FMOD Integration — Reasons It’s An Indispensable Audio Tool

  • #1, by lance-montgomerySaturday, 26. December 2020, 14:08 A month ago
    I'd like to make a request to gain FMOD support in Visionaire Studio. It’s an absolutely incredible audio middleware that towers over every built-in audio toolset you’ll find in every game engine out there, and despite what anyone who’s never used it might say, it is absolutely 100% a necessity for the audio implementation in a game to feel cinematic in a truly professional way.

    I just barely stumbled upon Visionaire Studio and am completely blown away. It seems to be the best option out there for me personally, to realize my crazy dreams of being a solo indie developer. I am a composer and sound designer by trade in the game industry, and have no coding chops whatsoever, but have lots of stories to tell and games I’ve dreamt of making.

    The wall that I am hitting everywhere with any no-code engine out there is that none of them work natively with FMOD. Given that I’m an audio guy who uses audio middleware like FMOD Studio on a daily basis for creating high quality and complex audio behaviors in games, I can’t imagine making my own game without it! As most people in the audio game dev world out there know, audio middleware is an absolute necessity to implementing AAA-level audio in a game. The localization features alone in FMOD would be worth it for use in Visionaire Studio, not to mention extremely dynamic music and parameter-based interactivity with audio.

    What I’d hope for with full integration into Visionaire Studio:
    • load builds created in FMOD Studio, and be able to load and unload banks within that build.
    • reference all my events, with their hierarchies intact.
    • play or audition any FMOD event in my banks, natively within Visionaire Studio’s interface without code. 
    • control local parameters in live FMOD events as well as global FMOD parameters, without using code.
    • (bonus): receive callbacks from FMOD Events to Visionaire, to have Visionaire respond to the audio! Seriously, you can actually create complex game logic inside FMOD!

    What this could bring to the experience of playing a game made with Visionaire Studio:
    • Automatic Music ducking with VO and sound effects. The mix would feel more cinematic and natural like a movie, as if someone was actively listening to the mix and controlling volume faders on different audio channels. The result is not only clarity but a sheen of polish that, when done correctly, the player doesn’t consciously notice, but they feel it, and it translates to the player as high-quality production.
    • Highly dynamic music that evolves naturally to the player’s choices. Traditionally, music changes involving a simple fade out/in often work fine in a simple game, especially in games of the adventure game golden era. But if you were trying to create a more modern cinematic experience, you’d want to do what other games do with dynamic music: transition to the next segment of the music while keeping the beat or cohesiveness. Transition to the happy part, or to the sad part, without feeling like one track ended and another one starts. It would feel like the music was one single evolving track, where the music understood the decision you just made, or perfectly mirrored a character’s change of emotion, or a twist in the plot, mid-song!
    • The ability to correctly and easily juggle recorded VO of different localizations. In FMOD, changing the VO language is as simple as unloading and loading a bank. All the references to the correct line of dialogue transfers to whatever “language bank” is loaded.
    • High-efficiency asset management, making it all super cheap on CPU and RAM, despite that many complex behaviors and logic and threads of audio might be running simultaneously in FMOD.
    • It would introduce a AAA tool to the community, making Visionaire a dream-come-true solution for audio pros to realize their dreams in a professional capacity! Doing this, Visionaire would seriously raise the bar to astronomical heights for audio implementation among ALL no-code game engines out there (currently a pretty low bar), as none of them have cared enough to make this integration yet. Modern adventure games are a form of entertainment much more deserving of high-quality cinematic audio than it usually gets, and I’d argue that on the indie dev front, this is due to lack of proper tools. 

    Thanks for hearing me out! I know your time is limited and there may not appear to be many who want this feature, so my expectations are in check here. This is lower on the priority list for pretty much all developers of no-code engines out there. Believe me, I’ve been trying to get this to happen elsewhere for more than 5 years! I’d argue though that if FMOD were natively available in Visionaire, it would be used more often than not by your users! It’s one of those things where you need to see it and use it only once to understand that you should have been using it your whole career—you won’t ever want to make a game without it. And as for cost, look at their brand new business model. It’s free for probably 99% of your users.

    I’m not affiliated with FMOD in any way. I’m just a super enthusiast, as a game audio pro who uses it everyday. I have so many games I want to make, and high aspirations as an indie game creator, but could not fathom doing it without FMOD. The thing that has held me back is the lack of time and learning style to learn code within the engines that DO support FMOD. I’ll reiterate again that I have tried for the better part of a decade to get other no-code engines to be believers, but to no avail. It’s not a “niche” product with a small user base like some think. That’s a completely ignorant assumption. It’s an extremely widely-used AAA tool that countless indies and large studios rely upon for both its workflow and its power. If you’re still not convinced, I’d be more than happy to talk your ear off about it! ??

