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Comparing PC Game Physics

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the phighting-physics dept.

217

John Callaham writes "On Wednesday we posted up comments from Havok about rival AGEIA's use of their physics processor in the PC version of Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. Today we have an expanded article with point-to-point comments from AGEIA that address Havok's statements." From the article: "How much interaction do you want in your PC games? It used to be that graphics were the number one factor in picking up a new game but now players are asking more and more about interactions in the environment. One company that has provided such interaction is Havok. They have developed a physics engine that has been used in a ton of games, including most famously in Valve's first person shooter Half-Life 2. Recently, Havok announced plans for a new physics engine, Havok FX, that would use Shader Model 3.0 graphics cards to further enhance game interactions and physics."

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217 comments

Crowded House (0, Offtopic)

micsco (972632) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275209)

Man I really hope these things are only gunna get smaller cause as we branch out into the various streams of cards for different purposes we're getting more and more crowded...

Re:Crowded House (1)

Fyre2012 (762907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275271)

What i'd like to see is a dual core video card where 1 processor handles the only the physics, the other handles everything else.

Re:Crowded House (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275607)

What i'd like to see is a dual core video card

What I'd like to see is a computer which has a main general-purpose CPU, and a bunch of separate special-purpose engines to handle physics, graphics, sound etc. I'd put them all on a single chip with memory and interface controllers and enough cache so they could all work effectively.

If I had to give it a name, I think I'd call it the "Cell" processor.

Re:Crowded House (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275946)

Oh, come on, you know that not even Sony lets the Cell do the graphics.

On physics (3, Insightful)

remembertomorrow (959064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275252)

How much interaction do you want in your PC games?

Interaction is great and all, but please give humanoid NPCs more rigid joints! It looks silly seeing them flopping around with elastic joints, or doing backflips after being shot in the face.

That, and being able to move enormous metal crates simply by shooting them, breaks any immersion the game has created. :/

Re:On physics (2, Funny)

Ugly American (885937) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275462)

That reminds me of the F.E.A.R. demo. At one point, I lobbed a couple of grenades into an office to take care of the clones that were bunched up inside of it. After the incoming fire stopped, I moved into the office to investigate. One of the clones had actually been thrown up against the wall and was lodged against an off-kilter bulletin board, hanging head-down with arms and legs flat against the wall. I had to take a break until I stopped laughing.

Re:On physics (1)

acidrain (35064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275469)

"more rigid joints!"

Telivision actors don't go limp enough when they pretend to get knocked unconcious. Which is why many people don't seem to realise someone who is really knocked out is all floppy.

Re:On physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275505)

depends. sometimes someone is knocked unconscious and their body goes totally rigid, the opposite of what you mention. Anyone who's seen a kick returner knocked unconscious in the NFL knows what I speak of. an arm or a leg will be suspended, rigid, in midair as the player rests unconscious, like a toppled action figure.

It depends.

Re:On physics (1)

insane_machine (952012) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275518)

Well it does depend what you shoot the crate with, a pistol doesn't work. Now if you used a rocket launcher, than the crate had better shift unless its filled with lead or something.

Re:On physics (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275956)

Shouldn't the crate get blown to pieces instead if you use a rocket launcher?

Re:On physics (5, Interesting)

nugneant (553683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275547)

Interaction is great and all, but please give humanoid NPCs more rigid joints! It looks silly seeing them flopping around with elastic joints, or doing backflips after being shot in the face.

I disagree, to a certain extent.

When it comes to NPCs and enemies "reacting fo' realz" - I disagree. Sure, give them better AI (so long as "better" means "less predictable" and isn't a codeword for "can spawn other enemies to hate-rape you on sight, and requires so much processor power that there is only one enemy per stage"). But frankly, attempts have been made to make realistic physics, and without exception these games always feel muddy and unplayable. Give me Burnout Revenge over Flatout any day of the month of the week's year, kthx.

What works in the real world, with near instantaneous brain-body 3D real time control, and TOTAL SENSORY IMMERSION(TM) (note - I've patented that trademark, so now everyone has a damn good excuse to avoid the outside world) tends to take a bellyflop when you're interfacing via a mouse/keyboard/gamepad/John Romero's Magic Glowing Orb, looking at a monitor that, at best, does a good job at tricking your eyes into 2.5 dimensions.

It's been proven that people do not want "real physics" - they want "Hollywood physics". When they say "better physics", what they're saying is that they don't want paper-thin enemies who fly at 100 MPH from a shotgun blast. They want ragdoll dudes who will spin 1080 when you blast off an arm, then look at the stump, still gushing blood, and fall face-first, even though real people would scream in pain and probably not do much after the blast.



HOWEVER - when it comes to scenery physics, HELL YES. Nothing irritates me more than the Magic Unbreakable Door, found in virtually every 3D shooter. I've got rockets the size of a HUMAN BEING here. You mean to tell me a wooden door will take five of them? Other objects of note:

* - Telephone poles OF DOOM (found in most racing games, Grand Theft Auto)
* - Wooden Support Planks WITH ARMOR-ALL (found in a lot of shooters - okay, one or two shots isn't going to do much, but if I take a tommygun to a 2 by 4, the tommygun wins)
* - Ground of SOLID STEEL (almost every FPS - see my next point for more)
Dirt mound OF GOD (if I hit a dirt mound with an RPG, it should fly apart. I think that games should be REQUIRED to accurately simulate the effects of RPGs on scenery - and maybe this will keep the next five or six clone-developers from adding the damn thing. When I was in my formulative years I never imagined that I'd be saying this, but I am sick and tired of Rocket Propelled Grenades, Rocket Launchers, Giant Phallic Things Which Explode On Impact, and/or "Bazookas". They are done in every action game. They are always virtually the same. Once I play a game where a hit with a rocket will cause buildings to explode, key cards to become redundant, and mazes to be a thing of the past, I will buy back into the "Bigger and more explosive is BETTER" philosophy. And I'm not talking about Zombies Ate My Neighbors or Duke Nukem style "oh look, it's a suspicious crack in a wall, PERHAPS A ROCKET WOULD LOOK NICE HERE" linearity. I'm thinking more along the lines of the (criminally underrated) Future Tactics, except more brutal).



Anyway. Instead of worrying about the Next Big Thing, and bitching about how all games are the SAME, and becoming suckers for arm-deadening, fruitily-named attempts at brute-force "innovation" (like, uh... gee, nothing's coming to mind, so I guess this is strictly hypothetical :-P ) - instead of this, how about we collectively lobby to get these things done right? An RTS with millions of genero-zergish units per side. A FPS with real-time rocket-based-dynamic-level-modification and death-physics so mind-jarringly violent (and bloody) that Jack Thompson and Joey "Senator" Lieberman simultaniously combust. A sports game where I can choose to attempt a brutal tackle that will leave the QB writhing in pain, and on the instant replay I can see his knee bending backwards - with fines, and suspensions, and injuries, and scandals, and where computer controlled teams actually switch cities and design new uniforms in Franchise mode. A MMORPG with PVP that isn't anal-fucking-retentive about OMG U KILLED MY LEVEL 4923 WIZARD (serves Gandalf360 right for showign up in the ghetto). A car racing / driving game with dynamic crashes (not to be confused with "a set of differing skins that reflect more damage, one skin per 10% damage points" - ie Grand Theft Auto. I want to rear end the same car five different ways, and see five different results). An RPG game where the entire "levelling" system is thrown out the window, and I can kill townspeople without triggering the Arbitrary Guardspawn of DOOM. A RPG Adventure where the weapons, items, and spells aren't so mind-rottingly linear (fire1, fire2, fire3, firewall (between fire1 and fire2, strength-wise, but attacks multiple enemies at once), flamefuck (9999 damage), etc). Maybe a platformer where different levels open up depending on how / what I do. And a rhythm game without top 40 hits.

