ADoBE PHo ToSHoP
//// Adobe Systems l www.adobe.com
//// Firelight Technologies l www.fmod.org
In reference to Adobe Photoshop CS5, the 2010 Front Line Award
winner for art, I’ll paraphrase a tag line used by a popular company,
“We don’t make the art; we make the art better.”
Photoshop has been making the art better since PS 1.0 was
introduced in 1990. I know this personally. When I broke into video
games at Cinematronics in 1983, there was no Photoshop. I developed
2D sprites using a Z-80-based art station cobbled together by
hardware wizard Alex McKay. What I wouldn’t have given to simply
lasso an object, or to pick a color with a color picker.
¶ Autodesk 3ds Max
¶ Autodesk Softimage
¶ Pixologic ZBrush
In the mid-90s Brett
Paterson had been writing
and releasing MoD files, a
file format for music used
on titles such as Shadow of
the BeaSt and Unreal. Little
did his fellow composers
suspect he was also preparing a super-fast code base for what would
later become FMoD, one of the most widely-used audio middleware
engines. FMoD brought speed and efficiency to the table where other
engines were too legacy oriented, too expensive, or too bloated and
still getting on their feet. Now, FMoD provides a wide range of features
and a huge bang for the buck along with its streamlined performance
on just about any platform. FMoD has been used on such recent
titles as Starcraft II: wIngS of lIBerty and lego UnIverSe, and has an
integration scheme for most popular middleware game engines such
as UDK and CryEngine.
FMoD has a Designer tool as its user interface for the sound
designer, voice over integrator, and music integrator. It allows you
to set up your audio files and organize them however you wish for
loading, streaming and playback, as well as many properties that
can also be manipulated at runtime. It also allows you to connect
them to in game events. But what makes FMoD unique (apart
from its speed) is its sandbox and its
specific interactive music integration
pipeline. The sandbox gives a 3D
space that developers can use to
audition sounds in proper context
rather than the age-old method of
previewing in a sound bank manager
or other auditioning tool.
Bringing audio designers that
much closer to going from sound
design to integration in the same
session is a big step forward. For
interactive music, one can create
something similar to a flowchart
of a dynamic music flow and preview it in the Designer tool,
adding events and layers to create a rich score with easy testing
of transitions and crossfades without the hassle of doing so in a
standard digital audio workstation environment.
Another useful feature of FMoD is its abstracted Event Layer.
The ability to readily link events to the audio engine without time
consuming hard coding practices allows for a much more sound
designer-controlled connection between game events of any kind and
audio objects, whether they be sound, voice, or music.
Finally, one of the best features of FMoD is its wide support of
platforms. It supports all the major platforms (PC, Mac, Xbox 360, Wii,
PlayStation 3) and several ones you might not expect (iPhone, Linux,
Solaris). With these features and near ubiquitous platform and major
middleware integration, FMoD deserves a serious look from anyone
serious about their game audio.
¶ RAD Game Tools
Miles Sound System
—Tom Carroll is an independent game artist.
Alexander Brandon was a founder of the Game Audio Network Guild
and is the president of Funky Rustic ( www.funkyrustic.net).