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Is Ageia\'s PhysX Failing?

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July 19, 2006 10:59:35 AM

Thanks to a forum member, the Cell Factor demo can runs either with or without the formerly \'required\' PhysX accelerator card. Our tests reveal astonishing performance differences.

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July 19, 2006 11:39:43 AM

had bought one from bfg the day they hit the market and was so disappointed with the performance. I think the effects had really slowed down the game play, good idea but this product was not ready for the market, never ever buy something from white paper.
July 19, 2006 11:42:16 AM

Anyone else notice that the links for video 1 and video 3 seem switched in the article?
Related resources
July 19, 2006 12:20:32 PM

Videos 1 and 3 are switched and I think 4 and 5 are as well.
July 19, 2006 12:27:12 PM

Based on personal experience using the Ageia physX libraries (code wise). I think Ageia actually has a very strong foundation in the industry. Their code is freely available (in my case, used in a student project), and is INCREDIBLY easy to get up and running in no time. Which is an advantage over a few other phsyics libraries that I had experimented with (Newton, ODE).

Albeit, when I was working with the ageia libraries, they still have yet to get triange collision working properly (if they are at all going to attempt to get it working). Which right now is a _major_ disadvantage of using their libraries as opposed to some other ones.

The major advantage, of course, is that you can offload the physX code over to the physics card itself.

Honestly, they have a very good software product going right now, so at the least, I think they could stay afloat by merely licensing out their physics library. (We ran all our code without their card ha ha, but we didn't use anything too advanced besides some height map collision and some of their own special collision body detections).

Honestly, I don't think I'd invest in a physics card that cost more than $50. But meh, I'm also a broke college student :) 

And really, these guys are far from stupid. They're just desperately trying to get everyone onboard with offloaded physics and intense environments. And seriously, if a friggin dual core got bogged down on a cloth simulation (I hate to tell you, but that stuff is increidbly complex computationally, go try a cloth simulation in maya and see how long that takes to render in NON-REALTIME). You have _VERY_ little hope of getting your physics code to run off just the second core of a processor (which I thought was possible initially until seeing this benchmark).

Now, when we get up to quad cores, that will be something entirely different. Somehow I doubt you could destroy 2 whole cores on properly written (read: as inacurate as possible to allow proper real-time computation) physics code.

I guess the future holds that prospect in sight.

Also, physics code is most definately here to stay, so everyone get pumped for some serious stuff in future gaming! (which is what it's all about isn't it?)

-T
July 19, 2006 12:45:20 PM

Hmmm, I notice that this is one again in the Memory section of the forum as wello as the Conroe and nVidia article. Any particular reason for that? :) 

On topic, I look forward to when this stuff gets offloaded to CPU/GPU because I don't really think there will widespread adoption of yet another card that's $300. So far I'd say that's pretty accurate.

That cloth tearing video was pretty cool, I'll admit. As mentioned above, once quad cores come out and dual cores are completely main-stream (they're getting pretty close already I think) then offloading the physics to 1 or 2 CPU cores would be the best thing.

I don't claim to know how any of this stuff really works but there has to be a better solution than Ageia's. Or the price needs to drop. I could see gamers forking out like max $150 for this and only once it's well esablished.
July 19, 2006 12:51:45 PM

I don't want them to succeed because that will mean my gaming will get even more expensive....and I already think the GPU card pricing is robbery!!!

nVidia/ATI should simply incorporate a chip on their cards (IF NECESSARY) for physics. But as their cards get faster and faster and I see these cards coming standard with dual GPUs (SLI on card) on them anyway...another chip may not be necessary.

Add in cards suck, are speed limiting, require more drivers, take up space, make more heat etc. Do it on the graphics card!
July 19, 2006 1:02:59 PM

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I haven't really found a need for a product like this.
July 19, 2006 1:35:42 PM

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say I hope a lot more games come out supporting this card SOON, so we actually have some good information to base a decision on. Right now all we have is a bit of code slapped into GRAW at the last minute that needed patching due to initial low FPS, and the Cell Factor tech demo. And now this Cell Factor deconstruction experiment which may or may not be a valid test. I wish all game developers would figure out how Crytek is doing their amazing creations. And I wish ASUS would just buy them and mount the PhysX chip on every motherboard.