I don't bitch about seeing Yet Another Fucking _____ game, mostly because the over-loaded genres have always had room to improve, in my eyes. Once the above criteria have all been met, then - and only then - will I join the throngs of those who whine about unoriginality.

(and even so, in two or three years it'll be possible to have the same games with better graphics and more blood, and you know what? I'd buy the Deluxe versions in a heartbeat)



Anyway, just my $0.02, and as usual, there's an entire sub-rant or five that I know exists, but didn't come to mind between "reply" and "submit". Yeah, I can go on forever about videogames.



--
My MOMMY thinks I'm +1 Insightful!!

Re:On physics (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275843)

The inability to blow up scenery has more to do with level design than anything else. It's damn hard to keep things interesting if you allow the player to just blow up anything in their way.

Your sports game scenario won't work well either. You put your backup player in the game and have him violently take out the other team's staring QB. The other team is screwed for the season, but you're simply out your worst player. It's something that's cool once but takes away from the game past that.

For your car crash scenario, that could be done now. You'd just have to sacrifice graphical detail in other areas to do it. Based on what sells, people would rather have better looking scenery or more detailed cars than more detailed damage.

With your RPG comments, I agree completely. But that seems to be the entire basic concept RPGs are built around. I personally don't see the appeal at all, but some people do. It's probably why RPGs are really popular with Slashdot type people, but very few of them get any mainstream attention.

Your comment on computer teams switching cities and changing logos probably won't ever happen. I doubt the licenses with the sports league would allow that.

For your platformer comments, branching level paths have been done plenty of times. Super Mario World 15 years ago was a rather prominent one. About a third of the levels had multiple exits, which opened up different branches on the world map. They also had a level broken into 4 parts. Each part had about 3 possiblies. Which one you were given depended on what you did in the previous one. It was a nice change, but would've gotten annoying fast if they did it often.

Re:On physics (1)

nugneant (553683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275942)

The inability to blow up scenery has more to do with level design than anything else. It's damn hard to keep things interesting if you allow the player to just blow up anything in their way.

It's a challenge - but you know, it's a videogame, not a sight-seeing tour. Maybe some people like getting a guided tour of a museum, but there are those of us who like charting our own paths, and have only ourselves to blame if it's not Mathematically Interesting.



Your sports game scenario won't work well either. You put your backup player in the game and have him violently take out the other team's staring QB. The other team is screwed for the season, but you're simply out your worst player. It's something that's cool once but takes away from the game past that.

I disagree. Heck, a simple AI strategy would be to increase Rivalry factor +1 - okay, once was an accident, but when that third-string LB committed four unnecessary roughness fouls en route to Peyton Manning's career ending elbow-tear, then you'll have an entire team fired up and aiming for the weak spots. Refs could throw flags, kick players out, maybe a bench clearing brawl, and the post-game "newspaper" would mention a real battle on the ballfield. Too much and "you" (the GM/coach/whatever) could get fired.

Honestly, give us the option. If Sammy Straightline wants to remove the temptation to "game the system", then let him turn "Constraint" ("Pro"/"Sim"/whatever) mode "on". If Nasty Nugneant wants to see what kind of realistic gridion chaos he can wreck, let him play his mode. This "leading the player by the nose" is symptomatic of an industry that is concerned only with the mythical mass appeal, and tunnel vision has never made a game fun.



For your car crash scenario, that could be done now. You'd just have to sacrifice graphical detail in other areas to do it. Based on what sells, people would rather have better looking scenery or more detailed cars than more detailed damage.

I call bull. What sells is what's advertised and what's hyped in everyone's favorite monthly magazine, Game___. What Game___ hypes is what it "thinks" people are interested in. Really, to determine what sells, you'd need two games, identical save for one having purdyful trees, the other having yummylicious car damage - oh, and a control game that is the same engine but features neither of these improvements - and then see what a majority of subjects indicated a preference for.



Your comment on computer teams switching cities and changing logos probably won't ever happen. I doubt the licenses with the sports league would allow that.

No. The option already exists in Madden (as of 2005) - however, in the two campaigns I've played, my team's been the only one to move to Mexico City (/Portland / random Canadian cities). It was around in the _____ Mogul series as well, and once again, computer teams just chose not to move on their own - even though I could go in and change all the names to "(TeamName) SUCKS NUTS", should I so decide to. I can't remember if the ____ Moguls were MLB / NFL licensed or just MLBPA / NFLPA, though.



For your platformer comments, branching level paths have been done plenty of times. Super Mario World 15 years ago was a rather prominent one. About a third of the levels had multiple exits, which opened up different branches on the world map. They also had a level broken into 4 parts. Each part had about 3 possiblies. Which one you were given depended on what you did in the previous one. It was a nice change, but would've gotten annoying fast if they did it often.

Yeeeeesssss..... ....no. Sorta. Kinda. Agree to disagree? Plead the 5th? Motion to adjourn?

SMW had branching EXITS. I was still confined to moving right (usually) until the world ended. Sometimes if I went down, or up, I would find a second exit. What I'm talking about... for starters, picture DOOM's E1M1. Say there was the exit we know, an exit behind the Imp Tower, a long meandering path towards the left of where you start, and maybe a "secret" exit as well. Granted, this might seem confusing, but a simple NSEW grid system could make this manageable for starters, and from there it could be iterated and re-iterated, each iteration becoming more and more transparent, until we are left with a single map, similar to ES: Daggerfall in size.



Really, my main point is that the genres we're given are hardly played out. There is enough potential within each one for at least one more generation of consoles - and that's just from what I described alone. Really, it's this perception of some "mass audience" that is getting played out. For every Deer Hunter, there's Big Game Trophy (ie, a ripoff game tailor-made for that Mass Audience that doesn't sell (as) well as the originator). For every Rez, there's a Katamari Damarcy (ie, for every critically acclaimed but criminally undersold game, there's a wackful offbeat game that actually sells rather well). In the end, it's a bit of a crapshoot at best.

Re:On physics (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275980)

Allowing the player to remove certain obstacles (in this case walls) necessitates new obstacles the player cannot remove easily in order to prevent the player from blowing a straight line from start to finish. Currently they're using walls and the like to stop you from going somewhere, if you could blow up the wall then they'd have to think of something else, probably a huge sea of fire or something.

As for the telephone pole of doom, well, the Gizmondo CEO found out the hard way that telephone poles are indeed instant doom.

At some point the FIFA games allowed unnecessary brutality, it was removed for later games. Probably because people were abusing it.

What I'm talking about... for starters, picture DOOM's E1M1. Say there was the exit we know, an exit behind the Imp Tower, a long meandering path towards the left of where you start, and maybe a "secret" exit as well. Granted, this might seem confusing, but a simple NSEW grid system could make this manageable for starters, and from there it could be iterated and re-iterated, each iteration becoming more and more transparent, until we are left with a single map, similar to ES: Daggerfall in size.

Metroid anyone?

Re:On physics (1)

RylandDotNet (81067) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275997)

It's a challenge - but you know, it's a videogame, not a sight-seeing tour. Maybe some people like getting a guided tour of a museum, but there are those of us who like charting our own paths, and have only ourselves to blame if it's not Mathematically Interesting.