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  • #2, by SimonSSaturday, 26. December 2020, 15:23 A month ago
    Well, that's nice for you that you like fmod so much. 
    Problem is the fmod license doesn't allow us an integration, so that won't happen. 
    I can't build it modular and it's already a lot of work to integrate something like that...

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  • #3, by afrlmeSaturday, 26. December 2020, 16:20 A month ago
    One of the ex developers actually looked into integrating FMOD before, & while I agree that it would be a really nice thing to have, it's very expensive & I think there were other issues that he had with trying to implement it.

    Visionaire Studio is a small, not particularly well known (compared to unity & unreal engine, etc) point & click adventure game engine. It doesn't have the funds or staff that those engines have, so integrating FMOD would be rather impractical & a lot of our users are solo or really small team indie game developers, who most likely wouldn't want to pay $2000 upwards per game they create, just because Visionaire decided to use FMOD as its sound engine. A lot of them hum & ah over the prices of the current licenses enough as it is.

    Simon has been working on a custom sound engine, which comes with various effects, & automation. It's not as pretty as FMOD or any other real DAW for that matter, but it does work & it has more than enough sound features for point & click adventure games.

    Besides, you could always sort out the fancy stuff for your sounds & music in whatever music production DAW you use - that's what I would probably do myself. I'd just import my sounds into Visionaire & then use the sound system to automate the volume levels & filter cutoff as needed.

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  • #4, by lance-montgomerySaturday, 26. December 2020, 19:55 A month ago
    Thank you both for your responses. I totally get it. That's weird though, the times I've talked to FMOD about it they seem very accommodating to 3rd party integrations.

    Just a quick correction though, that yes, the base license is $2k but the fine print is that if your annual revenue for the product is under $200,000 it's completely free, which would probably be the case for most of us.

    Looking forward to Simon's new audio engine!

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  • #5, by afrlmeSaturday, 26. December 2020, 21:30 A month ago
    The sound engine is already available. I don't know if he plans on tweaking it anymore, but you can currently create new audio mixers, different types of audio containers, apply various effects, control volume levels, control hp & lp filter cutoff, apply automation, control sends, etc.

    It's not a proper DAW so don't expect too much out of it.

    Anyway, another reason against using FMOD is that most Visionaire Studio users are using it because the software is easy to use. Most of them are unwilling to even attempt the scripting side of the engine, so you can't expect them to figure out (let alone have the patience to learn) how to use FMOD, which is essentially a music production DAW, such as Cubase, Ableton, etc - actually looking at screenshots of it, it reminds me very much of Ableton based on the minimal UI design.

    In regards to the licenses, yes I know that under 200k in sales means you don't have to pay for a license, but I believe based on the licenses page that the total is applied to all games you are currently selling that used FMOD in them.

    Also I don't know whether or not this still applies, but a few years ago when the ex VS dev looked into FMOD, they also wanted the engine to pay a yearly fee to implement & use FMOD in the game engine. I think it was quite pricey. My memory is a bit fuzzy on the details as it was quite a while ago.

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  • #6, by lance-montgomerySunday, 24. January, 00:00 4 days ago
    “Problem is the fmod license doesn't allow us an integration, so that won't happen.”


    This is not true. FMOD welcomes 3rd party integrations. I spoke with them in reference to this, just so I wasn’t reporting something incorrectly. They said that it is no cost to developers of IDEs to include an FMOD integration as long as they specify to your users that they only need to obtain an FMOD license if they use the FMOD features in Visionaire. And again, for 99% of your users (those who don’t make more than $200k per year), obtaining an FMOD license would be free to them.

    “a few years ago when the ex VS dev looked into FMOD, they also wanted the engine to pay a yearly fee to implement & use FMOD in the game engine.”


    Yes, they offer this as an option so that VS would not have to explain to users that they have to obtain an FMOD license if they use it in a game. As long as VS explains to your users the terms of using FMOD, you don’t need to pay that fee. I’m not arguing that you should use it to repack your built-in system. Just to have it as an option. Why is it worth it? It’s not an apples-to-oranges comparison. It’s more like an apples to a truck load of oranges comparison.

    “it's already a lot of work to integrate something like that”


    I understand, but my point is it’s worth it. I wouldn’t even need the full functionality of the FMOD API. FMOD is so powerful with only the use of playing an event and setting parameters. I would only need those two things. Even with those two things, you can create complex dynamic behaviors and logic. If there was a third thing it would be to selectively unload or load a bank (FMOD builds can contain multiple banks).

    “Besides, you could always sort out the fancy stuff for your sounds & music in whatever music production DAW you use - that's what I would probably do myself. I'd just import my sounds into Visionaire & then use the sound system to automate the volume levels & filter cutoff as needed.”

