The dragons are back from the ocean’s depths. Today marks the release of Guild Wars 2, the new massively multiplayer online role playing game (think World of Warcraft meets Star Wars: The Old Republic) from developer ArenaNet. S+V got a chance to chat with Guild Wars 2’s audio director, James Ackley, who told us about the challenges and rewards of designing sound for an MMO.

Ackley has been a sound designer since 1997, getting his start at Sierra Online and then moving onto Monolith, where he worked on the Condemned and F.E.A.R. horror shooters and their sequels. But he’s been designing audio since he was a kid. “My friend and I would play with creating echo and sound delays with three different portable tape recorders. At the time, I thought we were doing something no one else had done,” he smiled.

But while a few others have done it, sound design for an MMO is indeed very different from a traditional game. Traditional games rely on cues and scripted events to trigger sound effects, but in an MMO scripted events are few and far between. I picked Ackley’s brain about what he went through of creating an MMO’s soundscape, how he sees audio changing as the medium matures and lighting a 14” ball of Kevlar and chicken wire on fire instead of using stock sound effects for fireballs.

And yes, there’s video.

Read the full interview at Sound + Vision website.