A SOUND OF THUNDER
When you fire a gun, your whole body becomes a speaker. “It goes through your body, into your bones, and your skull. You hear it in your ear, and it sounds completely different,” audio director Don Veca says. “No matter where you put the microphones, you’re not going to capture that sound, so we’ve tried to emulate that feeling.”
Compared to Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfare’s guns sound like the end of the world. Pull the trigger and a shot thunders from the gun in an audio explosion of a dozen sounds that all work together to produce a gunshot you feel in your bones, with a reverberating report that lasts long after the shot was fired. This is what the new generation means to sound design for Veca, whose work on Dead Space won the game a BAFTA and 20 other awards for audio.
“[On 360 and PS3] we are so limited by memory,” Veca says. “We have ten times the memory now, so we wrote new code, new scripts and we used new sound design techniques. We want to make you feel like you’re shooting, rather than listening to someone shoot.”
But capturing the feel of real-world firearms wasn’t the be-all and end-all of his task, with Advanced Warfare’s near-future setting demanding Veca’s sound design expertise for the hundreds of fictional technologies in its 2050s. Drones, tanks, planes, cars and the new hoverbikes all needed sounds manufactured from scratch and powered by the new audio engine. “We knew we were going to do a lot of vehicles, and we knew we would have to go pretty deep with the audio,” Veca says. “So a new vehicle manager system has been written too. It’s constantly listening to the physical parameters – the space, how fast is it going, how are different forces at work? We’re monitoring these forces and translating that to sounds… It’s more of an adaptive system that responds to the real world.”
“Everyone knows we love audio,” Glen Schofield says. “That’s why we’re spending so much time on sound. Part of it is that we’ve worked on plenty of teams where audio comes in last: ‘We’ll throw it in; don’t worry about it.’ We make sure that audio is just as important as anything else and Don’s in there from the start with us. It’s changed the way we have developed, because we make sure that it’s not a last thought. We’ve been working the whole time on this stuff.”