When working on game projects its important to get the game audio pipeline right for essential smooth running of the development process. A pipeline is a chain of processes; how you organise workload and tools to create a reliable schedule that avoids last minute surprises. A pipeline begins with a concept and ends when that concept can be heard in game. A typical pipeline includes concept, asset creation, middleware, game implementation and release.
Players experience games with their eyes, but also with their ears. Having great graphics is one thing but having sound designers join the process early makes it possible to build trustworthy relationships with the team and create an audio identity for the game. Excluding audio from pre production can cause problems further down the road.
An important technical aspect of creating a good pipeline is the creation of tools for the sound designer to use. The types of tools needed are different, depending on the game. Adding real-time spatial can audio create an experience that is more realistic. So what tools are available?
FABRIC is our own audio toolset for the Unity game engine. It offers a number of features and custom user interfaces to create audio directly within the tool itself. Sound designers can make complex audio structures and use the event-based system to reduce the dependence on programmers. The tool allows the design of multiple types of audio behaviours, and all game audio assets are located under one hierarchy, to help make it easier for users to manage. Fabric is written within Unity’s scripting language, so external native plug-ins are not required. Other features include a custom user interface, beat sync music transitions and a number of external and built-in runtime parameters and modulators.
WWISE is an advanced, feature-rich interactive audio engine for game development and helps game developers add audio to interactive media and video games. The tool supports 14 platforms and can be integrated into a number of engines, including Unity and Unreal Engine. Wwise allows users to Import audio files for use in videogames, apply audio effects, mix in real-time, define game states, simulate audio environments and manage sound integration.
FMOD is a sound effects engine and has collaboration tools and features for sound designers, programmers, and production teams. FMOD includes Event Editor where developers can sync sounds and events to in-game triggers, sequence multitrack music, and automate effects that react dynamically to the game’s mood. The Mixer puts the sound designer in full control of audio and allows for dynamic mixing in response to changes in the game world. The Profiler enables developers to capture and simulate gameplay, make edits to the audio, and then listen back to the updated session.
REAPER is a digital audio production application offering a full multitrack audio and MIDI recording, editing, processing, mixing and mastering toolset. With REAPER you can import any audio and MIDI, synthesize, sample, compose, arrange, edit, mix, and master songs or any other audio projects. The number of simultaneous recording inputs is limited only by your hardware. REAPER has literally thousands of actions, alone or in sequence, can be triggered by a keystroke, toolbar button, or external controller.
CUBASE is a DAW that offers dedicated tools for designers to record edit and mix audio. It is able to support small and large recordings, and its user interface uses customisable track views and custom colour schemes for tracks to differentiate types. Other features include the Instrument (t)rack, which supports multi-outputs and multi-inputs and merges instrument tracks with the Instrument Rack. It has, LoopMash FX for real-time breaks, tape-stops and stutters and the remote recording plug-in VST Connect SE 2.
AUDACITY is free to use, and developers can use it to record and edit sounds. It can be used to record live audio, record computer playback, edit WAV, AIFF, FLAC, MP2, MP3 sound files, cut, copy or mix sound and change the speed or pitch of a recording. Audacity supports 16-bit, 24-bit and 32-bit samples, tracks with different sample rates and formats are converted automatically.