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Around the start of 2021 we started talking to Triumph Studios about the audio design for their new title Age of Wonders 4. Having worked with Triumph on Age of Wonders 3 this was a title we knew well and so were very happy to be coming back to help create a new and improved version. As always with Triumph they had some great new ideas and concepts for the game this time around, with some fantastic art and design.

Initially we spent the first few months working closely with the team to design and prototype various new audio systems within the game/Creator Engine and inside FMOD, and also to generally update/improve audio code during this prototyping phase. The most important new system was designing and building a new audio ambience system to cover the many different environments / climates / zones. The final system we ended up with is a cool, real-time crossfading system, with unique audio streams for all the different environments / areas, these are mixed / faded between based on the players current location and elevation. Each of these environmental audio streams consist of 2 main elements - single (long) looping ambiences and large sets of unique ambient one shots, triggered utilizing FMOD’s ‘Scatterer’ Event to give them randomized timings and 3D locations. In addition to this there are also many different individual buildings, locations, objects, POI spread across the world which all have their own audio loops/one shot systems.

Also, there are a vast number of different customizable characters, creatures, animals which inhabit the world of Age of Wonders 4 and these all need unique audio design and development. The various different races/populations in the game include Lizards, Molemen, Ogres, Orcs, Ratkins, Beastens, Tigrans, Toads, Humans, Serpents, Spiders, Bears, Beetles, Dragons, Elementals, Wolves, Giants, Dragons, Horses, Demons, Mammoths, Boars, Golems, Zombies and many more. These ‘Units’ all require audio character design, and this process obviously took a fair amount of time to develop, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, helping the team bring all these excellent characters to life

In addition to this, there are also many magical spells, buffs, tomes, abilities, taunts and skills that are used in the game and these all needed serious audio design, development and iteration throughout the course of the project.

The Paradox Interactive audio team came on board towards the end of the project to help with the final mix and the UI sound design, they also recorded additional vocal emotes which we set up on all the different races and tribes within the game, this helped out a lot and added some great extra depth and detail to the characters.

Check out a trailer for the game below:

The game was released on May 2nd 2023 for PC, Xbox Series X and PS5

As an example, to help illustrate the audio composition for one of these areas, we have prepared 3 videos showing some of the spell sound design, in these videos the spell sounds have been separated into 3 main audio layers. These 3 main layers often contain multiple layered sounds within them, but we have reduced it down to just 3 main layer groups, otherwise the videos would get really long, with like 10 – 15 different video passes per Spell.

Circle of Death - Tome of Dead. Evil, summon, death, Necromancy type of spell

Arcane Fire Cyclone - Tome of Devastation. Powerful Arcane fire magic spell

Healing Light - Light based, Holy theme, magical healing spell

The tools and software used throughout all the audio design work on the project was mostly Reaper DAW along with various instruments / plugins, with the main ones being MMorph, FM8, Absynth5, Guitar Rig5, Envy2, Massive, Reaktor, Transient Master, Vocal Synth2, Ozone 9, RX8, Nectar 2 & 3, Lowender, MAutoDynamicEq, Spectral Delay, Iris2, Trash, Turbo Reverb.

Note: there are multiple audio variations of each of these spell sounds above to avoid obvious repetition. Also note that I’m not sure if the spell names used here actually stayed the same in the final shipped game.