Until then, I'll hope they survive because we are in great need of more advanced physics in games. Besides, the ATI and nvidia solutions are also just paper announcements. Until I see game reviews of their physics acceleration solutions I'm not buying into needing 2 or 3 video cards either.
July 19, 2006 1:41:13 PM

I'm more than happy with the cloth simulation in other games without 'PPU Acelleration'.

To be honest, it really wouldnt surprise me if the whole Cell Factor thing was a fake, and the cloth simulation worked fine on a decent CPU, but that Aegia had deliberately hamstrung it when in software mode, to try to prove a point.
July 19, 2006 2:02:26 PM

I think Ageia's product is a great idea. But yes $300 is a little high. $100 would be a better price point for mass adoption. I realize they have to sell it high now because they're not selling in mass yet. With the proper adoption by game developers, the product would be a great investment.

The issue is not whether we need physics acceleration in games, but how we're going to implement it. The article said it best that the beauty of GPU accelerated physics is that even if the game doesn't support it, you can still use both cards for rendering. But the nice thing about Ageia's card is that you can still use both GPUs for rendering, and have a dedicated physics processor thats designed to do only that.

The main things Ageia needs to do right now is get their costs lower and also switch to a PCI-E bus for the card. PCI is too slow. Another step would be to work with Nvidia and ATI at seeing if they can sell their chips directly to both companies, and put the chip right on the GPU. Then they could sell millions of chips which means they can offer the chip at low price to the big boys. It also eliminates the slow cross talk between the CPU and the PCI bus.
July 19, 2006 2:29:26 PM

Like I've said before. This card may find its way into some academic market once it fails in the gaming market. With competition from Nvida and ATI, this is the end for Ageia. Poor investors.

Quote:
Based on personal experience using the Ageia physX libraries (code wise). I think Ageia actually has a very strong foundation in the industry. Their code is freely available (in my case, used in a student project), and is INCREDIBLY easy to get up and running in no time. Which is an advantage over a few other phsyics libraries that I had experimented with (Newton, ODE).


Newton and ODE are not popular libaries to compare against. It should be compared to Havok.

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Honestly, I don't think I'd invest in a physics card that cost more than $50. But meh, I'm also a broke college student :) 


It should be at that price point soon given its recent failings.

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And really, these guys are far from stupid. They're just desperately trying to get everyone onboard with offloaded physics and intense environments.


I have no doubt that they are intelligent. But that alone does not make a successful company nor a successful product.
July 19, 2006 2:34:07 PM

On page 2 of the article:

Quote:
Effects physics are different in that they may impact the experience of the gamer, but not the outcome of the game. .......
An example of effects physics that changed the gaming world was the gravity gun in Half-Life 2, which allows the player to pick up objects from the game world and turn them into weapons.


I think in HL2 that the computed trajectory of the person or object you are launching with the gravity gun has a BIG impact on the outcome of the game, i.e. you either hit or miss a target.
July 19, 2006 2:37:02 PM

I'd say the demo was 'rigged'. What company would want to show that their product doesn't offer much of a benefit? Especially from a ROI perspective.

At best, they just didn't optimize the software only version for the CPU/GPU any more than just getting it to work.
July 19, 2006 3:21:12 PM

The demo with the cloth was impressive, but I don't see how this could make or break a game.
The oilbarrels was an embarassment. I could do the fysics calculations requered for that with pen and paper.

Perhaps the problem is that physx isn't nearly powerful enough to calculate any really useful physics. Or is it just that the programmers hasn't figured out what to use physics for in games.
July 19, 2006 3:29:03 PM

If this PPU besides the physx efects would give me 10fps+ on top of my video card in their compatible games, I would consider buying one ...if not R.I.P Ageia :o 
July 19, 2006 3:33:57 PM

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The demo with the cloth was impressive, but I don't see how this could make or break a game.


True, true. If the cloth effects in a game are the most it has going for it...well then...it's not going to be a long lived game :) 
July 19, 2006 4:13:35 PM

Quote:

And really, these guys are far from stupid. They're just desperately trying to get everyone onboard with offloaded physics and intense environments.


Quote:
I have no doubt that they are intelligent. But that alone does not make a successful company nor a successful product.









Nor does it make them honest.



