DiRT 4 – Codemasters Dialogue Producer, Olly Johnson Interview
Back in December 2015, Codemasters surprised us with the release of DIRT Rally. The title was received well and made it to the list of the “10 best racing games on PC. In January of this year, Codemasters announced that they were working on DIRT 4 which is the next title in their offroad game Series.
With this title, Codemasters is committed to resurrect the franchise and have therefore, a core team of 75 members working on the DIRT 4 title. Counting in the externals, the DIRT 4 development team is approximately 120 people strong.
While most DIRT Series fans were more than impressed by the visual quality, it was the sound part of DIRT Rally that received the most rewards. In our humble opinion, the authentic car engine sound and effects were top notch and reached a quality level never before seen in a modern rally game. Rally fans recognized every single in-game sound as a perfect recreation of the real deal. As proof, we posted an old video by YouTuber Macela on the bottom of this post. Awesome job by the Codemasters Audio Visual Team.
With all these wonderful engine noises one would almost forget that there is also a need for quality dialogue sounds as the co-pilot in a rally car will have to give pace-note instructions to the driver. It will be no different for DIRT 4.
Codemasters Dialogue Producer Olly Johnson is responsible for handling all Voice Over and in-game dialogue recordings. In a small interview, published on the Codemasters blog, Olly talks about his time at Codemasters and gives us some insight on what it takes to record the co-driver calls for use in the game. For Dirt 4, Olly is once more working with Welsh former rally co-driver Nicky Grist and RX Spotter/Comedian Neil Cole.
Interview with Oliver “Olly” Johnson
How long have you worked for Codemasters?
I think I may be the Gandalf of the Audio Department now! I worked on Colin McRae Rally 4, so that should give you an idea of the years I’ve served.
Have you always been interested in audio/dialogue production?
I’ve always been into creative endeavors, whether that’s writing, photography, or sound design I always have to do something creative to keep my brain in shape!
The first time I knew I needed to work in audio was playing Silent Hill 2. The atmosphere was so dense and nightmarish that it gave me nightmares, the audio in that game was just as responsible for those sleepless nights as the grim visuals, it made such an impression that I quit my job, took myself to college, became a junior in a recording studio and when the opportunity came up to work for Codemasters I went for it, and it’s given me access to so much creativity over the years it’s been perfect. I never hate Mondays, so I know it’s good.
What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Trying something new, even if it works or it fails straight away. The great thing about Codemasters is that we always try to do something that pushes further than before. Even if it’s a tiny feature, like having the Engineer Radio distort in built up areas and under bridges, when you get feedback in a review or from the community it’s amazing, every audio designer has experienced the old “great audio often just goes unnoticed”, so when something gets noted, it really means a lot.
When it comes to DiRT 4, how do you go about getting the most authentic representation of each discipline?
First thing is the casting process. We knew we wanted Nicky Grist back, and Neil Cole as our RX Spotter is still great. We’ve taken on board over the years that the “dude-bro” voiceover grates and puts a lot of people off; we will never avoid having US voices, but the tone and the script is much more in tune with a more realistic interpretation of the more extreme sports. We have Jen Horsey back from Dirt 3, so you will be able to have her as you co-driver if you want, and for the most extreme mode, Landrush, our spotter sounds more like John Goodman than Bill & Ted. He’s the calm voice in the storm. Landrush is so much fun by the way.
A nice thing we do to add more realism, is strap the co-drivers into our D-box racing seat, turn the setting up to violent and record the notes with them driving a very bumpy stage. This really helps stress the voice, adding bumps and jolts that make it sound like they are sat in the car with you.
Is there something special we should listen out for in DiRT 4?
So, keep in mind that when you crash your car in the game, to get the realistic “OOF” from Nicky I was driving him into trees and off banks while he was sat in the D-box. The sudden jolts really helped, although I’m sure he was glad when we’d got all the varieties we needed (30 by the way).
And finally, what’s your favorite project you’ve worked on?
I have very fond memories of Operation Flashpoint Red River for the audio. We really did work hard to have some great stuff in there like indoor and outdoor gunfire, and real time delay on distant explosions, so you see the bang….then hear it. Though my first day at Codemasters, I traveled off to a vehicle test center and helped record Colin McRae’s WRC Focus, you don’t get better first days than that!
The upcoming DiRT 4 title features a game-changing system called Your Stage, an innovative rally route creation tool that allows you to produce an almost-infinite number of unique stages at the press of a button. You choose your location and set the route parameters, then Your Stage does the hard work to create a unique rally stage that you can race, share with your friends, and then challenge them to beat your time. Your Stage allows experienced rally players to create longer, more technical routes, whilst newcomers can create simpler shorter routes as they hone their skills.
DIRT 4 by Codemasters will become available on June 9th, 2017 for the for the PS4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.
Official Webpage – www.dirtgame.com