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Listening to nothing

May 21, 2010

For some reason, at some point I turned off the music for when I’m playing a game.  I probably had some TV show I wanted to watch at the same time and I didn’t need the extra noise while trying to follow the plot.

For some other reason, I never turned the music back on.

And it’s awesome.

I am hearing stuff I never heard before in the game.  Sure, I’ve heard combat sounds before, but when you’re NOT fighting stuff, you can hear all the noises that would happen in the background and that are usually covered up by the music.  This is what is called the “ambient noise” in your sounds panel.

Turn that baby all the way up, shut the music off and turn up the sound.  You get to hear all sorts of things that really would happen if we were to step into the zone we’re in, but we’d never know it ’cause the music is forever on loop, blasting away.  (I am saying nothing against the music in the game – I love it, I find it beautiful.)

Really, I think you should try it out one night and go check out some zones and see what they sound like.  At first in whatever zone I was in on my alt, there were the crickets in the background.  Nothing interesting, right?  But then I hearthed to Dalaran – my hearth is set in the back of the (Alliance) inn overlooking the Beer Garden.  I have to run through the inn to get outside.  There was this weird clinking noise.  I stopped for a second and realized that it was the clinking of plates that you might hear if you really were in a functioning inn and there were people eating.

You’ll hear footsteps as you run.  (You might think “duh” to that, but the footstep sound varies depending on what sort of surface you’re running on – dirt, stone, wood, metal – and will also change depending on your armor type – clinky if you’re in mail, softer noises if you’re in cloth, etc.)

The baby alt went to Wailing Caverns and sure enough, there was the wind, wailing and swooshing through the caverns.  Not in a “wind” type of way, but in the way that wind really would go through caverns.  I haven’t heard that type of wind again in the game yet, either.

Going to the shore for a few quests?  You’ll hear water lapping up on the beach.  You’ll hear a few fish jumping in the water.  If you’re by a lake, you may even hear frogs.

That whole bit I wrote about footsteps?  It’s the same for your mount, too.

If you have to go under the water for any reason, it was that weird echo-y “I’m underwater and there’s no other way to describe it unless you’ve also been underwater!” sound.  I really like it.

I had to go to Desolace last night.  *shudder*  There was wind there too.  But it was the sweeping, unrelenting “wind sweeping over nothing” wind that is appropriate for the area.  Makes you feel small and insignificant.

Luckily, I also spend some time in Stranglethorn Vale last night too.  If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit a tropical jungle in your real life, on a vacation or somesuch, or even just seen one on TV, you know that there is lots of talking between birds, insects are talking, frogs are talking… maybe if you’re close enough to a croc while fishing you can hear them hiss… it’s all in STV.  Lends quite a bit of realism to the zone.  If you head over to the coast, all the “shore” noises apply too.

And there are more and will be more that I’ll take note of, I’m sure, as I quest more.  These are all in Old Azeroth since my alt is still small, so I’m actually anticipating what the zones in the Outlands and Northrend will sound like!

Do you run with your music off and the ambient sounds up?  What have you noticed?  If you don’t, will you try it out one night to see what the music is covering up?

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Arithe permalink
    May 21, 2010 5:51 PM

    This is one of the aspects of the game I enjoy when leveling an alt – turning the ambience sounds way up when I get to have some alone time with no one chatting away on Skype to me, and just listen to it all. Hellfire Penninsula, Zangarmarsh and Netherstorm are my favourites, but Swamp of Sorrows get me too. There’s so many details to the world it’s easy to miss if you hang around in Dalaran jumping between heroics or raids…

  2. May 21, 2010 7:54 PM

    Anyone who says fishing is boring or not relaxing (just boring) probably never tried it with the ambience and/or music on. Listening to the waves wash up while I’m watching the boats come and go from Stormwind Harbor (or Moaki Harbor)…THAT is fishing.I use the LDB Volumizer to give myself some sets of music on or off or ambience up or not, so I have a "raiding" set with minimal sound, but then a "questing" set with music & ambience up. Even a "fishing" set, yes.Oh, make sure you turn the music back on for Bronjahm’s encounter in Forge of Souls…if you haven’t already. :)

  3. May 21, 2010 8:51 PM

    One thing I’ve done is set the music to not loop -or turn it way down- so that I can hear the ambient sounds. (And the alerts from Deadly Boss Mods, for that matter.) Of course, I also never got the references to James Brown as Bronjahm in Forge of Souls, which would have been more obvious if I had the music up, but that’s another matter.

  4. May 21, 2010 8:56 PM

    It’s been ages since I had my game sounds on at all really. Only time I turn them on is every time I level an alt and have to save the baby murlocs in Borean Tundra. I just love their cute little mmrggl grrgls! But you remind me of how awesome some of the sounds really are – and I’m gonna have to turn them back on now and check them out again :)

  5. Eychrus permalink
    May 23, 2010 8:06 PM

    This one’s a little easier if your on Horde side. Head to Undercity, stand in the Bell tower room with the ambient sound on max and the music off and you’ll hear the ringing bells, even though the bell tower is collapsed, and in the Throne room you’ll hear a some of the speech from WCIII’s cut scenes that happen in that room.

  6. May 24, 2010 8:56 PM

    The spot where ambient sound got to me was in an inn. Not just any inn, but the one in Raven Hill. I guess because it’s an inn they left the usual plates and dishes clanking together sounds there, but with the furniture smashed and no one in sight it’s pretty creepy – more so with the knowledge that the walking dead are lurking just out back.

  7. May 25, 2010 7:59 AM

    The ambient sounds definitely add atmosphere, and I have them and the other sound effects turned right up, with the music off, when I’m running about doing my World View things. I find it really helps with the immersion.Felwood is another good example of ambient sound – there’s crickets, but also strange mournful noises, that really enhance the "sickness" feeling of the zone.

  8. May 25, 2010 7:59 AM

    The ambient sounds definitely add atmosphere, and I have them and the other sound effects turned right up, with the music off, when I’m running about doing my World View things. I find it really helps with the immersion.Felwood is another good example of ambient sound – there’s crickets, but also strange mournful noises, that really enhance the "sickness" feeling of the zone.

  9. Adlib permalink
    May 25, 2010 5:49 PM

    I often don’t realize I have the music off because there is still sound! (I turn off the game music so I can listen to iTunes a lot, but when it stops, I don’t always notice right away.) You’re right; it’s a very cool experience. :)

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