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The Scientists\' Opinions on Gaming Physics

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August 3, 2006 11:00:13 AM

Ageia recently released its PhysX card to the public, and it didn\'t take long for Nvidia and ATI to in turn present their own take on how to best calculate physics. There are some, however, who say that none of these methods is especially good for the task. According to physics scientists, there are just no algorithms good enough to yield satisfying results.

Speak out in the Toms's Hardware reader survey!
August 3, 2006 11:47:12 AM

Quote:
Ageia recently released its PhysX card to the public, and it didn\'t take long for Nvidia and ATI to in turn present their own take on how to best calculate physics. There are some, however, who say that none of these methods is especially good for the task. According to physics scientists, there are just no algorithms good enough to yield satisfying results.

Speak out in the Toms's Hardware reader survey!


I don't get that :S.

Surely Ageia has it's own physics scientists that say there are algorithms that are more than adequate for the task of processing physics.

One side has to be wrong!
August 3, 2006 12:35:50 PM

did you read the article? you're over simplifying. they talked about how some physics functions are more simple than others, and therefore require less hardware horsepower to perform properly.

there is no "right" or "wrong" solution in a problem with such varying questions and requirements. what is "adequate" to a scientist? how about to a gamer? to a hardware manufacturer? how about a hardcore gamer with a $5k rig, vs an occasional gamer with a $500 one?

neither side is "wrong", THG is just providing the viewpoint of a few different scientists to give you more multifaceted information than the marketing "information" you get from Nvidia, ATI and Ageia.
Related resources
August 3, 2006 12:36:07 PM

I believe it, its much easier (and faster) to linearize differential equations than to solve them directly. It only makes sense that Ageia would take that approach because to make use of the full algorithms would be useless for gaming because of the slowdown.
August 3, 2006 12:50:59 PM

One thing people must realize is this. The physics card isn't offloading from the CPU as much as it is adding a completly new element. Perhap Ageia, ATI, and nVidia are all wrong. The best way may be throwing more cores. Imagine the power of a Quad-Core Core 2 processor!?
August 3, 2006 1:17:43 PM

Here is the solution. Make a Physics card that has a licensed version of the Maple (maplesoft) math engine. by doing this you would allow developers to bypass lengthy coding and just pass simple strings of math to the PPU to be calculated.

so if you want to solve a system of equations you send the string

solve( 'equation 1', 'equation 2', ... 'equation n')

and the maple engine along with the hardware calculated the solution . it would make vector math and linear algebra easy and would reduce the overall bloat of the game

the hardware exists , so does the software why not put them together to maple a ppu
August 3, 2006 1:20:46 PM

Quote:
Here is the solution. Make a Physics card that has a licensed version of the Maple (maplesoft) math engine. by doing this you would allow developers to bypass lengthy coding and just pass simple strings of math to the PPU to be calculated.

so if you want to solve a system of equations you send the string

solve( 'equation 1', 'equation 2', ... 'equation n')

and the maple engine along with the hardware calculated the solution . it would make vector math and linear algebra easy and would reduce the overall bloat of the game

the hardware exists , so does the software why not put them together to maple a ppu


Cos corporations are stingy and don't want to "waste" money on licensing things!
August 3, 2006 2:05:46 PM

Quote:
Here is the solution. Make a Physics card that has a licensed version of the Maple (maplesoft) math engine. by doing this you would allow developers to bypass lengthy coding and just pass simple strings of math to the PPU to be calculated.

so if you want to solve a system of equations you send the string

solve( 'equation 1', 'equation 2', ... 'equation n')

and the maple engine along with the hardware calculated the solution . it would make vector math and linear algebra easy and would reduce the overall bloat of the game

the hardware exists , so does the software why not put them together to maple a ppu


You know that would be extremely slow, don't you?
August 3, 2006 2:33:34 PM

"In the gaming industry, physics seems to be the new focal point."

