George Spanos has published a nice talk he had with Vance Dylan, sound designer with work on titles such as Mass Effect, Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age: Origins, and Sonic Chronicles. Vance talks about specific games, his career and how he creates sound. Let’s read:
Let’s start off with the ubiquitous question: when did you decide to pursue a career in sound?
Vance Dylan: I was inspired by my Uncle Eddie who was a singer/songwriter who would often open for Bill Haley and the Comets way back in the day. My dad was also a great closet musician who never did pursue his dream but damn he was a sweet guitar player.I tried a few things, became a decent drummer, tried to write songs but sucked at it but the whole time I was very interested in hooking up gear and messing around with recording things. I think my first recording was that of my sister playing her recorder back in he 70’s using a Candle cassette recorder.
With the success of the first Mass Effect, where there any sound implementation changes that were necessary for Mass Effect 2?
Vance Dylan: There were massive changes in audio from Mass Effect to Mass Effect 2. We used the (Creative Labs’) Isact audio engine on the first one which limited what we could do, we are now using Wwise which in my opinion is the best audio engine on the market today. We also had a big shift in our team as we brought in Rob Blake as the audio lead and added more team members to handle the load. I think we had 10 guys working on ME2 at one point. As far as implementation, it was a whole new ball game using Wwise. For example in ME2, I was responsible for all the vehicles in game and in cutscenes and all that and we were able to do stuff like making sound more intimidating if you were more paragon. The idea being if you were more renegade then you wouldn’t be as scared or the sound wouldn’t be as scary to you. Things like that took only a few minutes to set up using Wwise where before it just wasn’t possible at all.