Interview — The Callisto Protocol's PS5 audio is like 'ray tracing'

By Sean Lawson,

The PS5's audio engineering should be paid off in the upcoming horror action game The Callisto Protocol. TrueTrophies spoke to Striking Distance CTO Mark James at Gamescom 2022 about the Tempest Engine and his excitement for it.

The Callisto Protocol will be making explicit use of PS5's Tempest audio capacity, chief technology officer Mark James confirmed in an interview with TrueTrophies. We will all get to experience PS5's incredible Tempest Engine when the horror-action game The Callisto Protocol releases on December 2nd, 2022.

The Callisto ProtocolThe Callisto Protocol's sound design will scare the pants off you!

CTO Mark James discusses The Callisto Protocol and the Tempest Engine

TrueTrophies recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the CTO of Striking Distance, Mark James, and was able to discuss a variety of topics centring around The Callisto Protocol. Let's take a look at the Tempest Engine and what it brings to The Callisto Protocol. Audio is such an integral part of game design, especially when it comes to horror and nailing that fear-inducing atmosphere that makes you jump at every single shadow. The Callisto Protocol is going to be a gore-riddled adventure and you best believe we want to hear all of that disgusting carnage at the highest audio quality possible.

Just before we dive into the interview: a brief overview of what the PS5's Tempest Engine is. The Tempest Engine is a chip inside of the PS5 that handles all things 3D audio. Just like how a graphics card generates 3D models, the Tempest Engine does the same with audio giving it an exponential leap in quality over previous generations.

Discussing the Tempest Engine, James said: "We looked at this technology and the ability to actually position a sound through its unbalancing of its distribution across the entire 7.1, that's what the chip gives us. It gives us all the hardware capabilities of doing that without actually taking away from CPU and GPU.

"Your audio engineers and all the audio guys [are] always like 'Oh, I haven't got anything to use. You've left me with half a CPU, what am I going to do with half a CPU?' The fact that they've got a dedicated piece of audio hardware, the audio guys are like: 'Finally, something's mine, something I can only use and it's dedicated towards audio.'"

Continuing, James said: "Then the really fast hardware-based compression and decompression in real-time, that's another fantastic [thing,] I don't have to [tell] the CPU [to do that,] I've got a dedicated audio chip [for] all that."

James rounded off his thoughts by saying: "Tempest Engine [is] just fantastic. The ability to use [it] for 3D positioning sound generation across the speaker groups and I just have to send it to our engine, tell it where it is in the world, and it will have the correct attenuation across all the relevant speaker groups, it's great."

The Callisto ProtocolLet the bodies hit the floor

When it comes to sound design, James had a lot to say and talks about how players will be able to use these fine-tuned sound mechanics to their advantage when navigating the many horrors that lay in wait to devour them. Players should be able to hear their enemies before they even see them — if they listen carefully enough.

"We wanted to have the best audio, we're going to get these new consoles and there's brand new audio chipsets that we can actually utilise and for the first time, treat audio like rendering, give it real ray tracing aspects so I can hear when that door is open. It changes my reflection on the audio."

Discussing the demo from Gamescom 2022, James adds: "If you saw the brushes [and] the guys that were crawling over the ceiling, if you have a headset on you can hear those things before you can see them. You can hear them run over the ceiling behind you. They've got this cloaking technology, they sometimes cloak and disappear, but I can still hear them from their last position."

The Callisto ProtocolThe Callisto Protocol is going to be one scary adventure

That's everything to do with the Tempest Engine, what do you guys think? Make sure you keep an eye out for more interviews about The Callisto Protocol! Are you excited to get munched on by some grotesque monsters in space? Also, feel free to check out our interview all about the trophies in Tunic. Let us know in the comments down below!
Sean Lawson
Written by Sean Lawson
Sean is a Staff Writer who focuses on the geekiest Sony news. He specializes in PlayStation trophies, the best PS Plus games, RPGs, and fighting games. Sean is using this experience to cover Stellar Blade, Dragon Age Dreadwolf, Baldur's Gate 3, and Dragon's Dogma 2 for PS5, all while he still dives into favorite games like Mass Effect, Tomb Raider, and Persona.
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