The content of Human Week started with an audio-filled blog post on the ArenaNet blog, which is a nice human-centric follow-up to an earlier post on these types of sounds. The sound bites aren’t combat grunts, death taunts, or NPC story time. Rather, they are the sounds a player would hear just running along the streets of the human capital, Divinity’s Reach. People talking about marriage, religion, strife, politics, war, and love all are included in this ear-filling offering. These additions are really a bittersweet symphony.
On the good side, they blow the game’s immersion levels through the roof. I can only imagine running along and actually stopping so I can hear the end of the conversation. The sound clips available in the post are really well-written and well-spoken. Some are very witty, and some are very interesting. Plus, if they are sprinkled with exciting tidbits that actually lead to something. “Wait, what?” you think, “The human hero dude got in a fight with evil politician’s guards.” Tell me more!
Yet, this huge immersion groundswell also makes me nervous. It’s a huge undertaking, and it will continue to be for every future expansion. Either that or expansions won’t have that level of detail, which would be a nice glaring hole. ArenaNet also has to be extremely wary of repetition and temporal stasis. I don’t want to hear about Minister Caudecus’s brilliant oration in Senate for the fifth time after I found out Caudecus was going to be the next Lich and slew him verily. Additionally, I hope that they have subtitles or chat bubbles for these asides for both the hearing-impaired and those that have to be listening to their wife.
Back to the good, this is a beautiful master stroke against quest text. All that background, lore, and hints at movements far larger than a character’s own can be hidden in these aural gems. The “quest” text can be left to something quickly and simply read. “Centaurs are burning my farm! Stop them!” is all we would need, instead of 200 words leading up to the climax of player action. All that stuff about why the centaurs are burning farms, taking breeding horses, Farmer Beau’s “grass,” and their northerly attitude can all be told elsewhere.
we goes together