ArenaNet has posted another great article from one of the other roles fans hear less about than the glamorous Colin job. I absolutely love that they are releasing articles like this. The people at ArenaNet have such drive and passion, and even the IT guy in charge of the server room was intensely passionate about his role in the company. The sound guys below the noisy server room follow the studio’s energy, and some of their daily routine is shown in a video recently released by ArenaNet. Yet, pragmatically speaking I couldn’t help wondering if they were wasting time with horse clops and smashing glass. Surely, those sounds are out there?
I know there have been plenty of instances where I’ve heard sounds from games in other games and media. I know that the Doom series seems to license its monster sounds to a plethora of cartoons. For many smaller studios, especially those that farm out lots of work, it makes good business sense to pay for already-created sounds that would fit. It would certainly take less time to browse a library of horse clops already formatted for video game delivery than it would be to get the sound from it’s natural state.
ArenaNet, due to the success of the original Guild Wars series and good graces from their publisher, now has the [Valve] time to refine their style. I’ve heard quite a few people liken the studio to “part art college” as ArenaNet spends plenty of resources to create award-winning concept art. Even the modelers and environment artists start out doing simple, yet restrictive tasks, but once they find ArenaNet’s hive-style and polish their own style, they are given more room to add personal touches. After thinking pragmatically about stock sounds possibly being the more efficient route, I thought that perhaps these aural engineers were artists too.
A good example of an engineer as artist is Walter Murch, who is an award-winning film editor. He is known for his work on Apocalypse Now and The Godfather, as well as for the seminal film editing book In the Blink of an Eye. Basically even though his job is extremely mundane in comparison to most “art jobs,” he was so good at his work that he elevated his role to artist. Clearly the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences understood this as they have been giving Academy Awards for Film Editing since the 1930’s. Murch is but one, great example.
I thought that perhaps ArenaNet was giving the sound guys the chance to create their own “painterly” soundscape within Guild Wars 2. If they created their own base sounds, such as chains rattling, glass shattering, or screams of terror, then their own personal touch will be on each and every sound. This personal touch would surely be lost on stock sounds already polished for video game use. I have to admit I had not consciously listened to the sounds when I played Guild Wars 2, but it is likely it was because they fit so well in the gameplay. They were simply just felt. Hopefully the next time I get to play Guild Wars 2, I will be more mindful of the sound finesse. Until that far off time, I’ll just have to enjoy the videos set to come from gamescom and PAX. Hopefully a few fans will be able to record the sound directly.