Which means id Software is not working with composer Mick Gordon to create music for the upcoming DOOM Eternal DLC. As the composer behind the iconic music found in DOOM (2016) and Eternal, Mick Gordon has become a household name with DOOM fans thanks to the larger than life combat music that matches the intensity of the action. So what happened? Well, time to strap in.
Recently some fans noticed that the official DOOM Eternal soundtrack featured very different mastering across different tracks - with noticeable clipping.
In terms of the listening experience the result is volume over clarity. When approached, Gordon responded that he was only responsible for a "small handful of tracks" and "wouldn't have done that" in relation to the rest of the soundtrack.
In addition to this in a separate response he added that he probably wouldn't work with id again. This sparked outrage and with the internet being what it is, id's Lead Audio Designer - who was responsible for the mixing and mastering of several tracks on the soundtrack - became a target for online abuse.
Today, in a very lengthy statement written for the DOOM community - seen here on Reddit - Marty Stratton, the Executive Producer on DOOM Eternal outlines the developer's troubled history with the composer. Reading in many ways like a classic episode of VH1's Behind The Music it details missed deadlines, agreements in place, and communication with Mick Gordon that broke down.
It's a lengthy post and well worth reading in full, with Marty noting, "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."
"Mick has had near limitless creative autonomy over music composition and mixing in our recent DOOM games, and I think the results have been tremendous," he adds. "Talent aside, we have struggled to connect on some of the more production-related realities of development, while communication around those issues have eroded trust. For id, this has created an unsustainable pattern of project uncertainty and risk."
This pattern revolves around the delivery of 12 tracks for the official soundtrack release which was part of the collector's edition - that subsequently got delayed. As creating music for a game versus the sequencing and mastering for an audio-only release soundtrack are very different, this led to id using the in-game music already supplied by Mick to stitch together the remaining tracks.
And this was after granting a six-week extension to the deadline for delivering the music for the soundtrack release. As id only had access to the music already delivered for the game itself, the dynamic range of these recordings were noticeably different to the fully produced soundtrack cuts that were to be supplied by Mick.
"After listening to the 9 tracks he’d delivered," Marty explains, "I wrote him that I didn’t think those tracks would meet the expectations of DOOM or Mick fans – there was only one track with the type of heavy-combat music people would expect, and most of the others were ambient in nature." From there the agreement would be that the remaining tracks would be "heavy combat music" and that the use of id Software's own edits to round-out the release was agreed upon.
After several delays and the eventual release of the soundtrack, id Software were surprised by Mick's response. They had shared everything they planned to release ahead of the deadline, with the goal being to release a comprehensive soundtrack.
"Mick also communicated that he wasn’t particularly happy with some of the edits in the id tracks," Marty adds of the recent discussions with Mick Gordon. "I understand this from an artist’s perspective and realize this opinion is what prompted him to distance from the work in the first place. That said, from our perspective, we didn’t want to be involved in the content of the OST and did absolutely nothing to prevent him from delivering on his commitments within the timeframe he asked for, and we extended multiple times."
Of course there are multiple sides to any story and professional relationship, but this lengthy statement does add quite a bit of context. The market realities of releasing a game alongside a soundtrack, how long can something be delayed in order to meet commercial obligations, and the eventual breakdown of communication between artists in different fields.
But, both parties agreed that the treatment id's own audio team got in relation to the soundtrack release was troubling.
"I’m as disappointed as anyone that we’re at this point," the statement concludes. "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."
Sad that it fell apart. Mick Gordons music suited Doom.