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The music of Mists with Russell Brower


Blizzard's Community Management team sat down with Russell Brower for an interview on the creation of not only the soundtrack to Mists of Pandaria but other game sound elements as well. Russell talks about the constant immersive properties of music, quoting a friend in saying that "the ear doesn't blink", and linking that to something that I think Blizzard does a great job of, providing music that contributes to an area's feel, atmosphere, and quality. I don't ever play without the game sounds and music switched on, nor do I play with other music playing in the background -- doing all these things affects my enjoyment of the game, and Russell says that his team strive to keep people's game sounds turned on. One thing he added that made me laugh was that the team had to tone down the sound made by the launcher when the game download is finished:
...after two hours of installing, suddenly the game will go "BOOM!!" when it finishes. People started to install games with the sound off
Brower goes on to recall that so many people hated the constant roaring on the Sindragosa fight in Wrath, which I'm sure will resonate with a lot of our readers. What other game sounds would you like to hear toned down? Personally, the noise that mage tables made rates pretty high on my dislike list.

Most fascinating to me in the interview was the conversation on the role of music in gameplay. Russell commented that music should not stand out, should not be noticed, and the interviewer followed up with a question about what part music played in Blizzard games.

It depends on the game, but in our games, certainly in World of Warcraft and Diablo, the music adds to the immersion[...]

WoW has even more [themes]-there are very specific melodic devices and tone colors for Alliance and Horde, and for some of our major figures. Arthas has an arc coming from Warcraft III, where a melody was first established more than 10 years ago, and that DNA is in the song "Invincible." In fact, it's the chorus. There are new verses, but the chorus came from 10+ years ago.

Now, I'm a bit of a music geek, but I'm now searching through my collection for the old Warcraft III themes to try to discover the Arthas melody, and to listen out more for the tone colors and for the specific themes for major lore figures. The idea of a chorus coming from over ten years back and being reused to create continuity and link worlds together is utterly fascinating to me. And, thanks to Russell's interview, I'm now going to be paying even more attention to the game music! How about you?

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