In this sixth update to my journal, I discuss the addition of outside musical assets to the game experience.

Whew! I realize it’s been awhile since I’ve posted an update, but there’s a good reason for that:  in the month or so since you’ve heard from me, I’ve only been able to log about another 10 hours or so on the project, and most of that has been touching up existing content and laying groundwork for future additions. The long and the short of it is that I haven’t added much lately in the way of new content, which means I haven’t had much to talk about.

One thing I have been starting in on, however, is a feature (if you can call it that) I identified as important during my “research” phase last month (see this article). I’m talking about music. One of the things that really set campaigns like “Thievery” apart in terms of being a unique experience was the conscious decision not to rely on the built-in musical assets packaged in WarCraft III. Thievery’s music is not original in the truest sense–the designer, OgreBob didn’t create it–but it is nonetheless a distinct sound, and therefore a distinct feel, from the experience of most WarCraft III  levels.

I decided that if I wanted to set “Highborn” apart this way, I could embrace the same tactic. So I’ve been going back through the half hour or so of content in the level so far and finding non-Blizzard-created music tracks to accompany it. The specific choices I’m going with are still somewhat fluid, but I will say I’ve made great use of several resources already: has an extensive library of fan-remixed videogame theme music, and I’ve also tapped a bit into original soundtracks from things like Doctor Who and the Harry Potter film franchise.

The other side of the original-audio coin is character dialogue, of course, and I can’t really mention the audio aspect of the game without talking about voice acting.  I’ve long believed that voice actors add an incredible extra dimension to the narrative experience of any game, certainly above and beyond what you experience in unspoken, text-based dialogue. 

Ultimately I do plan to put out a call for voice actors to record lines for “Highborn”.  My instinct is still to put off that portion of the project until later on, when at least the first level is closer to completion.  On the other hand, this is looking to be quite a bit larger in scope than some of my previous level projects (in terms of writing and recording dialogue, anyway), so it may make more sense to break up the recording into waves; in which case I’d want to start the first wave once I’ve solidified the dialogue for the existing content.  So who knews, I may put out the call for that soon. So stay tuned!