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A Year of Rain (Audio Post Mortem?)

At the end of 2019 we released the RTS A Year of Rain into Early Access. We had been working on it for a year and a half and were optimistic that this would be the upcoming Warcraft replacement. We even had a couple of pro starcraft players playtest the game in a closed alpha state and give us feedback on things we could improve upon. That year was also the year the anticipated Warcraft 3: Reforged was going to launch and we tried to beat them to the race by releasing two months before them. The production was already very thin in terms of manpower but the goal was to be the next RTS on the market with all eyes on us. Unfortunately things didn't go according to plan and the planned live tail for the game was cut off as the game didn't sell enough units in the beginning months. The journey of making the game was a fun and very challenging one, since this was my first project using audio middleware and being the only sound designer on the team I had to juggle both production, coordinating and implementation roles. In the end I even composed half of the soundtrack for the game! Towards the end of the production we were asked to write an article on our specific areas, both showcasing the game and how we solved the problems that arose making an RTS as a company that has never made a multiplayer game before. The article can be found here: Looking back I would have done a lot of things differently and done a lot more planning and pre-production, especially for a project that had such a dense soundscape. I would have loved a dedicated audio programmer and an in-house composer on my team to support the needs of the project and allow for more flexibility and customisation. In the end we had 3 composers doing the score, it was unnecessary and caused by bad planning. I loved recording placeholder dialogue in-house. We asked fellow colleagues to apply for the different character roles and recorded, processed and implemented each character early on to give the units a voice and some characters that were done by colleagues were almost as good as the end results! Although it wasn't planned I thoroughly enjoyed crafting music for our game. In retrospect I think the game had a lot of potential but was too ambitious for the size and experience of the team making it. We used Unreal as our engine which could be argued to be a wrong fit for an RTS game. In the time making the game I got to improve my craftmanship skills, learn about good and bad communication and how important it is to be clear when talking to contractors about the needs of your game. I also got to learn how to use Wwise and Reaper and voice-act a crazy flame skull unit!

I am excited about the future of RTS games and I am eagerly waiting for the title that will dethrone Blizzard from their throne.


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