Sounds of the Old Republic

The video above is the latest developer dispatch from BioWare, creators of Star Wars: The Old Republic, entitled “the Music of the Old Republic”. It features a number of the contributing composers, musicians and audio designers talking about how the music of SWTOR has come together, and the experiences they are trying to convey to the players. In between those people chattering,  there is a fair amount of simply excellent Star Wars music included as well. I could describe it to you, but my recommendation is that you simply sit back and enjoy it for yourselves.

At the same time Orion Kellogg (great name), Audio Producer at LucasArts, has posted on the SWTOR developer blog discussing all the myriad sounds of the Old Republic. The post touches on not only the aforementioned music, but also goes into detail on the challenges of voice acting in the Star Wars universe, designing the acoustics of new languages and how different weapons and abilities should sound during a player’s progression through the game.

Kellogg suggests that the Old Republic may be “the largest voiceover project in entertainment history”, and it won’t surprise me if that ends up being the case. As you may know, it is the first MMORPG of its scale to ever be fully voiced – apparently including hundreds of thousands of lines of dialogue. This becomes an even more complex and monumental task when you are led to consider the many alien vocal styles and dialects present within the Star Wars canon at this point, and Kellogg states that “with tens of thousands of lines of alien dialogue and over fifty different species pouring into the game, we’ve paid special attention to varying and hand-placing these exotic encounters”.

Does this blaster sound funny to you?

Mentioned also is the music, which if you have watched the video you will know includes over five hours of original content, plus scores from the Knights of the Old Republic games as well as the Star Wars films themselves. The new content was recorded with a full 80 piece symphony at the legendary Skywalker Ranch, but perhaps most excitingly it is all controlled by a music system geared towards allowing the right music to come through at the right time in play. Each class will have its own theme that will wind through its stories, and your class theme will even be incorporated into adventures you have with a group to “subtly introduce your presence”!

A couple of final touches that conspire to increase my excitement even further are the changing sounds of equipment in the game, and the individual scoring of NPC types. In SWTOR, not only will your later equipment look better, it will also sound better. As Kellogg says, “it’s vital that an early-level weapon sound substantially different from a punchier later-level version of the same”. I couldn’t agree more – weapon sounds are a big deal in games that have post-medieval technology, and beyond just making them sound believable and exciting, tailoring the sounds to the level of the item is a stroke of genius that I can only hope rolls over into more MMOs in future. As for the individual scoring of each NPC type, well, that kind of attention to detail is just the icing on this delicious aural cake.

To read the full developer blog, head over to the official site. I can only pray to the Force that the game lives up to the standards its developers are clearly trying to set.