An Interview with Firelight

sulphur /

At long last, I have finally gotten round to interviewing the infamous FireLight, the author of FMOD, a popular sound and music library used both in the demo-scene and commercially. Without further-ado, let's delve into the chaotic mind of the guy who not only spends more time on IRC than I do, but has a worrying obsession with the tweenies.

First of all, thank you for taking time out to do this interview. I guess we better start off with an introduction, state your full name, age, location, job, shoe size, and so on.

Bleah :) .. Brett Paterson, 27, uk (at the moment), working for Electronic Arts, and I wear clown shoes.

You're originally from Australia, why on earth did you come to the uk, this place isn't exactly known for its good weather you know. =)

I came here for the weather. ;) I came here because the I.T. industry sucks in Australia and the uk pays more, especially considering the exchange rate at the moment.

Did you have any prior game industry experience before coming to the uk? Assuming Australia actually has an industry. =)

The Australian game industry is very active.. there is probably more than 30 companies now, big and small... I worked at 2 of these companies previously, for about 4 years.. one called Torus Games, one called Tantalus Interactive.. I programmed as lead programmer most of the time so I wasn't always doing sound.. but I had fmod in my spare time and I decided I liked sound programming.

What gave you the idea to create fmod anyway? Did the infamous fmoddoc inspire you to write a sound library (building on your original fmoddoc player)?

Ah that's easy.. I used to be a musician in the early 90's.. I released a heap of mods and xm's.. with my first music disk, I needed a modplayer and it was 'lame' back then to use 3rd party players (I think the only one available at the time was Future Crew's MDP?).. So I wrote a gus .mod player for dos.. fmod 1.0.. It was pretty crap. :)

Yeah, rumour had it you were a musician early in your scene career, when was the last time you tracked anything?

Hm, I think the last time I released was when I entered the oz demoparty Coven and came 2nd (Hunz had to enter and win of course, the bastard!) :) .. I'm not sure when that was.. probably 97 or 98..

Is your music disk still available? Or are you too embarrassed to give out a url? =)

It's still around on I think, using the search engine for firelight.

Oooh. I'll be sure to download it myself. =) Getting back to sound coding, your fmoddoc was a good read for anyone wanting to write their own player, is that still of use today?

Maybe.. if someone wants to write a mod replayer it is ok but it's out of date because it only covers mod and s3m.. There is still a lot of stuff in there that is applicable to xm and IT tho.... Jedi also wrote a doc on software mixing which was cool..

That was the awe32 doc if I recall? Maybe I'm thinking of Judge Dread's doc.

Not awe32.. It was aimed at Soundblaster really.

What's your favourite beer or poison? Ever indulged in drugs? =)

What sort of question is that? My mum may be reading! (Well I doubt it.) ... I think I drink Stella now most of the time.. I like pints in the uk.. In Australia you have pissy little 'pots' which are like thimbles with beer in them. :) .. As for the other I've only smoked a bit of this and that but nothing more.

So, what advice do you give for anyone wishing to start up in sound coding?

Hmm I dunno, don't write 100 mixer loops in asm like I did? :) .. If I had to start again I would have gone for more flexibility instead of hardcoded speed.

Getting back to fmod, it's come a long way since its initial release, what's in store for the near future? Will we ever see that Linux port?

Fmod supported Linux since 3.3 released in December :) .. 3.31 is a bugfixed version (with new ogg vorbis code and a few other cool surprises) which should be out very soon.. in the future DirectX 8 support for filter fx, and multiple soundcard support (play out of 2 soundcards at the same time), plus some voice management maybe.. I just implement what people ask for basically :) .. WinCE and GBA versions should be coming soon also.

Goes to show how much notice I take! The next release sounds cool.. I hope the readers take it upon themselves to mail you with features they'd like before you release it! You wrote fmod for your music disk originally, did you ever think it would be so popular?

After the dos gus player it was idle for 3 years, I only released the actual API to the public nearly 2 years ago now.. Then I didn't think many people would download it, but as people starting nagging more and more for new stuff (as they still do :)).. the download count grew and grew and the big event was when 3.0 was released.. I was getting about 7000 hits a day for a few days. Since then it's really taken off with commercial companies now ditching Miles Sound System for example to use fmod.. It is nice to know so many people use it.

In no more than 15 words, tell the readers why fmod is the best replay library on the planet.

Because it does everything you want, does it really fast, and is easy to use..

Have you managed to score with any English girls yet? =)


Where do you see sound technology going in the next few years, and how will it affect FMOD and the future of games?

Sound technology is stagnant at the moment, except for some new fx stuff in DirectX 8 which would be nice to see accelerated (because as usual Microsoft's software implementation is slow as hell).. What I want in the future is more 5.1 digital support as standard, and things like programmable dsp chips (which X-Box will have).. Fmod will stay on top of everything as soon as it comes out of course.

What's your favourite website? =)

The one I probably check out the most is ;)

And who's your favourite scene musician? What modules did you use to test fmod in its early stages of development? If you remember of course. =)

I haven't downloaded a mod in years.. I always loved Hunz' and Jeroen Tel's stuff when I did, coz they're both insane trackers.. One of the first mods I tested fmod on was justblue.mod by Dizzy because it had only one effect I think :) .. The other was probably Space Debris. :)

I think that just about wraps it up, any last words, advice, words of wisdom, greets?

Don't visit #coders if you know what's good for you.. I might bite your head off and Gaffer might show you his arse.

That's a wrap kids, if you aren't already using FMOD in your productions, be sure to download it, it's magic.


FMOD Homepage
Firelight's music disks, tunes and sound utils.
Which one is Firelight's favourite tweenie?