Designing Sound: Tell me a bit about Wwise Project Adventure. What is it? What is it’s purpose?
Damain Kastbauer: “The Wwise Project Adventure – A Handbook for Creating Interactive Audio Using Wwise” is a guide to creating a complete project based on a fictitious game. The handbook frames many of the challenges generally faced in game audio and shows different ways to solve the problems through the Wwise authoring application. I also think it attempts to consolidate several different resources that Audiokinetic has made available over the years and bundle them into a comprehensive manual for people who are exploring the possibilities of game audio through Wwise.
The handbook and companion project will be available directly from the installer starting with today’s release of Wwise 2012.2. The included project includes working examples of the different techniques covered throughout the handbook utilizing content from Bay Area Sound. So many game audio fundamentals run throughout, I really feel that it is a great place to start for anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of the technical side of game sound.
DS: How did you get involved with creating the Project Adventure? What is your background with Wwise and implementation?
DK: Simon Ashby from Audiokinetc contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in updating and combining two previously released documents into what eventually become The Wwise Fundamental Approach, released earlier this year. While this document shares similarities with the Wwise Project Adventure, it is less of a step-by-step guide to building a project and more like an explanation of the basis for Audiokinetics approach to game audio. During my revision of this document, there was also interest in a new document that would not only explain the underlying concepts but also lead a person through the process of creating an entire project using Wwise. Simon’s idea was to base the document around a theoretical game project to help give context to the process of learning some of the different techniques available within Wwise.
I’ve been involved as a contractor in six different Wwise projects (to varying degrees) as well as a handful of projects with other audio middleware as well as with internal proprietary toolsets and pipelines. My focus has always been the art of making great content sound great in game using tools and techniques that allow sound to communicate to the player. I’ve had the pleasure to work with so many great sound designers that can create magnificent palettes of sound that can then be applied to different systems in the game to playback sound. My fascination as a technical sound designer is with these systems and processes for integrating content and how they continue to change, progress, and evolve while harnessing the inherently interactive nature of games.
DS: Wwise Project Adventure is different from many tutorial documents I have encountered. Was it important for you to focus on practical applications of Wwise as opposed to vague concepts and generalities?
DK: Practical application and a realistic framework for the process of working with Wwise was definitely at the core of what Simon and Audiokinetic were looking for. Interestingly, my background as a writer is much more fluid, colorful, and decidedly non-technical compared to what was required to compile such a detailed technical handbook. This combination hopefully strikes a balance between the step-by-step tutorial aspects and the philosophical or playful passages that run throughout each section. While the handbook does seek to show a comprehensive overview of integration using Wwise, I think one of the cool things about the authoring application is that there is often more than one way to approach a solution. We’ve tried to frame things as having the ability to adapt to a given workflow or pipeline because, while some of fundamentals expressed in the handbook are sometimes generalized, the integration with any given game engine is usually anything but general. I think it’s this flexibility that defines the ability to make creative choices that are right for the game and for each persons vision of what interactive audio should be.
DS: This document will be included with the latest build of Wwise which includes some enhancements and tweaks. What has been added and what was your process in teaching something brand new?
DK: There were a few significant user interface changes during the course of the document creation, many that sought to make the process more intuitive and clearer as well as giving people greater amount of control over organization.The biggest change is probably the addition of game and user defined auxiliary busses as a replacement for the old Environmental Bus methodology. The handbook was created assuming that someone is just picking up Wwise for the first time. With that in mind, the section describing the Master-Mixer Hierarchy doesn’t make reference to the Environmental Bus. For those who have been using Wwise for years, the new auxiliary busses enable a more fluid way of handling routing for things like Reverb and other DSP. With great power comes great responsibility and I look forward to hearing about how people will be using aux busses to enable creative effects in the future.
DS: As someone fortunate enough to proof-read this document a while back, I learned quite a bit from it. Do you imagine the Project Adventure, given how much you reference the existing Wwise documentation as an entry-point into Wwise?
DK: Audiokinetic has always invested in documentation and video tutorials as a way to enable people to seek answers to their own questions. I think the hope is that the Wwise Project Adventure serves as an introduction to some of the different ways of working with Wwise, as well as a gateway towards some of the more specific methodologies and techniques that they have been documenting since Wwises inception. While the handbook does attempt to cover all the bases one might encounter in a typical game project there are inevitably things that couldn’t be included. What is great to see across personal blogs and forums focused on game audio is a willingness to share experiences and information regarding different challenges, solutions, and techniques that people come across. It’s my hope that resources like the Wwise Project Adventure will enable people who are interested in game audio to grow their understanding of what game audio can accomplish.
Also, thanks for being a part of the initial beta-testing of the document and accompanying project! Bringing the document to a usable state was a herculean task that couldn’t have been accomplished without the following people: Simon Ashby, Etienne Caron, and Bernard Rodrigue from Audiokinetic. Editor Judy Lapalme. Continuity experts: Hrishikesh Dani, Luca Fusi, Jack Menhorn, Roel Sanchez, Michael Taylor, and Rob Bridgett. Extra special thanks to the game audio community in general for being a supportive and creatively fertile breeding ground for bright idea’s and brilliant feedback!