As it stands now, I am NOT going to pay 300 extra dollars just to watch cloth tear. In all my gaming experience I have never once said; " Gee, F.E.A.R is pretty fun, but it would have been so much better if I could have shot some flags to pieces."

They better find a more convincing demonstration of what this new hardware can mean to gaming if they want this to succeed.

color me unimpressed.
July 19, 2006 4:18:47 PM

Yeah, but what if the cloth were on a tent in a game like EQ? Suddenly going from a game like that where you essentially had no interaction with the environment (besides possibly falling off of something) to something where everything can be destructible will be a BIG + going for it.

I contend that the game that will let this technology shine will be a racing sim. Realistic handling on different terrain, real aerodynamics, weather effects, deformable bodies for realistic collision effects, etc.

I also don't think quad-cores are going to be sufficient for these calculations either. To me, that's like saying you can give up your GPU and run all the graphics calculations off your CPU. Has anyone run the CPU tests in 3dmark and thought "Gee, this looks pretty good, wtf do I need a gpu for?". Rediculous.
July 19, 2006 4:19:05 PM

Screw Vista. Use Solaris 10. I hope software developers start to reject the MS monopoly and produce for UNIX, Linux, and other open source platforms. After all, look at the empire built by Apple using open source in their OSX line.

AGEIA is fighting an uphill battle, as it was from day 1. What good is hardware with bad software support? I am wonder at the practicality of having a PPU, or even a multi-GPU system. What is needed is the following:

1. Mass rejection of Microsoft and its Direct X
2. Advancement of single GPUs with multiple cores, faster processing and much lower power consumption
3. Software developers that advance open source programming via OpenGL, et al
4. Promotion of open source operating systems and hardware support

Let us fight the good fight so that the future is not shackled by the evils of Microsoft.

P.S.

I miss matrox.
July 19, 2006 4:28:51 PM

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If this PPU besides the physx efects would give me 10fps+ on top of my video card in their compatible games, I would consider buying one ...if not R.I.P Ageia :o 


You don't seem to understand this. A PPU is not going to up your base framerate. Either with Agiea or with a GPU implementation. By implementing real world physics in a game, there are far more objects to keep track of. That translates into more objects that need to be processed and rendered.

As with any high end effect like AA or AF, FPS goes down as the settings are turned up. Physics is no different. You will see a decrease in framerates no matter what physics implementation a game uses. The only thing that matters is, is it playable? If you go from 100 fps to 60 fps, who cares. The game is still more than playable. Now if you go from 50 fps to 10 fps. That matters because you can no longer enjoy the game.

Stop thinking along the lines of hardware adding performance. Instead, physics hardware will decrease performance, but increase the game experience. Half Life 2 was an awesome game with software based physics. But just imagine it if it had real physics. Like when you're trying to get into the Combine base and you're in that courtyard fighting the tripods. All those holes in the ground. With real world physics and hardware to drive it, they could blow those holes in the ground realistically and in real time instead of the pre-canned event that they programmed into the game that just caused a pretty explosion and waalaa, holes in the ground miraculously. Thats what I want to see in games.

Real physics in games has the potential of bringing games even more to the level of graphics seen in movies. Imagine a space shooter game when a ship explodes. Once its hitpoints reach 0, the entire ship explodes and disappears. In the movies (well done ones at least) and real life, a whole ship doesn't just explode because you launched a bunch missiles at the front of the ship. Only hitting something like the reactor might cause that. So normally just the parts of the ship that were hit explode and if enough damage was done to key systems, the ship is taken out of the fight and drifts around in space with pieces of it drifting too. Imagine games being like that. With tons of debris floating around and secondary explosions popping up.

I remember playing Tie Fighter back in the day and thinking it was pretty ridiculous that if I took out a few turbo lasers so that I couldn't get hit, I could sit there with just my two pathetic laser cannons, and eventually make a star destroyer explode. And in games today, thats still what happens. It can be better. With real physics and the ability to track millions of objects in real time, it will be. Not just the ridiculousness of blowing up a capital ship with a star fighter, but also the explosion if it does happen would be a hell of a lot cooler. No more boom and the thing disappears. Instead it explodes and persistent pieces of it go flying off and floating around in the space you're still flying in.
July 19, 2006 4:34:06 PM

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Yeah, but what if the cloth were on a tent in a game like EQ? Suddenly going from a game like that where you essentially had no interaction with the environment (besides possibly falling off of something) to something where everything can be destructible will be a BIG + going for it.