I disagree. Maybe all the gaming hardware manufacturers are telling us that we need more realistic physics in our games so we can spend more money, but in the end, more realistic physics are not what's going to make a game great, because they don't add gamplay value. Sure, it's a neat sidenote to be able to blow stuff apart and have it be realistic when it does, but when you're playing the game and involved in whatever task is at hand, you really don't care.

It would probably be cool to have realistic physics in some games like Grand Theft Auto that have a lot of freeform gamplay value, because just running around and blowing stuff up is a fairly fun part of the game. But what about a game like World of Warcraft, which is probably more similar to the big games we'll be seeing in the next 5-10 years than anything else? That's very freeform as well, but nobody cares that you can't go around blowing stuff up. Especially since you would blow it up for everyone else too, which wouldn't work at all. And what about something like "Madden/NCAA Football", hugely popular games on the consoles? What good would better phyics do for them? nothing.

And sure, Warcraft could use a little better collision detection and there are definately other nuances in the physics that could be fixed, just like any other game. But these things certainly don't require a whole new PPU. The only thing I see a PPU being good for is taking developer's attention off the gameplay, which is really the deciding factor in whether a game is fun or not, and spending the time instead on some silly physics that people spend 30 seconds looking at and going "thats cool" and then going on to play the game.

Just my 2 cents.
August 3, 2006 2:48:01 PM

Quote:
And what about something like "Madden/NCAA Football", hugely popular games on the consoles? What good would better phyics do for them? nothing.



How could improved physics not help a game with 22 bodies colliding simultaneously and an oblong ball being batted around?

The game gets more "realistic" in every iteration because they just program in more things like gangtackling, but its not real. Have you ever seen what happens when on a fumble? The ball bounces around like its landing on firecrackers. I think real physics in sports game would be spectacular. Along with virtually everyother game.
August 3, 2006 2:57:14 PM

Just plain wrong, and gameplay IS physics (the story line is different). Physics in games is much more important than pretty graphics- it's probably the most important thing, and the hardest thing to do well. That's why the developers need new hardware help. Most people think it's just stuff looking like it's blowing up but that's wrong. Most of that is just pre-scripted events because they don't have access to real physics calculation horsepower. The building will "blow up" exactly the same way every time no matter where the missle hits it or how strong the missle is. Physics includes the whole "world" in the game. Gravity is applied to objects like jeeps, bullets, people, so they are drawn towards world-center. So when your character jumps, you come back down and don't behave like superman or a jet. Like the article said, it's simple to make a flat wall look textured like a stone wall. But once something happens to that wall you need physics. And the more the better.

Right now cloth doesn't behave ingame like cloth very well, nor does water. Empty soda cans on the ground don't even move, let alone crush when stepped on. Physics would let me pick up an individual can and toss it in a room to distract the enemy so I can flank them. Or move/stack boxes so I can climb on a roof. Some games have varying degrees of these things. Bottles and shelves move in FEAR but you can't do anything with them. Let me pick up a flare in one room, then 3 rooms later find a gas can, and let me make a IED if I need too.

Last time I threw a football and it hit the ground it randomly bounced all over. Right now in a computer football game the football behaves as if it was round, last time I saw. Of course they have to make it unrealistic to a degree so the gamer can easily get the ball, especially on consoles. In every game except maybe checkers, physics is very important but can't be done well yet. Even the original Pong game had a basic physics.
August 3, 2006 3:05:03 PM

Quote:
And what about something like "Madden/NCAA Football", hugely popular games on the consoles? What good would better phyics do for them? nothing.


TallGuy beat me to it.. But you have to be kidding right. The better the physics the better the football. Guys cracking into each other, the ball bouncing off of helmets and getting popped out of a guys arm if the collision is just right. There are all kinds of ways that realistic physics could improve Madden.
August 3, 2006 3:20:18 PM

pschmid, WHY do you keep starting physics/graphics discussions in the Memory section?!
August 3, 2006 3:22:35 PM

Quote:
"

But what about a game like World of Warcraft, which is probably more similar to the big games we'll be seeing in the next 5-10 years than anything else? That's very freeform as well, but nobody cares that you can't go around blowing stuff up. Especially since you would blow it up for everyone else too, which wouldn't work at all.


