Meeting Topic: EA DICE - Audio for Battlefield game series
Moderator Name: Lars-Olof Janflod
Speaker Name: Bence Pajor and Andreas Almstad of EA DICE Stockholm
Meeting Location: EA DICE Offices, Stockholm
The February section meeting was hosted by Ben Minto of EA DICE in Stockholm. DICE is a company under the umbrella of EA and is one of the leading multiplatform video game developers and is perhaps best known for the Battlefield series.
Sound designers Bence Pajor and Andreas Almstad presented a talk that they went on to deliver at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
When this game was first developed, in 2002, there were no existing sound libraries of appropriate sounds of warfare. This lead the team to start recording their own. One of the team had a friend who was an ex-military officer who happened to have a private collection of weapons. He agreed to the assist the team to record the sound of those weapons.
In the beginning, the team had very little education and experience of audio recording. It could be argued that this gave them a degree of creative freedom that a trained sound recordist might not have brought to the exercise.
The earliest recordings were made in real world locations using a relatively low cost camcorder.
For the early Battlefield games sounds were triggered by a relatively unsophisticated slot based audio engine. Triggers consisted of certain video and control based events, firing a weapon, entering a room and so on. Later games in the series became more complex with sound being triggered by events as well as taking into consideration environmental cues such as distance and physical materials in the area — a cityscape having a unique sound character compared to a woodland scene, for example.
The focus in more recent releases has switched to the making the game audio more realistic, both with respect to the quality of recordings and the delivery of sound in response to the activities of artificial intelligence features such as enemy combatants and vehicles. Stereo is still an important part of gameplay with many gamers wearing headsets to be able to communicate with other online players.
Battlefield Bad Company introduced a new engine which allowed dynamic mixing of several sounds such as environmental background noise, echoes and reverberation as well as close and distant recordings.
Questions from the audience included aspects such as binaural recording, the psychology of gamers exposure to realistic environments, what feedback the team had had from war veterans.
The evening concluded with a visit to one of the 7.1.4 ATMOS sound design rooms.
Written By: Steven Liddle