Monday, 23 May 2011

Studio Insider: Combat Audio

I think that BioWare is probably keeping their information releases fairly low-key for a while until E3 where they'll obviously want to try and make a big splash again. As such Friday we got a Fan Friday with Studio Insider. And they uploaded a video of the Fan Site Summit so that we can all get jealous watching other people play the game.

The Studio Insider talks about the combat sound design, giving a bit of insight into how the sounds for The Old Republic are created. here's an excerpt from the full post:

One of the first things we do when beginning audio production on combat abilities is to give each class a distinctive aural character. We’ve discovered that a great way to establish a sonic palette for each class is to come up with one or two descriptive terms that capture the essence of what we’re trying to convey, and attempt to tune every sound to those terms. The Jedi classes are very “Zen” in nature, employing a lot of yellow, white, and blue visual effects – usually softer around the edges. For these, we want to convey ideas like “smooth” and “wavelike” in our audio. Because the Sith represent a more corrupt and “edgier” side of the force, we want the sounds associated with them to be more “rough.” Smugglers are “flashy”. Agents are “refined” and “sleek”.

The Studio Insider also contains a Q&A answering some art related questions. But that, and the Fan Friday update as well as the Summit video and Developer Quotes will be after the break.

The Studio Insider also included a Q&A as usual and this one is about art. Though the first question didn't seem that art specific to me:
Q: Are there weather condition changes on planets? - Fyror

A: Each planet has localized weather conditions. Depending on the world the weather you will encounter will include rain, snow, sandstorms and many other unfavorable conditions; it just happens to be a constant for those worlds. For example, if you’re on Hoth you can expect moderate to heavy snowfall with the occasional blizzard.

Although I'm sure that weather effects include art, I think the question being asked here refers more to world design. Maybe that's why the answer is a tad confusing. At least I have no idea how to read "constant". Does that mean that if there is snowfall in a certain place then there's always snowfall there and if there isn't then there never is? It reads that way to me.

But that would rather suck. Part of the point of weather effects is to make the world feel dynamic and changing; sometimes it might be raining in a place, sometimes it might be sunny, other times it my be overcast and dry, etc. I get that you would never have snowfall on Tatooine, but if in one place on Tatooine there's always a sandstorm and in another place on Tatooine there never is that would make the worlds feel very static. But maybe I'm misreading the answer.

You can read the other questions and answers at the official page.

BioWare also posted a Fan Friday update with the usual Fan Art (I quite like that Jedi Consular image; quite clear art style). And it includes new forum smilies and two new forum avatars. But it also has the following new piece of concept art of Hutta:

Finally it also gives a list of the Events that BioWare will attend (presumably with SWTOR):


BioWare and LucasArts are excited to announce that The Old Republic will be attending the following events this year: San Diego Comic Con, GamesCom, Penny Arcade Expo, EuroGamer, New York Comic Con, Paris Games Week, and DreamHack. Be sure to get your tickets early!

We’ll be releasing more information as we get closer to each convention, so be sure to check the Events page for more details.

I'm sure that there'll be lots of fan sites present at all of those getting as much information out of them as possible.

The final update last Friday was Fan Site Summit Report video:

In late April, thirty members of the Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ fan site community traveled to Austin for the first official Fan Site Summit. For two days, the sites met with developers of The Old Republic and played various parts of the game for the first time. Did they enjoy their time here in Austin? Watch the video report to find out!

Looks like they had fun.

In other news, last week there was a leak that made a couple of the bigger game sites as someone posted a 90 minute video of beta gameplay to Which, obviously they weren't supposed to and considering that they username was clearly visible I doubt that they're in the test any longer.

The main thing with that though is that a number of people reacted negatively to the shown gameplay, finding it not very exciting. Without going into a lot of detail about the video, in general I'd say that it's not really that exciting seeing anyone else play a MMO; it's always a lot more exciting to the person playing it than the person watching it. It also didn't help that the guy playing was standing around for long stretches of time doing nothing. Though I think that it's generally good to see a lot of such 'raw' player footage to see some actual gameplay (and if all games did that everyone would be used to it and understand the right context to view them in), I can understand why marketing really doesn't want such videos to be released and prefers more 'controlled' gameplay where they can make sure that it's something exciting showing. Like the Flashpoint playthrough BioWare showed a while back.

Anyway, as we get closer to release such leaks are going to get more and more common. If you happen to see any then just remember to take it in the right context. In the end the only way you can decide if a game is fun to play or not is by playing it yourself, not by watching some random stranger play it.

Before we get to the Developer Quotes there's one more thing. Over on Gamasutra they had an interview with the BioWare Docs. While talking about BioWare in general there's a fair bit where they talk about SWTOR as well. Here's an excerpt:

There are a lot of experienced people that have worked on MMOs in the past working on The Old Republic, but it's just hard to imagine how incredibly difficult it could be for a company that hasn't released an MMO yet to support an MMO. I think players trust the design choices that BioWare is going to make, and innovations in that area, but the support for a game like that -- a game as a service -- how are you guys approaching that leading up to launch?

[Greg Zeschuk]: The preparations are as massive as the game. It's interesting. It's a good point. It's something that's been foremost in our minds for quite a while. Obviously, we have a certain level of confidence on the game side, because that's very familiar territory for us. There are subtle nuances of how it's different, server-based gameplay and that sort of thing.

But the whole service piece has probably been the thing we've learned most about. And I think the good thing there, though, is we have a lot of people who really do have a lot of experience. The folks at BioWare Mythic, a lot of them are part of the team, and they did it for 10 years, 15 years. They ran game services.

[Ray Muzyka]: Launched multiple MMOs.

GZ: Yeah, so it's invaluable. I think the other point there, that's definitely a true one, is that any new company has to create almost the new neural pathways of how these things function. And that's one of the reasons we do a lot of testing, real-life simulation testing with fans playing and seeing how it scales.

Which leaves us with the developer quotes.

Developer Quotes

The BioWare developers have remained fairly low-key on the forums last week (probably busy with some deadline or other), so there aren't a lot. And I felt that none of them were really worth quoting directly, so I'm just leaving it with listing the developer posts:
  • [link] to David Bass on E3 Meet and Greet.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on E3 Meet and Greet.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on account security.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on E3 Meet and Greet, part 2.
  • [link] to David Bass on E3 Meet and Greet, part 2.
  • [link] to Gabe Amatangelo on armor in PvP.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on (no) pre-order details.
  • [link] to Stephen Reid on E3 reveals.
And that's it. See you again where there's more news to report.

[link] to interview with Dr. Ray Muzyka and Dr. Greg Zeschuk at Gamasutra.

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