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Posts with tag russell-brower

Story and Sound: Mozart would be writing the World of Warcraft


I've been thinking a lot lately about the dynamics of telling a story. What exactly is a story? How do you tell it most effectively, both from an artistic narrative stand point, and a consumer-friendly attention grabbing one? I've also been concerned with new ways to tell a story, especially one that people might discount at first since the story mechanism lives on the edge of pop culture.

Besides working on WoW Insider, I also make my home at the Minnesota Opera, working on their website and advancing an opera's story through digital mediums. Opera is an old art form, one that if not nurtured and brought into the next century is at risk of becoming obscure. I'm proud to work for a company that realizes this and does some really ground breaking things.

It struck me recently when sitting through a dress rehearsal the eerie similarities between Warcraft and an opera like The Magic Flute. After thinking about how very like these two story-telling vehicles are, I realized that they are both just a natural progression in humanity's ability to tell a story.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Blizzard Audio Team interviewed on WoW, Diablo and Starcraft

Several key members of the Blizzard Audio team were interviewed recently over at The Frontliner. This epic-length interview featured Senior Director of Audio Russell Brower, Project Music Director/Composer Derek Duke, Lead Sound Designer Joseph Lawrence, and Casting and Voice Director Andrea Toyias.

This interview hit so many topics, it's hard to list them all out here, but some of the ones that really interested me were the tips for getting into the various artists' fields, along with information on the technology and methods they used. I love hearing about field recordings, for example the engineers holding the huge glass doors open just so at Blizzard HQ to get an awesome wind whistle. It's great, too, to hear about the casting process for voice artists, the difficulties faced and the lengths Blizzard goes to to get great people.

It's an altogether fascinating insight into the world of Blizzard audio, as well as hotspots to hear the best gurgling and popping noises in Southern California!

Filed under: Blizzard

The music of Mists with Russell Brower

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.

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Filed under: Blizzard

Mists of Pandaria Beta: New music files uncovered

Wondering what your experience in Pandaria is going to sound like? Me, too! I've been happily playing the beta all along with my music turned up -- but unfortunately, most of Pandaria has been absent of any kind of musical track. The few pieces we have been treated to from the Wandering Isle and the login screen had me firmly convinced from the get-go that I wanted the soundtrack, but I've just had a little more convincing. The folks over at MMO-Champion dug up a surprise over the holiday weekend: a full 30 minutes of musical tracks found on a recent beta build.

The track names aren't really spoiler-related, they're just named after various races and zones in Pandaria, so you can feel free to listen without fear of plot spoilers. The Sha piece is particularly haunting, but all of the pieces have a certain beautiful flair to them. And if one of these tracks reminds you of another game, you may be right. Joining the team for Mists of Pandaria is none other than Jeremy Soule, a name you might recognize. His most recent work includes the soundtrack for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.

If you're interested in hearing what musical treats Mists has to offer, give the video above a listen. As always, remember this is datamined content, so it may not make it into the official game -- but if the video is any indication, we're in for a treat. I can't wait to hear the rest of the music.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria beta: Logging in never sounded so good

The latest patch to the beta servers added something interesting for the dataminers, dug up by the folks over at MMO-Champion -- a piece of music titled Heart of Pandaria v4. For anyone who's been playing World of Warcraft since the original iteration of the game, the first few bars should be easily recognizable as the familiar strains of the original login screen for WoW. And elegantly mixed in and around that familiar tune is a wholly new track for Mists of Pandaria.

This suggests this is the track that will play when you're logging into the game, of course. But what I'm wondering is what we're going to see on that login screen? To be perfectly honest, while I liked the screens for Wrath and Cataclysm well enough, I really miss the days in which we were simply presented with the image of a portal to far off and pleasant lands. I'm hoping we'll see something along those lines here. One thing's for certain, though -- it's entirely unlikely we're going to get any kind of dragon, since there doesn't seem to be a plethora of dragons in Mists so far.

