Game audio industry has been developing quite fast during last few years, and probably one the most important game-changer technology for this industry has been the interactive audio engines called Audio Middleware.
An Audio Middleware is a piece of software allowing game developers to more easily integrate assets and implement various services in a larger software environment. For sound designers it allows to easily attach sound files to a game environment and to readily determine the interaction of those files with existing, non-audio assets such as graphic sprites, etc…
We had the pleasure to interview the crew behind a new audio middleware, called Krilloud.
What Is Krilloud?
Krilloud is an interactive audio engine. And what the hell is that? most people ask. It is a tool that aims to connect Audio with any interactive software/hardware, for games, web, apps, VR, Live sound, Robotics….
Three Audio freaks are the instigators, Felipe Milano, Carlos Casco and myself, and then in order of appearance, Daniel Restoy, Manuel Barrio, Alberto Ruiz, and more recently Pepo Esperon and Wendi de Freitas, That is the core team.
It’s our contribution to both developers and Audio creators communities, to actually bridge both.
How & Why has it born?
The why is a classic. Coming from 25 years in the digital audio field mostly around the music industry and films, when we did our first jobs as a team of audiophiles in Jams and then with published projects we found ourselves extremely constrained.
The workflows were a disaster and the iterations between Audio team and developers eternal, with very weak results. We searched for solutions, but sadly we did not find anything good enough.
So we just rewind 20 years, and we rethought the whole process of Interactive audio VS the traditional linear audio. And we created the tool that we were needing to work, fast and with a proper design concept.
Everything started when I found the work of Jari Kompa SoLoud, on github, that was like a light at the end of the tunnel, that was the beginning of testing, and actually it is still the core engine that we use for PC.
The How is more difficult to answer.
Basically a lot of help coming from people who just loved the idea, many things aligned around us for the right people to appear in the right times, we have top industry advisors like Daniel Varela (ex- Frontier ex-AKAI), Juan Pedro Bolivar (former Ableton), Paco Corrientes (ex-HP, Technicolor), all those validated advised us just for personnel acquittance and honest interest in the idea.
So I guess it was a really good design thinking and quite a lot of luck.
It also happens thanks to EU funding, we won a sort of Grant competition at XR4all community, second top project out of 90, and that small fund made possible to finish the first beta release, and get the inertia to reach the Global game jam with an MVP.
How it works?
It is (for now), what you would call a middleware. We have an external design editor, to create the sound interaction map, based on layers that we call Tags. The editor exports a contract in .json and a .bin file with the audio material.
Those files are what the different plugins use to deliver the audio implementation. Basically a low code tool. We have filters (not so good yet but we have!!).
So far we have a plugin for Unity, which currently can build to PC and Android, and prototypes and proof of concept for IOS, Game Maker, and Web Audio API, but most importantly we have REAL TIME editing, in true “run time” within Unity.
This could be an example of workflow: You do your design and agree variables and layers with developer, he can start to work using our placeholder contract without needing the audios (and without crashing Unity because of that), then the Audio people build the design in krilloud export directly to Unity project, the developer will only have to declare variables and “play Tag” play Tag, play Tag.
In the last global game jam we tested with people who have never used it before, and in the middle of the Jam stress!!, we were able to implement whole designs in literally minutes. On feedback was ” the implementation was instant”.
What About Third Party Plugins Integration In The Near Future? Like Wwise Does.
Yes and no. We are going to open an API sooner or later to connect existing and future audio filters in Krilloud. We are built around an open source core on C++, there is a lot of wok already done round dsp programming by the audio dev community, this line will look more like a open VST style protocol or Krilloud, than any proprietary framework or what Wwise does.
That kind of integration that you mention about Wwise is slightly different, we are building those integrations now, we have so far Unity, Android and Web Audio Api plugins, next ones on the list gamemaker, arduino, godot….we will plug with everything, if we grow enough for third parties to want to connect with us, that will be a good sign and much welcome.
Krilloud has a different thinking structure, a different mindset about interactive audio design concept, is not only about plugins and integrations what third parties and users mainly will be able to create, but also, templates, embed libraries, public scripts, we are not thinking or trying to grow a “store” unless the community want it, but for sure we are going to nurture a portfolio of “toys” to use with Krilloud.
Is It Possible To Use IR`s Within Krilloud?
This is related with the previous one, to use an IR in Krilloud’s concept is one or 2 layers below the elemental design, ie: you are working with KL Tags in 3d and you want to use convolution reverbs, meaning is the plugin which uses the IR. We do not have a convolution reverb built in, we prefer to invest in connect our selves with resonance, omnitone and any future specialized one coming into play, basically “shoemaker to your shoes” (cant translate this in english).
That is from Krilloud perspective but talking about IR, and the amount of resources they currently consume, I wonder how many of those convolution process are scrapped when it comes to build and you have to optimize ram load, cpu usage etc, Audio people always lose that battle.That is precisely what Krilloud is about, simple, easy to handle, quick and fast, we are lighter than any one, we fit on phones, you can run it from usb, implement games in 30 minutes, functional templates, real-time editing in run time, cloud capabilities and remote editing (coming soon). Krilloud its something different, it wont fit in the mold if you compare with current solutions, we just do not compete because our war is a different one, to make interactive audio important in the industry.
Any Plans For Releasing A Mac Version?
Mac is a problem, delicious when it works but, we all know, is too much enclosed system and risky for a small team like us. Even big players have problems with updates, drivers, etc, we are conscious of how small we are to enter that arena. Our solution for Mac users, and to expand to every user, is to place very soon the editor tool on the browser, which will take us also to collaborative edition.
Which are your plans for the future?
To become the Production standard for interactive Audio. In detail the features list to add is immense yet, let me resume. In the pipeline already we we are currently working on:
- IOS compilation capabilities
- The web audio Api plugin (almost finished already in the oven).
- A brand new User Interface.
Further features will be decided by the users, obviously the contributing users will have more weight on those decisions, things we have in the list among many:
- Plugin for Arduino
- Plugin for Game Maker
- Plugin for Godot
- Create Macros.
- Remote collaborative editing via web
- Audio streaming using Mpeg-H
- Live inputs.
We want everything to be able to sound with Krilloud. If it sounds and interacts we can do it.
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