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News & Features Discussion  » General: Editorial: Sound Bites

11 posts found

Managing Editor

Joined: 7/08/05
Posts: 6729

OP  12/26/06 10:59:21 AM#1

Carolyn Koh returns today with an editorial on sound in MMORPGs and how it can enhance or kill a gaming experience.

Dana Massey's editorial entitled Graphics Whores stuck a chord when I thought of my own gaming experience and what I look for before I consider a game really good. For that, I want sound. Good sound. Well produced sound.

Turn off the sound in a movie and what have you got? A bunch of moving heads and not much else. Turn off the sound in an MMOG and you don't know that an Orc has come up behind you and is beating on your head like a drum, or that a pesky trooper has dropped down under you and is trying to take your BFR out with a popgun - that seems to be the challenge in Planetside currently - soloing a BFR.

Read the artcile here.

Jon Wood
Managing Editor


Novice Member

Joined: 2/27/04
Posts: 14174

12/26/06 11:53:57 AM#2
Sorry, Link isn't working =/

Novice Member

Joined: 12/08/06
Posts: 129

"The Pope? How many divisions has he got?" - Joe Stalin

12/26/06 12:17:50 PM#3
Page not found :O

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/06/06
Posts: 60

You wouldnt like my happy place. It is full of blood, carnage, and distruction.

12/26/06 5:05:56 PM#4

Ok there are Two subjects herer and the author does not go into much depth with either.

   First she talks about how MMO's have crappy sounds ( someting I agree with), but she doesnot elaberate, Then she goes into another topic of computer speakers, and true I do have a cheap 2.1 $40 speakers but they do the job, and in that one she just raves about what SHE has done and not other options.


   All in all a decent artical but nothing informative.


Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/14/03
Posts: 767

12/26/06 7:33:29 PM#5
The article has pinpointed a growing concern of mine as well as a few others I'm sure, that sound/music takes a backseat (heck, does it even make it into the car?) to the other features of an MMO. I just hope that developers will begin to give sound/music their attention. A few already have, with RF Online's music composed brilliantly (and one of the few bright spots to that game), as well as Guild Wars' music done by Jeremy Soule (as well as Warhammer, you should hear the sample bits on, simply amazing), I have nothing but high regards to his talent. Let's hope we see more work that is nothing short of superior in the music department.
  User Deleted
12/27/06 7:51:04 AM#6

I play EQ1 with the sound off and either TS or the in-game MP3 player on. I play EQ2 with the sound on, but most of the time, my speakers are turned off so that I can listen to the radio or talk to my husband or watch TV. There are plenty of visual clues about what's going on, from the text in my chat boxes (which I watch like a hawk ) to the "I'm being hit!" animation (since I tend to play scrolled out in third person), plus people in TS/on the other side of the room blurting out "add" (which is all I really need to know, in the case of the head-bashing orc.)

Different strokes for different folks, I guess.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/17/04
Posts: 14

12/27/06 11:07:54 AM#7

Sometimes, I want to be immersed in the complete experience and great sound is a must. I have the option of putting the sound through my stereo at that time. Other times, I want to play with the sound off for various reasons.

When I wish the full experience, the sound quality can make a game or break a game. Sometimes the sound is so poorly rendered, that I end up turning it off just so that I can enjoy the game. When the sound actually enhances the gameplay, it makes a good game great. Some games have such well done music scores that I would enjoy letting them play in the background while doing other things.


Advanced Member

Joined: 3/14/05
Posts: 148

12/27/06 11:22:33 AM#8
Its easier to play with the sound off then it is to play with the graphics off. Its easier to replace sound you don't like with sound you do like. And when people are deciding if they want to buy the game they look at screen shots on the box, I don't think I have seen a box yet that lets you listen to audio clips. So its no surprise that when developers are on a tight budget sound gets the backseat.

Staff Writer

Joined: 1/04/06
Posts: 204

So many games, so little time...

12/27/06 4:37:32 PM#9
Originally posted by F'lar

Ok there are Two subjects herer and the author does not go into much depth with either.

   First she talks about how MMO's have crappy sounds ( someting I agree with), but she doesnot elaberate, Then she goes into another topic of computer speakers, and true I do have a cheap 2.1 $40 speakers but they do the job, and in that one she just raves about what SHE has done and not other options.


   All in all a decent artical but nothing informative.

Actually, I think MMOGs are getting pretty good with their sound, and getting better. 

As for other options... better speakers?   Seriously.  Unless I'm not understanding your meaning.  If you have a game with kick-ass graphics and a screaming fast graphics card, you'll want to hook up a screaming fast monitor to it, not something that has a 24ms response time and capable only of 800 x 600 pixel display.  Same with sound.  If the game has really good sound and you want to take advantage of it, you'll want a good sound card and want to hook up some good speakers to your system.

Now... if you are looking for speaker recommendations... I could go into some drool-worthy mega-buck high-end audiophile stuff. 


Notice: The views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of or its management.


Novice Member

Joined: 2/12/06
Posts: 645

"The NGE sucks." - Me

"SWG NGE is the fools folly..." - JestorRodo

12/27/06 8:29:45 PM#10

In the article, there is a very annoying advertisement placed right in the middle of one of the sentences, it blocks out several words and effectively makes that sentence unreadable.  The article would make for a better read without it.  Is this site a bastion of MMO discussion or of the almighty advertising dollar?

As for the main point, the effect of sound, I find headphones are the best auditory accessory - in games like CoX where mission-essential items often emit a noise to aid in their detection, my experience is that headphones work best over speakers of any type.  Sound can generate high levels of emotion - the music that played while a player was on the planet Lok in Star Wars: Galaxies was just amazingly inspiring.  To bad most of the rest of that game sux, good sound on one planet won't save that stinker.  When done well, sound can be a fantastic addition to any MMO, but when done to even average standards it quickly become just background noise of no significance.

SWG Veteran and Refugee, Intrepid server
NGE free as of Nov. 22, 2005
Now Playing: World of Warcrack
Forum Terrorist


Novice Member

Joined: 12/04/04
Posts: 5

12/28/06 9:16:58 AM#11

I agree that sound often takes a backseat in MMO's and this is one thing that Blizzard is best at in the genre. It often bugs me that in EVE Online, you probably won't keep the audio on longer than thirty minutes because of the mostly uninspired music, the buggy sound effects, the monotony overall, and the absurd CPU overhead (and its impact on performance).

And there don't seem to be any signs that changing the current status quo is a priority at all. The upcoming Kali update within the next four or so months focuses solely on getting us a shiny new DX9 engine, with a DX10 version of the engine soon to follow. There are rumours that we may be getting a new sound engine, but, imo, fat chance of that happening within the next decade.