Well obviously it’s been really quiet here lately. A lot has been going on in my personal life, but the end is in sight. One of the things I’ve been doing is working on a talk for Audiokinetic for their 2009 Wwise Tour. I presented it over at Microsoft last week as part of a tag-team with Robert Ridihalgh of OMNI Interactive (he was the principle audio engineer on Tornado Outbreak).
The reviews have generally been in the B range, though Metacritic’s average is a little depressing at ~70. Nearly every review uses the words “Katamari” and “clone” which makes me think they didn’t really give the game a chance. The similarities with Katamari begin and end at the concept of “grow bigger”. Might as well call Call of Duty a Doom clone because they both involve shooting things to get to the end of the level.
But whatever… I’m proud of our effort, and I think it’s a super fun game. Hell of a job for a small team with a tech base built from scratch, to ship on time and on budget on three platforms.
One of the reasons we were able to ship on time was Audiokinetic’s Wwise. I’ve been evangelizing this excellent sound engine to everybody I meet. I just can’t say enough good things about our friends up in Montreal. I’d use Wwise on every future game if I could.
On Tornado Outbreak, I did most of the engineering and the initial audio rig design and prototyping. Robert and his team did the actual audio work, and took over management of the Wwise project. They probably did 95% of the audio related work on the project, which is awesome! As everybody knows, engineers are really slow and are pulled in 20 directions at once, so the more I could step out of the way, the better.
Audiokinetic asked me to put together a talk for the tour they’re doing right now to promote the product, particularly the new features they’ve been adding. I invited Robert to join me and we presented the two halves of our audio solution for Tornado Outbreak. We split the presentation roughly along the lines of our responsibilities.
The event was recorded, so at some point we may see video clips showing up online. That will be necessary to get Robert’s part of the talk, because he was exclusively walking through the Wwise project, using elements of it to tell his story. So no slides, you’ll have to get the video if it comes out. Anyone using or considering Wwise should try to get a hold of that – his talk was really interesting and includes some great tricks on saving memory without sacrificing variety.
I also got approval from the bosses to release the Tornado Outbreak project file for Wwise. This is really generous of them to agree! Here it is. [ZIP 1M]
Note that this doesn’t include any content (wav files) but is only the project itself. That should be plenty though.
The point of releasing the project is to help out other studios who are integrating Wwise, in hopes that the favor will be returned. Everybody benefits from information sharing like this. With Wwise, in order to get a good rig set up you really need to have experience and good examples to draw from. As I say in my presentation, Wwise is different. Every other SDK out there is a “play samples + DSP” library. Getting the Wwise rig right is hard, and it’s not going to be right the first time. Just as if you were to build a Maya rig and had no experience with it before. You’ll screw it up for sure.
Audiokinetic provides some synthetic examples to help get started, but it’s not from a real, shipping game, and besides, every game is different. Tornado Outbreak has an enormous amount of unique objects that produce audio (over 400) and all those crashes and shakes and panics can become very difficult to manage. It would have saved a lot of time if, when I started building the initial rig, I had some examples to draw from. To that end, we’re releasing our particular solution for this situation. I hope that it inspires even better solutions and ideas on how to tackle these kinds of problems in the future.