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Creative-initiated cross-platform sound API that can mix 5.1 music into game audio.

October 05, 2001 by Anonymous

During my normal surfing I found this on the Gamespot site:

www.zdnet.com/gshw/stories/news/0,12836,2700843,00.html

It suggests that creative is supporting open drivers more than ever. Even though they don't talk about eCS, they do talk about Mac and Linux. I'm sure since it's open-source our OS can get into the mix.

Below is what the site reads:

"Creative started openly talking about starting up a cross-platform audio API early last year, clearly emulating SGI's OpenGL approach from the first. Making OpenAL a cross-platform standard means that it moves away from relying upon Microsoft's DirectX sound support, which provides the 3D positional setup used for Creative's own EAX. Because it primarily duplicates the existing features of DirectSound and EAX, OpenAL's most obvious appeal is to game developers looking to move PC games to the MacOS and Linux.

The one new feature for OpenAL is interactive 5.1 music mixing. This will enable future games to include Dolby Digital music tracks, which Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 cards can decode and mix with positional game audio in real-time. While this approach to 5.1 for PC games is likely to provide very high quality multichannel sound with excellent track separation and positioning, it also means that game developers must include an alternate music format for PC gamers who won't be using OpenAL. Although Dolby Digital itself compresses down by a ratio of twelve to one--about one quarter the size of uncompressed stereo music--both 5.1 and standard stereo formats won't often fit on the CD along with the rest of a game. For this reason, Creative is suggesting alternative music formats for stereo support, such as MP3s. Additionally, a Dolby representative suggested to GameSpot that this requirement may make its new Pro Logic II standard an alternative to 5.1, since it provides analog surround sound that's compatible with stereo devices. Pro Logic II marks several improvements over Dolby Surround, including the addition of channel separation in the rear and richer rear frequency range.

As an alternative to DirectSound and EAX, OpenAL still has a ways to go. The current public release of OpenAL doesn't take advantage of the hardware acceleration capabilities of Creative's sound cards, and runs entirely on the CPU. However, Creative is currently testing new Sound Blaster drivers that will take advantage of the cards' digital signal processor. Moving forward, Creative hopes that developers will write to both OpenAL and the existing DirectSound and EAX standards. In any case, installing OpenAL won't disable the other options, as it sits alongside DirectSound and EAX, letting games use either set of APIs.

As an open-source project, OpenAL is a work in progress that's publicly available on the OpenAL.org Web site. It will work in Windows, Linux, and MacOS 9. However, Apple's new operating system, OS X, will not support the standard for the time being, which Creative attribute to issues in PCI device support in the initial version of the OS X that's going to stores next week. On the Linux side, Creative has been working closely with Loki Entertainment, the primary commercial publisher of Linux games."

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