The August issue of Develop magazine is available now, including an article with SCEE’s Creative Services Group’s principal audio programmer, Nicolas Fournel talking about his vision of the future of game audio programing:
Nicolas Fournel has an impressive 20 years’ experience developing commercial digital audio software. He started out coding Amiga sample editors in assembler and went on to build audio technology for Factor 5 (including the GameCube SDK audio tools), Konami Hawaii and Electronic Arts, Vancouver before arriving at his current senior position within SCEE’s Creative Services Group.
So, how does he see the current and future state of game audio programming?
He says: “A significant focus for me is audio analysis to help create smarter tools, improve audio engines and enhance or even create gameplays,” he says. “For example you can analyse the spectral content of your assets and export this information to the game as metadata. When sounds are triggered or modified at runtime, you update the spectral matrix – a representation of the game’s overall output in the frequency domain. The audio engine can then make informed decisions: how to dynamically mix the game, to apply (or not) audio shaders to a sound effect based on its audio properties, and so on.
Perceptual voice management is also made possible, supplementing voice priority systems, to decide whether frequency-wise, it’s appropriate to start a new sound or not. If there are already ten very low frequency sounds playing on the left you might not want to add more. Remember – audio engines are deaf. They take decisions that impact the whole gaming experience without ‘listening’.
“Analysis is also the key to creating higher- level tools. The more your application knows about the data you’re manipulating, the better because it can assist with creative choices. Content-aware tools can represent your assets in a meaningful and useful way – for instance, maybe for a debris sound effect
what is important is the distribution of the impacts in time and the overall envelope. For a pitched musical instrument it will be the harmonics and the pitch. Audio analysis can be used to extract all kinds of features from amplitude to spectral shapes and more.
“As to enhancing gameplay, an example from my own experience would be when I worked on Lost In Blue, a DS game where the player is lost on an island and has to make a fire. You use the stylus to rub wood together
Read online – Issu.com
Download – Develop August 2010 (PDF)