    “you can't expect them to figure out (let alone have the patience to learn) how to use FMOD, which is essentially a music production DAW, such as Cubase, Ableton, etc - actually looking at screenshots of it, it reminds me very much of Ableton based on the minimal UI design.”


    These statements make it clear to me you don’t understand what FMOD is. Which is OK—its not your area of expertise, and you only looked at screenshots. It looks like a DAW as a deliberate UI design choice but it absolutely is not a DAW in any way. Its purpose is not to create audio assets. Its purpose is to import already-created audio assets and invent complex audio behaviors using those assets, dynamically, at runtime. Dynamic mixing using logic, other types of programatic and user-input-based logic, ability to create global parameters and local parameters that can affect the sound in any way you could dream of, optimization, randomization, pitching, behaviors where one sound may affect another sound or groups of sounds when playing simultaneously, the ability to use and route many simultaneous effects, extremely simple VO localization by unloading one language’s bank and loading the another language’s bank. …to name a few things.

    The argument for integrating FMOD is exactly akin to why Spine in Visionaire is integral to many developers. Spine is a AAA professional animation middleware. FMOD is a AAA professional audio middleware. There are some games only possible with a powerful tool like Spine, and the inclusion of Spine has allowed VS to transcend into a sphere where it can compete visually with AAA games. I’d say the exact same thing for FMOD. It’s a powerful toolset already available, and would offer your users yet another AAA tool to transcend their game into the AAA world.

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  • #7, by afrlmeSunday, 24. January, 03:32 4 days ago
    What you just said it does sounds a lot like what music production DAW do. I do have experience with various music production apps (mostly Propellerhead's Reason & Presonus Studio One, but I have used various others over the years), though it's been quite a few years since I've made any music with one.

    In regards to Spine, as good as it is, I'd much prefer Visionaire had support for cheaper ones, such as Spriter or DragonBones (which is basically a free version of Spine Professional Edition, which even comes with Spine model export support - though you need a Spine license to actually be able to legally use the exported files in a commercial project).

    I don't see Simon caving in & adding FMOD to Visionaire anytime soon; if at all. He's literally the only developer working on the engine at the minute.

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  • #8, by lance-montgomerySunday, 24. January, 04:04 4 days ago
    The difference you're missing is that one does it in real time, dynamically, responsive to game events. I'd recommend looking into it deeper. It's infinitely more powerful than you are thinking.

    Regarding Spine, I brought it up as an example because I thought VS already fully supported it.

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  • #9, by afrlmeSunday, 24. January, 04:50 4 days ago
    Yeah Spine support was implemented a couple or so years ago.

    I know the general gist of what FMOD is about & that it affects the audio in real time & can be controlled via various events in a game, but as you already know (probably) I don't have any actual experience using it.

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  • #10, by SimonSSunday, 24. January, 11:23 4 days ago
    I'm now trying to assess how much time an integration would take.

    First of all I need dynamic loading, since it's not a great idea for me to ship it with everyone. I need to write that myself as I look at the docs. This also kills the html5 implementation for it but who cares.

    So now, what is to be done?

    You somehow need to get your banks and sounds into Visionaire, if sounds only get loaded by Visionaire there is not programming possible. I could just put them into channels, that's still possible, but I'm not sure how the mapping to channels then works. That would need custom code on your side. So at that position I could already just all the fmod stuff into a programming language in Visionaire. So I don't need to worry about events and such. But I'm not sure that would make anyone happy.

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  • #11, by lance-montgomeryWednesday, 27. January, 20:03 16 hours ago
    @Simon I really, really appreciate you looking into it!!

    I know that with Unity, integration involves turning off Unity's built-in audio system. I could be mistaken on what this means exactly, but I know that within Unity you can see all of FMOD's channels, and I've always assumed that those were FMOD's own channels to replace Unity's channels, not that they're routed through Unity channels.

    I'm assuming it wouldnt be necessary to turn off VS's audio system like you do with Unity. Would there be a way to "sideload" FMOD and run it in parallel?

    If it makes things simpler, all I'd need to take advantage of FMOD's power is:
    • Load a build and its "Master Bank". Forget the ability to selectively load banks. If it makes it easier to just automatically load the Master Bank and nothing else, that's totally fine!
    • See all the events in that bank. It would even be fine to not worry about displaying heirarchy, if that makes it easier.
    • Play and stop an event.
    • Set the value of an active event's parameter or a global parameter. If this is too difficult, I can even use an event to set a parameter!

    As for html5, FMOD supports it!

    Please let me know whatever else you find out about it! I'm super eager to hear about it!

    Thanks again for even just considering it, Simon!

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