I highly recommend giving the entire track a listen, as it has a perfectly wonderful buildup throughout. And if I weren't already convinced that buying the Collector's Edition is a good idea for the possibility of a mount, well, the possibility of a soundtrack on top of that is just icing on the cake.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Patch 4.2 Daily Quests: Assault on Sethria's Roost

Once you've sufficiently advanced the Firelands storyline to the point that you can enter the Molten Front, the Regrowth portion of patch 4.2's daily quests breaks into two types of quests. The first type is a small daily quest chain. You do some gathering, and then you use what you've gathered to kill an elite.

The other type of quests are simpler, one-shot quests that can occasionally be organized into even smaller hubs. The kill-and-collect daily quest that sends you into Sethria's Roost, which we'll be talking about today, is quite nice when it shows up, because it can be completed alongside The Protectors of Hyjal which you'll be doing regularly. The quests we will be looking at today are: If you're doing these daily quests, that means you've already quested through Mount Hyjal before. You're already familiar with Sethria's Roost. The entire region is now phased. The twilight drakonids, which you personally murdered the last time you were through here, are long gone and replaced by minions of the Firelands: Fiery Behemoths and Seething Pyrelords.

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Filed under: Cataclysm

Russell Brower at Video Games Live

If you were planning to go to the Video Games Live performance on April 1st, now you have even more reason to go: Russell Brower, Director of Audio/Video for Blizzard, will be there. It's going to be (hopefully) shown on PBS in July, so if you just can't get down there, you can at least be on the lookout for it. If you like WoW's music (or that of other Blizzard games... I'm a huge sucker for Diablo II's soundtrack) it should be worth catching. If you happen to be in the area, tickets for the show are still available from Ticketmaster.

Filed under: News items

BlizzCon Flashback: The Panels of BlizzCon 2008

Tickets are sold out for the day, and most of us are probably a little angry, but don't forget! There's another day of ticket sales on the 30th! If you haven't made your decision on whether you want to go or not yet, you're running out of time and it's probably a good time to look back on the BlizzCon that was. BlizzCon 2008 lacked any major World of Warcraft announcements, Blizzard's other franchises stole the spotlight last year, but that doesn't mean WoW wasn't there in spades. Let's take a moment to look back on that, shall we?
The Opening Ceremonies
BlizzCon 2008 kicked off with the opening ceremonies, hosted by Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. Morhaime delivered many facts and figures about the World of Warcraft at the time (if WoW were a country, it would be the 75th largest in the world), and announced a new class for Diablo III: The Wizard.

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Filed under: BlizzCon

BlizzCon 2008: Blizzard sound panel


I am, I must admit, one of those people who frequently plays World of Warcraft with the sound muted. I've been playing for a long time and, well, I've heard it all before. So, as a person who doesn't exactly consider sound an essential component of their gaming experience, I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting into when I attended the Blizzard Sound panel at BlizzCon, featuring In attendance were Russell Brower, Director of Audio and Video; Glenn Stafford, who founded the audio department; and Derek Duke, a full-time composer. But, presented with live musical performances accompanied by enthusiastic explanation from people passionate about making music a part of the game, I have to say I'm a believer.

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Filed under: Blizzard, BlizzCon

The music of Wrath of the Lich King

Wrath of the Lich King is shaping up to be one hell of an expansion. It looks like Blizzard has pulled out all the stops with remarkable quest design, breathtaking landscapes, and even wonderful music that really sets the mood for adventuring in Northrend. Even though World of Warcraft allows players to access iTunes from within the game -- and I know a lot of players turn up their own music when playing -- I highly recommend playing Wrath with the music on and turned up when it finally hits retail.

Music in World of Warcraft has always been a point of pride for Blizzard, with their work on Karazhan being widely praised for setting a great mood and being enjoyable overall. The music in Wrath continues that tradition with scores from Blizzard veterans Russell Brower, who composed the login screen theme for the new expansion. Brower was also behind the music for The Burning Crusade login screen as well as the affecting melodies of Eversong Woods and the Ghostlands (some co-written with New Age musician David Arkenstone and fellow Blizzard veteran Jason Hayes).

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Wrath of the Lich King

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