DOOM Eternal composer Mick Gordon has broken the silence regarding the truth behind his past conflict with developer id Software. Gordon, who mixed a total of 11 of the 59 tracks featured on the game’s score, posted a lengthy statement on Medium accusing id Software director Marty Stratton of unpaid work, crunch and initially lying about the situation. Stratton allegedly then tried to pay Gordon a six-figure sum to stay quiet about it.
Gordon detailed his working experience during the process of recording and mixing DOOM Eternal‘s soundtrack. The 14,000-word statement is a very long read, but we’ll do our best to summarise the main points of conflict here.
According to Gordon, recording DOOM Eternal‘s score was a very difficult process as id Software allegedly required him to compose two levels’ worth of music per month, and this was before the game even existed yet with no visual framework for Gordon to work with. Gordon also claimed that the game underwent numerous rewrites which required the studio to continually scrap his submitted music and start over.
Gordon then raised the issue and proposed a different schedule which would allow him to compose music more efficiently through the game’s rewrites, but this was allegedly criticised by Stratton who questioned his ability to do the work:
“He rejected my belief that the current schedule was flawed and suggested my act of trying to do something about it was a sign of incompetence. Refusing to accept the reality of the situation, he threw the proposal back in my face and proceeded to tear me down for having the audacity to raise the issue in the first place.”
Gordon alleges that he wasn’t paid until 8 months into the game’s development and then wasn’t paid again for another 11 months. One of the key points discussed in Gordon’s statement was Bethesda’s E3 2019 showcase of DOOM Eternal, which promoted the Collector’s Edition as containing “Mick Gordon’s original Doom Eternal soundtrack.”
However, according to Gordon, this was the first time he heard about the news despite no meetings or arrangements happening regarding a contract to actually produce the OST:
“The standalone OST wasn’t in production, and I hadn’t been offered a contract to produce it. In fact, we hadn’t talked about the scope, the timeframe, or whether it was even feasible. E3 events are planned months in advance, well-rehearsed, and carefully managed, but nobody thought to discuss the OST with me in any way whatsoever. I learned about it in the media.”
Gordon also claimed that most of his “rejected tracks, mockups, demos, ideas and sketches” that he gave to id Software were done under the impression that they were never going to be used, but later discovered that they made it into the final release anyway. They meant to use 4 hours and 46 minutes of his music, but only paid him for 2 hours and 22 minutes, which meant half the music he composed was unpaid.
When it came time to produce the OST, which was a separate mix from the in-game soundtrack as it consisted of standalone tracks, Gordon claimed that he initially agreed to produce 12 songs for the OST with a deadline set for 16 April. Bethesda allegedly told him that this deadline was flexible, so he agreed to move ahead with the music.
13 days before the deadline date, Stratton apparently emailed Gordon telling him that the deadline was now a necessity because consumer protection laws in some territories meant that anyone who ended up purchasing a Collector’s Edition were entitled to a full refund if the promised OST wasn’t delivered by 20 April. Bethesda and id Software seemingly didn’t want the refunds to happen, so Gordon entered a crunch period (18-20 hour days) to complete the rest of the tracks as fast as he could:
“The fact that this critical piece of information had been withheld from me until after I’d signed the contract made the whole thing feel like a setup to shift liability caused by selling the OST without a contract in the first place.”
Gordon later discovered that DOOM Eternal‘s lead audio engineer, Chad Mossholder, had been composing music on an alternate soundtrack for six months without his knowledge. With five hours to go before the deadline, Stratton allegedly decided at the last minute that he wanted different songs instead. Despite the sudden change, Gordon pushed to complete his remaining tracks. The company told Gordon that Mossholder’s version would be released instead, and that all of Gordon’s tracks had to be submitted to him to be assembled into the final OST.
Gordon claimed that he only heard the full OST upon release, and that “his heart sank” when he learned how his music was essentially butchered:
“Alongside my direct contributions were an additional 47 tracks made by poorly editing together bits and pieces taken from my in-game score. They exhibited the same thoughtless disregard for basic music fundamentals that plagued the preliminary edits id Software showed me a week earlier. I was stunned at the ineptitude and couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Track after track was full of real, obvious technical faults, mistakes, and errors resulting from careless editing.”
After the game’s release, Gordon said he had a Skype conversation with Stratton to talk about the issues. Stratton allegedly tried to pin the failure of the soundtrack entirely on Gordon. Stratton insisted that Gordon take full responsibility for it as well in the public eye. Gordon didn’t budge but agreed to release a joint statement with Stratton about how they were going to fix the soundtrack. Gordon said this was “an excellent first step.”
However, Stratton ended up posting an open letter to Reddit blaming Gordon for the poor quality of the OST. “Marty told me to expect the draft [joint statement] within hours, but it never arrived,” said Gordon. “Instead, days later, he published a 2500+ word ‘open letter’ on a fan-run Reddit page that singled me out as the sole cause behind the botched OST.”
This severely damaged Gordon’s personal and professional reputation, claiming that Stratton went behind his back during this process and even tried to silence him by offering him a large sum of money:
“His statement was full of lies, disinformation and innuendo, and when challenged, his company offered me a six-figure sum to shut up about it. When I tried, time and time again, amid a torrent of abuse, harassment and threats, to resolve the matter more amicably, he constantly refused, worried how addressing the Reddit post would damage his own reputation instead.”
Gordon concluded his statement by saying, “In issuing this statement, I’m exercising my right to defend myself.”
Bethesda and id Software have yet to comment on Gordon’s claims but we should expect the story to develop in the coming days as more information is brought to light.
Source: Mick Gordon