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Audio is Integral to Gameplay.

A game isn’t much fun without good sound, music, and sound effects. The sound of a game is integral to the game play experience. Audio programmers write the script that ensure the game’s audio assets load smoothly, correctly trigger and play back in high quality. They are also responsible for developing the software which integrates the audio files into the game. Programming determines functions like volume and makes it possible for effects like gunshot or footsteps to be triggered by the player’s actions.

A programmer uses game audio tools to allow the creation of sounds, use sound effects from preset libraries, as well as manage these sounds in-game. To really master audio programming or “code sound” you need a good knowledge and understanding of:

  • programming (programming language such as C++, software design, application architecture)

  • digital signal processing (DSP)

  • acoustics (sound as a physical phenomenon)

  • physiology and psychology of hearing

  • music theory

  • mathematics

Immersive sound plays a key role in computer games and with the development of Virtual Reality the feeling of realistic propagation of sound in virtual space is paramount. Programming responsibilities involve identifying where the game needs sound, ensuring the delivery of all necessary audio assets, designing and testing the systems so that all sounds trigger correctly; implementing them into the game and refining those systems so that the audio is not only is of a high-quality, but uses as little memory as possible. It is also common for game audio programmers to also be involved in sound design creation, from digital libraries to location recording and Foley.

Although audio programming is responsible for debugging and testing the code, it doesn’t just stop there. It has many purposes including writing code to establish the acoustic characteristics of a room, reducing noise and increasing intelligibility of music or speech recordings and encoding to a certain format and decoding from its original format using algorithms for streaming from the likes of Spotify or iTunes.

Testing is done through the use of middleware programs, such as Wwise and FMOD. Once sounds are attached to objects or environments and defined to where and when they should trigger they can be implemented into the game through a game engine, usually Unity or Unreal Engine.

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