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Guild Wars 2 Team Talk Sound Design in New Flagship MMOG

Written by: Jon Charles - Published: Saturday, September 1st, 2012

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ArenaNet talked sound design in Guild Wars 2 courtesy of its audio director James Ackley. The MMOG’s sound is impressive — the game is composed by Jeremy Soule — and it’s interesting to see how the developer approaches the game’s sound design.

ArenaNet introduced Dynamic Events in Guild Wars 2, and the music looks to follow the trend

Audio director James Ackley said in the interview that he worked on first-person shooter games and the audio team created music for scripted sequences. An MMORPG is different: sounds have different music for different areas and that extends to racial zones that therefore have different themes. The music also needs to fit the artistic style for each region.

Ackley said some races are mechanical, magical, while there are also small and big area. Ambience in each area needs to match the lore of the world; wandering through an area needs to feel real and the music needs to be seamless.

Ackley added in FPS games the developers created intentional ways for audiences; so, for example, players could walk through doors and then a sudden audio cue would happen. A door would close behind a player because of technical limitations. An MMOG does not have the limitations.

The sound design also extends to skills so players can recognize professions, though the sound team is keen to make sounds run though also appropriate. Ackley also said in the interview that the goal when composing music for Guild Wars 2 was to create a great sounding games. The game is going to be played for potentially hundreds of hours, so players need to feel immersed in the game.

Immersive Over Long-Term

Ackley actually said the team didn’t want to create and annoyingly loud game. That’s what I’ve been experiencing, turning the music and sounds effects down. Especially in large group events where a large amount of people are casting skills concurrently.

Ackley said he is most proud of the strength of the combat sounds and the environment.

Guild Wars 2 is experiencing a host of issues following its launch. From guild invites to the Trading Post being unavailable, ArenaNet recently announced it is disabling digital purchases of the game while it fixes the issues. That’s because players constantly join the game and it therefore puts added demand on ArenaNet’s infrastructure.

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Written by: Jon Charles
Jonathan is a writer on the technology and video game industries. He is comfortable with using Mac OS X and Windows; he began using Windows with Windows XP during his early double-digit years, and started using OS X in 2009 on a MacBook Pro. He began gaming on the SNES back in the 90s.

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