Actually, it is a sight-seeing tour. Even in open-ended games like Grand Theft Auto, the missions are still scripted. Everything you see in a game, some artist or programmer had to spend hours creating. So if they spend hundreds of hours and many thousands of dollars creating this world with mazes and keycards and interactive bits, you're damn well going to see it. Why even have keycards if it's possible to shoot your way out of the maze? If you do that, all the stuff they put into the level (along with all the time and money that went into producing it) is wasted.

Re:On physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275893)

Parent wrote: "Ground of SOLID STEEL (almost every FPS - see my next point for more) Dirt mound OF GOD (if I hit a dirt mound with an RPG, it should fly apart."


Dirt mounds, and especially the ground are actually amazingly solid. I used to have a site bookmarked where a guy did nothing but shoot stuff commonly seen in movies with moderatly big weaponry (like your example of a door; and I recall his car that did little to stop riffle bullets). Dirt mounds (well, I think it was piles of sandbags) however, had incredible stopping power and survived impressive explosions.


Re:On physics (1)

nugneant (553683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275965)

Dirt mounds (well, I think it was piles of sandbags) however, had incredible stopping power and survived impressive explosions

Apples and oranges. To put it another way, a litre of water (a mound of dirt) is incredibly subject to the forces of nature and man. It's not going to hurt much if I clock someone upside the head with it. That same litre of water, encased in a plastic bottle (a sandbag) takes on added elements that enhance its durability, and make for a sound thrashing.

In the case of sandbags - and I Am Not a Physics Major - I believe the compacting and confinement of the dirt would enhance its durability (dirtability? ouch ouch i'm sorry i'm sorry). We oftentimes see sandbags used to prevent floods or protect auto racers from tight turns, but an equivalent amount of dirt wouldn't do as much to help or buffer.

Explosives are used to knock through SOLID ROCK. I am relatively confident in stating that an RPG hitting the top of a reasonably narrow foothill will turn said foothill into something more resembling Mt. St. Helens, post-eruption. Ie, jaggy and carved out.

Re:On physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15276008)

Yes and no?

Explosives work best when placed IN the things that are to be asploded. But since RPGs are designed to asplode things from the outside, they should leave dirt mounds in tiny dirt chunks.

Re:On physics (-1, Flamebait)

Khyber (864651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275613)

Just for the record, a .50 caliber Desert Dagle will make you backflip if you're shot in the face - plus it'll take your head clean off at the same time. Inertia is a motherfucker, ain't it?

Re:On physics (1)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275643)

A backflip if they're standing on the edge of a building maybe, otherwise that's an intersting brand of physics you have going there.

Re:On physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275661)

Poster sounds like someone who has either never fired anything even resembling a gun in their lifetime, never given even more than a passing thought to the most elementary ponderings of pysics, or both.

Re:On physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275736)

"someone who has either never fired anything even resembling a gun in their lifetime, never given even more than a passing thought to the most elementary ponderings of pysics, or both."

You mean a CounterStrike player?

Re:On physics (2, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275865)

I own two Colt AR-15, several shotguns, and no pistols. I can bet if a .45 can make you spin circles by hitting you in the shoulder, a larger round with more power behind it could very well flip you backwards, depending on where you hit. Try firing an 8 gauge. If you can stand up to the recoil, that is.

Re:On physics (2, Informative)

Detritus (11846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275690)

Just for the record, a .50 caliber Desert Dagle will make you backflip if you're shot in the face - plus it'll take your head clean off at the same time.

Only in Hollywood.

Re:On physics (1)

nugneant (553683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275759)

Just for the record, I like (and am strongly in favor of) hand-held guns that cause these reactions in videogames.

That said, I believe this was debunked on Mythbusters (though I may be wrong). Put simply, due to Newton's 3rd law (or 2nd, or 1st, or 4th - I Am Not A Physicist), a gun with this power would blow the person who fires it backwards in much the same manner. Sorta like hitting an imp in the face with a rocket at point-blank range in DOOM - the invisible hand of "okay, you two, back off, simmer down, enough", if you will. :-D

Re:On physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275861)

Put simply, due to Newton's 3rd law (or 2nd, or 1st, or 4th - I Am Not A Physicist), a gun with this power would blow the person who fires it backwards in much the same manner.

The solution is simple: have a gun which simultaneously fires a pair of bullets forwards and backwards. No recoil whatsoever: problem solved!

Re:On physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275868)

I am also Not A Physicist, but wouldn't this result in an upwards recoil?

Re:On physics (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275994)

Hardly a new concept [wikipedia.org] .

Re:On physics (2, Insightful)

grammar fascist (239789) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275775)

Interaction is great and all, but please give humanoid NPCs more rigid joints! It looks silly seeing them flopping around with elastic joints, or doing backflips after being shot in the face.

Hear hear!

I was watching a coworker play Unreal Tournament, and I had to work to keep myself from laughing every time a player got killed. It looked like someone tossed a dummy.

Also, don't forget that every person in a modern shoot-em-up is nothing but a bag of blood. They must be - it seems like 25 gallons get spilled every time a player gets maimed.

Re:On physics (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275957)

good old AC coward to the rescue..

you do know humans ARE WALKING BAGS OF BLOOD right?

have you seen someones arm get shot off? it makes like 25 gallons of blood...

and as someone else pointed out hollywood has very rigid dead scenes and acting, as comapared to real life

and now my keyboard isnt working right fggdsg help

game physics advances (3, Interesting)

invader_allan (583758) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275255)

I remember going back to play Duke Nukem 3D many years ago (I stopped playing the game many, many years ago) and found it nearly impossible to play. Half Life is not unplayable, but boggy by todays standards. It is really remarkable how the physics rendering advances along with the graphics, and how important it is to game play.

Re:game physics advances (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275491)

Counterstrike doesn't have advanced graphics or physics. It's still played by hundreds of thousands of people.

Gameplay is more important than Graphics and Physics combined.

Re:game physics advances (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275516)

But CS:S does, and I think it ranks number two or three in overall usage (at least of non-MMOs). As far as I'm concerned the gameplay between the two is equal given the same level of physics and graphics, but as you can have better of both with the newer version (and it's not that taxing of a game, so a crap computer is no excuse) I don't see why not. Of course, I'm just asking for people to flame me there.

Re:game physics advances (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275536)

Actually, you can play CS on a PII 233 with 64 megs of ram, and until some jackass throws a smoke grenade, you can play pretty well. CS:S requires higher computer specs. I know my Computer Repair class in high school didn't upgrade from CS to CS:S because all we had was a bunch of crappy PIIs.

When I LAN, we usually play CS over CS:S, too.

Re:game physics advances (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275833)

Huh. Well, any computer purchased in the last five years should be suitable. Though considering you're not even meeting the requirements for XP with those, I think your version of CS is the least of your worries. Personal preference I guess with LANs, but I don't have a good computer just so I can have 8000FPS with crap graphics.

Re:game physics advances (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275913)

What have you got against Duke Nukem 3D, there are modern ports for the game and they are just as good as the original. Diss quake or something, not duke!

Missing the point? (5, Interesting)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275261)

"It used to be that graphics were the number one factor in picking up a new game but now players are asking more and more about interactions in the environment."

I find myself buying fewer and fewer games as time goes by, and I believe it's thinking like that that really shows why.

It's not graphics that are the number one factor, it's gameplay. There's no debate here. I want pretty visuals from movies, and I want great gameplay in my game. Don't get Blink 476 or whatever's popular for audio, either. Put your money towards making a non-buggy QUALITY gameplay experiance!

