There is a pretty cool interview up at Transuranic Design Works with Sims series Audio Director Robi Kauker. I am always interested to hear about how audio teams uses software like Max/MSP in their process. One answer that was very interesting to me was on the subject of middleware:
JF: What do you think of the middleware approach to solving problems?
Kauker: Middleware is like defining your orchestra. Here are your limits; this is what your middleware does. You picked it, now run with it. I think that middleware solutions are absolutely necessary. You as a small developer are never going to be able to develop a PS3 title, if you have to write all that code, debug and fix, all of those solutions. If you’re spending your cycles doing that…we don’t do that in EA. For Sims 3, I’m taking the best of what Spore offered audio-wise, and reapplying it to Sims 3, very little changes.
SimCity 4 took the best of what SimCity 3000 had to offer. Because it was five years old, they refactored it, made it better, made it smarter, and added a lot of really cool stuff to it, so they could do their game. It’s a continual cycle of growth. Actually The Sims 2 took from SimCity 4. So it’s a constant cycle of development. I don’t reinvent the wheel; I steal more tech from the Need for Speed team, or the ideas from Medal of Honor, or the Harry Potter recording chain, versus the Sims recording chain. They’re different tools, but the ideas are similar to each other.
I think the above is very good advice as well as insight into how middleware and implementation can, and in many cases, should be used.
I should also point out that: “This is an expanded version of an article originally published 4.13.09 on Gamasutra. You can read the original at: Planet of Sound: Talking Art, Noise, and Games with EA’s Robi Kauker.”