Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Part 1: "Monkey see, Monkey do."

Before I begin to talk about the sound design of Monkey king,
I'd like to give my condolences to everyone in my country, who lost or had to go through the insanity and evil, of the terror attack that took place 22nd of July here in Norway.
I personally did not know anyone who got hurt or killed, but I am still shocked it took place.
If you don't know what I am talking about, you can visit this site, it should give you a better insight.
This is not the correct place to discuss philosophy, but neither religion, politics nor skin color makes one evil, only what one does.
Now with that out of the way, let's talk about the Monkey king:


The first question I needed to ask was: "Who is the monkey king?"

The answer to that comes in the form of a novel written in the 1590's called: Journey to the west

Unfortunately, I did not have the time to read the book as it was a rush project to get it done.
I had to work with three characters in a manner of a 2 weeks window, which meant not much pre-production.

I have seen The Forbidden Kingdom, in which the Monkey King is a central character, so I knew some of his lore, but I needed to know more accurate lore. I didn't have time to read anything on wikipedia, as I had so little time.

s2's Nome was kind enough to help me with some lore directions on the Monkey King, that really ended up becoming much of the thematics of the hero. I'll elaborate on them as we get into their respected topics.

In general, I knew he was going to be a very noisy hero (monkey is a keyword here,) so before I started, I realized he had to have quiet parts too, in order to create some sort of dynamics, which means that for every skill in which he says something, there had to be a chance he didn't say anything at all.


The voice over was done by Matthew Mercer, you'll know him better as Fei Long from Street Fighter 4.
To be honest, he got a good voice, he just didn't fit the part in my opinion.
He sounds too young and not characteristic enough to be the Monkey King.
The recording quality was spot on, though I swear he recorded it inside his living room with reverb bouncing off his walls, but you can't hear it in the game, which makes it passable.

Here are some of his lines; it starts with selection sounds and ends with a Selection Flavour(if you click the hero many times, they say something funny):

He did loads of monkey sounds in his recordings - for the move and attack sounds, I had to remove them from the majority of his lines, simply because they became too annoying.

Overall, I personally would have liked to have re-casted the voice and let mr. Mercer do one of the other heroes instead.

Sound Design:

Attack sounds:

In the lore, it is stated that his staff weighed: "8,100 kg or 17,881 lbs."
Now, in reality, if anyone gets hit by anything of 8 tons, they are blood dust.
So I had to figure out how to make it sound like it had the weight of a truck.

I recorded shovels, metal poles, bells and hammers on metallic surfaces.
That way, I got the metallic sound I wanted that felt big and powerful.
I have a small collection of swords, and using a metal spatula, I scrapped the swords to create a large chime - that I layered over the hits of the metal.
In the end, I had a good number of sounds for his staff.

The problem, is that monkey king is an agility hero.
That means he hits not only like a truck, but quickly too.

We humans tend to get exhausted hearing high pitched sounds being played in rapid succession, which meant I had to pitch the impacts lower and also turn the volume down a whole bunch.

Later, Nome brought to my attention, that there were a great deal of body to the sound, but no real impact.
Luckily, there are already impact sounds in the game that are sharper, but not high enough to be annoying, so with some coding, the attack sounds were done.

Here's three of the impact sounds that became the "body" of the impacts:

There had be some whooshes as well and I remember that in "The Forbidden Kingdom",
the whooshes of the staff were very metallic and almost musical.

I wanted to make his whooshes based on metallic tonal sounds, so I used cymbals, previous recorded chimes from the sword and using a doppler plug-in, to make them sound whooshy.
Afterwards, I used bamboo sticks to give it a stronger mid frequency body:

Ability 1:

His first ability is a combo whoosh attack, where "clones" come out attacking those that he hits with his ability.

I decided that only the whoosh, the impact and his attack grunt were necessary to be worked on.
I had recordings of wind, cars, gun explosions and etc. that I put together and used EQ plugins and compressor plugins, until I felt I had the whoosh I wanted. I then layered it with a metal chime at the end.

I decided to use the previous attack whoosh I had created as well.

For the impacts when the character hits someone, I used the already created attack sounds, but a slight variation with a harsher feel, I also added some voice over to it, that would randomly play.

