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Mortal Kombat: Komposing Cinematic Audio and the Origins of Toasty!

Dan Forden's Avatar + Posted by Dan Forden on Apr 14, 2011 // Lead Sound Designer, Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat for PS3

I’ve worked on Mortal Kombat for most of its life, starting with the early arcade versions, and moving on through the first two console versions – Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance and Mortal Kombat: Deception. I took a hiatus with Mortal Kombat: Armageddon and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, but am back with this latest and deadliest version and having a great time working in the audio department with a super-talented and experienced team.

As Audio Director, Rich Carle provided excellent leadership and guidance for the team in addition to writing music, creating sound effects and mixing movies. Senior Sound Designers Matt Grimm and Michael Caisley created a ton of sound effects for the characters and environments in the game as well as for the story mode movies and Senior Sound Designer Brian Chard wrote a lot of the story mode and recorded and edited pretty much every vocal sound in the game in addition to wrangling localization and arcade endings. Chase Ashbaker helped us out at the end with sound design and in-game audio scripting. I wrote a lot of music, created some sound effects for characters and environments and scripted most of the character audio in the game.

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This time around, we’ve made an effort, spearheaded by Rich, to create a cinematic game audio experience. While we definitely wanted to keep and enhance the bone-crunching audio design of the past, we also wanted to create a dynamic experience, so that big events really stand out but we can also hear things like the rustling of the fighter’s clothes and details in the fighting arenas like branches creaking in the Living Forest, insects buzzing in the Courtyard, and people screaming in the distance in the Dead Pool. With nearly two hours of cinematic cut-scenes, we really wanted the player to have a cinema-quality audio experience throughout the story mode, yet still get the in-your-face game experience during the fights.

Regarding the music, our initial approach was to re-work the original music with better instruments and audio tools. This is apparent on backgrounds like Living Forest, Courtyard and the Subway. As we went along, it felt appropriate to allude to some of the melodies in the older tunes, but create a completely new arrangement, as in the Pit, the Temple and the Armory. In a few cases, Rich and I wrote completely new material as in the Street and the Desert, so there’s a broad spectrum of music from the familiar to the brand new in this game. We also went in an orchestral direction with some of the music which was a lot of fun. Matt Grimm mixed all the music in quad (four speakers), so fire up your surround sound system to hear how immersive the musical experience is.

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A lot of people ask me about where “Toasty” came from. Before we worked on Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon developed the arcade football games High Impact and Super High Impact. We used to play these a lot and, as the offense and defense approached the line of scrimmage, I’d say something like “You’re toast!”, which turned into “I predict Toasty!”, delivered in high operatic falsetto. Another developer there, George Petro, suggested we put some of our silly taunts into our games as Easter Eggs. Ed decided to go ahead and try it in Mortal Kombat II, so we did, and the rest is history… or something…

Dan "Toasty" Forden

I hope everyone enjoys the game as well as the audio experience. Remember, be sure to play it loud!

//Add Your Own

23 Comments

1

+ Zezzler on April 14th, 2011 at 12:19 pm said:

I never really played MK before, so i didn’t know what to expect, so when i found you popping up saying ‘TOASTY!’ I laughed soo much. It is sooo hilarious. The game is really awesome by the way. Can’t wait to get it!


2

+ Kirkpad on April 14th, 2011 at 12:23 pm said:

Ah, so that is the origin of Toasty. I guess that’s less interesting than I expected. Those are some tasty (toasty?) beats too.


3

+ SpyDudeFX on April 14th, 2011 at 12:26 pm said:

Does the Kollector’s Edition come with PSN avatars or actual costumes for Home? Thanks.


4

+ D-Squad3 on April 14th, 2011 at 12:40 pm said:

I can’t until the 19th! I’m getting it at midnight!!!


5

+ Solidmgsnake on April 14th, 2011 at 12:41 pm said:

lol toasty pic is faved!


6

+ MarioL_420 on April 14th, 2011 at 12:44 pm said:

I have been a fan of Mortal Kombat since Mortal Kombat was Mortal Kombat. As a blind gamer who can only play fighting games I am a huge fan of Mortal Kombat. The audio attracted me more than any other fighting game out there and continues to do so. Let me start off by saying that this latest Mortal Kombat has the 3d audio I could only dream of in past versions. Sound designers probably don’t realize blind people play this game let alone how the 3d audio is so helpful. If you listen carefully you can hear where your fighter and opponent are because of this implementation. Before 3d audio I could do a move both ways to figure out what side of the screen I’m on but no longer. And yes I hear the detail like rustling of clothes and that is simply amazing.All I know of Mortal Kombat is sound and I have to say you have and continue to do a wonderful job with audio and music. Toasty on all those other sound designers working on inferior fighting games.


7

+ KGH on April 14th, 2011 at 1:09 pm said:

any plans on bringing the soundtrack as DLC to PSN?


8

+ Jimmy_Cosmos on April 14th, 2011 at 1:10 pm said:

oh my gosh this whole time I thought he was saying “Hoopty” or something like that.. >_< *cleans out ears*


9

+ Ckff71up on April 14th, 2011 at 1:16 pm said:

The Tower and The Rooftop remixes sound awesome Dan. Can’t wait to play it next week =]


10

+ plaztiksyke on April 14th, 2011 at 1:19 pm said:

Great to hear there’s a focus on audio, but will the PS3 version include HD (24-bit and/or losslessly-compressed) audio assets?

The first Dead Space had amazing sound work, but the lowest-common denominator MP3 encodes ruined a lot of the potential.


11

+ smokingagain on April 14th, 2011 at 1:24 pm said:

Cant wait until i get my KE edition.

Great to hear Toasty again , and i wil turn my surround sound system up for al the other great tunes!


12

+ Krioni87 on April 14th, 2011 at 1:30 pm said:

“buttered toast!”… Reminded me of Ed, Edd, and Eddy. TOASTY!


13

+ Krioni87 on April 14th, 2011 at 1:30 pm said:

**his shirt that is


14

+ BD_Mr_Bubbles on April 14th, 2011 at 1:47 pm said:

Cant’t wait to get my TE next week!


15

+ Detective-E on April 14th, 2011 at 2:55 pm said:

Nice, finally got a sound-only button.


16

+ fuzzymic14 on April 14th, 2011 at 3:30 pm said:

Yo….. Where can i find me shirt with the toasty guy on the back ? lol i want one.


17

+ Genesis33 on April 14th, 2011 at 3:57 pm said:

Dan forden is the man! I wish I could work with him!!


18

+ DNAgent on April 14th, 2011 at 4:22 pm said:

I want to buy that shirt…Even if it’s in Home. -_-


19

+ TheLastNinja- on April 14th, 2011 at 7:40 pm said:

@17 Genesis33:

Indeed! Glad you came back, missed those awesome tracks!


20

+ Skater_Ricky on April 14th, 2011 at 7:50 pm said:

Cant wait for this game be picking up my Copy of Mortal Kombat K.E. along with Socom 4 :)


21

+ CappDog on April 14th, 2011 at 9:06 pm said:

Dan, I’m really glad you’re back. Your tunes from the 2D games are some of the most awesome of the era, and are still stuck in my head.

Not to mention the glorious return of TOASTY! … TWO DEE!!


22

+ baypinoy415 on April 15th, 2011 at 3:36 am said:

im about to kill myself i cant wait any longer i want the game now sob sob sob :(


23

+ that-acmilan-guy on April 15th, 2011 at 5:41 am said:

I am gonna roll out the red carpet for Toasty’s return!


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