LinuxGames.com: Linux Enters the World of 3D Audio – Q & A With Michael Vance, OpenAL Developer

[ Thanks to Dustin
for this link. ]

“As is widely known, Linux has drivers for two types of sound
cards with 3D audio capabilities, the Sound Blaster Live! from
Creative and the Vortex line of cards from Aureal. Unfortunately,
those drivers don’t currently provide a way for games under Linux
to use those 3D features. However, at the Linux Expo this past
February, I heard about a new, open 3D audio API that would soon
make its debut on Linux, Windows, and MacOS. At the Game
Developer’s Conference, an announcement has finally been made and
the time has arrived to unveil this new API, called OpenAL.”

With a clear nod to the familiar graphics API from SGI,
OpenAL hopes to provide a cross-platform API that is as useful and
powerful for 3D audio as OpenGL is for 3D graphics.
knowing that it exists, of course, raises several questions. Where
did OpenAL come from? What features are supported? Who will be
providing hardware support? What kind of games can we expect to see
using OpenAL? These questions, and many more, are answered below,
by Loki programmer Michael Vance.”

“LG: Compared to the other APIs out there, like Aureal’s A3D and
Creative’s EAX, what functionality does OpenAL provide? Can it do
the reflections and occlusions that A3D 2.0 is known for? What
about the excellent reverb that EAX provides?”

“MV: OpenAL currently provides (to a varying degree or another
depending upon the maturity of the implementation–we’re still
writing these) everything in IASIG Level 1 and IASIG Level 2. This
includes distance based attenuation, panning based on position,
doppler, radiation cones, environmental reverb, etc.”

“At one time we had a geometry specification API worked out for
doing the neat stuff that A3D does, but it’s on the back burner
right now while we get the core API done.”