What can you tell us about these instances, and can we expect to hear anything similar in Torchlight?

Uelmen: Absolutely, I may use an arrangement of the opening theme from Verdi’s “La Traviata” for the title theme – it is kind of on the bubble as of this weekend – and I am definitely using a couple of different pieces from Scriabin, whose approach to music was really unique and fascinating.

OSV: For those of us who are less versed in Scribian, can you tell us where we can expect to hear these references?

Uelmen: Sure, the main thing I’m referencing stands out in the soundtrack in the “Caverns” track. I actually did a relatively straight take on it from the original piano version, whereas I often prefer to put things in a much different voicing, like the Chopin material I arranged for the Diablo “Coda” piece and “Honor Hold” for WoW.

OSV: So, you have a long history of doing this. Is it to teach the youth about the importance of classical music? Or is there some other reason?

Uelmen: Well, I really think a big part of making games is just trying to stay focused on whatever works in the game, so if there’s something in the public domain that functions well, I’m always going to want to try it out.

I think I have a little bit of an advantage in terms of my exposure to opera – I really feel like many soundtrack composers hit a brick wall when they try to loot the classics because they are automatically drawn towards material written for instrumental performers, for example, when you think of an orchestra, you think of symphonies, and when you think of particular instruments, you think of concertos and sonatas.

But the reality is that the operatic tradition is much, much more appropriate as a resource for soundtrack work, because the entire idea is to support the action and characters on stage in more or less the exact role that soundtracks have even now in videogames, aside from literally needing to accompany a vocal line, of course.

I think people are turned off by some of the elements of vocal performance in the operatic tradition and that the whole thing doesn’t easily translate to the modern mindset, but it really is not just a great resource to use as a springboard for current work, but it is also the core cultural institution for all of European history, and possibly Chinese history, incidentally, if you analyze that operatic tradition.

If it has educational value, that’s great, though that really isn’t the goal. There is plenty of great music in history and it is wonderful if you can help introduce it to people, but I don’t really see that as an absolute goal. It is so easy to educate yourself with the resources on the Internet these days, I don’t feel like an entertainer really needs to go out of their way to fulfill some greater agenda. It is all out there and accessible very easily.

OSV: So, you think kids are going to take the initiative and educate themselves about opera on the Internet, huh?

Well, I did want to ask how many minutes of music we should expect to hear in Torchlight.

Uelmen: It is currently around 40 minutes, and seeing as how I have plenty of work to do which is not music-related in the little time we have left, that is probably where it will stay.

OSV: So, on the topic of how much music you’ve created, to go back to the Diablo II soundtrack for a moment, you did this really cool “MP3 of the Week” campaign where you posted new music each week with commentary about the creation of that piece. You also posted some outtakes from the game. Any chance we’ll see something similar to that with Torchlight? Will it be distributed in any form?

Uelmen: I ‘m still not totally sure if we’re doing any kind of a promotional release of the tunes for Torchlight, though it is probably more likely that we’ll do that kind of a program with the release of the MMO. I’m not totally certain and this doesn’t qualify as an official company statement, but I believe that the game will be released such that people can demo the opening content in the game, and then can download a key to unlock the remaining content if they like it enough to want to see the whole game. I would guess that even if you just play the demo, you’ll get a nice taste of the tracks which I’m proudest of.

OSV: Well, I hope it gets out there somehow. Whether it goes on iTunes or is hosted on the site for free, I think people want to hear the music you’ve created for the game.

Uelmen: Well, I’m always flattered if and when people see the tracks as something which also functions as a stand-alone entity, though that has never been my goal. I’d rather have harmonized dog farts in the game than something equivalent to the overture to “The Magic Flute” if the dog farts supported the goals of the game design in a better way.

OSV: [Laughs] okay. I don’t know if I’d be interested in playing the game where dog farts were actually appropriate.

Uelmen: Maybe, though I thought a track like “Maggot” worked well in Diablo II, even though there is almost nothing really musical or melodic about it.

OSV: Sometimes it’s not about the music though, it’s about the atmosphere. Even outside of the game.

I’ve always been fascinated by your percussion work. It’s always so heavy, and constantly moving. It almost feels like a tribal beat, but you often use traditional rock percussion sounds. How did you come up with this sound, and why do you think it’s so effective in your music?

