The March issue of the Mix Magazine (Digital Edition) is now available with some goodies, including an article about the sound of God of War III with comments of senior manager Gene Semel, sound design manager Philip Kovats lead sound designer Paul M. Fox and sound designer Steve Johnson.
It’s been five years since the first God of War videogame came out on the Sony PlayStation 2 platform and became an instant sensation among serious gamers worldwide. Combining a richly detailed story using numerous characters and settings from Greek mythology with fast-paced and gory ac- tion and sophisticated gameplay, the title won a slew of awards and, not surprisingly, has spawned a franchise that includes God of War II (2007), God of War: Betrayal (2007; a spinoff for mobile devices), God of War: Chains of Olympus (2008; a prequel to the series devel- oped for the PlayStation Portable) and now, on a wave of anticipation and hype, God of War III (GOW3) for the PlayStation 3.
More than two years in the making, GOW3 ratchets up the action to new extremes as we follow the further adventures of Kratos, a mighty Spartan warrior who battles various gods and titans, and is, as we learned in GOW2, the son of Zeus, who has tried to kill him and vice versa over the course of the GOW adven- tures. Along the way, he encounters a plethora of mythological characters and creatures, in- cluding Athena, Gaia, Kronos, Pegasus, Per- seus, Atlas, Ares, the hydra, the harpies and all sorts of bad dudes and beasties who make life rather challenging for our tormented hero. The range of characters and plot points in GOW3 was a still closely guarded secret when I was preparing this story in early February, but from looking at the previews and an online demo of the game, it appears there is plenty of bloody mayhem involving everything from skeleton warriors to a fire-hurling god to frightening flying creatures, centaurs and you-name-it. In what director Stig Asmussen claims will be the last adventure in the series, Kratos’ goal is no less than the destruction of the home of the gods, Mount Olympus!
Also our friend Damian Kastbauer (Audio Implementation Greats) has an introductory article to Game Audio Implementation, created with Eddie Ciletti.
I have a friend whose busi- ness card reads, “If I don’t know it, I know someone who does.” That’s my sto- ry in this edition of “Tech’s Files.” My friend and fellow geek Damian Kastbauer is an audio-for-gaming insider.
We’d like to provide an overview for peeps like me who are completely un- familiar with game audio, but who might benefit from knowing some of the nuts and bolts of the process. For example, DAW plug-ins are very graphics-intensive and look very much like their hardware counterparts, even though sliders are more mouse-friendly than knobs. By contrast, audio tools for games tend to be parameter-based, whereas a slider is a newcomer and virtual knobs don’t even exist!
On the surface, game development is often compared to the process of making a film, with the need for a storyboard, screenplay, set and sound de- sign. There is a common discipline between film and videogame creation, but some aspects remain distinctly different. While it might seem absurd to reinvent a DAW or a camera each time a new project is initiated, that’s what often happens in the gaming industry when it comes time to improve upon previous technology. For each new game, the logic, visual and sonic program- mers must create a brand-spankin’ new engine. The insider’s coding game is all about “playing well with others”—for example, sharing memory and DSP/ CPU capabilities—so that the behind-the-scenes technology is transparent to the gamers.
Of course, game designers want a great first impression; the new re- lease must look, feel and sound more realistic than the previous genera- tion. Processing requirements, platform variations (computer hardware) and time to market are all moving targets made more dramatic by projected deadlines that don’t account for the nebulous “fun factor” necessary to make a good game great.