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By playing music files instead of creating music through tones, you can give your game a much richer musical background. Unfortunately, playing music files has several drawbacks that make them inappropriate for many applications, especially on small devices such as cell phones. First, devices that run only MIDP 2 aren t required to support playback of audio files, so low-end target devices won t even give you this option. Second, the audio files can be quite large, especially compared to the total amount of storage space on the device. Third, playing an audio file requires a lot of effort on the part of the processor and will likely slow down your game s animation and response time. A fourth drawback is that it s hard to synchronize the music with the game. (You can use the getMediaTime() method of the Player interface to find out where you are in the music file, but it s not guaranteed to work.) Dealing with memory and processor consumption is a serious issue. Your target device must be a high-end MIDP device to even consider it. Verify that even with the audio file in the JAR your program doesn t take up too much of the device s memory. Having the game download the audio file at runtime is generally not a good solution for keeping the JAR size down since having the device download data during the game and/or read the whole audio file into a buffer will dramatically diminish the computing resources available for your game. The one situation where playing audio from an audio file is typically appropriate for a game on a small device is when it is played along with a few seconds of introductory animation before your game starts. That way, you can start by impressing your customer with a cool startup sequence without having the music eat up your computing power during the game itself. But even for this use it s important to verify that your target device can handle it. Once you ve decided you want to use an audio file in your game, it s easy to implement. Listing 4-9 shows an example code block to demonstrate.
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CHAPTER 4 USING THREADS AND MEDIA
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Listing 4-9. Playing an Audio File /** * Read the audio file from the JAR and play it. */ void playMusic() { try { // create an input stream that can be used to read the // music data from a file called music.wav in a directory // called resources in this program's JAR file. InputStream is = getClass().getResourceAsStream("/resources/music.wav"); // create a media player to play the music file, and // inform the player that the format is "audio/X-wav" Player player = Manager.createPlayer(is, "audio/X-wav"); // start the music player.start(); } catch (IOException ioe) { // deal with the exception } catch (MediaException me) { // deal with the exception } } Before creating the Player, you can verify that the implementation supports playback of files in your chosen format by calling Manager.getSupportedContentTypes(). Some common types include .wav audio files (MIME type: audio/x-wav), .au audio files (MIME type: audio/basic), .mp3 audio files (MIME type: audio/mpeg), and .midi files (MIME type: audio/midi). Once you have an instance of Player, you have a number of methods at your disposition for controlling the Player s lifecycle. Using realize(), you can tell the player to do any preliminary construction steps without acquiring device resources, and the methods prefetch() and deallocate() allow you to instruct the Player to acquire (and release) the resources that the player needs in order to play. Then you can start and stop the music using the aptly named start() and stop() methods and close the player down with the method close().
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It's important to have a good grasp of how the different threads of an application interact because a lot of troubleshooting has to be done by pure thought. Threading errors are notorious for showing up intermittently and being difficult to consistently reproduce, which makes them difficult to debug. The example game in this chapter illustrates how to get the different threads of a game for running the animation, music, and handling the user s input to work together during standard game play as well as when the game is interrupted.
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