Combat Noise and Community Q&A

The update for Friday May 20th Bioware gives us a Studio Insider over combat audio from Audio Designer Scott Morton, a Community Creations spotlight, a video review of the April Fansite Summit at Bioware Austin, and everyone’s favorite, a Community Q&A.

Scott Morton is one of the many Audio Designers working on music and sound effects in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Morton says he spends half his time creating new sounds for SWTOR and the other half creating technical concepts of how to get them working in The Old Republic.

Audio in video games is always sort of an enhancer – when you fire off a spell or ability you want to have the gratifying bursting or bellowing sound that accompanies it, or when entering a dungeon the battle music picks up and you know you’re about to get into some action. To me the biggest part of audio in games is to help with immersion, help making me feel like I just saved a village with a heroic song or war drums beating to let me know I’m about to get my hands dirty. It wouldn’t make sense for a character’s “Stealth” ability to be one of those booming sounds, or the battle music in a zone be less than a call to war.

That’s why there are people like Scott Morton who give each class and ability a unique sound that helps let you know what you’re getting into. In the update Morton goes over how after they create a sound they have to stop and think “Does this sound like Star Wars?”  To me that’s the biggest question of all – is this Star Wars? I don’t want my blaster to sound like a phaser, or my proton torpedoes to sound like photon torpedoes, because that’s one of the things that makes Star Wars great – its unique sounds and exceptional musical scores. To read the full story and watch three short but interesting videos check out the official update page.

The Community Q&A is done this week by Senior Concept Artist Clint Young, he answers some of the community’s more art-related questions.  As usual I will post the ones I find the most interesting or informative.

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.

I’m kinda torn on this one, I would’ve liked to see dynamic weather, but on the other hand I think every planet in the Star Wars universe is pretty static. It’s in no way close to being a deal breaker, but would’ve been nice.

Q: Will everyone have their own unique armor/look in the game, or will we be seeing some of the same armor/look on multiple people?

A: We have thousands of different armor/outfit combinations planned for the players and are currently still building this list and will continue to do so even after we launch. That being said, there will be millions of players, so there will be some crossover in their looks. Our main concern is that each player looks specific to their chosen class and has enough variation to allow the player to feel as unique as possible. For instance, if you are playing a Jedi Knight you will look significantly different from a Jedi Consular. You will also have opportunities to distinguish yourself from other players of your same class by going off the beaten path to find rare gear.

Sort of a rhetorical question – if you’ve ever played an MMO then you know that of course your gonna see people in the same sets that are the same class, because everyone is looking for that optimal set of gear. The thing I like on this answer is how he says “Off the beaten Path” – he possibly could be hinting at leaving the areas your quests send you so you can explore but also find special weapons and armors.

Be sure to check out the full Q&A on SWTOR’s site, it’s right below the Studio Insider.

The Video from the April Fansite Summit can be found Here, it’s short but shows some in-game footage of PvE and PvP which is always nice.

The Fan Friday Community Creation update is great, it shows off some of the forums fantastic artist as well as adding a new batch of smilies and forum avatars. Also has a great piece of consept art done for the planet Hutta. Most important part of the Fan Friday was the Events section: SWTOR will be attending San Diego Comic Con, GamesCon, Penny Arcade Expo, EuroGamer, New York Comic Con, Paris Games Week, and DreamHack. They’ll also be at E3 but that’s almost a given, and that’s when I bet we’ll get are release date.

May the Force be with you.