Fuckdamnit, that pisses me off.

The only people who say "How are the graphics" are going to be buying "EA *SPORT GAME* 20XX" every 9 months, anyway. So, they don't know what they're talking about.

Lets get another Fallout or a Starcraft. The graphics can be a generation or two behind as long as it's fun to play!

Just look at the Revolution and what it has to offer. Graphics aren't very improved, but the chance for gameplay being amazing is there, and that's what's important.

/rant

Re:Missing the point? (1)

chanrobi (944359) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275349)

""It used to be that graphics were the number one factor in picking up a new game but now players are asking more and more about interactions in the environment."

Graphics was never the number one factor. Great gameplay was. This type of "graphics makes the game" type thinking came along with stuff like Far Cry, FEAR etc. In fact it almost seems like the game content was an afterthought.

Re:Missing the point? (2, Insightful)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275426)

Graphics was never the number one factor. Great gameplay was. This type of "graphics makes the game" type thinking came along with stuff like Far Cry, FEAR etc. In fact it almost seems like the game content was an afterthought.

Yes, and these games SOLD because there are still MANY people out there who DO think graphics make the game.
Not that I do, but you certianly can't say that graphics isn't the most important factor to some (if not most) people. Don't be daft.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275703)

Totally not true.

That was the same back with doom 1 and ultima unterworld "Wow, look at that great graphics!".
Same for strike commander and comanche.
Or wolfenstein / Indy4 (those 2Ds)

Just because it looks like crap NOW doesnt mean those games werent "hot! look at those awesome graphics! Must buy!!!" back in their days

Re:Missing the point? (1)

James_Aguilar (890772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275971)

This "graphics is everything" paradigm is most certainly not new, whippersnapper. :P It's been around since the Famicom, and before. Man, I remember Zelda II: the Adventure of Link. That game had amazing graphics and effects when it came out. The most powerful spell in the game, Thunder, was just a flashing on the screen. Man, those were the days. I wonder what kind of hacking they must have done to fit all of that into . . .

True, though, the real reason it was great was because of the amazing gameplay.

Re:Missing the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275476)

It is also one more piece of hardware likely to have either no support in opensource operating systems, or poor, unmaintainable half-assed propriety support for Linux on i386 only (like we are getting for video cards). And thus one more thing to make sure MS Windows artificially remains the only viable PC gaming platform well into the future.

Re:Missing the point? (2, Interesting)

dj245 (732906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275574)

Fallout 1 was the only game ever that I actually cried at the end, it was so sad and powerful. That was the only time I ever was that emotional about a video game. So what made that game so special?

1. The writers of the story didn't pretend they were some lofty gods obsessed with staying true to the theme of the world environment, they joked around with quests and put in blatant references to monty python, mad max, etc. These made you want to pay attention to what the npcs were saying. Did that group of knights dressed in power armor really just send me on a quest for a Holy Hand Grenade? I can't remember the last time I paid attention to what an npc was saying in WOW.

The open ended gameplay and multiple methods of completing quests. "Obtain item x from npc y". Sure, you could kill him (98% of what I see now in rpgs) or you could pickpocket him if your skill was high enough. Or maybe you were a slick talker and could talk him out of it. All these methods for one quest.

Re:Missing the point? (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275666)

It's not graphics that are the number one factor, it's gameplay. There's no debate here

There is a debate. Graphics are the number one factor in picking up a new game. By the time the player gets to the gameplay, the it is already off the shelf and paid for.

The only people who say "How are the graphics" are going to be buying "EA *SPORT GAME* 20XX" every 9 months, anyway. So, they don't know what they're talking about

However those types of people are the majority of consumers. Doesn't matter if they know what they want [good gameplay], what they are asking for is better graphics, interactivity, breast physics, new rosters, etc.

Lets get another Fallout or a Starcraft. The graphics can be a generation or two behind as long as it's fun to play!

And with great gameplay it still may not sell, so big companies are reluctant to fund such development.

You Missing the point? (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275720)

Have you every thought if it might just be you growing up that shifts your interest?
Thats the typical reason for such rants combined with the nostalgia reality distortion field.

True, fallout _was_ a once in an eternity game, but that doesnt mean the quality is correlated with the lack of graphics (which wasnt that bad, btw, back when i was released)

In defense of graphics (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275792)

The point is not the gameplay. The point is the experience. If your experience is reduced if you can't get over the fact that the graphics look bad. Or don't evoke the images they are supposed to evoke. Sure, Starcraft has a limited visual experience now, but A: it was amazing for the time and B: there have been a lot of amazing games released since which players just couldn't get into the experience because it was a cheap, unbelieveable 2D sprite engine. Certain games it works for, but to get into the experience of others, you have to kick it up a notch visually.

The same can be said for movies. Anyone can do Clerks. But nobody can do Titanic without a large budget going to visuals. Anyone can create the next Tetris. But nobody can create the next Final Fantasy without reasonably engrossing visuals and expansive, expensive vistas.

Which is not to say that gameplay isn't important. It's just that people know (or think they know) how to do amazing visuals, but nobody knows how to make amazing original games. Even Blizzard, a consistent hitmaker in the industry, basically takes existing genres with major flaws, fixes all of the flaws, and throws in a ton of aesthetic polish.

Now as a side note, you can get a hell of a lot of bang for your buck out of good sound, especially considering how few people do. Sound is subliminal, so it frequently gets forgotten when budgets are getting allocated. But you can spend months prototyping and sketching and modeling and mapping your main enemy to make them seem as massive and powerful as possible, or you can get a sound engineer who will mix a bowling ball dropping onto a piece of steak with someone punching through aluminum foil, and getting the most amazingly visceral reaction from the audience after one afternoon of experimentation.

Look at Oblivion. (2, Insightful)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275809)

Most of people asked say Morrowind was better than Oblivion.

What could make Oblivion better, or at least equal to Morrowind?

These:
Better grass distance?
More details in the LOD (distant textures) area?
More objects covered by the physics engine? (furniture, rocks, plants)
Items possible to shatter, smash, break, dent?
Containers displaying their content in 3D and not in 2D menu?
Better voice acting?
Books that burn?

Or maybe these:
Less linear quests not forcing the next step on you?
Shorter load times of locations?
Not removing levitation, slowfall and a dozen other classic spells?
More factions to join, interesting quests?
Dialogues and text that always makes sense, never seeing hearing the same thing less than 5 seconds apart?
New, interesting books you haven't read in Morrowind already?

Re:Look at Oblivion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275979)

2 word explain all of the above

X BOX

Re:Missing the point? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275822)

I find myself buying fewer and fewer games as time goes by, and I believe it's thinking like that that really shows why.

Naaa...you're just getting older. Just like the rest of us. Life intrudes...

Revolution, huh? (1)

James_Aguilar (890772) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275874)

You should wait to see what kind of success the Revolution has before you hold it up as evidence that gameplay matters most. :P

How about we just go back to pong. (4, Funny)

Avillia (871800) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275262)

Ball hits wall, ball reflects away from wall at the exact angle it hit. No need for all this garbage.

Re:How about we just go back to pong. (1)

GigsVT (208848) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275328)

Good luck. Simulating that in Havok is damn difficult.

Another note: STOP the POV summaries. (5, Insightful)

Avillia (871800) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275283)

A 'comparison of PC Game Physics' should not have a summary obsessed with one technology and one company (Havok).