I disagree with you. I think real physics (altough would be tough to simulate real physics on spells lol) would add a lot of depth to MMORPGs. You could have new gameplay, never done before (I won't give examples as I'm working on the development of one of these to make use of physics and we intend on bringing a whole new level of interaction and gameplay to our game).

Also, in sports it would be really awesome to have real physics...imagine a formula 1 game with physics? What about a soccer game (no more fifa 94 cheat goal places lol)? And other games like flight simulators? The options are so many...

And this is just the first step to a more immersive entertainment system, and if include here innovations like the Nintendo Wii controler and virtual reality the next 10 years look very promising. (Got a little carried away here, but what the heck, it sure would be fun to play a game like battlefield 2 with virtual reality).
August 3, 2006 3:24:14 PM

Quote:
And WHY do people keep starting physics/graphics discussions in the Memory section?!


Blame the reviewer!!
August 3, 2006 3:27:13 PM

The tricky part in this article that maybe was missed was that Tom's asked scientests if the PPU(or the like) would make real physics.

The reason why this is important is that you can make algorithms that produce results that are very close to real(as close as you want or need them to be) but are only valid for some range of a variable(like time or distance or mass....). The real advantage to these types of algorithms is they are very quick and easy to calculate(for a computer anyway).

The real physics that scientests need are not done that way(generally) though.

The difference would be like comparing algorithms that arrive at 2.49999999999(almost instantly) vs. 2.5 (exactly but took 50-100 times as long).

The first number is a very good approximation of the second.
It would work well in a game for describing something and you would likely not notice the difference, provided that the range of the algorithm was not exceeded.
In scientific work that kind of error in calculation is unacceptable if it can be avoided.
August 3, 2006 3:33:14 PM

Quote:
Just plain wrong, and gameplay IS physics (the story line is different). Physics in games is much more important than pretty graphics- it's probably the most important thing, and the hardest thing to do well. That's why the developers need new hardware help. Most people think it's just stuff looking like it's blowing up but that's wrong. Most of that is just pre-scripted events because they don't have access to real physics calculation horsepower. The building will "blow up" exactly the same way every time no matter where the missle hits it or how strong the missle is. Physics includes the whole "world" in the game. Gravity is applied to objects like jeeps, bullets, people, so they are drawn towards world-center. So when your character jumps, you come back down and don't behave like superman or a jet. Like the article said, it's simple to make a flat wall look textured like a stone wall. But once something happens to that wall you need physics. And the more the better.

Right now cloth doesn't behave ingame like cloth very well, nor does water. Empty soda cans on the ground don't even move, let alone crush when stepped on. Physics would let me pick up an individual can and toss it in a room to distract the enemy so I can flank them. Or move/stack boxes so I can climb on a roof. Some games have varying degrees of these things. Bottles and shelves move in FEAR but you can't do anything with them. Let me pick up a flare in one room, then 3 rooms later find a gas can, and let me make a IED if I need too.

Last time I threw a football and it hit the ground it randomly bounced all over. Right now in a computer football game the football behaves as if it was round, last time I saw. Of course they have to make it unrealistic to a degree so the gamer can easily get the ball, especially on consoles. In every game except maybe checkers, physics is very important but can't be done well yet. Even the original Pong game had a basic physics.


I agree 100%. I think a lot of people are underestimating the importance of realistic physics. When you start getting into completely interactive environments, physics is probably the most important factor. I think half the reason HL2 is so great is because of its physics engine.

The best analogy they made in the article was the 'building collapsing under its own weight" analogy. Naturally, no game can do this (yet). There are some games that simulate it (with scripts and only 1 outcome). But in all games, you just can't simply walk up to say... a water tower and blow the legs out from underneath it.

