The development of today's video games is an increasingly complex and dynamic undertaking. Not only do massive amounts of assets come crashing together almost magically to make a game, but somewhere in this chaos, all of this "magic" has to be fun for the game player. Herein lies the proverbial rub. We apply remarkable efforts to make games exhilarating, challenging, and entertaining, but as both our technology and skills improve, so does our appetite for yet bigger and better games. In this apparently never-ending quest, a grim reality will eventually rear its ugly head — some of us will be left behind.
Knowledge is an incredibly powerful thing. The consummate beauty of the games industry, unlike any other trade that I've witnessed, is our willingness to share it with each other. The yearly Game Developers Conference is a prime example of this grand phenomenon, where "secrets" are available for the asking. But why on earth would developers who compete directly against each other in this high-stakes venture consider such a thing?
Legitimacy of our art is why. For reasons unbeknownst to us mere mortals, even though we are a multi-billion-dollar a year industry, we are still considered the "bastard children" of entertainment. Perhaps because we appear to be so different from "credible" professions, it is the subconscious need to prove them wrong that ultimately drives our exchange of knowledge.
When I was writing The Complete Guide to Game Audio, a regular comment from established game audio professionals was that in doing so I would be training the competition. My answer was always, "Yes, it would." Yes, it gave away valuable insight into the mysterious underworld of game audio. Yes, it gave away years of experience from established craftsmen. Yes, it invited new blood into the circle. Yes, yes, yes! It did all of those things and more, just as this book, DirectX 9 Audio Exposed: Interactive Audio Development, will. However, despite the anxiety among us about being overrun by those looking for new opportunities, nobody complained that this was a bad thing for the industry. In fact, the continuing trend seems to make access to the most intimate of details even easier. The free flow of wisdom is seen by most as the key to improvement and future advancements of our trade.
This theory is attestable by the formation of several organizations that not only serve as breeding grounds for new ideas and efforts of standardization in the industry but as a place where anyone can ask a question and actually get an answer. Game audio specialists can tap into a wealth of knowledge at the Game Audio Network Guild (www.audiogang.org), the Interactive Audio Special Interest Group (IA-SIG) (www.iasig.org), the Audio Engineering Society (AES) Game Audio Committee, and even at the yearly Project Bar-B-Q (www.projectbarbq.com). Or, if you prefer, you can go right to the source to find your answers.
Console manufacturers also understand this and are getting involved. Microsoft recently formed the Xbox Registered Content Creators program, which enables audio makers like us to get answers directly from them. As we work on game projects for the Xbox, it's a great feeling to know someone is available to help us utilize the system's full audio capabilities (which in turn makes us look good) and to also be there in case we fall (which also makes us look good by showing our resourcefulness to our employers and clients). There is hope that the other platform makers will follow suit.
There are, however, still many wide gaps in the knowledge continuum that need to be filled in for those of us who make and implement game audio. Even with our gargantuan efforts at standardization, there will always be different application techniques that solve their own specific problems and present audio in unique ways. There is no getting around this type of individualism or efforts at creating the ultimate problem solver, and for the overall good of game creation, there is no need to stifle such attempts either. Instead, we make the knowledge available so that not only can we utilize every feature to the fullest extent, but so that someone even smarter than us can use it as yet another stepping-stone to create the next original application. Some of these will eventually become the heart of game audio management and presentation.
DirectX is a prime example of an application that has been polished and honed over the years to become an absolute necessity in today's game creation. DirectX Audio has developed into the definitive collection of tools and technologies that provide programmers and audio content creators with the ability to create interactive, adaptive, and dynamic audio, which was basically unheard of just a few short years ago. It is rapidly nearing the point of absolute necessity.
What better way to learn and absorb the key features of a subject such as DirectX Audio than directly from the creators and users of this technology? Todd M. Fay (the infamous LAX) has done a remarkable job bringing together a cohesive team of these experts to present all the finer details and subtleties that this application has to offer. By reading what these leading authorities on DirectX Audio have to say, you will be sharing in the ultimate flow of knowledge, which will directly translate into increased impact and overall potential of your game audio. Better yet, your quest will be all the more triumphant because you won't be the one getting left behind.
I wish you much luck in your future gaming endeavors, and I look forward to hearing what you've done with your newfound wisdom.
Work hard. Make us proud.
— Aaron Marks
Game composer/sound designer, On Your Mark Music Productions Author, The Complete Guide to Game Audio