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Gaming with Dekthro

Opinions and views of Dekthro.

Author: Dekthro

The red headed stepchild of games, audio.

Posted by Dekthro Tuesday July 14 2009 at 6:10PM
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Audio? Sounds effects? Musical score? No big deal, most of us probably just run iTunes in the background, or maybe even Pandora. For most this is a viable option for MMORPG's, since unlike first person shooters, when you are the last man alive in a 5 versus 5 situation, you might want to be aware of the footsteps of the guy running up behind you, instead of your favorite heavy metal tune. Though, like the visuals, and game play, audio plays a very important role in a game. It's a particularly powerful art form that can dramatically toy with the players emotions and senses.

First off, do me a quick favor, and view the trailer of this Half-Life 2 modification entitled, NEOTOKYO. But turn off the audio.

Click here to view!

Great, now watch it, with the audio.

Notice anything different? For me, I have seen this trailer roughly ten times, and everytime I watch it, it gives me chills and goosebumps, and makes me want to fire up STEAM and get fragging. Now, granted, this is not you playing the game, it is you watching the trailer for the game. But this trailer for a lot of people, is the deciding factor of whether the game is worth the download, or if the name will never get further than your short term memory. The reason I suggested this video, is because compared to other game trailers out there, the the choices of video clips stitched together, with this glorious coat of audio to bring the whole outfit together, creates an immersive experience.

Consider the trailer for the game, Runes of Magic.

View the trailer here

Not quite the same effect, is it? We have some more traditional orchestrated music, with a dash of choir work. The music isn't tailored to fit the scenes to creat emotional hits, though I saw plenty of opportunities to do so! Not to engaging.

Now all of this is out of game experiences, but how about in game? Sound effects and scoring are all important in game as well! One of the best examples of both come to mind, from the game World of Warcraft. One of the most epic feelings that I recall was the first time I decided to mute Ventrilo and my music on a Ragnaros fight (goosebumps as I type that, recalling the situation!). As Ragnaros emerged from the lava, and the fight engage, an audio track that I had never heard before initiated, and everything became much more intense, in addition to his low rumbling voice. Unfortunantely I'm unable to find a YouTube video depcting this. As for sound effects, a buddy of mine had a love for the Deep Wounds sound effect of an Arms Warrior. It was a dramatic gushing chop sound, unique to the ability, assisted by a rather bloody splash graphical effect. Though the rest of the game is rather lacking in enjoyments like these, and if I recall, the music for Ragnaros was used for several bosses.

That brings up another point, though. With all these other factors playing along with us, Ventrilo and our personal taste for music, why have this third line of audio further garble up our speakers? Who needs guildies commanding and yelling, insane guitar rifts assisted by a furious double bass, and a uninspired classical score with some bland combat sound effects? Probably the reason why most opt out of even having game sound on in the first place, and why developers don't put as much effort as they could into these things. But unfortunately, for those who do give it it's well deserved attention, it usually goes unnoticed.

Unfortunately I can not highlight any MMORPGs that excel in this area of immersion, since after the Ragnros incident, I fell back into the 'mute game, play music' niche. Which is why I was forced to use the NEOTKOYO trailer as my leading example (and a rather damn good one, if I do say so my self). Though from what I've seen so far, Aion is showing some possibilities of having a great score and set of sound effects, but we will see on its release. How about next time you fire up your game of the moment, instead of loading up your favorite audio player, turn on the sound, and see what you are missing. You might be surprised.

First impressions are always the most important. Creating your name.

Posted by Dekthro Monday July 13 2009 at 3:55PM
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This is not a guide to creating a name. Though, I would like to share some things that should be taken into consideration when creating one for your self.

In all my years of gaming, by far one of the biggest challenges for me, has been to create a name for my self. Of course this is a non-issue in single player environments, but in games with any sort of multiplayer, or on a greater scale, massively multiplayer with a persistent character, it is your first impression. It's always been a fairly lengthy process for me to create a name, and I'm sure there are many out there that fall to their knees after sliding sliders and designating a class, only to be left with the last entry, "What is your name?". It was only until recently that i had managed to create a name that I truly enjoy visually, and verbally, and one of the lesser considered factors, short hand.

In the past I and many others have looked at pop culture, books, TV shows, movies, and other games as a means of making your impact in the virtual world with your creative title. One that comes to mind, I'm sure, is the ever so popular Legolas, and various iterations, or references to Anime characters, such as from Dragon Ball Z, Naruto and InuYasha. But there is one problem with this, you do not really establish your self with someone else's name. Sure it might be cool to be the first guy on the server to land the name Morpheus, but that's more of a shock value to others, and there is no real long term satisfaction for the wielder, as there may be for someone with a truly unique name.

For me, it took me about 10 or so years to come up with something that really stuck. The name I use currently, Dekthro, appeals to me visually, and verbally. And the short hand works great too, Dek. Shorthands are more important than you think, because not everyone will want to type out or pronounce your full name, and will more often than not, shorten it down to the first syllable. The name I created for my self is unique, and I haven't seen it used anywhere else, and I have actually received positive comments on it. Unfortunately there is no real magical method to establishing a name like I have for my self, it merely popped in my head one day, and I have been using it ever since.

So in short, some things to keep in mind while creating a name for your self:

  • Is it serious? Sure Leeroyjenkins might be funny. But originality is always better, and I personally would rather avoid a person with a gimmick/joke name. It usually reflects who they are. If it doesn't your gimping yourself to people who share the same view as me.
  • Has this been done? Ties in somewhat with the first bullet. If it's been done before, it's hard for people to tell the difference between you and the other Leeroyjenkins. Don't need another Leroyjenkins, or Lerooyjenkins.
  • Do I like it? Plenty of times I have just threw my hands up and settled on a name that I didn't really like. These usually ended up with me re rolling the character, because seeing the name over and over somewhat ruined the experience for me.
  • Shorthand? Like I said, shorthands of your name will be used! :) This may not be entirely that important, but it's something worth taking into consideration.

Again, there is no magical route for creating a name. Some people have merely altered their real name, and have come up with nice results, but it's not for everyone. If anyone has any interesting ideas, feel free to comment!