How cool would that be? You've got some NPC's sniping you from a tree or tower and to kill them you shoot an RPG at the base. Then the tree or tower collapses realistically. That's the kind of stuff that makes a game cool. And it can only be done with some sort of accelerated physics.
August 3, 2006 3:47:52 PM

Quote:
The tricky part in this article that maybe was missed was that Tom's asked scientests if the PPU(or the like) would make real physics.

The reason why this is important is that you can make algorithms that produce results that are very close to real(as close as you want or need them to be) but are only valid for some range of a variable(like time or distance or mass....). The real advantage to these types of algorithms is they are very quick and easy to calculate(for a computer anyway).

The real physics that scientests need are not done that way(generally) though.

The difference would be like comparing algorithms that arrive at 2.49999999999(almost instantly) vs. 2.5 (exactly but took 50-100 times as long).

The first number is a very good approximation of the second.
It would work well in a game for describing something and you would likely not notice the difference, provided that the range of the algorithm was not exceeded.
In scientific work that kind of error in calculation is unacceptable if it can be avoided.


Well, in most scientifical research, an error of the magnitude of your example would be negligible, but I get your point.

I think that there is a mistake (not sure if thhis is the right word in this case) in the arcticle: many times it is said that there's few information on how the PhysX works, but nonetheless, one of the interviewees claims he wouldn't use it because "physics algorithms are locked into the hardware" it seems to me quite controversial. If few is know about the architecture of the ppu, how can he state such thing and dismiss the solution as whole (that's the kind of thing that makes physicist be shuned by engineers). Other thing to add here, is that the PhysX can be upgraded by software as stated in Ageia's website, so maybe some customization could be done for the complainer ;) .

For not real physics being able to be done in using PhysX:
http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2006/jun06/06-20MSRoboticsStudioPR.mspx
August 3, 2006 4:49:21 PM

I don't care about speed yet.
I just want to see accurate physics! You know, get simple object collisions right first?? I still see hard objects poking out of other hard objects. This does not take 1000 gflops.
August 3, 2006 5:00:34 PM

Here's thething, physics is important in just about everything that is meant for entertainment.

From animation to gameplay to movies. Good examples:

Animation:

Although Disney has some of the highest quality animated cells out there (Pocahantas, Lilo and Stitch, Beauty and the Beast) its physics is DEPLORABLE! Some of their series such as Gargoyles had some excelent still frames and character animations, but the guys looked like they werehanging on strings when they flew.

OTOH, you go for something liek Batman or Samurai Champloo, and you get some incredible physics, albeit stylized, than make you feel when someone gets hit or a table gets knocked over.

Movies:

One of the WORST thngs I see in movies is ignorance of action-reaction. Movies like the hulk stank because of little things like giant metal balls that bounced off thin steel railings and the fact that the hulk did not leave craters whenever he jumped (he did when he landed, but what about the force needed to get him in the air?). A lot of people do not notice these things, but you get more of a realistic feel to a punch when it is done right.

Movies like Bulletproof Monk and, god forbid, True Lies ignored physics so much it was horrible. You never got the feeling that you were watching through a window to a fantastic story, but that you were watching a movie.

Games:

Here's the biggun.

Things I liked in FEAR that made it more enjoyable were little things like lights that could sway on cords when you hit them. Ragdoll physics for teh bodies, and objects that could be manipulated.

But as much as I like that, there are still som many gaps.

Examples:

-Graphic plants that do nt really move when yuo go through them, and offer no cover when you are behind them (see Oblivion).
-Chainlink fences that can stop a bullet, or rocket from going through them.
-Wooden doors that are somehow impossible to break.
-Explosions that only effect some items in the area (why don't windows shatter all the way down the block? And what about the concusion wave?)
-Vehicles that have little spin, or impact when driving on games and hitting things. The worst are vehicles in FPS's.
-The inability to USE things in the environment, like chairs, boxes, lamps. Or to build actual things like tunnels and ramps that would be subject to realistic damage from attacks, not just pre-programed scripts and damage levels.
-Sports games where a stiff arm can send a defender down, gut a well placed hit can send a guy spinning rather than sticking magically to the defenders arm and going down in a heap.



