Post Magazine

March 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 47 of 67

Audio for Creating multi-layered, multi-tiered experiences is not an easy feat. By Jennifer Walden Videogames are increasingly more sophisticated, both visually and sonically, with highly immersive and interactive environments. Audio pros working in games are using diversity and variety to keep their soundscapes from becoming stagnant, even after hundreds of hours of game play. Their attention to detail, and forward-thinking approach to the technology that drives game audio, allows them to create and imple- ment soundscapes that respond to player actions. The more diverse and interactive the digital environment, the more a player is immersed in the game's world. GUILD WARS 2 Though Guild Wars 2 is based on the same universe as the first Guild Wars, it's a completely new game, with a completely new audio team. Instead of using an out- side audio post studio, ArenaNet ( decided to hire an internal audio team for Guild Wars 2, starting with audio director James Ackley. Since his arrival at ArenaNet, Ackley has done a full build-out that includes a Foley stage, with a floating floor, and five audio suites outfitted with 5.1 surround. "They decided that audio was much more important to the game, so they hired me and we have since grown. They've not only made an investment in per- sonnel, but they've made a financial investment in the audio portion of the game as well. I feel like they really value us around here." With an MMO game world as large as Guild Wars 2, creating the sound was a monumental task. Despite all the different environments, professions, races and combat skills, Ackley and fellow founding member of 30 Post • March 2012 the ArenaNet audio team, lead sound designer Drew Cady, decided from the start that they wanted Guild Wars 2 to be totally immersive and enjoyable to play, no matter how many hours (typically 300-1,000 hours) a player logged. In order to achieve these goals, Ackley and Cady knew they needed the right tools to help them implement the sounds they created. "One of the big things we pushed for was building proce- dural runtime sound design tools," reports Ackley. "We probably spent 70 percent of the time just trying to figure out how we're going to make it all play. We worked closely with senior audio programmer Jim Boer and Robert Gay, who is our sound engineer, to create what we needed." With the necessary support tools being created along the way, Ackley was able to build the sound in a manner that would minimize repetition. "We are able to not just make 10 variations of everything, but actu- ally build things in more of a component style. You have multiple variations, but then you also have multiple components for each of those variations, so at runtime it will do any number of random things to give you a lot more mileage out of the same 20 sounds. We wanted to make it as new and interesting as possible every time a sound happens." There is an enormous amount of game data that determines the elements in the environmental sound system. These include time of day, region, a player's proximity to water, or the physical environment, such as swamp or woods. "The environmental sound sys- tem is a living, breathing thing," says Ackley. "We've all spent a lot of time making thousands of little one shots Games

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - March 2012