What is "sound" programming?

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andyharglesis 101 Jan 03, 2012 at 08:11

Isn’t programming sound or music into a game basically, in my opinion at least, the same as general programming as a whole?

Like why is there a separate section for sound and audio specific programming if it can fall easily into a broad general programming category?

Programming with sounds is not really a thesis that any other kind of programming, such as graphics, would be special in and of itself.

In the end it’s really no difference putting sounds into your game or putting images, etc. It’s all data, and it’s barely anything critical or specific with audio than with any other asset of information.

Or am I wrong here?

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Sol_HSA 119 Jan 03, 2012 at 10:38

Yes, you’re wrong there.

On the face of it, audio seems pretty simple, but in practice it’s a different beast.

Unlike most other things, it’s real-time stuff (we’re talking 0.02ms stuff here, as oposed to video’s 17ms; and nobody cares if you miss a frame here or there, but audio must be flawless), and you have to deal with latencies and all sort of fun stuff like that.

Again, it looks simple and the concepts are pretty easy, but for some reason it always ends up being tricky. Thus, most people end up using libraries like FMOD, and *still* end up having issues here and there.

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geon 101 Jan 03, 2012 at 14:35

Also, if you want to synthesize audio, there is indeed a whole lot of interesting mathematics and theory you won’t see much in other places.

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TheNut 179 Jan 03, 2012 at 17:47

Like why is there a separate section for sound and audio specific programming if it can fall easily into a broad general programming category?

Audio plays a key role in game development just like it plays a key role in motion pictures. Two important human senses are vision and hearing. In itself, it would seem inappropriate to exclude a category specific to audio. There are as many interesting DSP algorithms for audio as their are algorithms for graphics. If you’ve played any recent games, you will undoubtedly have heard sound damping, doppler shifting, reverberations, low/high pass filters, etc. Those experiences would not be possible without somebody putting in the effort to create the real-time filters to generate those effects.

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Reedbeta 167 Jan 03, 2012 at 20:23

The audio programming section on this forum tends to be pretty quiet, but just because we don’t often have people actively asking about audio programming doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve its own section. :)

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Sol_HSA 119 Jan 04, 2012 at 06:58

@Reedbeta

The audio programming section on this forum tends to be pretty quiet, but just because we don’t often have people actively asking about audio programming doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve its own section. :)

There also aren’t too many “generic” questions you can ask about audio programming (apart from synthesis) - asking things like “I keep getting audio underruns with my custom mixer running on ps3 spe, any ideas what could go wrong” are rather domain specific..

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andyharglesis 101 Jan 04, 2012 at 07:27

None of these answers are legit.

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geon 101 Jan 04, 2012 at 13:55

You just got 2 really good answers from 2 of the members I respect the most on the forum, and you don’t think they are legit? What’s your problem? Seriously.

Are you just trolling?

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bschmidt 101 Feb 06, 2012 at 22:13

I think you might have a fairly narrow definition of “Sound Programming.”
As has been pointed out, ‘ sound programming’ can be some of the most intensivige game coding someone can do…

I like to lump “sound programming” into 3 broad (sometimes overlapping) categories.

1) Sound Implementation programmer. This sounds like what you probalby think of. That’s the programmer (often an intern ;0) whose job is to sprinkle the code with calls like “PlaySound(SNDTag, Parameters); through the game. (it can be quite a bit more than that, of course). Sound Implementation is usually, but not always, pretty straightforward

2) Sound Engine/Tool programmer. These programmers write the high-level sound engines that perform things like real-time streaming, data file parsing, etc. That requires pretty good knowledge of real-time and system programming. They may need to write entire (friendly and robust) User interfaces that a sound designer or composer will use when creating content. They are the essential link between content and code in content-driven audio development systems.

3) low-level audio signal processing programmer. These programmers typically need to know assembly language like the back of their hands as well as the complex mathematics behind the processing of audio. FFTs, DFT’s, MLTs, IIR, FIR filters, data compression/decompression algorithms. That’s pretty heavy stuff. And there’s a ton of stuff going on out there. People do entire PhD dissertations on things like physical modelling of sound, real-time analysis of music, or environmental modeling..

So there’s a lot of “meaty” stuff in game audio programming– way more so than it may seem on the surface. Video game music and sound design still need a lot of specialized code to make it work
Brian Schmidt
Executive Director
www.GameSoundCon.com