On a whim, I decided to play around with WoW's default sounds on the weekend, and replace them with Transformers sounds - mostly just to experiment and see how hard it was. In retrospect, I already had the knowledge, I just hadn't realized it yet. Months ago I downloaded a sound file to replace the AWFUL Death Knight mount sound (that screech will someday incite murder), and I've been extracting sound files for a while now to use in my D&D games. All I had to do was combine the two.
Mounting up / dismounting is now accompanied by the transforming sound, and my gunshots now sound like Autobot/Decepticon lasers. It's embarrassing how much enjoyment I'm getting out of these little changes. Riding around Dalaran and listening to all the "transforming" is like being in the old 80's cartoon. It's ridiculous, but so much fun.
Do I need any special computer or audio knowledge?
No. As long as you have a WAV sound file, and can find the WoW directory in your computer, you can do this. If you can only find MP3 sound files and not WAV files, that's fine too (more on this later).
Do I need to use a special program?
Nope! All of WoW's sound files are contained in special MPQ files, and if you want to extract them and use them for something else, then yes you would need a special program. But if all you want to do is use your own sound files instead of the default ones, you don't need anything extra.
Can I get banned for doing this?
No! We aren't editing or altering any of WoW's files. Blizzard Blue Bornakk stated on the forums that removing or replacing existing sound files is fine, though it's still illegal to distribute extracted ingame sound or music.
Okay. Let's say we want to replace the DK mount sound (because by god why wouldn't you?). This is the hardest part - finding out what the sound file is named. Fortunately, someone has compiled a master list, which can be downloaded here (at wowinterface.com). It's actually a list to play any WoW sound ingame through a /script command, which will come in handy.
Browsing through the sound files under "Deathknight_" there's one line that says:
A weird and clunky filename, but it looks like it's probably the mounting sound. To test it, copy the entire line and paste it into the in-game chat window, and hit enter. It'll play the sound, and in this case we can verify that yes, it is indeed the terrible DK warhorse sound.
Note: being able to use sounds "on command" is very helpful when you need audio alerts for things. I have a macro that attempts to target rare spawns, and if it successfully targets one, plays the Headless Horseman's loud, cackling laugh. This instantly tells me there's a rare spawn nearby (as well as scaring the shit out of me) in case I missed it visually or wasn't paying attention. Very handy.
Now that we know the sound filename, we just take our new custom sound and rename it to match. So if you wanted the new mount sound to be Ash from Army of Darkness saying "Groovy" you would just rename the original filename - groovy.wav, or whatever - to DeathKnight_SummonWarHorse_Impact_Base.wav.
The last step is placing your custom sound in the right spot. Find your WoW directory - by default C:\Program Files\World of Warcraft for Windows users, or Hard Drive/Applications/World of Warcraft for Mac users - and go to the Data folder. In that folder, create a folder named Sound (if there isn't one already.)
Now, look back at the original DK sound file. We can see that it reads
Sound\\Spells\\DeathKnight_SummonWarHorse_Impact_Base.wav. This means that it belongs in a folder named Spells, which is itself within a folder named Sound.
We just created a Sound folder, so go into it and create another new folder called Spells. Move your custom sound file into this folder, and you're done!
A few final notes:
- You're the only one who will hear your custom sounds. Everyone else will still hear the regular game audio. This is a GOOD THING. (Can you imagine the type of garbage some people would make you hear?)
- You'll probably have to restart your WoW client before the new sounds work, though it seems sometimes they work immediately.
- You probably want to choose new sounds that are close in length to the sounds you're replacing. Making the game play a 30-second audio clip every time you mount up is probably not a good idea.
- Not all sounds go into the Spells folder. For example, if you're replacing gun sounds, they'll end up going in a different folder named Item.
- www.soundboard.com is a great of audio clips from movies, TV shows, etc.
What if I can't find my sound file in that list?
Hate to say it, but you're kind of screwed. Trial and error seems to be the only method here, and sometimes the sounds are called really strange things. Keep pasting in different /script lines ingame and hopefully you'll find it!
What if I want to use an MP3 as my custom sound?
Not a problem, you just have to convert it to a WAV file. There are countless programs that do this, but a quick, free one for Windows users is MP3 to WAV Decoder. Converting MP3s couldn't be simpler - add your MP3, hit Decode & choose where to save your new WAV file, and done. Mac people, you're on your own, sorry. I think iTunes has a built-in Convert option?
My custom sound file is too loud / too quiet!
If your sound clip needs volume adjusting, you can use various programs to modify the volume. Older versions of Windows (pre-Vista) can use the default Sound Recorder, which has a built-in volume adjuster. Since I'm on Vista, I use Audacity, a free sound editing program. Once again Mac-users, sorry but I've got no idea what you can use for this. Keep in mind that sometimes a sound file is just too quiet, scratchy or poor quality to improve. You may be better off just finding a different version of the clip, or using a different sound altogether.
That's it! Pretty straightforward, yet so many possibilities! I've only replaced the mounting and gunfire sounds, but I'm looking at changing my wolf's sounds and maybe also my flying mount audio.
And because this is a Hunter blog, after all...here's a list of all the Hunter sounds I've found so far, and their paths. It's not a complete list at all, but it's a start!