Now, I've decided to do something different, I recorded some in game footage so you can hear how it sounds like in game. Keep in mind that I'm an audio person and know very little about how video compressions and so are done, so bear with me, I'm learning:

Edit: The clones are not appearing at the attack, I think I remember that they decided to just let it play when attacking heroes.

Ability 2:
Edit: Due to a common complaint on the synth sound, it has now been removed with just a regular landing sound.

For his second ability, he uses his staff to jump over buildings, heroes or units, and can use it twice in a row if the player is fast enough.

Now this one came to me as a comical ability; it looks like a lot of fun so I wanted it to sound fun and silly.

For the staff bending, I recorded various twangs I could get from metal, plastic and wood like objects.

I then recorded whooshes made by swinging a spatula around and pitching it slightly down, for the somersault in the air.

Then, I created body fall sounds by dropping homemade sand bags onto the ground, with small metallic objects attached to it.
Which I layered with a synth sound that gave it that comical feel.

At the end, I added another randomly played voice, like before:

Ability 3:

For his third ability, he slams his staff hard into the ground and create a stone that explodes, and stuns for a short second.

Here I ended up just using previous attack sounds but not restricting them to volume and just have it play full out, to showcase the force of his slam.
I created a timer like sound effect for the stone, so if you get used to his attacks, you can by sound know when it is going to explode.

I used lots of metallic sounds being played in reverse, and reverbed as much as I could, I also used a bell sound that became the ambient layer of the entire sound.

For the explosion, I created a bass sound that becomes a lower body of sound for the exploding rock, which is just one of Behemoth's(a different hero) sound.
Yet again, I added some voice files:

Ability 4:

For his fourth and last ability, he uses a cloud which he can float around on.
He can activate and deactivate it as much as he would like, but not if he gets attacked.

I knew this ability would be very spamful, so I decided to create a soft as a sound as I could.
I started off with various spray-can sounds and adding reverberations to them, I then added a bell sound that felt very peaceful.

Then by adding a woman's whisper to it, I got the final result which I liked quite much.
I didn't want him to say anything when he used the ability.

I then added a very low wind howl that looped when he was on his cloud:


He uses his staff to pole vault around as he walk.

I decided that I wanted to use many of the monkey sounds Mercer had previously recorded, on his pole vault. I also decided that it would only be played at a certain camera view to remove it being spammy.

I used a sound of an actual pole vault, and layered it with one of metal impact sounds to give it a thematic feel.
This sound also plays when his taunt animation plays.

I then used some of the whooshes I had created for Drunken master (different hero) for his movements in the air, I also used witch slayer's foley (also a different hero) on his rolling on the ground:


He turns into a stone statue and crumbles into debris.
In the previous animation for his death, he spun around in the air before he hit the ground.

I wanted his death to reflect the actor coming from street fighter fame, so his death had to sound like the old school typical street fighter death, the Echo Death Grunt.

For the sound of him turning to a stone statue that crumbled to debris,
I used lots of sounds of ice under stress, with a metal sound that's been chorused and reversed, to create a dynamic build before an explosion.

The explosion was made by rolling big stones down a small hill, hitting other stones.
I then used previous recorded rock crumble sounds and layered it all together:

And that's it!
It was fun and I hope people enjoy him as they play him.

You should check out the Spotlight of the hero next for more info about the hero:



  1. I don't quite like the last part of his second ability, the "FIUUUuuu" comic sound.

    Other than that, sounds great. The actor doesn't sound like a wise old monkey, more like a playful one.

  2. agreed about the 'FIUUuu' sound, kinda annoying when u hear that actually.

    Otherwise great !

  3. Good to know, if it becomes a regular complaint, I will remove it.

  4. Hi there, let me start by thanking you for sharing with us this insight onto how the sounds, which we often take for granted, come to fruition. Firstly I'd like to comment on what I really liked; The metallic sheen you've incorporated into the sounds to represent his staff sound great. I think the twangs you've used for his second skills are brilliant. The icing on the cake definitely has to be his ultimate, the soft breath that breathes life into his cloud accompanied by the delicate bells and the ever present howl really create the feeling that you're flying. Brilliant.
    There were only two minor points I found myself disliking though, hopefully you can ponder upon then. The slide-whistle that's incorporated into the second skill, I don't think it really fits the personality of the hero or the underlying motif of the other skill sounds. I think that the "Yahoo!" he shouts during his leap along with the other voice files you used convey enough of a joviality without detracting from his persona. I think the slide whistle only serves to lessen him. I seem to be rambling about it so I'm going to stop! The other minor note was the sound played when his ultimate despawns. Whilst I feel the current sound is perfectly suited to describe the conjuring of a cloud I think a lower "whoosh" sound would portray an image of the cloud getting 'blown out', especially if it happens because he is hit by an enemy Hero.
    Nitpicking aside I'm elated to say that I shall look forwards to playing as The Monkey King, and understanding where his sounds came from, so thank you.