I contend that the game that will let this technology shine will be a racing sim. Realistic handling on different terrain, real aerodynamics, weather effects, deformable bodies for realistic collision effects, etc.

I also don't think quad-cores are going to be sufficient for these calculations either. To me, that's like saying you can give up your GPU and run all the graphics calculations off your CPU. Has anyone run the CPU tests in 3dmark and thought "Gee, this looks pretty good, wtf do I need a gpu for?". Rediculous.



I bought a fairly high dollar gfx card because it provided a tangible performance increase. If I see the same potential in this new offering I'll consider spending the cash. I'm just not seeing that right now. As it stands, the demo looks like any other FPS.

Amaze me, make me drool, then maybe I'll spend the extra money.
July 19, 2006 4:42:17 PM

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Has anyone run the CPU tests in 3dmark and thought "Gee, this looks pretty good, wtf do I need a gpu for?". Rediculous.

Good point. That would be pretty ridiculous. :) 
July 19, 2006 5:07:09 PM

Games could be a lot more realistic today, even without a physx card, but I suspect that it is to much work for the programmers.

An other reason why we don't see much physics in gams may be because computer programmers don't know much about how to do physics calculations.
July 19, 2006 5:29:51 PM

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ageia are on a slippery slope. how long until someone manages to bypass they blocking of cloth and liquid simulation and then they will be shown as the fraudsters they are.
That may very well be a hardware limitation; if the card is actually doing what it says, then there's no way even a Core 2 Duo will be capable of doing the realistic liquid and fabric physics.
July 19, 2006 5:31:33 PM

FITCamaro,

I couldn't agree with you more. Nowhere in any Ageia documentation or advertising does it say that the Physx chip adds framerate performance. I too am getting sick and tired of reviews testing framerates for this hardware, when it's obviously (painfully obvious) that it's purpose is visuals, not speed.

In my system the Ageia card doesn't take away or add any frame rates at all. But, it does make GRAW look and play a lot more realistic. Maybe not extravegantly more, but more none-the-less. This is also first generation hardware. If 3D hardware would have been blasted so hard when it was new, where would we be today?

One note of worth is that in my testing, you MUST have a dual core processor to benifit from the Physx card. Single core machines will suffer some noticable frame rate loss in my tests.

Great post!
July 19, 2006 5:55:55 PM

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After all, look at the empire built by Apple using open source in their OSX line.


Yeah because you know:

1) Tons of people are using Macs,
2) Their OS is completely open source to the public,
3) you can build your own mac without hacking it, and
4) they don't have any kind of proprietary hardware or DRM in any of their "empire".

Mac is almost worse than Microsoft. With Windows, you can legally build your own system and anyone can develop for it (just like Mac). And XP is plenty stable. I personally don't like OS X. Some things are nice but overrall I like the look and feel of Windows better. Then theres also the fact that I can't play my favorite games on it.
July 19, 2006 6:07:22 PM

FITCamaro,

I also agree with your earlier statement about the physics chip being on the GPU (or at least on the video card.)

To me that makes a LOT of sense. The memory is already there, the bus speed is there. Why not combine them? I don't like the software trick of using GPU time for physics. I'd prefer to see it done destretely on a seperate chip, or extra processing added on to the current GPU's.

Either we support this and games get better, or we don't and suffer a great loss in gaming history.
July 19, 2006 6:09:55 PM

Stranger, in the lastest GRAW patch, there is a much bigger differnce between using the Physx and not using it. Tom's article is outdated now.
July 19, 2006 6:16:13 PM

So they have cloth that can be shot up....Crysis has a destructible environment too...it's all in the programming.

I believe that Ageia’s idea is right on the money, but they have the huge task of getting their software/hardware integrated into the gaming community in a short time...before the other physics solutions mature and take the entire market out from under them. Good luck...may the best solution prevail!
July 19, 2006 6:18:10 PM

Well in that case, I won't even consider buying one :?
July 19, 2006 6:34:14 PM

I only know 2 things:

1. CPU's cannot do physics as well as specialized hardware no matter how many core's it has. Basically, even $2000 worth of CPU(s) will not be as powerful as the $300 Ageia physics card for physics processing.

