Hi all,
As most of you know I've spent the last three or four months
converting my engine code from C# .NET to C++. At last after
three/four months of hard work the engine is almost ready to begin
using for building Mysteries of the Ancients beta 11. The one area of
the engine I haven't quite completed though is the sound core.
Initially I was using FMOD Ex 4.28, which is fine, but as you may know
that requires a special license to use in commercial products. When
incorperated into a game engine the license costs a lot more. I really
don't have the money right now to pay for the license so I've been
thinking about using DirectSound 8 or XAudio2.What I'm looking for is
some educated advice which I should use for my engine.
On one hand I know DirectSound 8 is old, is now technically moved to
the legacy branch of DirectX, but it also is quite stable and very
backwards compatible with older Windows releases. Plus Windows XP,
Vista, and Windows 7 all come with it installed so no need to upgrade
DirectX to use it. Thus if I go with DirectSound 8 I don't have to
install anything extra, or ask anyone to upgrade DirectX. All of these
things are compelling reasons for choosing DirectSound 8.
On the other hand XAudio2 looks very promising. For one thing it is a
lot newer, is designed for Windows releases beyond Windows 7, and is
currently being supported by Microsoft. This means going with it now
will save me some trouble upgrading my games when the time comes that
DirectSound is officially removed from DirectX altogether, but nobody
knows when that will be.Too many games and other multimedia products
depend on DirectSound to just up and drop it as Microsoft well knows.
They probably won't drop it completely until XAudio2 has fully
replaced DirectSound for newer games and other multimedia products. So
the fact that XAudio2 is current doesn't necessarily mean DirectSound
is a bad option. It just means my games will be more up to date so to
speak.
However, as i said before there are some features that make it
promising. For one thing I see according to the docs you can play and
stream some compressed file types like wma and xwma. This is obviously
a great feature as some music and ambience tracks can be quite big.
Having support for some compressed file types makes it a good choice
in that regard.
Besides that XAudio2 has some improvements in DSP support and can be
used to mix sounds for 5.1 and 7.1 sound cards which is very good
since the fact we depend on an entire audio environment to begin with.
The more realistic sounding the mixer is the more realistic the game's
audio environment will be. However, even though a game may support
such a high tech sound environment most of my customers are likely to
be stuck with some budget sound card like a Soundmax AC-97 that
shipped with their computer. So I'm not really certain that putting
extra work into specifically supporting 5.1 or 7.1 mixing will do them
a whole heck of a lot of good without the higher end hardware. If this
is the case then Xaudio2 3d mixing won't be much better than
DirectSound's 3d mixing if they don't have the equipment to take
advantage of the better 3d mixing. Any thoughts here?
Has anyone actually sat down and compared these two APIs and have a
better list of pros and cons? More to the point which do you think I
should pick? I can basically use either one right now, and I should be
able to update the engine in a day or so once I figure out which to
use for the project.

Thanks.

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