The Soundscape of Uprising
Sound spotting capsuleers,
The Uprising expansion brought several new developments into the soundscape of New Eden, with a view to making EVE more immersive, convincing, and richly detailed. In this blog we’re going to walk you through the design and composition principles behind many of those new sound effect (SFX) and music features of Uprising – namely the new turret SFX, the Upwell Hangar soundscapes, new login music, and the adaptive battlefield music.
And if you like the idea of taking the sounds of the star cluster with you into the rest of your life, make sure not to miss EVE’s latest music release! We’re very excited to announce that all of the music of Uprising has now arrived on Spotify and other streaming platforms as a new album. With 10 tracks to lose yourself to, ‘The Music of Uprising’ brings plenty to keep your ears occupied. In fact, why not put it on now, as a backdrop to reading this blog?
Without further ado, let’s dive into it!
New Turret SFX
The Uprising expansion came with updated sound design for turret weapons. This includes outburst and impact sounds of beams, pulses, blasters, railguns, artillery, and auto cannons.
Apart from the turrets sounding and feeling more powerful and rewarding as you unleash their firepower, a main function for the new designs is to give a visceral and clear sense of weapon size and technology, so that they may become useful audio clues that can be exploited as an integral part of gameplay.
The update also cleans up the overall sound experience of large-scale battle scenarios – not least due to EVE’s new sound prioritization system which saves on CPU usage from the audio system, while significantly improving the overall sound experience of EVE Online. You can also check out this special Twitch episode to hear some of the turrets in action, and learn more about ‘sound spotting’.
With the various turret types having clearly distinct sounds that can be easily identified and perceived, it’s possible for players to quickly identify which weapons are firing from any ship the camera is zoomed in on – even during large battles. The sounds that play as firepower pounds your ship will also give auditory clues to what type and size of weapon is targeting you, informing your next battlefield decision.
Upwell Hangar Soundscapes
With the new Upwell Hangars came unique Upwell Hangar soundscapes. These sonic environments adapt to changes in hangar health status and were designed from scratch for this purpose. There are three such status levels in the new Upwell hangars: Full power, low power and abandoned.
When a hangar has full health, the status level is that of full power. Here you will hear a lot of activity in the hangar, both in terms of sound effects and voice announcements. As a hangar gets attacked and declines in health, the soundscape changes accordingly to the low power status by decreasing the activity and density of SFX and voice announcements. If eventually a hangar gets an even lower health status, it is sonically regarded as abandoned and there is only a vast but faint noise left in the now much less active hangar environment. In this way, the soundscapes change the vibe and energy inside the hangars from hubs of lively activity to desolate places of solitude, while letting the players intuitively understand a hangar’s health status at any given moment. As with the turrets, here the new updates add atmosphere and immersion, while also helping communicate information with pilots in a highly natural way.
Furthermore, Upwell structures such as the Sotiyo engineering complex and the Athanor have also been granted their own unique sound design.
Music of Uprising
The new login music of the EVE Online Uprising expansion marks a return to the tradition of including a new EVE Online music theme with each major expansion. The Uprising music has a new and different sound and feel – a change in musical style that is also gradually taking place across new dungeons and features such as the battlefield dungeon and several other places in New Eden.
To give the Uprising expansion a coherent vibe, the music inside the battlefield dungeons during Factional Warfare consists almost entirely of variations of sound and musical material present in the new login theme. These elements have been manipulated in various ways and turned into an adaptive musical flow that fits the combat scenario, and changes according to which faction is leading the fight. The aim here has been to maintain a musical common thread throughout the new features of Uprising, while at the same time creating a sense of urgency and tension with enough variation in the soundscape to minimise fatigue of the player’s ears during potentially long gameplay sessions.
With the adaptive battlefield music, the aim is to strengthen the sense of purpose and belonging for the factions at war. There are seven possible ‘musical states’ that can occur interchangeably during a battlefield fight, with the music transitioning back and forth between these states in accordance with the score tracker UI. This also helps everyone keep track of what the current score is without having to look away to the UI.