  5. Crosby: Thanks for the long post! I appriciate it.

    I will most likely remove the synth sound since it seems like a common complaint, to me this is feedback that helps me understand more what other players like and don't, I don't mind it at all and thrive on it. When it comes to the cloud sound, I did in fact create a sound where it is removed. I will definintly try my best to put it in. I wasn't sure if it was necessary, but I will most likely put it in. Thanks again!

  6. I agree with P.Crosby 100%! Great job an alot of the sounds, the (?)synth(?) part of the second ability isn't necessary, him screaming yahoo and see ya is enough in my opinion. Great job!

    I have one question though; if you don't think this actor's voice is suiting for the hero, why go with it? Just a question, I'm curious.

  7. Qiwi:

    Because we announced we would. It would be breaking a promise otherwise. I've already voiced my opinion not to announce anyone until we actually got the recordings. I am sure Mercer would've done an incredible job on a different hero.

  8. Ugh, I am not a fan of the voice work done for the Monkey King, I doesn't really fit at all. Like you mentioned already, this voice acting would be great on another hero, perhaps a human type hero. But for monkey king, I wish there was a more animalisic feel to it, even a Chinese flavor like Pandamonium. Right now, it sounds like some white guy saying the lines with monkey sounds thrown in. If his voice had a slight Asian infusion, it would probably be much better. I don't know much about the Monkey King lore, but I wonder how old he's supposed to be. Is he perpetually young or older, I can't tell by the illustration at the top of the article. It would be even more badass if his voice was more bellowy and had some base in it. But I don't know if the voice is supposed to be a little higher because of him being a monkey as well as his age. Anyways, keep up the good work, really looking forward to playing him.

  9. I am sorry mercer but that just sounds awful for the Monkey King. Do Not Want. I like all the sound effects, but the voice reminds me of the old gladiator in terms of awful.

  10. For a staff that weighs 8.1 tons, the sound is good but I think is missing a sort of low end Fwump or Thud sound. The metal sounds belly just how heavy this staff is: in lore, it was considered the pillar of the oceans.

    Not that the metal sound is bad, I really like it: i just wish there was more of a low ended fwump noise.

  11. i agree with what a few have said, the second ability fluu sound is just horrid

  12. Plagiarism! A sound of the first ability as at Lu Kang from Mortal Kombat 4

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  14. The voice may be incongruous but for a hero written to have eternal youth I think the incongruity may actually play to the strong suit of the character. The voice becomes a part of the persona.

  15. I personally would have thought the voice fine if it werent so plain cut and dry. The Monkey King is an Immortal, who defied, fought, and won against the armies of Heaven, defeated the dragons of the seas and wind, bested the Generals of Heaven and the Jade Emperor himself, and survived for many weeks inside a furnace of (literally) legendary proportions. I envisioned his voice as youthful, yet powerful (as bespeaks the nature of the legend of an Immortal), with a bit of an echo/reverb to it that would remind the player of who exactly they are playing, not some monkey warrior, but literally a legend incarnate. Perhaps you could lower the tone on the voice just a tad and add a bit of that reverb to it to give it some more body and 'oomph' for lack of a better term? Just my personal opinion, I absolutely love the sounds you've done for him except for the voice.

  16. Adding to my previous comment, an absolute staple of the legend is the Sun Wukong's large pride and arrogance, elements of the character that motivate the entire Legend and is the basis upon which the entire character is sculpted. I got none of that from the voice, but theres likely nothing you can do about that

  17. @Little Lion Man

    Im an Asian and Monkey King is actually a Playful Monkey , He is not wise , but intelligent , the wisdom he learnt along his Journey is being guided by a Mindful Monk =)