At this year's Game Developers Conference, our co-founding member, and system engineer, Eric Robinson, had the fantastic opportunity to finally address game designers about our vision of the future of game audio design.
The term "interactive audio" gets bandied about as the gold standard for audio design in games. Products like FMOD and Wwise are rightly praised for their robust audio engines, and triggering systems, but what they do is not interactive. Instead, the industry, as a whole, has placed innovation on two key points of audio: audio perception (3D positional, binaural, DSP fields), and what we call reactive audio (game triggered audio events). This has allowed developers to create compelling audioscapes, and music that transitions with the mood and pace of gameplay.
What about the interactive part? At what point am I, as a player, able to change music, and the music change the way I play the game? Isn't that the definition of interactive audio?
What Eric brought to GDC was a challenge to budding game designers, and industry veterans alike. He challenged the community to do more with music. It's a simple request to not rely on the systems that are there, but to innovate beyond. His talks focused on looking behind the curtain and peering into what the potential of audio is. He coined the term "proactive audio." A concept that is the key to unlocking interactive audio. Proactive audio is the flipped action to reactive audio: a way to respond to game actions causing music events, and music events causing changes in game events. He showed a set of tools and tricks that allow audio be more than a passive part of a game. He showed audio could be a driver of the experience.
If moving images can show us, and music and audio can speak to us, don't we owe it to ourselves as creators to expand both as much as possible to create a medium that can engage us? Eric thinks so, and its the battle flag we carry as Sonic Bloom.
You can see Eric's talk at the Indie Summit at GDC 2016 here: http://gdcvault.com/play/1023406/Punching-Up-the-Juice-with
Eric's second talk has not yet been released.