2. NVidea and ATI had no intention of adding physics to their cards until Ageia started the idea. Everyone who speaks against Ageia should at least appreciate this.

So, I support Ageia whole heartedly and will buy their card before I ever invest in NVidea/ATI for physics, at least until the developer community settles on a standard.
July 19, 2006 6:35:50 PM

Right now some of the stuff AGEIA PhysX supports in 3ds MAX is probably better suited to testing the card. Even the current games designed to show off PhysX seem to use a fairly static environment, compared to what they're trying to deliver. Imagine trying to blow up an entire city block while fighting in urban warfare, then driving a bulldozer to move all the debris around. I don't expect quad-core processors (even if you had two of them) to do a great job.

If someone tested the card in 3ds MAX with some of the demos they have on the CEBAS site (here), then I think that would be valid. Anyone happen to have any specs of the supposed power of this PPU?
July 19, 2006 6:59:49 PM

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it is also to do with aiming for the lowest common denominator. as was explained in the article physics effects can be switched on or off but gameplay physics are intergrated into the core of the game and so if your comp doesn't have the specs it won't be able to run the game. if dev's made a game that used all the potential of latest or near latest tech, they would lose 80-90% of their potential market.


Why can't physics be like graphics? Why can't different companies make different products with different price tags that only vary in how well they perform?

If AGEIA and their competetors could agree on some standards then couldn't physics in games be adjusted with a slider bar like graphics?
July 19, 2006 7:04:54 PM

Quote:
Why can't physics be like graphics? Why can't different companies make different products with different price tags that only vary in how well they perform?

If AGEIA and their competetors could agree on some standards then couldn't physics in games be adjusted with a slider bar like graphics?


Yes thats completely possible. But it takes a company like Microsoft to define an API for such a thing because the rest of them(Nvidia, ATI, Ageia) are in it to make money so obviously they each want to have their own way of doing things so they don't have to pay royalties to another company.

I am hoping a Physics API comes out in the near future because that would allow fair competition between all the players. DX10 will probably eventually include an API for physics. Maybe not at the start but in a future revision. DX10.0b.
July 19, 2006 7:26:13 PM

The question I have is this:
Is Physx actually just a pretty video effect or can it actually effect (and therefore unbalance) the gameplay itself in a multiplayer environment?

e.g. imagine you're playing a multiplayer FPS with only half the people having physx.

Physx players could kill each other with a physx-only side-effect such as with flying shrapnel from shooting something nearby. Non-physx could try exactly the same thing but software-only physiscs would have less shrapnel with a different flight path and it would just be eye-candy with no damaging behaviour. So now there's an unfair difference in actual gameplay depending if you have a physx or not.

So in order for multiplayer games to be fair, developers will have to consider players with the lowest spec machines so they'll purposely disable physx for everyone else. Now you've just paid $350 for purposely-disabled hardware.
July 19, 2006 7:32:39 PM

If the companies can get physics down to $50 (whether it be a seperate card or done by a GPU or whatever) or less, then they could start making physics a requirement like they do with graphics. Thus, as long as you have the minimum, the game will play correctly and any extra physics power you machine has will be for eye candy and/or single player mode.
July 19, 2006 7:35:28 PM

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you know i'm pretty sure that the idea of using the gpu for other things is ALOT older than AGEIA the company. i am also pretty sure but not positive that there were efforts to use a gpu for physics before the ageia chip was even announced. i may be wrong though but im sure it's true.


Using the GPU for other tasks is very old, but why waste GPU power for something when you're trying to get 100% of it used for graphics at the same time? Did that ever occur to you? If it were not for descrete 3D graphics engines then 3D graphics would be up to the CPU. Sounds stupid in that context doesn't it? Now, consider Physics... Get the idea?
July 19, 2006 7:37:21 PM

Quote:
The question I have is this:
Is Physx actually just a pretty video effect or can it actually effect (and therefore unbalance) the gameplay itself in a multiplayer environment?


That concern is absolutely no different from someone having a $50 video card compared to someone having a $500 video card. Plus: "All's fair in love and war..." :) 
July 19, 2006 8:02:09 PM

Quote:
The question I have is this:
Is Physx actually just a pretty video effect or can it actually effect (and therefore unbalance) the gameplay itself in a multiplayer environment?