Those seven states are:
- Plays when the score is even and none of the factions at war are clearly in the lead
- The music here distances itself somewhat from the action and takes the perspective of an overview of the epic situation
- It’s an example of Vertically Dominated Music (VDM) - i.e., music with ideally no perceivable musical patterns like rhythms, melodies and chord progressions. For anyone interested in learning more about VDM check out the audio talk from last year’s EVE Fanfest.
- Factional Supremacy (one for each of the four factions)
- Plays when one of the factions has the upper hand and is in a clear leading position
- Action-packed combat music with either an Amarr, Caldari, Gallente or Minmatar twist to it, depending on which faction has the supremacy
- Includes musical adaptations of some sounds that are also heard in the hangars of that faction
- Alternates between full-on battle drums and less intense sequences
- Faction Winning
- Plays when one of the competing factions gets close to victory
- The music transitions into a different beat, with a darker feeling and higher tempo to emphasize the drama
- Faction Won
- Finally, as one side claims victory, a short climax concludes the battlefield music
Although the battlefield music is in a way quite different from the login music, by using much of the same material as a foundation for both, the intention is to help bind Uprising features together into a coherent experience. When using music to do so, this effect happens mainly on a subtle and somewhat unconscious level. This is where film music and game music often work most effectively – behind the scenes so to speak, when the direct attention is focused elsewhere – such as on unleashing the full power of your auto cannons on your insufficiently armed opponent!
Functions of Game Music
Very often game music is used primarily to set the general mood of a particular scenario in a game. In EVE Online such a general scenario might be described as something like ‘outer space science fiction’ and may be expressed, for example, by using synthesizers and vast sounding reverb (room) effects. This is an important and very effective function for game music. However, there are many other functions that music can have in a game – especially when the music is adaptive and thus able to dynamically change according to shifts in gameplay. Here’s a list of some of these functions:
Anticipating, pointing, symbolic, promoting continuity, marking formal structure, describing the environment, choraplastic (defines an acoustic space), topoplastic (defines a location), chronoplastic (defines a sense of time), aeonoplastic (defines an era), emphasis on movement, representing a location, source music, commenting, basis for player emotions, internal/external logic, and more…
When, for example, you hear the Minmatar Supremacy state of the battlefield music, some of the functions in play are:
- pointing (by pointing player attention to the fact that the Minmatar is now leading the battle)
- symbolic (by using subtle musical layers that represent the Minmatar faction and are only ever used in connection with Minmatar)
- basis for player emotions (by expressing a sort of boost in morale and willingness to keep fighting a battle going well for the Minmatar. For the competing side, this underlines the feeling of needing to get their act together before it’s too late!)
- Internal logic (internal logic refers to when music reflects the action – or logic – of the gameplay, in this case battle drums and deep synth elements emphasize to the battle gameplay scenario)
When the Equilibrium state is playing, the functions being carried out by music are, for example:
- Describing the environment (the continuity and borderless aspects of this music help underline the vastness of space, and the lack of traditional musical patterns expresses the weightless infinity of the dark vacuum)
- Chronoplastic (this has to do with the experience of time. Music can describe the flow of time as slow and fast, for example – or, in this case, as almost having stopped)
- External logic (external logic refers to music that acts in contrast to the literal action of gameplay. The music reflects something else - in this case it takes a step back from the on-going combat to describe the epic situation at large)
We will not go any further into the functions of game music at this point, but it should be mentioned that all of them can help in their own ways to splice a narrative together in a seamless manner and infuse more urgency and meaning into the aspects of the game where the player’s attention is focused – likely without the player consciously noticing it.
That’s it for now! We hope we’ve given you a flavor of what’s happening when it comes to the sound of Uprising. And remember, if you haven’t already, get over to Spotify and check out the new Uprising album!
The album is also available on: