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SoundFont is a brand name and file format for sample-based MIDI synthesis instruments. It was originally developed by Creative Labs and Emu-Systems. The technology is utilised in Dungeon Keeper to produce atmospheric sound effects.

Dungeon Keeper[]

Sound Blaster AWE32 option in Dungeon Keeper DOS installation

An extra option that automatically configures the game for this appears in the DOS setup program if it detects an AWE32 or AWE64 card (it says AWE32 even if it's an AWE64).

There are three .sbk files (sbk standing for SoundFont Bank) in the game's sound directory: bullfrog.sbk, atmos1.sbk, and atmos2.sbk, each containing dungeon-themed wave files, which are used as instruments for music.dat. music.dat is actually a MIDI file (specifically, an XMI file) and has nothing to do with the game's soundtrack, which is in Red Book format (played from the CD); the reason it's called music.dat is that MIDI is normally used for music.

Sound Blaster AWE64 Gold CT4540

The AWE64 Gold has 4MB onboard RAM for SoundFonts, making it arguably the best sound card for Dungeon Keeper

If the game detects a Sound Blaster AWE32 or AWE64, one of these SoundFont banks is loaded at random and the MIDI tune plays, and the player is greeted by drops, screams, and other dungeon-themed sounds upon starting a game. As the Sound Blaster AWE line were the only sound cards with SoundFont support, the 'Creative AWE32 or AWE64' is the only MIDI option available in the DOS version. The Sound Blaster AWE cards have onboard RAM for SoundFonts, meaning they do not take up system RAM: all AWE32 cards and the AWE64 Value have 512KB, and the AWE64 Gold has 4MB. Most cards could be upgraded to have up to 32MB.

It is also possible to have the game play one's own sound effects. This is accomplished by manually loading a SoundFont Bank and running the game with the -usersfont parameter. In late 1997, Creative Labs had several sample Dungeon Keeper SoundFont Banks available for download, which can still be downloaded thanks to the Wayback Machine. This is a little-known and forgotten-about customisation aspect of the game.

This entire feature (both parts) works only on the Sound Blaster AWE32 and AWE64. Not even later Sound Blaster cards (Live!, Audigy, X-Fi, etc.) that also support SoundFont technology provide atmospheric sounds in Dungeon Keeper.

Dungeon Keeper seems to be one of the more notable (if not, the most notable) game to utilise SoundFont technology in the late 1990s, as Creative advertised the game's SoundFont support on their website and had some pages detailing the feature.

Starting with version 0.4.6.1896, Dungeon Keeper FX Unofficial recreates this functionality by having the wave files play from sound.dat, without requiring an AWE32/64 card, as no modern system supports them; those cards are long since obsolete. Because they're no longer played as MIDI, when they play is much more random (also, all three sound sets have been merged into one, so you'll always get the all the sounds). Starting with KeeperFX Unofficial 0.4.7.1973, custom sound support is reintroduced, in the form of a setting in KeeperFX.cfg that specifies which sounds to play. It is possible to add sounds to sound.dat and set them as the sounds to play. Another difference is that there is a slight delay before the constantly-repeating (by default, this is the dripping) sound starts playing, and a further delay before the others start being heard, the idea being that the player actually has something of a dungeon before getting the atmosphere. This is intended to give a trace of verisimilitude; before, the sounds of whichever set was loaded started playing immediately, before the player has had a chance to build up their dungeon. However, the entire feature is disabled by default.

Trivia[]

  • A late 1995 trailer features sounds from bullfrog.sbk.[1]


Dungeon Keeper 2[]

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'Your Library is too small!' - The Mentor (DK1)
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it.

A file called SoundFont.sf2 (SoundFont 2) can be found in the \Data\Sound\Sfx\Global directory, but its function is unknown.

See Also[]

References[]

  1. Dungeon Keeper trailer, late 1995.

External Links[]

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