Yes that could be the case. However, I think it will be a while before these new effects actually influence the game in a multiplayer environment. Until physics is more commonplace, they will just be pretty effects for multiplayer games. Now in the singleplayer environment its fully possible to do that.

Now I could see MMO's going this way faster than single player games with online components. You want to do a really cool thing in your MMO but everyone has to have it for you to implement it. So therefore you have to make your audience adopt the technology or not be able to play the game.

But in a way thats akin to the days of the N64 with the Memory Expansion pack. Perfect Dark required it to play through the game.
July 19, 2006 8:07:58 PM

Quote:
The question I have is this:
Is Physx actually just a pretty video effect or can it actually effect (and therefore unbalance) the gameplay itself in a multiplayer environment?

e.g. imagine you're playing a multiplayer FPS with only half the people having physx.

Physx players could kill each other with a physx-only side-effect such as with flying shrapnel from shooting something nearby. Non-physx could try exactly the same thing but software-only physiscs would have less shrapnel with a different flight path and it would just be eye-candy with no damaging behaviour. So now there's an unfair difference in actual gameplay depending if you have a physx or not.

So in order for multiplayer games to be fair, developers will have to consider players with the lowest spec machines so they'll purposely disable physx for everyone else. Now you've just paid $350 for purposely-disabled hardware.


Exactly. I'm so glad somebody pointed this out. Yet another difficulty in adding physics to your games. This could be dealt with by having "Advanced Physics" servers and games which required the settings to be at a particular level, but it would divide gamers somewhat. Unlike graphics, you can't just decrease the number of particles and expect everyone to have the same experience.

Overall I support the addition of advanced physics. I don't expect it to be added quickly, as most standards aren't. It won't be terribly different from choosing to use SLI or Crossfire, you throw in another card for a few hundred bucks and you can get additional goodies with your game... just, better physics rather than a better resolution.

I'm a bit disappointed at the reaction a lot of people here are having, you would've thought a hardware enthusiast site would see the usefulness of adding in new tech. We're not talking about adding a little cloth tearing to a game, that's just one feature. Imagine if you were in a bunker that was being hit by tank fire or grenades, not enough to destroy it but enough to give it a good shaking. Bricks and objects fall from walls with the shaking, no pre-scripted crap. Or maybe you're attacking a building and you take out some structural support, causing it to collapse realistically and completely change the battlefield. What about an explosion that causes pieces of shrapnel and pebbles to fly out like bullets? You can't just "get out of range" of an explosion, as it could send projectiles out at lethal speeds for a good distance. What about shooting real bullet holes through objects, not painting on decals unless the object is glass (in which case it shatters completely)?

Anyone who's ever played an FPS where you need to make a jump that's JUST higher than your character can muster has probably said to themself, "put down the damn gun and grab onto the ledge". You're frustrated at the game's limitations in one form or another and it detracts from the believability. Maybe 10 years from now we'll look back at modern games and try to play them, only to say "WHAT? I put a grenade next to that wooden door, why is it still intact?"

One thing that people haven't really brought up (maybe because it's completely not true) is that I would think adding very realistic physics would make game design easier, provided that a toolkit was there with pre-made materials and physics laws. If you can tell the game that a wall is made of bricks, or a table is made of a particular type of wood, or that a chair is made of sheet metal, you instantly have all the game needs to know about that item. Provided the 3D model is accurate, it should be able to calculate the mass of the object, coefficient of friction to use in calculations with it, whether the object is shattered, cracked, broken, splintered, punched through, scratched, burned, or completely unharmed when something (a bullet, piece of shrapnel, character's fist, napalm) comes into contact with it... it might even be possible to have the game come up with a texture, and sound effects when two objects of pre-programmed materials interact. All the interactivity of the objects could be figured out in real time, so long as the game knew the 3D layout and materials used for objects...

Right now I'm not willing to put another card in my computer, partly because I'm waiting to see how the Physics battle turns out or at least how it progresses, and because there's minimal game support. However I won't be so foolish as to say "lol who needs more complex physics? thats so useless im gonna spend my $$$ on a second graphics card b/c thats much more awesomer".

