Welcome back to my blog series that offers tutorial resources exploring game music middleware for the game music composer. I initially planned to write two blog entries on the most popular audio middleware solutions (Wwise and FMOD), but since I started this blog series, I’ve been hearing buzz about other middleware solution and so I thought it best to expand the series to incorporate other interesting solutions to music implementation in games. This blog will focus on a brand new middleware application called Elias, developed by Elias Software. While not as famous as Wwise or FMOD, this new application offers some intriguing new possibilities for the creation of interactive music in games.
If you’d like to read the first three blog entries in this series, you can find them here:
Game Music Middleware, Part 1: Wwise
Game Music Middleware, Part 2: FMOD
Game Music Middleware, Part 3: Fabric
Elias stands for Elastic Lightweight Integrated Audio System. It is developed by Kristofer Eng and Philip Bennefall for Microsoft Windows, with a Unity plugin for consoles, mobile devices and browser-based games. What makes Elias interesting is the philosophy of its design. Instead of designing a general audio middleware tool with some music capabilities, Eng and Bennefall decided to bypass the sound design arena completely and create a middleware tool specifically outfitted for the game music composer. The middleware comes with an authoring tool called Elias Composer’s Studio that “helps the composer to structure and manage the various themes in the game and bridges the gap between the composer and level designer to ease the music integration process.”
Here’s the introductory video for Elias, produced by Elias Software:
The interactive music system of the Elias middleware application seems to favor a Vertical Layering (or vertical re-orchestration) approach with a potentially huge number of music layers able to play in lots of combinations. The system includes flexible options for layer triggering, including the ability to randomize the activation of the layers to keep the listening experience unpredictable during gameplay.
Elias has produced a series of four tutorial videos for the Composer’s Studio authoring tool. Here’s the first of the four tutorials:
There’s also a two-part series of tutorials about Elias produced by Dale Crowley, the founder of the game audio services company Gryphondale Studios. Here’s the first of the two videos:
As a middleware application designed specifically to address the top needs of game music composers, Elias is certainly intriguing! The software has so far been used in only one published game – Gauntlet, which is the latest entry in the awesome video game franchise first developed by Atari Games for arcade cabinets in 1985. This newest entry in the franchise was developed by Arrowhead Game Studios for Windows PCs. We can hear the Elias middleware solution in action in this gameplay video from Gauntlet:
The music of Gauntlet was composed by Erasmus Talbot. More of his music from Gauntlet is available on his SoundCloud page.
Elias Software recently demonstrated its Elias middleware application on the expo floor of the Nordic Game 2015 conference in Malmö, Sweden (May 20-22, 2015). Here’s a look at Elias’ booth from the expo:
Since Elias is a brand new application, I’ll be curious to see how widely it is accepted by the game audio community. A middleware solution that focuses solely on music is definitely a unique approach! If audio directors and audio programmers embrace Elias, then it may have the potential to give composers better tools and an easier workflow in the creation of interactive music for games.