Aural Immersion: Audio Technology in The Last of Us
Jonathan Lanier (Naughty Dog, Inc.)
In The Last of Us, immersive audio played a critical role in supporting the gameplay and story. The audio team was faced with difficult challenges: the immersion had to be believable, but subtle. It had to convey tactical information, but important dialogue and effects still had to be audible. Cinematic setups sometimes conflicted with standard audio models. Solutions required compromise and collaboration between sound design and technology. This talk examines how specific problems were solved, such as getting the environment to lead the player to or from tactically important areas, ensuring the audibility of important dialogue, adjusting the mix dynamically based on game state, and dealing with obstruction/occlusion issues. The emphasis is on successful implementation of immersive audio in a modern game using a synergy of sound design and technology, citing specific examples from The Last of Us.