Load Testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275312)

"Recently, Havok announced plans for a new physics engine, Havok FX, that would use Shader Model 3.0 graphics cards to further enhance game interactions and physics.""

Next generation game engines will be demanding on GPU's. How much additional load will Havok FX place on them?

Re:Load Testing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275562)

New gfx cards will have a co-processor just for handling the physics.

growing older (2, Insightful)

Deep Fried Geekboy (807607) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275322)

I find myself buying fewer and fewer games as time goes by, and I believe it's thinking like that that really shows why.

mmm... have you controlled for 'growing older'?

quite a significant variable

btw, those games you think were so great? they aren't.

I still have fond, fond memories of the original UNREAL TOURNAMENT and have been sorely disappointed by subsequent releases... and yet when I go back to play UT1 I can't stand it... it pales in comparison to the more recent versions, even though the underlying gameplay is better.

Re:growing older (1)

DrunkenTerror (561616) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275419)

those games you think were so great? they aren't.

I dunno, I've been enjoying the fuck outta Pin*Bot on the NES lately. Pirates! also is a really damn fun NES game. I never played it till just recently. MegaMan is still fun. Meanwhile, all the hott PC games I've bought in the last few years collect dust. I suppose it's just a matter of taste.

PIN*BOT!?!!?!?!??!?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275639)

MARRY ME.

Sincerely yours
(sincerely speaking)

Your SINCERE best new friend

(whose name begins with an "N" and is now a "fan" of yours, and is posting AC due to -1 offtopic)

Re:growing older (4, Insightful)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275455)

What? If you think Fallout and Starcraft were not in the top 5 games of their years, and among the top 25ish games of all time, then you really don't belong in a discussion about the quality of games. This is not a game preference thing; it can be said objectively that these games embody everything that can be good about games in general, and specific to their genres. They were revolutionary, evolutionary, spawned good sequels (WC3 is a functional sequel to SC, not WC2, regardless of the story), sold insanely well, and pretty much cleaned up by any other metric you care to apply.

Re:growing older (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275501)

I just installed the Yuri's Revenge expansion for Red Alert II and have gotten more play out of that game than Act of War and C&C Generals combined. I've spent more hours in Starcraft than World of Warcraft.

I'm not that old.

Re:growing older (1)

plover (150551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275522)

I think it's the novelty. "You never forget your first."

I remember being absolutely blown away by Doom. Wow, you could have 3D graphics, and travel vertically in the level as well? I mean, how cool was that? We played that game for months. AFAIK it's where the term "heroinware" originated. Doom II? Well, same game, different levels... Oooh, Duke 3D had better graphics than Doom, (and jet packs!) but it was still kind of the same game, with a couple of O.J. Simpson jokes thrown in.

Far Cry, F.E.A.R, HL2, and Doom III? They're still just "Doom with better graphics." Animated light sources, live shading, refraction under water, and all of that don't change the fact that the game is still a first person shooter. Trotting around an ever more detailed environment and firing ever more detailed weapons still gets stale.

Splinter Cell is a pretty good series, as far as originality goes. The objective stopped being "shoot everything" and became "hide and go seek" with a 9mm. The near future settings, the news broadcasts, they do a pretty good job with the game. It's more like playing Doom to find 100% of the secrets.

Re:growing older (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275750)

Why do so many people take doom as the first 3d game? Ultima Underworld had a better 3d engine than doom and it was 18 months before doom.

Re:growing older (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275528)

I think UT2004 corrected a lot of UT2003's mistakes and didn't deviate all that much from the original UT's gameplay.

2k4 brought back the less harcore agressive feel of UT with the change in models, it made the sniper's rifle powerful in close combat, like in UT, it brought back the modes that were sorely missing from 2k3 like assault and also nerfed the adreniline combos somewhat and made them less influential in the gameplay.

I'll agree that 2k3 was inferior gameplay wise to UT, but 2k4 had everything that UT had, but more of it (even if you ignore onslaught completely).

Re:growing older (1)

Slaxer (869588) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275618)

No its not a nostalgia thing. This is a common argument I see whenever someone brings up the fact that older games were alot better than newer ones. I admit that when I play old games I get graphics-shocked because of how dated the graphics are compared to what I'm used to now (probably what happened when you tried to play UT1). For example I played the game Front Mission 3 on the PS1 for the first time ever this month. The graphics looked like crap and becuase of that I didnt enjoy it at first. After I playing it for a while I got over that and didnt notice it anymore and found the game to be extremely fun. That old game is several times better than most of the crap that comes out now. Graphics dont make a game good. Period. I cant speak for UT because I wasnt into it but I can say for a fact Doom 1 and 2 are better than Doom 3. Not because we played them "back in the good old days" but because no one played Doom 3 for months on end like they did the originals. At best they probably played it one or two times and got the Doom 1 conversion.

Re:growing older (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275682)

I got the same reaction when I went playing the original Doom game(s). At first, the sprite-filled VGA graphics looked horrible, but an hour later in a dark, emtpy room playing the game... Scary.

Re:growing older (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275986)

You do realise that Starcraft is still insanely popular, don't you? They have televised tournaments in Korea - people not only play the game for money, but other people (lots of other people!) watch them.

Not too shabby for a game that's what, 7, 9 years old?

Re:growing older (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15276015)

...what? I still play the original UT once in a while. It doesn't look any better at all on my 7800GTX, but it still has the flavor that all the newer releases are lacking... They didn't upgrade the old fight mechanics at all, they just added new (and, in my opinion, lame) modes.

Honestly, I think this argument that old games "weren't as good as you thought" is just plain stupid.

Forget PC Gaming... (2, Funny)

JimXugle (921609) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275332)

Where's my Holodeck?!

Gimme interaction. (4, Interesting)

nugneant (553683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275335)

When Duke3D came out (seems like it was ages ago... forever, one might-- ouch, okay, sorry, sorry), it was right around the same time as Quake.

As a 13 year old, I figure I represented the "market" a lot more accurately than I do in my wiser (and more bitter / broke) years. It was Duke3D all the way for me, and I didn't think twice about it. Sure, Quake had better multiplayer (according to PC Gamer at least), but I was still netless at home. The novelty of shooting a wall and leaving actual bullet holes was thrilling. Getting to "play" pool, leaving footprints in the bloodstains left behind... all of this added up to a game that was fun way beyond the point where it should be. I don't mean to knock Duke3D, of course, but after the first episode the level design took a nosedive. Compare anything from the second episode to, oh, how about Healing Vats from DOOM. For me, it's a no brainer, at least when it comes to the simple question of "which of these levels is better, from a strictly looking-at-it-in-the-automap perspective". However, Duke3D's interactions had me playing, playing, playing, searching for the next deadpan line, or little "extra".

Also, this was the time when I became disillusioned with PC Gamer. I recall Duke3D edging Quake out in the ratings by about a percentage point or two. Heck, an issue or two later, Duke3D beat Quake in the "Best games of all time" list. Then, a year later, once the PC Gamer staff saw which game was completely dominating the online world, they scrambled to look "all knowing" by handing Quake the Best Game of the Year award. It'd be one thing if they alluded to some lasting value, but really it was your typical "press release" copy-paste. Fucking PC Gamer. I wipe my ass with that magazine now. Anyway...

One other thing. Is it just me, or does Capcom really have a finger on the pulse of the "heart" of physics? Every single game of theirs - well, since about the third Mega Man at least - has this perfect "feel" to it, that even makes games from genres I normally don't give a crap about (3D platformers) addictive and fun. I'm thinking of Maximo: Army of Zin here.