Uelmen: Thanks! I really think I had a breakthrough back around 1995 when I was playing a tank game – I don’t know if it was the old school Stellar 7 or an updated version of it. While listening to a particularly pounding piece of early 80s goth-rock, I really noticed that when the connection worked in terms of game action, it really added an element to the experience.

I think there’s something universal about a big drum sound. It occurs in just about every culture, and it really taps into the deepest layers of our psyche. If you’re trying to tap into what could be called a brain “beta state,” it can definitely help move things along, though, of course, it can also break you out of that if it is used in the wrong way.

I generally find every corner of the percussion family of instruments fascinating, and really enjoy taking things out of their standard cultural context. Just as there’s no reason that pedal steel should be associated with country or the steel drum should be associated with cruise ship lounges, I feel like an instrument like the maraca can be used as a relatively neutral color to drive a rhythmic element in almost anything.

I put a little time into learning some basic snare technique, which hopefully gives me a decent approach in terms of seeing that instrument as something more than just the same burst of white noise that happens “on the three” in every track. I have a nice old Slingerland, and enjoy trying to get the color from side shots, flams and hard rim shots into tracks.

OSV: Did you record live snare for Torchlight?

Uelmen: There is a fair amount of live percussion, though I used the ride/crash cymbal and hi-hat more than the snare in terms of really making a track feel live, just because I was relatively happy with the stock rock snares from Logic and the classical rolls in the Vienna library.

OSV: We’ve been told that you were also responsible for all of the game’s sound effects and for editing a lot of the voice over work. What was it like juggling all the sound in the game, and do you feel your control over all the audio elements has resulted in a better balance in the game? Are you responsible for any of the implementation?

Uelmen: Well, the game is definitely a team effort in every respect. Because we are trying to make a game that you would be more likely to see from a 50 or 60 person team with only 20 or less, all of us needed to develop new skills in a hurry or, in my case with sound effects, get some of the rust off of older skill sets. Fortunately, Travis [Baldree] is extremely good at sound implementation (he actually has a “sound’ credit on ‘Fate’”), and other guys like Marsh Lefler, John Dunbar and Patrick Blank have been proactive about getting audio content in the game in terms of implementation. Max Schaefer also put a ton of work into getting the script in shape, which is unusual for an Executive Producer. There’s no way I could have handled all of those roles without those guys, and, similarly, Lani Minella did amazing work in terms of helping us cast the actors, along with her excellent talents as an actress. When I play the game, I really hear the collaborative element in terms of the contributions all of the above made in terms of getting things like the overall mix in good shape.

OSV: So it’s good to hear you didn’t have to do everything on your own, although it sounds like you were solely responsible on the creative end?

Uelmen: I wouldn’t put it that way, though I definitely am the most experienced Sound Forge hack in the crew. The funny thing about “sound” as a category when people look at games is that it lumps in everything from the melody in a tune to the way that actor content is implemented in the game, while all of those roles could be done by different people in different contexts. I insisted that Jon Stone get a “sound” credit on Diablo II, just because he was so crucial to the game in terms of implementation, which is often more important than the content itself in terms of the players’ game experience.

OSV: I agree, it seems like the sound can be completely ruined if implemented poorly.

Uelmen: Right, and the opposite can be true as well, sometimes the right context in the game can make an uninspired piece of sound design or music really effective.

OSV: Hadn’t thought of it that way. Well, we are nearing the end here, and I had a few kind of philosophical questions before we end. Going back, and I’m sorry I have to ask this, when a composer creates such an iconic piece of music, in your case, “Tristram,” do you constantly find yourself struggling to surpass it? How do you feel about the popularity of these theme among gamers, even today?

Uelmen: Well, I’m very proud of it, and happy that I was able to put something out there which is so reliant on a physical performance instead of a more sample-based approach. When Diablo was released in the last day or two of 1996 or the first few days of 1997, depending on who you ask, game music was still very much in the wavetable paradigm. I’m proud of the fact that “Tristram” helped push people towards live performances, and also showed that fantasy soundtracks didn’t always need to be heavy orchestral works, and that something could be guitar-based without necessarily being crunching power chords. I think the greater challenge than matching that particular tune is in matching up with the thematic strength used in that series. Hopefully, with the MMO, I can develop a theme or two that is as rugged and multi-purpose as the main themes used in those games.

