Today’s post is best viewed with a good set of speakers or headphones, and your sound turned up!
What to say about Blizzard? I could thank Ghostcrawler or the many other game devs at Blizz, but I’m sure that another blogger will cover that for me at some point this week. Instead, I’d like to thank somebody that has had a profound impact on how I think of Warcraft, and who has made the world of Azeroth come alive more vividly through his compositions: Blizzard’s Director of Audio & Video, Russell Brower, and his team of composers, musicians, sound techs, and musical/audio gurus.
The music has always been one of my favorite parts of Warcraft. Sometimes it’s epic, sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it’s incredibly cheeky, but it’s always unforgettable, and perfectly meshes with the zone or instance that it’s in. Who can forget the Tim Burton-esque creepiness of Karazhan:
Or the music from Sylvanas’ Lament of the Highborne, which was repeated in the Eversong Woods blood elf starting area, really driving home the tragedy of the blood elves and Sylvanas herself:
Or Dragonblight… the first time to my knowledge that actual piano music had been used in WoW. It perfectly captured the bitterly cold and desolate feel of Dragonblight:
And of course, from Cataclysm, there is Nightsong – the new night elven theme:
One of my most memorable moments during Wrath of the Lich King was the first time I did the Forge of Souls instance. I had no idea what to expect, but it was clear just from the music that this was not your typical instance. The music had this strange, almost jazzy, almost industrial, ambient feel to it. And when we ran into the first boss – Bronjahm, Godfather of Souls – it all became clear. I was in the middle of trying to figure out this brand new boss fight for the first time, while at the same time laughing so hard that tears were running down my face because of how perfect the music was for this fight.
Yes, we got him the first time. And then we all needed a few minutes to regroup because we were so flabbergasted and delighted by what had just happened. It was an unexpected and completely unforgettable moment for us.
The reason I bring all of this up is that I recently started playing WoW again, and my little dwarf mage finally hit 85 while questing in Twilight Highlands. But, as luck would have it, she didn’t just ding 85 killing a twilight cultist or a zone boss or turning in a quest for finding 10 widgets. No, this was much more epic.
I dinged 85 while helping Russell Brower compose a song.
Okay, so it wasn’t the real Russell Brower. And all I really did was pick bawdy words that rhymed with other words. But it was still a big geek-out moment for me – as somebody who listens to the Warcraft soundtracks on their own for their own merit, this was pretty darn wonderful. I love that Blizzard put in a musically-themed quest for this NPC, it was definitely a fun and unusual experience compared to most of the quests in-game.
So there you have it. Russell and the rest of the Music/Audio team at Blizzard, thank you so much for what you do! You create brilliant soundtracks that stir our emotions and make memorable moments for us players, and for that, you deserve a hearty handshake and a hug.
I leave you with one final piece – the piece many of us spent hours listening to back in 2004 while sitting in server queues – oh yes, the original theme.