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Interview with Gordon Durity

EA Sports is a devision of Electronic Arts and a leading company in the area of sports video games. With successful game titels such as the FIFA franchise, Grand Slam Tennis, Madden NFL and Def Jam Series, and more than 8,000 employees around the globe EA Sports maintains its supremacy as provider of close-to-reality sports games on all popular platforms.

We had the chance to speak with Gordon Durity, executive audio director for EA Sports in North America and Europe. Gordon is a passionate sound expert and a long time Nuendo user. Learn more on how Nuendo has changed his way working on the world's most popular game franchises and which direction the gaming industry is heading towards in the years to come.

What are the main aspects of your work at EA Sports? Could you please give an insight on how the EA Sports audio team works together?

My work at EA Sports has many different aspects and parts. I help set the direction and vision of audio for all EA Sports titles from the feature set to the level of quality. I am involved in both creative and technical design on the games as well as doing a lot of R&D in interactive and behavioral audio for games. Apart from this, I dive in where needed to do content creation and implementation work.

These days there are so many audio jobs needed to create a great sounding triple-A game soundtrack. We deal with speech, crowds, sound effects, foley and music in all of our titles so we tend to have experts in each domain within our global audio team. Each game title has an audio lead that manages and runs that particular project. Depending on the scope of the game other audio domain experts will roll on and off the title as needed. We also work across multiple studio locations — even on single titles. As you can imagine, the logistics of this can be a bit daunting at times.

You've been using Nuendo for many years. What were the reasons to choose Steinberg’s professional post-production platform? What are the advantages compared to other solutions?

Yes, I have been using Nuendo since the very first Mac version that shipped many years ago. At that time I was offered an upgrade to a very expensive Mix Plus Pro Tools system. Up to that point I was a heavy Pro Tools user but I was feeling a bit hemmed in by the feature set and business model, so I sought out another possible DAW solution. A digital animator friend of mine was working on the SGI Iris systems at the time and mentioned this cool audio program they had in their studio. It was the original Nuendo. I checked it out, liked what I saw, heard it was going to migrate to a Mac version, so decided to roll the dice and give it a try. I was a Cubase user for music so was a Steinberg fan already.

The feature set of Nuendo is far ahead of any competing professional DAW.

The feature set of Nuendo is far ahead of any competing professional DAW. The clip-based automation is robust and has been there forever. For mixing and sound designing this makes the workflow incredibly fast. Having almost every main feature in the edit window tweakable while still in play mode makes things move along swiftly. For sound design the flexibility of the offline edit history, presets, and macros makes processing large groups of audio files a breeze. In games we need to create and process sometimes thousands of files so anything that speeds this up is very valuable. But apart from the many cool built-in features of Nuendo, what ultimately sold me was the quality of the sound. I spent a good deal of time doing A/B tests with Nuendo and other DAWs and Nuendo came out on top every time.

The game industry has grown steadily during the past years. What do you consider as success factors?

The growth of the game industry stems from the large number of people that have grown up and are growing up at a time where gaming is a very common, normal activity. As well, quality and variety of gaming experiences has increased dramatically over the years. Along with that, the mobile and social media platforms make games more accessible — you can start playing right

What is the latest game Nuendo has been used for? For which parts of the production did you use the software?

The last game that I used Nuendo on was "SSX: Deadly Descents". I used Nuendo for sfx design and creation, particularly on the snowboarding and impact sfx. Plus, it was used for vocal processing on cinematics and pre-visualization work.

From your perspective, what are the most important trends with regards to audio creation for computer games?

The field of audio creation for computer games is quite wide and getting wider. We can expect that the audio capabilities of the next high end game consoles will be able to deliver audio quality at a level rivaling film and television. So all of the skills required to create great content for film and television will apply. And with more processing power we will be able to do more realtime audio processing, and synthesized/generated audio content on the fly. At the same time, there is also a trend toward smaller platforms and simpler games on phones, tablets, social websites which require being able to create content with smaller file sizes while delivering impactful audio at the same time.