As for people saying that CPUs and GPUs could be used to do physics, that's already done now, and as you can see the effects are generally not very great. I hate shooting objects and leaving a decal on them instead of breaking or shattering them. Now, depending on how the multi-core processors work out and how software ends up taking advantage of them, it might be harder to push dedicated hardware physics... but as someone said, because the hardware is dedicated to doing specific things, you'd expect to be able to get better performance per dollar.
July 19, 2006 8:20:44 PM

Quote:

I am hoping a Physics API comes out in the near future because that would allow fair competition between all the players. DX10 will probably eventually include an API for physics. Maybe not at the start but in a future revision. DX10.0b.


I also REALLY hope so. They programmer shouldn't even need to know so much physics, just "shoot the can with V velocity in direction X,Y,Z with mass M, air density D, gravity G, and size S." Then let the API figure out all the interactions. The PPU and driver will also handle all this as well. I am actually surprised this wasn't all finished and standard years ago.

Physics is a big problem. Not just slow, there are just too many problems with things just not looking or behaving correctly.
This reminds me of the early days of 3D cards when the cards where slower than software emulation and high-res wasn't even possible. It wasn't until the 3dfx Monster mini-gl that things finally got working well. Then the first good single card was the TNT. It might be a few generations before physics get really mature and working smoothly. So, I am not complaining for a while.
July 19, 2006 8:36:03 PM

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Anyone who's ever played an FPS where you need to make a jump that's JUST higher than your character can muster has probably said to themself, "put down the damn gun and grab onto the ledge".


Actually for me its "Why the hell can't America's best run up a damn hill thats on a 60 degree incline? I can take bullets to the face but this hill is my arch nemesis."
July 19, 2006 8:39:36 PM

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Actually for me its "Why the hell can't America's best run up a damn hill thats on a 60 degree incline? I can take bullets to the face but this hill is my arch nemesis."


That one made me literally LOL!!!
July 19, 2006 8:43:28 PM

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Then let the API figure out all the interactions.


Actually the API doesn't necessary handle that stuff. All an API is is an interface. The API just standardizes the function names, number of parameters, and parameter types, and return types. So you could have in the API a calculateTrajectory function that returns a trajectory but Ageia, ATI, and Nvidia could each have their own implementation of it.
July 19, 2006 8:45:26 PM

Quote:

Actually for me its "Why the hell can't America's best run up a damn hill thats on a 60 degree incline? I can take bullets to the face but this hill is my arch nemesis."


That one made me literally LOL!!!
Me too! haha
July 19, 2006 8:49:00 PM

Ya,
I know the API is just an interface. I was really talking about what happens inside the library. Thanks for reading my post though!
The standard API will make coding easier for everyone to be on the same page while programming physics. I will hate to see ATI, Nvidia, Ageia, with their own seperate implentations.
July 19, 2006 8:53:55 PM

Absolutely nothing about Ageia impresses me. I certainly won't go out and spend $300.00 on a card just to make a few bits fly around. It looks pretty enough with the 7900gtx. Sound cards, video cards work with more than just games so the cost is acceptable. Not so with a card dedicated to one thing and one thing only and needs compatible titles to work. I don't see developers writing two sets of code or forcing customers to purchase hardware to run the game when most already have a huge investment hardware then asking some people to eliminate a card if their PCI slots are all used and that's not hard to do with only 2 PCI slots on new motherboards. As far as I'm concerned it's a step backwards to the old 3Dfx pass through days, didn't make sense then doesn't now. If history has it's way again Ageia will be gone or consumed by ATI or Nvidia and it'll be put where it should be on the graphics card and maybe add $50 to the cost of the card since it's just a chip :) 
I'll never buy one, nor will I ever install one on any computer I build or service, if a customer wants one they'll have to shoot themselves in the foot on their own I won't help. Has anyone thought about how much of a second card for SLI $300.00 would buy? That's a better use of $300.00 for graphics than anything Ageia is promoting.
When I play a game I'm not walking around looking at bits and pieces flying around or waving in the wind, I'm trying to win, paying attention to the objective. Who cares about destructable terrain, not going to help you win, not going to do anything but ooohh and awwe the croud like fireworks on the 4th and that's not worth even $100.00 and a PCI-E 1x slot to me. I'd rather have oh say, new cpu, more ram, larger monitor, the list goes on and on but oddly it doesn't include $300.00 for a card that does only one thing, does it only it optimized games and uses a useful slot.
July 19, 2006 8:54:00 PM

Quote:
The question I have is this:
Is Physx actually just a pretty video effect or can it actually effect (and therefore unbalance) the gameplay itself in a multiplayer environment?

e.g. imagine you're playing a multiplayer FPS with only half the people having physx.

