Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The day the music died

And they were singing, "Bye, bye, miss American pie,"
Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry,
And good ol' boys were drinkin' whiskey and rye
singing, "This'll be the day that I die..."

A big part of the WoW experience, in my mind, is created by the music and sound effects. The music does a great job of setting the mood for each of the different zones. The sound effects really make you feel like you are part of the action.

Yet I'm occasionally amazed and confused to hear people in my guild talk about how they do everything with the sound completely muted. Maybe they are listening to iTunes or Vent, or watching TV (another head-scratcher) instead. Like, OMG, what's the point in playing WoW with no sound? It would be like watching a Star Wars movie with the sound turned off. George Lucas may not be much of a story teller, but he definitely knows how to hire good composers and sound effects people. The same could be said for Blizzard.

Not only do you have to have the sound turned on, you have to have a good quality set of speakers with a decent subwoofer so that the bass is properly handled. How are you supposed to immerse yourself in the WoW experience if you aren't engulfed in sound? For my part, I play mostly on my laptop with headphones on, which serves the same purpose as having a giant set of speakers. I occasionally unplug the headphones, but I can't do it for long because hearing all that wonderful sound being stifled by those tinny-sounding laptop speakers is just too painful.

But the music in Azeroth comes in two varieties:

1) The really well done, background-ish music that does a great job of setting the mood for each zone. You hear it, but you don't think about it really. It's almost like another part of the landscape. Sometimes it's spooky (Duskwood), sometimes melancholy (Westfall), sometimes happy (the Inn music).

2) And then there's the the music in Stormwind.

I have to turn off the music when I go into Stormwind. I even have a hotkey set up (Ctrl+M; I can't remember if that's the default or not) to do it. It starts off well enough, just like in every zone, kind of pleasant, a bit majestic. But then it starts to build, and then it gets a little crazy, and eventually goes completely over the top: they start singing. That horrible choral music that I can't understand a word they are saying. "Por qui se re" is all I ever get out of it, though I suspect that isn't what they are actually saying. (I think that means something in Spanish, but alas, I don't speak Spanish.) The chorus is so totally over-the-top, and it will stick in your head until the end of time, eventually driving you completely insane, if you don't turn it off.

But for the Stormwind music, I really can't imagine playing WoW with the sound turned off. Am I the only one who feels this way? Do you turn the music and sound on or off when you play? Does it add or detract from the experience for you?


MomentEye said...

I'm pretty sure it's Latin.

Because the Alliance are all god-bothers.

Darraxus said...

I usually play with no sound due to being on vent. The other reason is that it caused my old computer to slow down significantly, so more habit than everything. I actually started listening to the music a few days ago. Very good.

magicandmadness said...

I usually play it with the sound on, as it's as you say, a part of the experience. However, when I'm in a raid I'm forced to turn it down to get everything they mumble at Vent.

Also, if I might, God forbid, occasionally stumble into a battleground, I will need some music to keep me going. I'm not much of a PvP person, but when I try, I do need my dose of metal music.

With that said, I do love most of the music Blizzard has given us. If I'm going to give any of the music a little extra pat on the shoulder, I think I'll place my hand on Sylvanas' song: Lament of the Higborne. Hell, that song's just amazing.

Zaphind said...

OMG, the songs have names?! Who knew?

I have the vent problem too. I turn the sound down to the minimum setting when I'm using vent (which for some strange reason is 11; I'm still trying to figure out why they used 11, 21, 31, etc, instead of 10,20,30... but they are a lot smarter than me so I assume they had their reasons).