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Sound File Customization

by "Cajun" David Richard
Have you ever wondered how to alter the sounds in Maelstrom or Chiral? This little instruction sheet will guide you through the process. Providing that you have the proper tools, you can be creating alternative sound files for Ambrosia's entertainment programs immediately.

Maelstrom and Chiral are modular. This means that the various aspects of the program (such as sounds and graphics) are kept in separate files. With this format, it is relatively easy to swap different files for variety in your game playing. In order to create your own sound files, you need two programs: ResEdit to replace the resources in the sound file, and a sound editing program such as SoundEdit.

Hi-Tech Maelstrom Sound

The first step is to make a copy of the sound file to work on. ResEdit is a powerful little program that gives you access to the resources of a file. Resources are not usually accessible in such an open format, so some mistakes can be permanent. By working on a copy of the original, you can be sure that any mistakes will not be fatal.

Next, in ResEdit open the copy of the sound file that you have just made. You will see a window with two resource icons, one will be a "snd" resource, the other is a "vers" resource. We are interested in the "snd" resource. By double clicking on the "snd" resource icon, you will be prompted with a list of all the "snd" resources in that particular file. The resources are identified by an ID number, and a name. The name is there for the programmer's reference, and is not used by the program itself to find the resources. So what we are interested in is the ID number.

From the list of ID numbers, you should make some notes on which sounds you would like to replace. Be sure to write down the ID numbers of the sounds that you want to change carefully. This is very important, if the program cannot find all of its sounds, it will not run. You can sample the sounds by highlighting a particular sound and choosing "Try Sound" from the "snd" menu. When you have found the sounds that you wish to replace, close the windows that are open, and quit ResEdit. If you are prompted to save the changes, choose "Don't Save" or "No." Saving changes at this point is not necessary.

Now you need to find your own sounds. How you get them is usually unimportant, but keep in mind that the larger the sound file becomes, the more RAM you will need to run the program. Most online services have a vast selection of uploaded sounds to choose from. Simply search on "sound." You can record sounds from audio CD's, CD-ROM's, the radio, even create your own sounds through a microphone. After you gather your sounds, you will want to match them up with the sounds you want to replace.

First open each sound in your sound editing program. The main concern here is that there are a variety of formats that sounds can be saved as. Depending on the source, your sounds can be in several different formats. What needs to be done now is to change the format of all the sounds to the format that the program will accept. Maelstrom and Chiral only accept sounds that have an 11kHz sampling rate, are mono, and are uncompressed. Check the manual of your sound editing program for the procedure of changing the sound format. You can also edit the sounds at this point (shorten, fade, echo, flanger, etc.).

Once you have all of your sounds in the correct format and edited to your preference, you can begin to replace them. There are several ways to do this, I will describe the most basic and generic method. With all of the different sound editing programs out there, there are several options available to move sounds from the editing program to ResEdit, or even the file itself. There may be alternative, and even easier ways of replacing sounds that more experienced users may wish to experiment with.

Most sound editing programs have a waveform or spectral display. The best way to move sounds is simply to copy and paste. With the waveform or spectral display window open, choose "Select All" and then "Copy" from the Edit menu. This will copy the sound to the clipboard. From here you can move to ResEdit.

Open the copy of the sound file in ResEdit. Double-click on the "snd" resource icon to open the list of sounds. By selecting "Paste" from the Edit menu, a new resource will be created containing the data for the new sound. This resource will have a new ID number, and no name. In order to replace the sound and set the ID number, you must first select the original sound and hit the delete key. Then, select your new sound. By choosing "Get Resource Info" from the Resource menu, you will be prompted with a window where you can set certain attributes of the resource. The most important piece of information that needs to be changed is the ID number. Type in the ID number of the original sound that you just deleted. At this point, you should be all set. If you wish to add a name for you reference, feel free. Do not change anything else in this window. Remember, ResEdit is a powerful program, mistakes can easily be made. Close the window, and SAVE YOUR CHANGES!

You have now successfully replaced a sound. Repeat this process for each of the other sounds you wish to replace, and remember to save as you go.

The last thing to do, after all the sounds are replaced, is to rename your new sound file "Maelstrom Sounds" or "Chiral Sounds." The respective programs will not run if the names are not named as such, and the file is not in the folder with the rest of the files. Move the original file out of the game folder, or rename it something like "Old Sounds," and bring in the new sound file.

You can now run the program and see if you were successful. If all of the ID numbers were preserved, and the sounds are in the right format, then your game should sport a brand new set of sounds. If not, and the program has problems running, then go back and double check your steps, you may have missed something.

Keep in mind that these steps are specific to Maelstrom and Chiral, and may not transfer to other programs of similar format. If you have any questions, I am available on-line at AmbrosiaSW, or you can drop a message to me on our message board in the Ambrosia Software forum.

Good luck, and Happy Gaming !

"Cajun" David Richard
Technical Services Manager
Ambrosia Software, Inc.
AOL: AmbrosiaSW

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