Anyway, I know that sounds like a lame attempt to make sure I avoid the -1, Offtopic mod, but it's the first thing that popped into my mind when seeing this. Midway's another company - for the most part, excluding the budget line, their games handle very, very nicely. Compare Blitz to Madden - and yes, I am quite aware that one of them is arcade football and the other attempts to be a simulation. Crank the Madden settings until the players are fast and whatever, bottom line is that Blitz feels nicer. Hitz beats the EA and SegaSports hockey titles hands down, largely for the same reason (even though the last version of Hitz had the worst "player editor" I've ever seen - major flaw in my book).

For a counterpoint, try comparing Bible Adventures or any of the Color Dreams games to, oh, geez, any of the major platformers. Compare a shooter from the Action 52 cartridge to Gun*Nac. Move up to SNES, compare The Combantants with Final Fight, or Kyle Petty's No Fear Racing with Mario Kart, or the second Ken Griffey game to the first. Which games "suck" by popular consensus? (PROTIP: The first games mentioned). What's a major uniting difference? The physics, the handling, the speed of play and the "oomph" behind a home-run / tight turn / nick-of-time-bullet-dodge / enemy stomp. In the first games, these are always an afterthought. I imagine the coders just kinda throwing darts at a wall, figuring "okay, player jumps, lands - now make sure all the platforms can be reached from the player's height (last step strictly optional - Active Enterprises, I'm looking at you)". In the case of the second games listed, I could easily see whole months being spent on nothing more than making incremental number-changes, in the 0.000000004 range of things. And that's why (IMO) the second games have always not only sold better, but been a better experience than the other, sometimes "flashier" games.

Anyway, I could expound upon this for ages and ages, and probably more eloquently as well - but it's midnight and, yeah, I'll admit - I am letting "first post"ism cloud my otherwise impeccable sense of Calm. :-P Just want a post that people're gonna see, is that too much to ask??



--
My MOMMY knows I'm +1 Insightful and Informative!

Re:Gimme interaction. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275897)

Unfortunately both the parent and those who modded it "interesting" have a fundamental misconception about what "game physics" actually entails. As an example, Mega Man III did not have any real physics (except I suppose a simple simulation of gravity). The elements you're referring to here collision detection and the controls of the game.

The article is actually comparing the Havok and PhysX (formerly Novodex) physics libraries. These are modules of code developed by one company that are then used by several other companies to help them make games cheaper/more quickly/better. It's a common practice and not just for physics engines. Rendering, collision detection, sound support, networking, etc. are other common applications for such libraries. These are collectively known as "middleware".

By the way, I am a game programmer.

Hello, Dr. Semantics! (2, Informative)

nugneant (553683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275985)

Let's see. I press the "A" button. Megaman launches upward, hits a peak, falls downward. In some cases (Super Mario Brothers), I press the "A" button, Mario jumps, and he appears to "float" in the air - ie, when I move left or right, in the air, he moves slower than the equivelant ground-based movement. Not so much in Megaman, but I digress.

Maybe it's not calculating momentum on the fly using real-time Einsteinian rendering, but I, the player of the game, could care less. "Simple gravity simulations", for me, make the difference between a game I could be playing right now instead of even bothering to get into this ridiculous argument (Megaman III) and one so bad that... jesus, it's bad (Captain Comic).

It's physics to me.

But go ahead, code some "impressive" "real-time physics"-utilizing game where every time I jump, a small army of Emotion Gnomes dives into my PS2's CPU and calculates just where on the parabola I shall lose 0.0003% momentum and whether swinging my sword will affect my doppler-wind-resistance enough to cause me to miss that platform I was so eagerly expecting to reach. And while you're scratching your head and wondering why all the game reviewers called that game a sloppy nightmare, I'll be playing a Capcom game. :-D

Remember Bungie's "Myth"? (2, Interesting)

mblase (200735) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275356)

I confess I've never played the game much myself, but I do remember with a smile comments on the impressive physics engine Bungie developed for their "Myth" series of games.

One early player posted on a discussion forum that he wanted to incinerate a dwarf with the biggest explosion he could make just by surrounding it with grenades, and the resulting explosion dropped the dwarf's weapon back down out of the stratosphere several long seconds later. He did the math and calculated that the weapon was blasted straight up a couple of miles before coming back down.

Granted, that's not very realistic, but he was very impressed that the physics engine was willing and able to track a piece of debris for that long.

Physics engines are an essential component of any 3D game, and the more consistent they are with the real world the more believable the game is. You can throw everything else out the development window, I think, as long as objects bounce correctly under 9.8 meters per second per second of gravitational acceleration.

Remember Bungie's "Myth"?-AI, Sound. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275392)

"Physics engines are an essential component of any 3D game, and the more consistent they are with the real world the more believable the game is. You can throw everything else out the development window, I think, as long as objects bounce correctly under 9.8 meters per second per second of gravitational acceleration."

Try playing some genres without either an AI or 3D sound engine, and I bet you'll feel different.

Re:Remember Bungie's "Myth"? (1)

Pfhor (40220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275444)

A Dwarf blasts... quite a game technique in multiplayer

I remember the vids of of a ghoul (the slumping clever weilding guys) getting blown to smitherens, and then 20 seconds later after their clever richocetted around the map long enough, killing a zombie like character who was guarding the ball in a game, thereby allowing a single unit from the opposing side to claim it, winning the game.

Amazing physics, apparently a lot of their physics work went into Halo also, which is where the warthog videos came from (the "lets make a real world / physics model, and see what it can do approach").

Re:Remember Bungie's "Myth"? (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275790)

One early player posted on a discussion forum that he wanted to incinerate a dwarf with the biggest explosion he could make just by surrounding it with grenades, and the resulting explosion dropped the dwarf's weapon back down out of the stratosphere several long seconds later. He did the math and calculated that the weapon was blasted straight up a couple of miles before coming back down.

Been there, done that. At the 1997 Softimage user conference, we showed our physics engine, Falling Bodies [animats.com] . This was the first ragdoll physics system that actually worked right. We had a 3D model of a big mecha about 20m high, which you could keyframe and then let the physics engine take over. Someone playing with it keyframed it on the ground on one frame, and about 20 meters higher in the next frame. Then they started the physics engine. This launched the huge character straight up at about mach 2, and it rapidly shrank into a dot. But the frame counter kept running, and after about twenty seconds, the dot started to get bigger again. The huge character hit the ground, bounced, rolled, slid, and eventually came to rest.

It really does look better if you handle the hard cases correctly.

Re:Remember Bungie's "Myth"? (2, Funny)

Malor (3658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275835)

For those not familiar with Myth: The Fallen Lords, they were a series of tactical "wargames"... sort of like the RTS games, but with a fixed budget to buy units when you started the game. The idea was generally to be the last person alive. The engine was remarkably sophisticated for the time, including things like animals grazing, and birds flying about.

Dwarves were sort of the artillery unit for the 'good guys'. They tossed Molotov cockails, which could be annoyingly imprecise and prone to misfiring... but they'd literally blow enemy units into pieces. (and the system tracked the pieces!)

The best movie of Myth that I ever saw started out pretty typical... a pitched battle between good guys and bad guys, going back and forth. It was getting into the toe-to-toe phase, and the light-side player told his dwarf to attack. He lit the fuse, cocked his arm, hurled the bomb.... and it bounced off a bird overhead, fell down onto his own army, and obliterated the player's entire side.

