Winter Convergence Festival: Audio & Lore Inspiration

December 9, 2022

Greetings, Adventurers!

Discover the holiday magic behind this year’s Winter Convergence Festival before it ends on January 10, 2023. Our Audio and Narrative Teams took inspiration from various holiday festivities to make the event feel like a natural extension of what you love about New World. Enjoy the ambience of Winter villages, confront the Winter Warrior’s brutality in an all-new world boss fight, and immerse yourself in nostalgic sounds as you complete quests for new, limited-time rewards. Here’s how we brought the holiday season to life in Aeternum.

Winter Convergence Festival Lore

A mysterious creature referring to themselves as the Winter Wanderer appears in Aeternum at the start of the Convergence season, but the denizens of Aeternum are doubtful of its bold claim. Tales of the Winter Warrior and Frigid Folk are just that, tall tales to tell around the campfire! However, a string of strange disturbances fitting the stories of the Frigid Folk are occurring around the island.

The tales are true. The Winter Warrior and its legion of Frigid Folk are behind the occurrences and are exacting their plan of a Forever Winter! Real or not, the creature known as the Winter Wanderer is the key to fighting back.

Winter Wanderer & Warrior Lore

“We wanted to introduce the backstory of the Winter Wanderer in stages,” said Narrative Designer Aaron de Orive. “We knew we’d use yetis as major characters, both a good and an evil version. They would speak their own language, consisting of grunts, growls, and roars created by our amazing audio team. That certainly made sense for the Winter Warrior, the savage yeti, but the Wanderer needed to be able to communicate with the players as a quest giver. So it was decided to make the Wanderer a yeti by way of a magical curse. He wasn’t always a yeti, and if you pay attention to the Wanderer’s dialogue, he hints at a previous life, mentioning distant memories of a warm fire, children’s laughter, and the beautiful sound of ringing bells. The Wanderer’s memories will slowly return to him, allowing the players to help him piece together who he was before the curse, and more importantly, why he was cursed.”

“The plan was also to slowly reveal the larger lore behind the Winter Convergence event. Aeternum hosts many ancient powers, and as the source of all myths in the world, it stands to reason that it would’ve had a being that inspired Yule figures like Father Winter. Players will have to wait a few more seasons to discover who or what this mysterious being may be, and how it guides the events that make up the Winter holiday. The Wanderer is a representative of this being, spreading the hopeful message and meaning of the season.”

“But likewise, the Warrior similarly serves an ancient entity, and it stands in stark contrast to the benevolent figure of Father Winter. This dark figure will also be explored in future iterations of the Winter Convergence event. Because on Aeternum, there must always be the darkness to contrast against the light.”

Winter Convergence Festival Audio Inspiration

Winter Village

“It’s not easy to establish one sound that represents all the cultures so I looked at the game environment and went again to my hometown French forest during the winter holidays,” said Audio Director Jean-Edouard Miclot. “Lots of snowflakes started falling slowly from the sky through the tall green pine trees so I put my handheld recorder under a thick bed of dry leaves and pressed record. Nature is magic on its own. The result was an ASMR-like tinkle of each snowflake landing on the leaves. It created a gentle ambient bed that I used in the main menu and around the Winter Convergence tree in the settlement and in the winter village.”

“We also needed an ambient music track in the winter village that felt free from cultural influences so I started writing music based on the New World theme but made with various toys like a little train whistle, bicycle bells, xylophone toy, crystal glasses and other virtual instruments. The idea was to make music from presents so I recorded my three little boys opening our gifts under my parent’s tree and there was a lot of noise from the excitement unwrapping presents but I managed to salvage a lot of cute little giggles, laughs and reactions. The audio denoising tools we have these days are amazing so I used them to their full extent to express childhood memories and the happiness around family. My kids have now aged a bit and so have their voices, making it an interesting manifesto to listen to that track again.”

Winter Wanderer

“New World is filled with a lot of personal experiences,” said Jean-Edouard. “The loud animalistic voice of the Winter Wanderer for example is made from a large female Canadian moose that I recorded in Kamloops British Columbia where my wife’s uncle and aunt lived. I had the chance to record the majestic animal with a trainer who could call her and make her talk. I built several expressive phrases from all the snippets and the voice of the yeti was born.”

Winter Warrior

“The Winter Warrior is a behemoth of a creature and the embodiment of a winter storm full of rage and furry,” said Senior Audio Designer Michael Finley.” I wanted to reflect this brutality in the sound design of the Warrior's voice. However, I felt it a personal challenge to convey his brutal nature through other sonic means and didn't want to lean on the usual apex predator animals such as lions, bears, and tigers for audio source material.”

“In battle, some of his actions and movements felt more light hearted. There are moments where he regathers his strength in-between large scale attacks, and you can see him shaking his head side to side. I had an instantaneous emotional reaction to this and imagined the sound of cheek jowls fluttering back and forth. Immediately the sound of gnarly, gurgly, guttural Camel vocalizations came to mind. This would become the foundation of the Winter Warrior's Voice voice. Twisting the Camel voice audio samples to sound more aggressive was the perfect challenge and led to some very surprising and unpredictable results. In the end, the voice feels eerie and uncanny while at the same time ferocious, which is perfect for this winter monster.”

Gleamite Meteor

“Using a personal recording for a character or an object that has nothing to do with the recording is like performing a magic trick.” said Jean-Edouard. “I tried this non-literal approach last year on the sounds of the Gleamite meteor. It was initially set up to play a sound when the meteor entered the atmosphere but it felt cheesy. It's only when I accidentally came upon an old World War 2 prop plane recording that I had an idea. The aircraft didn't sound recognizable but it felt real so I delayed the start of the meteor by about 10 seconds and hooked up that plane sound to play at the meteor location but with no visuals.”

“I think it worked well because it drew attention toward the event. It created anticipation!”

“It made players stop what they were doing, look at the sky and wait for it to happen. Then after a short silence, the meteor entered the atmosphere with a powerful crackling sound made from distorted ice recordings and a rocket launch sound effect. It was dramatic!”

“The meteor being so powerful, we made sure that players could hear it in a 600 meter radius (650 yards). It's the second loudest sound after the Brimstone Sands pyramid that you can hear up to 1.2 km (0.75 miles). It could be a world record in game audio, maybe someone will let us know!”

“The VFX team initially had the meteor explosion working as one beat but it didn’t feel interesting enough so we asked for a Boom-Shack kind of rhythm and I was surprised when they agreed to redo it with this off-beat implosion/explosion.”

“The implosion was simply made from a synthetic sub-harmonic effect but the explosion was surprisingly made from a dirt bike recording combined with a TNT explosion and the pitched down metallic sound of scratching a baseball bench. Sound design can be a strange artistic thing sometimes…”

Gleamite Chunks

“The big Gleamite chunks that players can mine are essentially crystals from space so I wanted them to sound credible and otherworldly but also musical,” said Jean-Edouard. “Their transparent blue color reminded me of my trip to a glacier in Iceland where the water was flowing through the shiny blue ice so I used those water recordings to keep it grounded. I layered some of the baseball bench screeches to make them sound otherworldly and used crystal glass sounds to make it musical.”

“That's the way we imagined the sounds of the winter holidays for you in Aeternum and I hope you like immersing yourself in it again.”

Thanks for your support! Enjoy the holidays and we’ll see you in Aeternum.