[GW2] Peace and Carrots

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

7 thoughts on “[GW2] Peace and Carrots”

  1. This side of the atlantic, extras say rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb. I wonder are Arenanet making too much work for themselves and this will probably be in addition to a generic crowd babbling sound. Funnily enough if all six samples are played together while it’s harder to hear everything, more like make out anything really, the combined samples do sound like a fairly convincing crowd, whereas on their own they sound a little stilted. But better than… rhubarb, rhubarb, charr, rhubarb, Logan, centaur attack, rhubarb…

  2. There are indeed chat bubbles – you can see in this vid, right at the start:

    I do worry about the long-term commitment (though not as much as I worry about The Old Republic’s!), but no so much for modest content updates relative to expansions; when was the last time a free update added a cosmopolitan area to an MMO you’ve played?
    End-game content additions are usually light on personages and heavy on super-levelled beasties.

  3. It just occurred to me that this whole story is sounding very familiar. The tale of humanity’s retreat to a smaller kingdom centered on Divinity’s Reach after losing their original capital of Ascalon to the Charr sounds very much like the Roman Empire’s retreat to a smaller state centered on Constantinople after losing Rome to the barbarians. Divinity’s Reach even has a lot in common with Constantinople, both visually (the huge walled city, the architectural style) and thematically (the importance of religion, politicians buying public opinion with bread and circuses).

    1. Dammit, Ross! I had a whole post planned for the end of human week comparing GW2 Humans to Rome. Now I won’t sound so clever. :P

  4. Yeah. I think the problem of repetition will actually be quite a large one if it’s fully voiced. An Uncanny Valley of immersion looms. :o

  5. The post raises some very important issues.

    Still, as a MMO, this opens many new possibilities. Like updating those soundfiles for changes or upcoming events and the like.
    But either Anet has created more Audio than 20 TES IV: Oblivions or there will be repetitions. But I don’t mind them overly much.

    Just as long as they avoid the Morrowind Effect: Getting close to a group of NPCs often resulted in all of them greeting you in the same way with the same voice nearly simultaneously. Creepy.

  6. I agree with your concerns. Yet I fully trust ANet to combat this if it becomes a problem. Also “tidbits that actually lead to something” was something I always wondered. Know I guess this means you could hear something that leads to an event or something like that? I can only hope :P

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