Physx players could kill each other with a physx-only side-effect such as with flying shrapnel from shooting something nearby. Non-physx could try exactly the same thing but software-only physiscs would have less shrapnel with a different flight path and it would just be eye-candy with no damaging behaviour. So now there's an unfair difference in actual gameplay depending if you have a physx or not.

So in order for multiplayer games to be fair, developers will have to consider players with the lowest spec machines so they'll purposely disable physx for everyone else. Now you've just paid $350 for purposely-disabled hardware.


Exactly. I'm so glad somebody pointed this out. Yet another difficulty in adding physics to your games. This could be dealt with by having "Advanced Physics" servers and games which required the settings to be at a particular level, but it would divide gamers somewhat. Unlike graphics, you can't just decrease the number of particles and expect everyone to have the same experience.

Overall I support the addition of advanced physics. I don't expect it to be added quickly, as most standards aren't. It won't be terribly different from choosing to use SLI or Crossfire, you throw in another card for a few hundred bucks and you can get additional goodies with your game... just, better physics rather than a better resolution.

I'm a bit disappointed at the reaction a lot of people here are having, you would've thought a hardware enthusiast site would see the usefulness of adding in new tech. We're not talking about adding a little cloth tearing to a game, that's just one feature. Imagine if you were in a bunker that was being hit by tank fire or grenades, not enough to destroy it but enough to give it a good shaking. Bricks and objects fall from walls with the shaking, no pre-scripted crap. Or maybe you're attacking a building and you take out some structural support, causing it to collapse realistically and completely change the battlefield. What about an explosion that causes pieces of shrapnel and pebbles to fly out like bullets? You can't just "get out of range" of an explosion, as it could send projectiles out at lethal speeds for a good distance. What about shooting real bullet holes through objects, not painting on decals unless the object is glass (in which case it shatters completely)?

Anyone who's ever played an FPS where you need to make a jump that's JUST higher than your character can muster has probably said to themself, "put down the damn gun and grab onto the ledge". You're frustrated at the game's limitations in one form or another and it detracts from the believability. Maybe 10 years from now we'll look back at modern games and try to play them, only to say "WHAT? I put a grenade next to that wooden door, why is it still intact?"

One thing that people haven't really brought up (maybe because it's completely not true) is that I would think adding very realistic physics would make game design easier, provided that a toolkit was there with pre-made materials and physics laws. If you can tell the game that a wall is made of bricks, or a table is made of a particular type of wood, or that a chair is made of sheet metal, you instantly have all the game needs to know about that item. Provided the 3D model is accurate, it should be able to calculate the mass of the object, coefficient of friction to use in calculations with it, whether the object is shattered, cracked, broken, splintered, punched through, scratched, burned, or completely unharmed when something (a bullet, piece of shrapnel, character's fist, napalm) comes into contact with it... it might even be possible to have the game come up with a texture, and sound effects when two objects of pre-programmed materials interact. All the interactivity of the objects could be figured out in real time, so long as the game knew the 3D layout and materials used for objects...

Right now I'm not willing to put another card in my computer, partly because I'm waiting to see how the Physics battle turns out or at least how it progresses, and because there's minimal game support. However I won't be so foolish as to say "lol who needs more complex physics? thats so useless im gonna spend my $$$ on a second graphics card b/c thats much more awesomer".

As for people saying that CPUs and GPUs could be used to do physics, that's already done now, and as you can see the effects are generally not very great. I hate shooting objects and leaving a decal on them instead of breaking or shattering them. Now, depending on how the multi-core processors work out and how software ends up taking advantage of them, it might be harder to push dedicated hardware physics... but as someone said, because the hardware is dedicated to doing specific things, you'd expect to be able to get better performance per dollar.

I would be very exited if I saw real word physics in games, but I'm just not exited by what I see in these tech demos.

So the question remains. Is this because physx is not powerful enough to make games more exiting or is it just bad programming. One would expect a tech demo to show the best that the hardware can perform.
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