Funniest thing I ever saw. And people wonder why games don't do that well anymore... if they had a tenth of the creativity and atmosphere of Myth, but took advantage of modern hardware, they'd probably move ten million copies.

AnandTech actually reviewed a card (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275375)

http://anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2751 [anandtech.com]

Not much more needs to be said -- they tested and analysed it.

Multi-Proc (1)

ZachPruckowski (918562) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275443)

Come the end of 2007, every bleeding-edge gamer is going to be on a dual-core or quad-core system (if not an Apple or Alienware 2x4 machine), so I think that making games multi-thread aware has to be a major concern here. I mean, physics engines should aim to use as many threads as possible, because soon CPUs will out number GPUs, so that's where some physics processing should be targetted.

Re:Multi-Proc (2)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275644)

The problem is, multithreading is no shiny new hammer. Many problems in game logic just aren't suitable for multithreading.

Re:Multi-Proc (1)

jdonnis (115371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275825)

Looking at the market, you see that the publishers and, in turn, developers in general make their money on consoles.

That said, Xbox360 and PS3 being multi-cpu you will see gamecode optimized for multiple threads and I suspect that this will spill over to secondary platforms like the PC (and maybe even Macs).

The Physics of Brick Out (2, Funny)

cdtoad (14065) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275451)

So why does the DOT go sideways when it hits it straight on? Mr. Bushnel would you like to answer?

Re:The Physics of Brick Out (3, Insightful)

nugneant (553683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275605)

This, actually, is a perfect counterpoint to the "realistic physics are ALWAYS better" line of thinking.

If it weren't for these deliberate anomalies, Breakout, et al, would be thrown into "loops". I remember a port of Breakout for the TI-83 graphics calculator that suffered from this - you would eventually have the ball at such an angle that no matter how you hit it, it'd always travel along the same pattern.

Face it - even today, this applies. Would it really be fun if your character could only jump 6-12 inches off the ground? If you ran at a rate of around 20MPH? My stipulation is that it would not be. Game designers must fudge the physics to keep a game playable. And frankly, I find the physics of Mighty Final Fight for the NES to be light-years ahead of the supposedly "revolutionary" physics of, say, Trespasser. More complex != more funriffic.

Wake me up when... (4, Insightful)

ecorona (953223) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275520)

Wake me up when a game world isn't a static 3D environment. Wake me up when I can walk up to any tree, pick off a branch, chop the tree down, squish some ants living on the tree, and can rip a moist leaf on the tree like a sheet of paper. Wake me up when I can knock down a building, wall, and can permanently remove bricks from a house. I want to be able to drive a car through a wall, have grass that actually grows, and can cause wildfires (just like in real life). I want to be able to take some sand from the beach with a bucket and pour it all over the nearest NPC and see all the little grains of sand stick to his shirt. Wake me up when it's time because I can't wait to play. Imagine MMORPGs where you can actually DIG A SECRET TUNNEL underground to invade your enemie's territory. Imagine being able to dig holes to hide in and cover them up with leaves. Well, you get the idea. Possibilities are endless. Seriously, how long do you guys think it'll take for some crude implementation of what I listed above comes to fruition?

Re:Wake me up when... (4, Funny)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275551)

Why not.. go outside?

Re:Wake me up when... (5, Funny)

nugneant (553683) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275748)

Because acting weird in public is a crime punishable by secret prisons, 72 hour observations, and in general a whole bunch of idiots who lost the ability to feel taking things far, far too seriously.



So, some counter-questions, in a manner that you'll relate to:

Instead of arguing, why don't you... read a book?

Instead of insulting people who care about things, why don't you... clean your room?

Instead of replying to this post, why don't you... eat your veggies?

Instead of sharing your views with people, why don't you... brush your teeth?

Instead of realizing that your fucking non-sequiter of an argument is -1 Flamebait, why don't you... say your prayers?



--
My MOMMY thinks I'm +1 Insightful

Re:Wake me up when... (2, Insightful)

Musc (10581) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275577)

So you want a completely detailed model of the world, down to bricks and individual grains of sand?
You want it all be simulated with physics so that you can interact with everything in a plausible way?

Well, I can tell you that any one of these things currently is a struggle to get to work at all,
even assuming you are willing to wait hours per frame. You want a pile of thousands of bricks
falling into a pile, with correct collision detection? This is an area of active research.

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~djames/ [cmu.edu]

You want the water on the beach to swirl and splash?
How about a piece of paper that you can burn?
Again, a challenging set of problems that we are just beginning to solve in a way that looks good.
http://graphics.stanford.edu/~fedkiw/ [stanford.edu]

How about the snot you pull out of your nose?
You want to pick your nose and have the snot squish in a gooey fashion?
We can do it, but just barely, if you want to wait all week for a few seconds of animation.

http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/b-cam/Papers/Goktekin-2 004-AMF/index.html [berkeley.edu]

Now, what you want is to combine all these simulations, plus many more.
Also you want it to run in real time on a desktop PC.

I predict we will have this in 50 years, and that is being extremely optimistic.
If Moore's law is really ending, then maybe much longer.

Hardware physics cards may be just the thing we need to make it possible one day.

Re:Wake me up when... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275596)

Don't hold your breath.
Things like that have been doable in muds for a long time. They're not implemented often, though, for a good reason. "Combinatorial explosion" is what it's usually called. The possible actions the player can take begin to overwhelm both the game's system and its programmers, dragging everything down and breaking things. Tying a rope to a tree is fine, but what if the player wants to tie the rope to an ox, hold the other end, point the ox at a cliff, and kick him while wearing a set of wings he carved out of wood from a tree? At this point your game's programmer is breaking down in tears, realizing what ELSE that would mean is possible, and must be taken into account.
  In a single player game you can have this sort of freedom (well, a programmatically reasonable amount thereof), but multiplayer is a serious problem as this makes game balance nearly impossible. (See: Nethack. A sufficiently skilled player can quickly become a seeingly unstoppable engine of death due to the vast array of tricks at his fingertips)

Re:Wake me up when... (1)

monoqlith (610041) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275604)

Wake me up when a game world isn't a static 3D environment. Wake me up when I can walk up to any tree, pick off a branch, chop the tree down, squish some ants living on the tree, and can rip a moist leaf on the tree like a sheet of paper.
I mean, we already have that. It's called reality. It's great!

Re:Wake me up when... (3, Interesting)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275631)

Never, really.

Not because its not feasible (it is, although not in the near future), but it just doesn't pay off. Pay attention to the bump mapping effects. Normal mapping was introduced - BIG impact (lighting really looks quite different, and the bumpmaps add a lot to the scene). But parallax mapping and the like? Their advantages are not as obvious, sometimes you actually have to look for it (watch the Unreal3 video, they really had to emphasize the use of virtual displacement mapping, which is just another parallax/relief mapping derivative). The point is, the cost/benefit ratio becomes unacceptable after a certain limit. Choose the techniques that have a big impact, like: the aforementioned bump mapping, cheap non-physics-based refraction (like HL2 uses), some good skies, GOOD character animation. You would be surprised just how far you can get with this. In fact, sometimes you do want cheaper visual quality, for example when you want to draw lots of entities, because better visual quality means more expensive pixel shaders, which in turn hit the fillrate limit quickly. So, if you want a space shooter with 5000 ships, you should stick to simple bumpmapping (which really makes a difference in space sims, since the hard light in space outlines surface structures quite well) and leave out the fancy parallax mapping stuff out. These kinds of stuff will become easier once batching & instancing becomes easier.

