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Hi all,

I recently graduated from a two year program with an Associates in Applied Sciences in the field of Recording Arts, (focusing in game audio). So far, I'm having trouble finding work and feel like I should specialize myself into a certain facet of game production, rather than being "the sound guy".

I am considering taking my audio knowledge to a "normal" university that offers a computer science (or similar) program to pick up knowledge in the PC code realm. My intention is to combine my knowledge of audio and computer programming to bridge the gap between programming and game audio. That being said, I was wondering if any of you had any advice on that career move, or know of a more efficient, or practical route of making myself much more hire-able than my peers.

Thanks to anyone who responds!

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7 Answers

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I have worked in game sound for a dozen years and let me tell you knowledgeable audio programmers are RARE. Most of the time, the programmers assigned to audio are juniors or mid-levels who would rather be doing something else. After they do their time, they go on to other tasks leaving the audio folks to train up someone else. Speaking selfishly, I want to see more folks going into audio programming who plan to stay there. Speaking for you, there are always slots for audio programmers on game teams(if you're willing to relocate).

Learn the APIs for WWise and FMOD and I bet you will have no problem finding a job.

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Thank you very much... I have always been interested in coding and often bugged the programmers at my school to show me their work behind the screen. Would a standard B.S. in computer science allow me to work with audio middleware programs? Or is that something I would have to figure out on my own with my new knowledge of programming? –  harvest moon Jul 13 '11 at 23:35
    
Both. the education will give you a solid understanding of what programming is, and how to do it right, and downloading and playing with the SDK's will get you real world experience. Also, it is my experience that audio programming isnt nearly as technically hard as other types of game programming, like graphics engine stuff. That is unless you start doing DSP stuff. Most of what I want from my programmers is relatively straight forward stuff, but requires knowledge of the API of whatever sound engine we use. –  David Rovin Jul 14 '11 at 17:48
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Skills in digital signal processing, scripting and programming will definitely help you to get an in-house job in the game industry. I experienced a similar path and one thing I can tell you is unless you work in a big company with dedicated positions, you will be "the sound guy" more than ever! Your ability to take care of various tasks will lead you to do all the audio related work such as sound effects production, middleware integration, audio behaviors scripting, sound editing and mixing, etc...

You can still decide to specialize afterwards in the field you prefer or you are the best at.

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Understood, I am new into this field, and from the bottom looking up, is quite daunting. There are so many companies ranging from 2 guys in a basement to 200 guys in a multi-million dollar studio in Europe, and its difficult to taylor oneself to meet the needs of those different types of companies. That being said, what types of computer science courses would offer the best chance of integrating my audio knowledge into computer science knowledge in order to become a worthy audio programmer? –  harvest moon Jul 13 '11 at 18:12
    
C++ is a standard in programming courses but it is quite uncommon to focus specifically on game audio features. You will have to get in touch with the most common game engines and audio apis. Be a part of a student or independent team on a game project can really help imho. –  IVIarsu Jul 14 '11 at 9:54
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Audio Programmers are a highly sought after, but good ones are rare. Also the perception of what an audio programmer does or should do changes a lot based on the requirements of the company. There is a good article about it here - Along with what @David Rovin has already mentioned about learning the API's I'd also recommend getting to know as much about game engines as possible and looking at e.g. Unity3D or Unreal, because any middleware is only as good as it's integration into the engine ;)

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Thanks for your response! I have some experience behind FMOD and XNA audio implementation, but nothing too heavy. That being said, The best thing for me to do now would be to get into some computer science courses, and just completely go head on into learning the ins and outs of FMOD and WWise and UDK and XNA type implementation and add that to my sound design portfolio? –  harvest moon Jul 14 '11 at 19:54
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I can tell from my experience that the combination of programming (understanding sound engines and integration of sound and music) and professional sound production is a very good niche.

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Here is an online series of tuts

http://interactiveaudio.wikiaudio.org

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It will be much easier to get a job in game audio if you have some programming experience. Even it you end-up working as a sound designer at least you will understand the programming process and the terminology. If you look for a course that specializes in "audio programming" you'll stand an even better chance (http://www.herts.ac.uk/courses/Music-and-Sound-Technology.cfm).

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Thanks for the response, I looked into that link and it looks like something I'd like to pursue, only problem is that I'm in the states, not the UK :( Still, would taking a computer science course help? Should I pursue a 2 or 4 year degree in computer science? Are there non-traditional paths to take in order to learn coding? –  harvest moon Jul 13 '11 at 18:10
    
UK universities do take overseas students :-) Anyway I'm not sure what kind of degrees are currently offered in the US. In the UK we now have have some fairly specialized course in things like Game Programming and Audio Programming. If such courses are not available then a generic Computer Science degree is you best bet. The when you get to do your dissertation choose something related to games/audio programming. –  Bit Depth Jul 14 '11 at 10:29
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Hello

I don't have an answer for your question, but am also interested audio programming. I am a musician and software developer with over 20 years of experience in software development. While I don't have a degree in audio production, I have an avid interest in it and have dabbled in it ever since I started playing guitar back in the 70's. I am also versed in current audio production technologies.

Having said all that, I am interested in learning how to develop audio processing software or even game audio development. I would be grateful to anyone who could point me in the right direction. What I am looking for is specific information related to the development of audio software (DSP, VST, etc). I don't need information or courses in programming and software development as I am well versed in those areas.

Actually, audio programming for games sounds very interesting to me. I am not an artist so developing graphics is not my thing. I am all about the audio.

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Well, I've been looking a bit on the DSP side as well and I must say that it seems that audio DSP is a very small (sub)field. I'd say KVR Audio's DSP forum is one of the best general information pools for audio-related DSP. For general DSP and DSP theory there are numerous resources and books. Anyways, I think you can approach (game) audio DSP from numerous directions, just like you can approach DSP. Anyhow, you're basically looking at software development skills, DSP theory knowledge and strong mathematical ability, and a hint of sonic taste to work out solutions that sound good. –  Internet Human Sep 28 '12 at 14:31
    
Just don't think "game audio programming" has much to do with controlling common audio middleware APIs as it's mostly done with the graphical frontends. It can be part of "game audio programming", but it's so general that it cannot be justified as being "audio programming". When you add developing DSP effects and custom audio tools/players and audio-related logic or even full-blown middleware or "audio engines", and hooking it all together, then there's already much more to it. In general, I think "general audio programming" should be done by the sound designers, software and DSP by devs. –  Internet Human Sep 28 '12 at 15:30
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