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On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio

A post to the Guild Wars 2 Guru Forums has information from ArenaNet audio director James Ackley with some interesting insights into the procedurally generated audio effects in Guild wars II, the upcoming online RPG sequel. Have you ever given much thought to the sound of footsteps? They sure have: "Every footstep in Guild Wars 2 is made up of three sounds: heel, toe and spray (spray is the kick of your toe, mostly only made with loose surfaces and running). With this set-up, each of those three sounds gets its own random parameters, so you never feel like you are hearing the same footsteps over and over. Using Drew’s system, we get these incredible results but keep the total memory footprint in check." Thanks Guild Wars 2 Slovenija. On a semi-related note, the Guild Wars Website announces a second installment in their Wintersday 2009 celebration.

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15. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 24, 2010, 15:05 Aero
 
Though I agree with your sentiment in many situations, and programming has to be watched in case it becomes a runaway situation (to a programmer, a program they find interesting is never done, and games tend to be interesting things to program), but keeping them too reigned in is why we have so many cookie-cutter games... yet another Unreal Engine shooter that's the same as every other one, except it has different graphics and a different story, and so on.

To me, one of the best aspects of trying a new game is to see what the cool things the programmers have done. There we get things like destructible environments in Red Faction, and new graphical tricks that make things look more realistic.

Remember the first Hitman game, when you were walking by a guard and his head would follow you? This was a little thing, but it was awesome and actually added a lot to the experience. It was also one of the first game I recall using ragdolls, and I probably spent hours blowing people out windows with a shotgun, dropping them off ledges, and just playing with that one feature.

Some of the best classics of all time were mostly advances in programming. Like, say, Elite ("I bet we could procedurally generate stuff and put a whole damn galaxy on a BBC Micro with 32K of ram"), Wolf3D("Hey, if we only scale the textures vertically, we could do texture-mapping on a 386), Doom ("I bet we could get this going multiplayer over a network and change the face of gaming for all time.")

Granted, I don't think fancy footsteps are much of an example, but it is in the right spirit. Probably worse, if every development team insisted on writing their own engine, half of everything would be as buggy as Stalker for sure--it is nice to (mostly) be able to count on an Unreal Engine game being stable and well optimized (though the licensees could always add their own features on top of it).

Basically, I think creativity on the programming front is every bit as important, if not more so, than things like storytelling, and the game designers' tools are limited to what the programmers give them to work with.




Stormsinger wrote on Jan 23, 2010, 15:28:
Sounds like a seriously warped sense of priorities...which is pretty much what happens when you let the programmers decide what's important (they frequently mistake cool-to-code for cool-to-play). Do these guys -have- any game designers?
 
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14. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 24, 2010, 05:09 Warskull
 
theyarecomingforyou wrote on Jan 23, 2010, 18:34:
Wow...just wow. Out of all the features involved in improving a game, how does the sound of footsteps even get 30 seconds, much less the months needed for this? Sounds like a seriously warped sense of priorities...which is pretty much what happens when you let the programmers decide what's important (they frequently mistake cool-to-code for cool-to-play).
Hardly. The people responsible for sound effects and music aren't going to be the ones coding the renderer or designing levels. And sound is such an overlooked part of a game when it's such an important part of the experience. Look at the lengths they went to with Far Cry 2 so record all the sound effects they wanted - that really shows when you play the final game (gameplay issues aside).

Honestly, I wish people wouldn't simply moan about everything. This is a GOOD feature... don't spew shit on it.

I agree that sound is very important to a game and often overlooked, but a very small improvement on footsteps isn't going to make a big deal. Better weapon and spell sounds would make a much, much bigger difference.

Fortunately, it looks like this is less about footsteps and more about creating better technology for the creation of sounds. Footsteps were probably just the testbed to create it.
 
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13. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 24, 2010, 04:51 PHJF
 
Aren't continents by definition above water?  
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12. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 24, 2010, 02:24 Tr0n
 
Yes, you will be able to jump, swim and go underwater this time around.

They have build a whole continent underwater to explore.
 
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11. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 24, 2010, 01:59 The Half Elf
 
In a FPS yeah I can understand that, but in a MMO-lite game like this?
The only cool thing I've ever seen in a game is when I first went to winter or desert landscape in WoW and saw that I left foot prints.
 
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10. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 24, 2010, 01:08 PHJF
 
I learned to appreciate footsteps when I started playing CS.  
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9. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 24, 2010, 00:11 Creston
 
Does anyone not automatically mute all footstep noise after five seconds of starting a game?

Creston
 
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8. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 23, 2010, 22:19 The Half Elf
 
Yeah but can you actually JUMP this time?  
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"I've never seen a feature like this before. It warms your ass. It's wonderful" -Walter Bishop
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7. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 23, 2010, 19:17 Tr0n
 
Yup, GW2 will be sub-free.

http://www.guildwars2.com/en/world/faq/#five

This comment was edited on Jan 23, 2010, 19:17.
 
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6. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 23, 2010, 18:39 Prez
 
Are they still adamant that GW2 will be subscription-free? I've not heard them make that promise in a long while.  
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5. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 23, 2010, 18:34 theyarecomingforyou
 
Wow...just wow. Out of all the features involved in improving a game, how does the sound of footsteps even get 30 seconds, much less the months needed for this? Sounds like a seriously warped sense of priorities...which is pretty much what happens when you let the programmers decide what's important (they frequently mistake cool-to-code for cool-to-play).
Hardly. The people responsible for sound effects and music aren't going to be the ones coding the renderer or designing levels. And sound is such an overlooked part of a game when it's such an important part of the experience. Look at the lengths they went to with Far Cry 2 so record all the sound effects they wanted - that really shows when you play the final game (gameplay issues aside).

Honestly, I wish people wouldn't simply moan about everything. This is a GOOD feature... don't spew shit on it.
 
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4. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 23, 2010, 17:55 Steele Johnson
 
It's about the whole experience. I love the little details. I really don't care how long they take; I'm thinking that GW2 is going to put subscription-based mmos out of business.  
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3. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 23, 2010, 16:30 Sir Graves
 
Prez wrote on Jan 23, 2010, 15:33:
No wonder Guild Wars 2 is taking so long...

Really.

"...interesting insights into the procedurally generated audio effects in Guild wars II, the upcoming online RPG sequel".

Upcoming. Ha. Previews and articles keep making it sound like it's actually imminent, when really, it's still like a couple years away. So stuff like this doesn't excite me much in the here and now.
 
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2. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 23, 2010, 15:33 Prez
 
No wonder Guild Wars 2 is taking so long...  
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“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
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1. Re: On Guild Wars 2 Procedural Audio Jan 23, 2010, 15:28 Stormsinger
 
Wow...just wow. Out of all the features involved in improving a game, how does the sound of footsteps even get 30 seconds, much less the months needed for this? Sounds like a seriously warped sense of priorities...which is pretty much what happens when you let the programmers decide what's important (they frequently mistake cool-to-code for cool-to-play). Do these guys -have- any game designers?  
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