Hello folks. Itâ€™s Maclaine Diemer, back again with another post about music. For this monthâ€™s Dragon Bash content, we wanted to have a recognizable theme, and the idea was brought up to incorporate a song, written by ArenaNetâ€™s own Matthew Moore, called â€œSpawn the Dragon.â€ Iâ€™ll let Matthew explain its origin.
In 2010, when ArenaNet was ready to let fans get their hands on Guild Wars 2 for the first time, it was no small effort. While two dozen of us went off to Cologne to unveil the demo on the floor of gamescom, the rest of the studio stayed in Bellevue and prepared for the ultimate all-nighter: To simulate the experience of full servers, ArenaNet staff at home flipped their schedules to play the game alongside attendees in Germany.
During the week, I was working in the gamescom business center and driving demonstrations for press. I always had one ear on my presenter and the other on a Ventrilo channel with the command center back at home. Our conversations went something like this:
â€œWeâ€™re exiting character creation in two minutes.â€
â€œRoger that. We have escorts in the tutorial.â€
â€œThe elemental is down. What events are running in Shaemoor?â€
â€œBandits are in the field with five waves to go.â€
â€œAlright, I just got the signal that weâ€™re skipping to the Shatterer. Spawn the dragon.â€
â€œThe dragon is up.â€
â€œAnd weâ€™re about to wrap up; tell the team to hit him hard.â€
â€œShatterer is down. See you in 15.â€
As the week went on, I started looking for a way to encapsulate the experience of meeting enthusiastic fans, in-jokes, lost voices and personnel, weariness, joy, and a sense of unity that stretched across the ocean. The penultimate night of the gamescom, I put pen to paper in an attempt to do just that.
After our final press demo, I did one last all-channel broadcast and let fly with an a cappella song called â€œSpawn the Dragon.â€ When I later recorded an MP3 for those who missed the original, it found its way into a few forums and podcasts, but for me, the song had already fulfilled its purpose of capturing and celebrating the spirit of that first show.
You can imagine my surprise when Steve Hwang pinged me a month ago to ask if his team could use â€œSpawn the Dragonâ€ as the musical theme for the Dragon Bash festival. I didnâ€™t need much convincing to rewrite the lyrics; who wouldnâ€™t want their song played in the streets of Lionâ€™s Arch? After some direction from Steve and Maclaine, I came up with a reimagining that I think celebrates the spirit of perseverance at the core of the festival. But my pleasant surprise of revisiting an old tune was nothing compared to my delight with just how far Maclaine wanted to take it.
I always thought that Matthewâ€™s song was very catchy, and it had clearly stuck with other members of our studio. To me, the chorus always sounded like the sort of thing youâ€™d hear in a pub, perhaps being sung by rowdy patrons. So, I figured, why not make it precisely that? Matthewâ€™s new lyrics fit that vibe perfectly. Itâ€™s the sort of song that everyone in Lionâ€™s Arch would know and love.
First, I needed some help from the rest of the company. I knew I wanted to have heavy foot stomps and claps in the chorus. That sort of sound is a difficult thing to fake, so at our bi-weekly company-wide meeting, I recorded everyone in the room stomping and clapping. Then, with the help of a small team of volunteer singers, I slapped together a demo.
Following each session, the other demo drivers and I made all-channel broadcasts so the folks at home would know about the incredible reception we were receiving. But there was an equal amount of excitement on the other side of the mic. Let me tell you, itâ€™s fun to take a break from making games all day to play games all night. It can be especially fun to play eight hours straight of Guild Wars 2. But after repeating the same 30 minutes of content 50 times in a row, even our most devoted devs got a little punchy. Checking our email revealed a regular stream of messages circulating around the office reveling in treat deliveries, trading picture memes, and running contests to do the largest single-shot damage to ambient creatures.