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.”

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