OSV: And a sort of philosophical question. You’ve told me that you don’t really write music outside of the projects you work on. In that sense, you don’t really create music for you, but have to create music that specifically fits into the universe that you’re trying to enhance. Do you feel this makes you less of a musician or composer? What do you do with musical ideas that you come up with in between projects?

Uelmen: I feel like I need the structure of a project and the freedom to give something time that commercial work gives you to write. But, that being said, being a musician is a state of mind, and really more about having the right combination of the discipline to develop ideas and enough of an open mind to absorb new ones, and that applies whether your focus is being a performer or writer. I probably need at least a little writing in any given year to be reasonably psychologically healthy, I guess you could say it has therapeutic value for me.

OSV: So in your time off, for example, did you have any ideas? Did you write them down or record them?

Uelmen: Yeah, a few, though most of my musical energy went into the pedal steel. Until I went up to Seattle and met the team last autumn, I wasn’t sure that I would be working on a fantasy title. Even though I’m sure some people see me as a fantasy composer, it really is just the way fate has happened that has meant I haven’t had much of a chance to work in other genres.

“Chinatown” is probably my favorite movie, and I’d love to do something in that kind of jazz-noir style, and I’d also love to do something with a harsher electronic edge at some point. I really tried to do something radically different with the “Netherstorm” music in The Burning Crusade, though I was very burnt out at that point in the project, so it probably could have had a bit more focus.

OSV: I hadn’t even considered the possibility that you could write anything else! I know composers are sometimes bothered by the fact that they get sort of type-casted for these roles. I’d be curious to hear some jazz or electronic music of yours in a game, or elsewhere. On that same note of you not doing too much outside of games, it sounds like a solo album of your work would be out of the question, and that’s a shame!

It’s actually funny that you mention “Netherstorm.” It’s one of my favorite tracks from The Burning Crusade, and yeah, the wailing guitars and blistering ambiance worked really well, and wasn’t like much else that I heard on that soundtrack.

Uelmen: Joseph Lawrence let me use some of his cool electronic toys on that one, and it was a lot of fun. The condensed version on the released soundtrack doesn’t capture the full effect of the multiple tracks, in my opinion, but that release had something like six hours of music in it, so it would be impossible to really show off the soundtrack in more than a superficial way even with the best of edits.

OSV: Well, are you happy with how the sound in Torchlight has turned out? Is there anything you wish you could go back and do differently if you had the chance?

Uelmen: I’m very happy with the game, though you always wish you had more time and resources in any project when it is winding up. I wish that less important tunes in the middle of the game could have gotten as much time as the “marquee” ones like the town theme, and, especially with the “Fortress” tune, I wish that I could have used a real orchestra instead of just samples. I also wish that I had time to work with actors to develop more unique performances for monster sounds, especially because I know that someone like Lani is so creative and can do amazing stuff in that kind of environment. It was really special and fun to create the voices of the Fallen in Diablo II with Mike Dashow, and I really hope to have those kinds of experiences when we make the MMO. But I feel like the game is very solid and entertaining, and that the music and sound help it in that regards, which is really all that matters.

OSV: Well, we’re definitely looking forward to checking out the final product later this month. I’ve been meaning to ask about this MMO that you keep mentioning, but I knew I had this final obligatory question in mind. “What’s next?” I take it Runic is making some sort of MMORPG that you’ll be busy working on for the next couple years? Is it too early to ask what to expect at this time in terms of orchestra or sample-based, and those types of things?

Uelmen: I think at least some of those questions will be answered just by how well Torchlight does commercially in the next few months. If we have the time and money, of course I would want to use real orchestral sessions. I honestly have no idea about the specifics of what we’re doing, though that is actually one of the things I like about the job most. I am really looking forward to brainstorming with the crew over the next few months.

OSV: Well, it’s good to have you writing music again. Please consider getting the music out there so the fans can hear it. I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to us about Torchlight, and we want to congratulate you and the rest of the team and wish you the best of luck with the launch later this month.

Uelmen: Thanks, Jayson! OSV is the best.

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