For physics, the same applies. Previously, the game world wasn't all that interactive, now I can throw around stuff. Great! Has a huge impact, changes a lot. But now, as physics advance, the advances become less relevant. At some point, it just doesn't matter if I can collide 15000 boxes in realtime.

Re:Wake me up when... (2, Interesting)

NeMon'ess (160583) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275826)

Yeah the grandparent is asking for unreasonable possibilities. I am though looking forward to games where many objects can break apart. One game a year or two ago already had destructible walls. The next step is for objects to break into smaller pieces when required to. Meaning castle walls should have their physics calculated most of the time as a solid mass. No point doing the physics for 1000 pieces of stone all the time if a wall section isn't under attack. But when a cannonball is about to hit it, replace the bump-mapped object with 1000 polygonal stones, each with its own physics.

Re:Wake me up when... (2, Insightful)

zokrath (593920) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275768)

It depends on the amount of abstraction that you are willing to accept. Game physics are currently focused on accuracy rather than results, which is why ragdolls go haywire and objects get stuck into corners and bounce out of the world at relativistic speeds.

A bucket of sand is a bucket of sand, so if you get a bucket from the beach, it does not matter exactly which grains of sand wind up in the bucket, or on the NPC. Thus, you 'scoop', and wind up with x cubic centimeters of sand in your bucket. You dump the bucket on an NPC, and the NPC gets covered in random sand particles.

A wall can easily be abstracted to a single entity, rather than the individual components. Drive a car through it, and the associate component's properties are used to determine how the wall breaks up into smaller pieces, but again, it really does not matter exactly how the wall breaks, or exactly how the bricks scatter. What matters is that there is now a hole in the wall, and the wall is now divided into smaller discrete objects and a mess of random bricks. Because the discrete entities do not form a solid body from the top of the previous wall to the bottom, they no longer offer support to whatever is above, potentially causing a chain reaction.

Digging a tunnel in an MMO is problemtic not because of technology, but because of other players. An engine could certainly be developed that allowed for the construction of tunnels, with location-based criteria for starting a tunnel, and valid tunneling areas defined underground. It could even have advanced engineering aspects such as shoring, cave-ins, and flooding. But the more robust you make a multiplayer system, the easier it is for one individual to ruin it for numerous others.

The idea of sneaking into the enemy's tunnel system and causing a cave-in is certainly enticing, and would be filled with peril and what not, but what about someone on your own team going down and causing that same cave-in, due to malice or incompetence? And where does all of the excavated dirt go? Player made mountains are perhaps of even greater concern...

Taking leaves from trees is reaching into assinine territory, but tree limbs are perfectly reasonable, and chopping down trees has been done many times. Perhaps not with molecular simulations of axe versus wood, but why bother? You hit the tree at a given location, it gets a notch. You hit the notch, and it gets bigger. Once ht notch is big enough, the tree falls over. If you spread your swings around, you get a bunch of little notches. Accuracy, strength, and technique could all be factored into the one end result, the goal of chopping down a tree.

Re: Wake me up when... (1)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275813)

Wake me up when a game world isn't a static 3D environment. Wake me up when I can walk up to any tree, pick off a branch, chop the tree down, squish some ants living on the tree, and can rip a moist leaf on the tree like a sheet of paper. Wake me up when I can knock down a building, wall, and can permanently remove bricks from a house. I want to be able to drive a car through a wall, have grass that actually grows, and can cause wildfires (just like in real life). I want to be able to take some sand from the beach with a bucket and pour it all over the nearest NPC and see all the little grains of sand stick to his shirt. Wake me up when it's time because I can't wait to play. Imagine MMORPGs where you can actually DIG A SECRET TUNNEL underground to invade your enemie's territory. Imagine being able to dig holes to hide in and cover them up with leaves. Well, you get the idea. Possibilities are endless. Seriously, how long do you guys think it'll take for some crude implementation of what I listed above comes to fruition?

Wake me up when the world has no hunger or desase, there is no war or anger, we all live in wealth and comfort with all the nicest posessions. Wake me up when you can drink, smoke and do drugs without ruining your body, where you eat your favourite foods all day without getting obease and you can sleep around without picking up a nasty itch. Wake me up when everyone can have their own harem, but the numbers still work out right. Wake me up when we can hunt humans for fun and sport, but nobody really gets hurt from it, where we can take what we like from this world, but no one looses anything through it. Wake me up when the doctrines of everyone suddenly become compatible, and we can tollerate one another's lifestyle without it invalidating everything we believe in. Wake me up when everybody sees the world in the same way I do and what I say is agreed with and acted apon with no decent or skeptisism.

I really want all of that stuff, it will never happen because it is completely impossible, but I still pointed out what would be best. Do I get modded insightful too?

Ultimate Physics Engine (4, Funny)

Umbral Blot (737704) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275695)

In my opinion the ultimate physics engine was, and is, that of Carmageddon [wikipedia.org] .

How much? (2, Interesting)

TopSpin (753) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275715)

As much as you can give. Physics provides depth and quality. Show the way and demonstrate this; be a legend.

Or not.

Your call.

Dear god, wrong direction! (0)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275761)

Graphics, interaction, physics, this all doesn't make a good game! This makes a game that may feel realistic at places, but not good! Good game is a fun game. One that has a captivating story with unexpected twists. (Aeris dies. That made a good game.) One that doesn't bore you with hourly load times because more data needs to be loaded. One that creates no artificial limits (you can't climb up there, invisible wall, from that place you'd see too much at once overflowing the gfx memory).

So arguing whether we need better physics engine for better games is like arguing if we need 5.1 audio equipment in the room to make the lunch taste better.

Re:Dear god, wrong direction! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15275801)

As you said a good game is a fun game. Just because it has graphics, interaction and physics doesnt automatically make it bad either. The problem as always is with game developers and not the hardware.

Re:Dear god, wrong direction! (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275890)

...and with time and resources redirected from the actual -game- development towards physics, graphics etc.

Re:Dear god, wrong direction! (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275855)

Properly used, the new tech can actually enhance gameplay. Realtime shadows are *very* useful in a stealth game - imagine Thief with realtime shadows, indicating when someone is coming around the corner. (Also, your shadow needs to stay out of sight.) Physics can tremendously enhance gameplay, as long as it is used evenly across the game world. For example, if a map contains little interaction, but at some places, there are weird puzzles that work with the physics engine, you know something went wrong. This is really an indicator that the designers wanted to show off with the physics. But, if you can knock down enemies by dislodging rocks for example (Indiana Jones-style), or play with buyoyancy (and thus create bridges over water with some wood), then you can even enhance multiplayer sessions with it.

PhysX - mediocre technology, good business plan (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#15275812)

Ageia has made a breakthrough. Not in the technology, but in the business model.

The real problem with game physics engines is that nobody is making much money. One by one, the physics engine companies have gone out of business or merged. Havok is the last one standing, and they're smaller than they were at peak. Game middleware just isn't very profitable. Havok charged about $60,000 per game title a few years ago, and you can multiply that by the number of games they're in and figure out their revenue. The numbers just aren't that big. Their user base expects lots of support and handholding, too, so the margins aren't all that great. It's not just Havok. Middleware vendors generally are at a poor point in the food chain.

But look at Ageia. They sell to end users. That has growth potential. This is Ageia's real breakthrough. We'll have to see where this goes.

Half Life 2? (1, Funny)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 8 years ago | (#15276009)

Wait, Half Life 2 is finally out?

All I've played so far is some demo for the Havok engine.
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