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To my game audio friends, colleagues, and those of you I have yet to meet; I’d like to share with everyone a very pleasant experience I had while working on a recent project, and give some well deserved kudos to some people you may have never heard of before now. I’m talking about a company named CRIWARE (CRI Middleware, Inc., not to be confused with CryWare/CryEngine), and they absolutely deserve your attention if you ever find yourself in need of a middleware audio solution.
When I began working on the project it wasn’t long before I realized that the audio tools bundled with the game engine chosen by our lead programmer wouldn’t be sufficient for our needs. Not only would they not be sufficient, they would actually be an obstacle, and I would have to severely compromise my vision for the audio of the game. I’m really not known for doing that… I’m usually the person out in front of the team, pumping my fist in the air, and speaking loudly about how we (either as an industry, or on a specific project) need better audio tools. In my 15 years in the game industry, on every single project I’ve worked on, and at every company I’ve worked with, I’ve championed audio tools to the best of my ability because I truly believe that without good tools we struggle with technical hurdles that divert our focus from doing our best creative work. Additionally, poor audio tools often lead to spending less time at home with our loved ones and more hours in our studios trying to figure out why that new asset we just implemented is behaving oddly.
At about the same time I was discovering that I needed to start looking at new audio middleware I was approached by our publisher and asked to take a look at CRIWARE’s ADX2 audio tool because they already had a business relationship with them. When I agreed, CRIWARE contacted me and made arrangements to fly from Japan to our studio in LA and demo their tech. My first impression was very positive. I liked the interface and the capabilities, especially with regards to interactive music. However, before I was ready to seriously consider working with their tools there were several features I needed implemented. Also, their tech had never been used with our game engine, meaning we would have to start from scratch and there could be a lot of growing pains, bugs, etc. in order to get everything working together properly. I was a bit worried that if we chose to proceed with ADX2, we would end up being guinea pigs and take a massive risk that the tech simply wouldn’t work and ultimately we would end up with worse tools than we started with. I’m happy to report that the very opposite happened…
I can’t stress this enough – Hiroyuki Masuno and his team at CRIWARE are absolutely rockstars. They are at the top of their game, and their customer service, turnaround time, thoroughness, and ability to deliver is second to none in this industry. I have worked with numerous middleware companies throughout my career and CRIWARE impressed the hell out of me. Hiroyuki-san doesn’t just lead the team’s day to day efforts, he’s also a very knowledgeable programmer who has around 30 years of experience working in game audio. Hiroyuki-san and his team managed to not only integrate their tool into our game engine, add dozens of features that I personally requested, and make dozens of changes to functionality, but they did it all in a very short time. That, ladies and gentleman, is how it should be done. After the game shipped I was really hoping to see Hiroyuki-san walk into my office, hold out his arm, and drop a mic, then promptly turn around and walk out, but I don’t think Japanese business culture would allow for that. Seriously though, if it did, I would have stood up from my chair and slow-clapped with a tear in my eye. Outstanding work by everyone at CRIWARE, they should all be extremely proud.
If you are looking for a middleware audio solution for your project, I highly suggest contacting CRI Middleware, Inc (https://www.cri-mw.com). Their tools have been around for a while but have been mostly used in Japanese releases because they are a Japanese company. I was a little concerned about a potential language barrier in the beginning, but because they’re so knowledgeable and effective at communicating it didn’t cause any serious complications (most of the team that I dealt with spoke english as a second language), and all of their documentation is already in english, which I believe they are in the process of refining and improving even further. They have a price structure that is competitive with other audio middleware tools companies, and I’m sure they would love to work more closely with other countries and expand a bit. I had a fantastic time working with all of them and can’t recommend them enough.
If anyone would like to talk privately and delve into more details, I can be reached at http://www.shanekneip.com
Thanks for reading!
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