Digital audio company Creative announced earlier this week that its Sound Blaster Live! for Macintosh card is now shipping. Mac gamers concerned about burgeoning support for the card may take heart in recent comments from the president of one of the most prolific and well-known Macintosh conversion game companies, Westlake Interactive. Westlake works with leading Mac game publishers including MacSoft, Aspyr Media, and Gathering of Developers.
The Sound Blaster Live! for Macintosh is a consumer-level PCI-based audio card that provides four speaker surround sound, MIDI input, and other features. Now shipping through Creative’s distributors and retail channel partners, the card is available for US$149.99. It ships with a variety of Mac software, including Aspyr Media’s Mac version of Deus Ex, the popular 3D action/role-playing game originally developed by Ion Storm.
Westlake Interactive produced the original Mac conversion of Deus Ex, and tweaked the Sound Blaster version to support four-point surround, as well. Westlake’s Adams appears to be a strong advocate of the new card. According to Westlake president Mark Adams, his company is also working on a public release of the popular first-person action game Unreal Tournament, which supports EAX, Creative’s standard for managing customized audio effects and 3D positional audio. Unreal Tournament is published by MacSoft.
Adams said that Creative and Westlake are also collaborating to create a full OpenAL version of Unreal Tournament. OpenAL is an open-source audio library promoted by Creative and others developed to serve the same role as OpenGL does for graphics application and hardware developers.
That’s not all, either. “Tomb Raider Chronicles supports EAX, and I think [Escape from] Monkey Island might (we were looking at adding it, I’m not sure if it made it in the final),” said Adams. Escape from Monkey Island just finished development and should be hitting stores any day now; Tomb Raider Chronicles is still being developed. Both Mac games are Aspyr Media properties.
Adams lauds the new audio technology. “EAX is super easy to add to a game,” said Adams. “The full OpenAL is more complex, but still a very nice API.”
Adams also has nice things to say about the Sound Blaster Live! for Mac itself. “The sound from the Creative Sound Blaster cards is just amazing. I’ve been using mine for my main sound output for a month or so, and wouldn’t go back,” said Adams.