Daily Archives: March 15, 2007

Cameras With Ears

So I had this indignant article all written up.  It was a lunch time effort that flowed almost effortlessly from my fingers through the keyboard and onto my screen.  It contained a scathing attack on World of Warcraft and featured it in an unfavorable light compared to my pet favorite MMO, EverQuest II.  It also contained a barb about Lord of the Rings Online and was sure to be a hit.

However, since being indignant is one of the five warning signs that I am completely wrong about something (which I often fail to note, being caught up in said indignance) I decided that perhaps a bit of fact checking was in order. 

And while I wasn’t completely wrong, I would say that perhaps I was a bit over the top.

The subject in question was sound perception in game and my peeve was the fact that in WoW, sound appears to be relative to the camera rather than your avatar.  In EQ2, of course, sound is always relative to your character, which seems to me to be the correct way to handle sound.

I had many an argument for having sound relative to your avatar and even dipped into first person shoots as a comparison point.

However, a look through WoW’s sound configuration shows that there is an option you can check to have sound always relative to your character rather than the camera. 

This rather let the air out of the main part of my post. 

I can still bag on LOTRO, since it also plays sound relative to the camera and does NOT appear to have an option to change that.  But LOTRO is in beta still, so they could fix that.  Besides which, I can barely play LOTRO now that my x1950 is on the fritz and it is hard to sustain that sense of outrage against a game you are not playing.

So I am left with the questions “Why would you ever want sound to be relative to your camera as opposed to your avatar?” and “Why is the ‘camera with ears’ option the default for WoW?”

Can anybody answer either of those convincingly?  What sounds are best heard 20 feet behind and 10 feet above your character?