One of the most gruesome battles ever fought on the European mainland was the battle for Tannenberg, which took place during the opening months of the first World War in and around the town of Olsztyn, Poland, which subsequently resulted in the near-total destruction of the Russian army at the time.
"Tannenberg: Eastern Front" is the second installment in the "1914-1918" game series developed by Dutch developer Blackmill Games in cooperation with publisher M2H, following their critically acclaimed first release "Verdun".
Save & Sound was asked by our close friend Niels and his talented team of sound designers in the Game Audio Squad to support them developing the audio for the game, and recreate the battlescape as it must have sounded in 1914.
Our responsiblities were developing and integrating all the self-noise generated by the player-character: footsteps, movement foley, breathing, melee foley & impact sounds, gore, and grenade foley --basically everything that emanates from the player in a first person perspective.
Most of the sourcing of the needed material was done by scouring several second-hand stores, and we did a few trips to specific locations for foley recording.
One of those trips was focused on getting as much of the different footstep & soil-contact sounds that were required for the game. This drove us to find "the quietest place in The Netherlands" so we could do outside foley recording, which was no small feat considering the small size and compact residential situations of the country.
Ultimately we found a spot that had zero highway-noise, no airplanes (apart from the occasional Apache helicopter passing overhead towards the airforce base) and many seperate types of materials, and we spent a full day recording al kinds of boots on all kinds of surfaces. Mics used were an Sennheiser MKH416, Line Audio CM3, and a Tascam MK100II native mic.
Since most uniforms of this era were made of wool with brass buckles and light-leather webbing, the classic heavy foley-rattle most modern shooters display didn't seem to be historically accurate, and so we had to aim for a different approach. As softer materials don't pick up as well as heavy ones, several recordings were layered to create a fluent rythmic and convincing pattern. Recorded with a Schoeps CCM41, a wool coat and soft leather bag layered with several smaller objects seemed to get closest to what we had in our heads.
Most of the other assets were done with studio-recordings complemented with libraries. Many of the grenade-pull sounds were created using several sets of keys and carabiner clips. Most of the gore was done with a previously created library, layered with Tonsturm's awesome Gore & Slaughter library, and melee handling was built from several whooshes from Boom libraries, complemented with the aforementioned clothing foley.
The breathing recordings were basic in its approach: there are several stages of breath and a few scenarions where breath and extertion respond in a certain way to a physical situation. The implementation of that system took a few tries to get right though.
Breathing when sniping is easily implemented but there are many fringe scenarios that can create complex situations. For instance, when the player runs and gets to his maximum level of extertion, he pants. If he then goes through a cloud of gas he coughs, and if he then switches to sniping he needs to inhale. To make this all work and react properly we spent quite a bit of time developing a system in FMOD that can account for all these scenarios, in order to create a convincing first person perspective.