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BUILD | TOOLS // GAME AUDIO


Inside the System


23 years after the original release, Miles Sound System has entered its tenth iteration. Will Freeman talks to the developer shaping the future of this icon of game middleware about what the latest version has in store for developers


Miles Sound System principal developer Dan Thompson (above) says the latest version (main) focuses on the sound designer as a valid consumer, as well as the traditional sound engineer


MILES SOUND SYSTEM is something of a founding father of the concept of middleware. While RenderWare’s 1997 release arguably established the contemporary middleware concept proper, audio tool Miles Sound System has been available in various forms since 1991. Over the years it’s been used in many thousands of games, straddling several console generations and helping shape the way many of today’s most prolific game audio specialists practice their craft. Formerly known as Audio Interface Library, and welcomed to the RAD Game Tools stable back in 1995, edition ten has just been released, taking the tool as much into the realm of the sound designer as that of the sound engineer.


As such, the tenth edition is something of a milestone for both Rad and the concept of middleware. So what better technology to place under the watchful eye of Develop’s tools microscope? We caught up with Dan Thompson, the man at the reigns of this icon of game sound design and engineering.


66 | AUGUST 2014


The Miles Sound System 10 was


designed to provide more tools for controlling what gets heard. Dan Thompson, RAD Game Tools


Firstly could you tell us a little about your role on Miles Sound System today, and your history working on the middleware? I am the principal developer on the Miles Sound System these days. I was hired to design and develop the high-level toolset that new games and sound designers demand.


Before we get into the finer details, is there a general or broad theme in terms of the direction you’ve taken with Miles Sound System 10? Perhaps there was a specific mantra or ethos to the way you’ve advanced the middleware?


Miles has historically been targeted towards the engineer, and in Miles 10, I wanted to


really focus on the sound designer as a valid consumer. To this end I’ve really iterated on the UI, and focused on representing concepts in a manner familiar to people other than programmers. This is also reflected in somewhat of a shift in philosophy with Miles, as it has historically been very much a middleware where we provide you a set of tools and leave many high-level concepts for you to implement in your own unique way. With a strong, high-level toolset many common concepts are now ready to go ‘out of the box’.


And how do those changes reflect current trends in game audio? I presume you’ve had to consider future-proofing Miles Sound System 10 with regard to those emerging trends? The demands on sound designers in games have been increasing and will continue to increase. A strong high-level toolset that puts as much of the power as possible in the designer’s hands will increase efficiency during production, allowing for higher quality soundscapes. In addition, as games


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