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Posts with tag fmod

Creative offered help to Blizzard with sound engine

As you may have heard on this very website, Blizzard didn't just include voice chat in patch 2.2 (and how's that coming, by the way? anyone use it yet?). They put a whole new sound engine into the game. For some people, that's great news-- a reader sent us a note last night that he was surprised to hear his rear 5.1 speakers kick on in Karazhan. But for others, not so good. While there are a few little glitches and bugs floating around, it seems there's a big problem with Creative sound cards (definitely one of the most popular sound card brands out there). And Creative has posted on their message boards that officially, they're not very happy that Blizzard didn't consult them when upgrading their sound engine.

Apparently Blizzard's new engine, called FMOD, by default uses a generic mixer with just a few simple effects. Creative has worked with FMOD to develop a way to run sound through their hardware and enable 3D mixing and other effects (they did this for the PC version of Bioshock, which also uses FMOD), but Blizzard apparently doesn't want any part of it.

So it seems Blizzard treats other hardware vendors the same way they treat their own players-- Creative says they got no advance notice that changes were being made, and apparently requests on why the changes were made have gone unanswered. Of course, Blizzard doesn't have to answer to Creative at all (and maybe they just don't think it's necessary-- I have a Creative Audigy 2 ZS, and my WoW sounds all right, if just a little different). But when we're talking about the biggest online PC game in the world and the biggest sound card manufacturer in the world, it would behoove them both to get along, and make the game sound better for everyone.

Thanks, Jack!

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

Blizzard putting a new sound engine into 2.2

So as you've probably noticed by now, 2.2 is not coming today. Bummer-- that means I was wrong on the podcast. First time for everything, I guess (I'm kidding!). Now I have to hope it won't come for a while, since next week I'll be way too busy playing Halo 3.

But the CMs are sharing some info about why the patch is so delayed. The main culprit seems to be the voice chat system, and more than that, the fact that Blizzard completely updated their sound engine while including it. Blizzard, like many other companies, didn't write their own sound engine for WoW. They licensed one called FMOD, by a company called Firelight (the same engine used in Bioshock, Metroid Prime 3, Heavenly Sword, Crysis, and many other games). Firelight just released a new version of FMOD-- their website mentions 4.08 as the latest, though I'm not sure that's the exact version Blizzard is using in 2.2 (Blizzard may be a version behind, just to make sure there are no problems with the system before they push it out to all 9 million clients). 4.08 also just dropped a few days ago, it seems, but maybe Blizzard, as one of Firelight's biggest customers, had access to the new version before anyone else did.

At any rate, that's why 2.2 is taking so much longer-- they're working on code, not class balance. Hopefully, whenever we do see this patch drop, it'll sound that much better.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

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