Me? Things I would like to see? Environmental interaction. I would liek to be able to blow up buildings by taking out the supports and not having to hammer it until its HP's are gone.

I want boxes i can smash open without magically making it all splinter and dissapear, but also possibly damaging what is inside.

I want life.


Now can this new chip do it? Probably not. Finite elements and time sequence loading takes a while to do even on simple models, to do it 60 times a second would be difficult to say the least. But if they are starting,I am all for it.
August 3, 2006 5:05:55 PM

If you wanted to get REALLY serious about graphics rendering this could be the way to go. I mean NO price is too much to get every last FPS out of your box; Right?

Its a PCI 16X Cell super computer that gives you an extra 180GFlops of CPU.

http://www.mc.com/cell/pr/news_details.cfm?press_id=200...

I'd like to see an article on this that shows how it works on current games and applications.
August 3, 2006 6:10:28 PM

Ageia needs credit for what they have done, anyone can say after, I could have did that but they did'nt. ATI and Nvidia have hired their own to figure out the physics of Ageia. Good work Ageia for giving the world something to think about.
August 3, 2006 6:32:35 PM

Quote:
If you wanted to get REALLY serious about graphics rendering this could be the way to go. I mean NO price is too much to get every last FPS out of your box; Right?

Its a PCI 16X Cell super computer that gives you an extra 180GFlops of CPU.

http://www.mc.com/cell/pr/news_details.cfm?press_id=200...

I'd like to see an article on this that shows how it works on current games and applications.


I was an intern at Mercury for two summers, that card is legit but a b**** to cool. We had a blower on it when I was there and that thing was loud. Not sure what they ended up doing.
August 3, 2006 7:05:52 PM

Quote:
Ageia needs credit for what they have done, anyone can say after, I could have did that but they did'nt. ATI and Nvidia have hired their own to figure out the physics of Ageia. Good work Ageia for giving the world something to think about.


It is just like the old Math Co-Processors that came out with the 486 chipset. The only difference being, the limited scope of application making it illogical and impractical to include on the CPU.

I would like to see more like it, and it is good that they are doing this, but I woudl not go so far as to call it innovative...
August 3, 2006 7:10:01 PM

They have a pic of the product on the site.
It looks like they took a page out of the ATI handbook and made a huge fan that takes air from outside, pushes it across and returns it outside the case.
August 3, 2006 7:21:49 PM

Quote:
And what about something like "Madden/NCAA Football", hugely popular games on the consoles? What good would better phyics do for them? nothing.


TallGuy beat me to it.. But you have to be kidding right. The better the physics the better the football. Guys cracking into each other, the ball bouncing off of helmets and getting popped out of a guys arm if the collision is just right. There are all kinds of ways that realistic physics could improve Madden.

Hmm you guys don't really see what I'm trying to say... I mean yeah stuff like a ball bouncing right or a car reacting right when it bounces off a wall is the way to go... but this is not the sort of thing that requires a physics accelerator in my understanding. What I understand the accelerator is doing is solving (if in a simplified way) the complex interaction of a large group of objects with each other, like a whole bunch of pieces of a blown up building for example. The interaction of a single object, like making a football bounce right, or a character not being able to slightly enter the edge of a wall... I don't think that's what these guys are doing when they are making their physics accelerators.

As far as football goes... I agree that an accurate simulation that you talk about would be very cool, but I would guess that such a simulation with many people who are part squishy and part hard hitting each other would be exceedingly diffucult to do and far beyond the probably capabilites of any of these solutions in the near future.
August 3, 2006 7:29:31 PM

Physics has been in games since before graphics. The problem is trying to introduce more examples of physics to enhance gameplay. We may never see full REAL physics (that would require computing the displacement of every molecule of oxygen, nitrogen, co2, etc. as we move through the air).

