Doom Eternal executive producer Marty Stratton has taken to Reddit to address recent controversy surrounding the game’s original soundtrack.
Following numerous complaints from fans over the quality of the audio, and claims from its composer that the soundtrack was mixed without him, Stratton describes the events that transpired behind the scenes prior to the release of Doom Eternal’s OST.
“Over the past couple weeks, I’ve seen lots of discussion centered around the release of the DOOM Eternal Original Game Soundtrack (OST),” the lengthy post begins. “While many fans like the OST, there is speculation and criticism around the fact that the game’s talented and popular composer, Mick Gordon, edited and ‘mixed’ only 12 of the 59 tracks on the OST – the remainder being edited by our Lead Audio Designer here at id.
“Some have suggested that we’ve been careless with or disrespectful of the game music. Others have speculated that Mick wasn’t given the time or creative freedom to deliver something different or better. The fact is – none of that is true.”
According to Stratton, Gordon was not under contract to work on the game’s OST at the time of its announcement last E3, “and because of ongoing issues receiving the music we needed for the game, did not want to add the distraction at that time.” The composer was only brought into the fold in January, with both parties reaching a general agreement to deliver 12 tracks by early March.
However, by February 24, Gordon reportedly asked for an additional four weeks to deliver on the project, while offering to provide “upwards of 30 tracks and a run-time over two hours – including all music from the game, arranged in soundtrack format and as he felt it would best represent the score in the best possible way.” The deadline was instead pushed until mid-April, says Stratton, an addition six weeks.
“It’s important to note at this point that not only were we disappointed to not deliver the OST with the launch of the CE, we needed to be mindful of consumer protection laws in many countries that allow customers to demand a full refund for a product if a product is not delivered on or about its announced availability date,” he writes. “Even with that, the mid-April delivery would allow us to meet our commitments to customers while also allowing Mick the time he had ideally requested.”
By the start of April, Stratton says the team were growing increasingly concerned about the likelihood of the project being delivered on time. Stratton would go on to ask id Software’s lead audio designer Chad Mossholder to begin work on versions of Gordon’s tracks as a back-up plan.
“In early April, I sent an email to Mick reiterating the importance of hitting his extended contractual due date and outlined in detail the reasons we needed to meet our commitments to our customers. I let him know that Chad had started work on the back-up tracks but reiterated that our expectation and preference was to release what he delivered. Several days later, Mick suggested that he and Chad (working on the back-up) combine what each had been working on to come up with a more comprehensive release.”
On the day the music was due, Stratton claims that Gordon was still working on the soundtrack but promised it would feature “no-less than 12 tracks and about 60 minutes of music and that it would come in late evening.”
“The next morning, Mick informed us that he’d run into some issues with several tracks and that it would take additional time to finish, indicating he understood we were in a tight position for launching and asked how we’d like to proceed. We asked him to deliver the tracks he’d completed and then follow-up with the remaining tracks as soon as possible.”
According to Stratton, the resulting nine tracks that were delivered would not meet the expectation of fans. Gordon once again suggested that tracks composed by id Software could be used to flesh things out further.
“After considering his recommendations, I let Mick know that we would move forward with the combined effort, to provide a more comprehensive collection of the music from the game. I let Mick know that Chad had ordered his edited tracks as a chronology of the game music and that to create the combined work, Chad would insert Mick‘s delivered tracks into the OST chronology where appropriate and then delete his own tracks containing similar thematic material. I said that if his additional combat tracks come in soon, we’d do the same to include them in the OST or offer them later as bonus tracks. Mick delivered 2 final tracks, which we incorporated, and he wished us luck wrapping it up.”
On April 19, the OST was released to owners of Doom Eternal’s collector’s edition. Around this same time, a number of fans and audiophiles took to social media to criticise its mixing.
“[S]oon after release, some of our fans noted and posted online the waveform difference between the tracks Mick had mixed from his source files and the tracks that Chad had edited from Mick’s final game music, with Mick’s knowledge and at his suggestion,” Stratton continues.
“In a reply to one fan, Mick said he, “didn’t mix those and wouldn’t have done that.” That, and a couple of other simple messages distancing from the realities and truths I’ve just outlined has generated unnecessary speculation and judgement – and led some to vilify and attack an id employee who had simply stepped up to the request of delivering a more comprehensive OST. Mick has shared with me that the attacks on Chad are distressing, but he’s done nothing to change the conversation.”
Replying to another fan’s query regarding whether he would be returning to the series, Gordon wrote: “doubt we’ll work together again.”
Stratton now confirms this. “[W]e are at the point of moving on and won’t be working with Mick on the DLC we currently have in production,” he writes. “As I’ve mentioned, his music is incredible, he is a rare talent, and I hope he wins many awards for his contribution to DOOM Eternal at the end of the year.
“I’m as disappointed as anyone that we’re at this point, but as we have many times before, we will adapt to changing circumstances and pursue the most unique and talented artists in the industry with whom to collaborate. Our team has enjoyed this creative collaboration a great deal and we know Mick will continue to delight fans for many years ahead.”