Hello, I'm a fairly competent sound designer, and desperate to get into video games. However I know f all about fmod, wwise and other middleware.

How much is this going to hold me back? If you were hiring, would you prefer solid sound skills, or a more rounded package?

I'm willing to do as much as I can to get myself into the game audio business, except pay for a course, because I haven't the funds.

so in summary, how can I get into the industry without the programming skills? Or if they are vital, how can I gain the skills?


2 Answers 2


My suggestion would be to just download Wwise (it's free to download) and follow the internet tutorials from Audio Kinetic. There's certainly no harm in familiarizing yourself with audio middleware, and a lot of companies explicitly ask for middleware proficiency as a prerequisite. Certainly not all companies expect you to know programming or implementation as a sound designer, but it's definitely a resume-sweetener and it's not terribly hard to learn either.

  • 1
    It's a prerequisite to know audio middleware as operating them is mainly the responsibility of the sound team, "audio implementation" is part of the art and working it out involves artistic decisions. The mileage may vary only if one's applying specifically for an "I only create sounds/write music, but don't do audio implementation at all" -role. But there's really not much reason to not know about audio implementation and interactive audio, because it's essentially just a slightly different paradigm for sequencing sound, and part of creating audio for games. Oct 2, 2012 at 16:42
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    Programming in the form of a simple scripting language is valuable (some games and game engines use scripting languages for controlling the audio playback and setting up audio parameters). But being able to work as a meaningful member of a software development team will take years of practice and is not something that someone applying for a sound position would be asked to do anyways. Oct 2, 2012 at 16:55
  • FMOD Studio is also free to download, also has a variety of tutorials available, and should also be on your list of middleware to familiarise yourself with. Most established studios use only one of the major audio solutions at a time, so knowing both will increase the number of prospective employers. Oct 3, 2012 at 2:07
  • Absolutely couldn't agree more with both Internet Human and Joseph Harvey. I wasn't sure if FMOD was free to download and I have a preference for Wwise, but as Joseph says, knowing both Wwise and FMOD will definitely increase the number of your prospective employers. Oct 3, 2012 at 14:58

I think...

For large teams, just solid sound skills as it's easier and hypothetically better to keep people focused on just their main proficiency and what they enjoy doing the most and hire people that master and are willing to work on that one area. It's not wise to overload people with work or multiple roles and there might not be need for some kind of middlemen, depending on the organization. For small teams, multidisciplinarity and the ability and willingness for changing hats, because you may not be able to have or cannot afford to have a separate specialist for every task.

Technically the common audio middleware software are developed by 3rd parties and they are so polished and usable by sound designers out of the box that I think most custom, technical audio-related work in game development is likely to be so extensive and technical that it'll require time and a team of experienced programmers that are primarily programmers. Or then the technology could be bought from another software house. Or then such technical work would be so small that it could be done by a programmer or programmers whose main responsibility is something else. Although of course it all varies depending on what the project is like, how the company operates and what kind of professionals they have there. In general, artists don't develop tools/software for their own purposes, but rather tools and software that are needed by artists are developed for them, or then the team uses common middleware, which artists should be familiar with or able to grasp it quickly. Operating custom tools is taught. Artists may in some cases and roles need to code small scripts for controlling and configuring the tools e.g. selecting the audio samples, playing back audio samples, setting parameters for effects etc.

I would guess that a "programmer-audio designer-composer" is not the primary interest of most companies in the current and the very business-oriented mainstream game industry, where most tools can be bought off the shelf and the talent pool is already so large that companies can pretty much find and pick whatever talent they need (although some sources say that there's shortage of highly skilled people who are willing to work on games / in the game industry, I would assume this to apply mainly to technical positions though), but it doesn't mean that such skillset wouldn't still be valuable in some special cases and for special lines of work. It's always useful to know about different things e.g. programming, especially when everyone mostly works with software anyways, and if you enjoy learning new things. Plus, no-one's saying that one should do like everyone else seems to do, so one might be that "programmer-audio designer-composer" and actually find work where one gets to apply that kind of multidisciplinary skills, if one wants to. In a competitive situation it might be just that multidisciplinary background that gets you the job, but it depends on what the employer is looking for, and it might as well not be all about technical and vocational skills, but more about just personal traits and how they fit for the role. If coding interests you and you enjoy it, there's nothing stopping you from writing code.

  • + What comes to "breaking into the industry", for applying to a company, you'll need a solid portfolio related to the work that you're applying for. That, and people skills and being able to sell yourself. If you wish to pursue the "indie side" of game development, then you can just simply socialize with young game developers and game development teams and ask, if you can participate, and find work that way. There are always single developers and young game development teams around that are just learning the ropes. Or you can setup your own team as well! Oct 2, 2012 at 14:32

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