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Session Name:

3D Audio: Back to the Future?


Set the way-back(tm) machine to 1997 and 3D audio was all the rage. Multiple soundcards from numerous manufacturers were heading for the market with various flavors of HRTF-based and multi-speaker 3D audio. No less than three 3D audio APIs were competing for dominance and the future looked bright. Bill Gates even mentioned 3D sound specifically (stumbling over pronunciation of a 3D audio standard, I3D-L2), when he announced the original Xbox! Then it all came tumbling down and 3D sound went --- pretty much nowhere. So what happened? This talk will discuss the state of 3D audio in games, ranging from HRTF-based, headphone solutions to surround sound to upcoming devices and "standards." The talk will talk in detail about some of the technology behind the solutions and -- more importantly -- some of the limitations and its impact on why 3D audio failed to catch on with the masses. It will also cover current and upcoming platforms where 3D audio may be able to overcome some of the issues that held it back two decades ago, and look at the expanded types of gameplay that can best utilize it. It will also explore the relationship between 3D audio and real-time environment modelling.

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  • GDC 2014
  • Brian Schmidt
  • Ear Games
  • free content
  • Audio
  • Audio