Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Article Intro - Fear and Loathing in Game Audio

In this month's issue of Game Developer I had an opportunity to write a technically focused review of the current version of Audiokinetic's Wwise. The article comes across a bit dry, and significantly geeky - but it didn't start out that way. Initially I set out with the intent to parody the classic gonzo journalism epic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by the venerable Hunter S. Thompson. So I cribbed the introduction and commenced with some swapping, the results of which eventually ended up on the cutting room floor to pave the way for a more succinct overview of the toolset. If the review makes it's way online i'll be sure to get a link up to it. In the meantime, here's an unofficial introduction to it.

"The production team had given us the audio budget early on, most of which was already spent on field recoding trips to the Bahama's for “source” material. The audio engine we chose had been integrated and tuned up since the first milestone. We were in pre-production and no one expected sound to be up and running so quickly, but here we were at the company meeting with prototype sound systems in place and a first pass on content throughout the demo level.
We had secured 24MB of RAM, an interactive mixer hierarchy, a high powered audio engine profiler, a  full featured Event system, and a whole galaxy of random, sequence, actor-mixer, switch, and blend Containers, and a new suite of DSP plug-in effects including a Master Limiter, HPF, LPF, Distortion, EQ, Gate, Noise Generation, device simulation, and also the ability to apply Real Time Parameter Control in dozens of places across almost every value. 
Not that we needed all that for the game, but once you get locked into serious audio implementation, the tendency is to push the limits as far as you can. The only thing that really worried me was the RAM. There is nothing in the world more frustrating and challenging and dangerous than an audio team in the depths of game development than an anemic RAM budget. And I knew we'd get close to that ceiling pretty soon. 
Luckily, we had Audiokinetic's Wwise on our side."

To those of you rocketing toward the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week I send along my warmest regards. I'll be deep in the throes of an implementation binge, and unable to join you for the inevitable ecstasy of communication. My thoughts are with you, and I hope you return from adventure with your cup full of sonic goodness, and monumental stories of serendipity.

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