1. Ask EA: The Music & Sound of 'Rogue Agent'

    By Athena Stamos on 2004-10-06

    At the beginning of August CBn members had a chance to ASK EA about the music and audio in their new James Bond based video game, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. EA has finally responded by selectively answering questions submitted by the sites that attended EA’s Rogue Agent Community Day.

    Q. Who will be composing the score for GoldenEye: Rogue Agent?

    A. We have world-renowned DJ, Paul Oakenfold, as the music supervisor for GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. Best known for spinning records at huge parties and contributing to several major motion pictures, Paul will compose an original score and create the game’s overarching musical personality. We knew we wanted Paul because he brings a hard-driving, intensity to all the music he composes. Moreover, Paul will add a new dimension to the gameplay experience by emphasizing intense moments throughout each mission. For example, the music will react to what’s occurring in the game, switching throughout each mission based on location, the AI, and the player’s reaction to events around them.

    Q. Will the score be a string/orchestral style, pop music style, a techno style, or any other particular style?

    A.We wanted the music to be edgy just like the title character, GoldenEye. Moreover, the music needed to harness the excitement and energy that comes from being immersed in the Bond underworld. Thus, we knew Paul’s trance style of electronic music would fit perfectly with the game.

    To bring the music to a new level, music in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent is an ever changing remix-on-the-fly. If the player plays the game over and over, the music will never be the same twice. Even if the player were to play the same level over again, the music will be different. This is because the music reacts to the player’s style.

    With the right sound system, it will feel like Paul is spinning right in your living room.

    Q. Will we ever hear Goldeneye himself speak, and if so, who provides his voice?

    A. GoldenEye is a guy who lets his actions speak for themselves. Thus, the character is a man of few words, however, throughout the game, you’ll here sounds that are distinctly GoldenEye.

    Q. What is the voice cast list for GoldenEye: Rogue Agent? If possible, could you provide a full cast list?

    A. We’ve enlisted a cast of talented voice actors to bring life to the characters. In addition to these, we’ve also brought back some of the most recognizable Bond actors. The Hollywood talent roster includes Christopher Lee, who is reprising his role as the villainous Francisco Scaramanga from The Man with the Golden Gun and Judi Dench, who returns as M and has appeared in four James Bond films to date.

    Q. How key is it for EA to have a strong score/soundtrack? Which aspect do you feel is more important visuals or the audio, or are they both equal?

    A. Music and sound effects make a huge contribution to a game’s overall feel and help to set the environment and overall vibe. It was important for GoldenEye: Rogue Agent to have stellar sound, amazing music, top caliber dialog performances and a visceral tone that coincides with the ‘rogue’ theme of the game.

    Q. Is there a special group of people that work just on music or is left up to the people working on the game to fit everything together?

    A. We have a team dedicated to the game’s audio. Gregory Allen, the audio director for the game, oversees the creation and implementation of the audio that appears in the game. His team presently consists of audio integrators, dialogue engineers, sound designers, and two mixing engineers. Together, they work with Paul to integrate the music seamlessly into the game.

    Q. How much time do you spend on making sure a song fits a game just right or is it you just hear a song and you work?

    A. In general, we spend as much time on the sound as the animators and engineers spend building the game. In the end, the audio must match the visuals. To get there, Gregory will take sections of the game and put them into a music editing program. From there he creates a mix of how he envisioned the audio engine working in the game. We’ll repeat that process until it sounds right.

    Q. How many songs/tunes will there be in GE:RA?

    A. Right now, it’s difficult to quantify exactly how many songs there will be in the end product. What we can tell you is our audio team is working with close to 200 songs totaling over 2.5 hours of music.

    Q. Will 5.1 Dolby Digital surround be supported? Fully?

    A. All consoles will support Dolby Pro Logic 2 and the Xbox will feature Dolby Digital. Additionally, our sound is certified by THX.

    Q. Ask EA how they do their sound effects. Do they create tracks & noises “in-house”? Do they have a “foley studio”? Is there a “canned & computerized” sound system? I know that sounds are manipulated & altered, but where do they come from?

    A. There are a number of sources we use for sound effects. We begin by testing various sources, but will continue the search and tweak until the sound is just right. If we’re still not satisfied, we may turn to Hollywood sound design teams that are familiar with audio projects of this scope. One of the teams we are working with right now worked on The Lord of the Rings and other blockbuster movies.

    Furthermore, to bring the music and sound effects into the 3D realm, we use mapping to better simulate a real-world environment. By this, we are referring to “global sound effects.” These are sounds such as over-the-top weapon fire or a huge explosion from a grenade. We want the players to feel like the weapon they are holding is the biggest and badest weapon ever. We achieve this through clever sound design. Our goal is to use audio to play on a gamer’s emotions. For example, when you hear a gun shot from a non-player character (NPC) in GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, the sound will actually change as the NPC gets closer to you based on real-world physics. We are using sound to create the first, first-person shooter that really makes the player feel like they are living and breathing inside this Bond underworld.

    Q. Will the James Bond theme be worked into the score even though Rogue Agent is a villain’s game?

    A. There is a chance you might here the original James Bond theme by Monty Norman. Watch out for our new television commercial which seamlessly integrates the original theme with Oakenfold’s edgy sound.

    Q. Akin to how James Bond has his instantly recognizable theme, will the character of GoldenEye also have a theme of his own?

    A. GoldenEye will have a title track that will be edgy to match his persona.

    Q. Will the ethnicity of the locations in the game rub off on the music? i.e.: Will the Hong Kong levels have Chinese themed music?

    A. The music of each level will have a distinct feel to it, complimenting the setting. For instance, when you travel to the rooftops of Hong Kong, the music will integrate some local themes.

    Q. Will there be a CD release for the GE:RA soundtrack?

    A. When you pre-order (GameCube, Xbox & Playstation 2) the game, you’ll receive 30 days of free service to REAL/Rhapsody. Included with this, you’ll be able to stream the music from the game as well as more than 750,000 songs!