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All right, I'm a bit confused in general about audio middleware. I'm a composer/sound designer and I was under the impression that you need middleware like FMOD to implement audio/music into games. However, many people I know have said that with the new UE4 and Unity 5 game engines, most of these audio capabilities will be covered by the engine, rendering the middleware obsolete. So my question is, does Unity and UE4's audio engines stand up against FMOD and Wwise? Do they have all of the parameters, interactive capabilities, and functions that the middleware do? Is it worth using FMOD if the engine covers all of it?

Sorry for all of the questions! I'm just pretty confused. :)

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It very much depends on your point of view when developing the audio for a AAA game.

From a programmers point of view then yes the additional middle-ware could very well be rendered obsolete in terms of simply implementing sounds into the game or scripting things.

However when mixing and implementing audio it is of great benefit to minimize the amount of needed programmer time so that the sound team can try out multiple ideas and mixing changes without need for a programmer. Middle ware helps to facilitate this by keeping the interface more similar to what an audio designer would use in a DAW as well as keeping regularly used functions simple and to hand.

Programmers are still required to hook up things between middle-ware and game engine as well as making custom functions and features to help the sound team realize their vision.

Hope this helps answer your question.

  • Oh thanks for the response! So, for small indie games, would middleware be necessary? Also, I plan on learning to use the game engines as well. Would I need FMOD if I know unity, or are there some things that FMOD can do that Unity's audio system can't? – mmango Mar 11 '15 at 2:02
  • Yeah it can be depends on the game and the team. I have done games with WWise that went out on Android iOS and some without. – Rory James Mccutcheon May 13 '15 at 13:21
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To answer concisely:

does Unity and UE4's audio engines stand up against FMOD and Wwise?

it's good enough for most people who are doing audio in their games where interactivity with the audio is not a primary pillar

Do they have all of the parameters, interactive capabilities, and functions that the middleware do?

not all of them, but the general gist is that since middleware is taking the parameters that drive interactive audio from the game anyway, you should theoretically be able to recreate most - if not all - interactive capabilities in code, one way or another.

Is it worth using FMOD if the engine covers all of it?

It's always helpful to keep in mind as well that this is very, very much a matter of preference! In your question you used the word obsolete, and I think that "obsolete" here is a very strong word - it'd be difficult to call middleware obsolete just because Unity has a mixing table now. Wwise and FMOD can be used for free in many projects with smaller budgets, and larger budgets would have the money to deliberate whether or not they want to use Wwise or FMOD in whatever engine they choose. Many game engines lack even the more basic audio functionalities that many of us take for granted. The world is a far bigger place than just Unity and Unreal and it's a heck of a lot easier to hook in Wwise or FMOD than it is to mix your audio in code or hard mix the .wav files. As an aside, the world is also much bigger than even just Wwise and FMOD as far as middlewares are concerned...Fabric is getting pretty popular and many proprietary middlewares like Scream are popping up now and again too.

The reality is that there's choices and it's just about helping your audio team create the vision for their game. Use what works, and don't worry about the rest. ;)

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http://danikog.github.io/GameAudioTable/

Here you can see the comparison between the audio features they provide as well as implementation code.

=]

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