Just like real time 3d graphics requires algorithms to approximate shadows, reflection and refraction without using ray tracing, physics is going to need some algorithms to approximate gravity, cooeficient of friction etc.

Aegia may have stepped to the plate too soon. It would have been easier to sell the pulic on physics using secondary cores and existing GPU's, then hit them later with a dedicated PPU after we have already tasted what it can do.

I for one, don't see the returned value on a $300 expense. However, it seems like a good use of an old GPU.
August 3, 2006 8:03:16 PM

This bring me to think of bf2 for example: when I change my video setting a global phisics is loading, during this loading my cpu usages goes to 100% and after loading the cpu goes down to 70. Is this physics similar as the aegia physics and what in the computer processes this physics the gpu or cpu?
August 3, 2006 8:19:50 PM

Quote:
Physics has been in games since before graphics. The problem is trying to introduce more examples of physics to enhance gameplay. We may never see full REAL physics (that would require computing the displacement of every molecule of oxygen, nitrogen, co2, etc. as we move through the air).

While it's true that physics is a very basic element of realistic graphics, you are clearly exaggerating the case that it would be too hard to simulate "real physics" because as I recall the purpose of simulating something is to make it look real without the need of it becoming real by itself. (I do believe some of the scenes from the Jurassic Park movies did look pretty fukking real to me).

You may right now underestimate the progress that's beein made by these companies. The integration of yet another special purpose processor to the world of advanced graphics (and now physics) will certainly be welcomed by the gaming community - once the companies that produce them get the pricing right that is.
August 3, 2006 8:31:49 PM

Quote:
Physics has been in games since before graphics. The problem is trying to introduce more examples of physics to enhance gameplay. We may never see full REAL physics (that would require computing the displacement of every molecule of oxygen, nitrogen, co2, etc. as we move through the air).

While it's true that physics is a very basic element of realistic graphics, you are clearly exaggerating the case that it would be too hard to simulate "real physics" because as I recall the purpose of simulating something is to make it look real without the need of it becoming real by itself. (I do believe some of the scenes from the Jurassic Park movies did look pretty fukking real to me).

You may right now underestimate the progress that's beein made by these companies. The integration of yet another special purpose processor to the world of advanced graphics (and now physics) will certainly be welcomed by the gaming community - once the companies that produce them get the pricing right that is.

Very well put.
August 3, 2006 9:01:56 PM

I was getting into this article until I read these:

"particles interacting with soft forces, isn't really that hard to do."
and
"And when, for example, handling rigid multibody systems coupled with kinematical constraints, like robot arms, you suddenly have really tough problems."

Those two statements are completely and utterly WRONG! The exact opposite is reality.

Rigid body mechanics is a Physics 101 class.
Fluid dynamics is a senior level class. (i.e. soft body mechanics)

With rigid bodies, like robot arms, you have only a couple points of forces to calculate. This is why gaming physics have survived on the CPU for so long. When calculating soft body structures, you number of points to calculate go through the roof! This is where physics engines come into play with the ability to handle many more numbers at once than the CPU or any current GPU.

Too many people think the chips like the Ageia Physx chip will make games faster on their slower computers. That is completely incorrect. The Physx chip will make games more realistic, no matter what the speed of the system. Making it real is the reason for physics processing nothing else.
August 3, 2006 9:20:43 PM

Quote:
And what about something like "Madden/NCAA Football", hugely popular games on the consoles? What good would better phyics do for them? nothing.


TallGuy beat me to it.. But you have to be kidding right. The better the physics the better the football. Guys cracking into each other, the ball bouncing off of helmets and getting popped out of a guys arm if the collision is just right. There are all kinds of ways that realistic physics could improve Madden.

Hmm you guys don't really see what I'm trying to say... I mean yeah stuff like a ball bouncing right or a car reacting right when it bounces off a wall is the way to go... but this is not the sort of thing that requires a physics accelerator in my understanding. What I understand the accelerator is doing is solving (if in a simplified way) the complex interaction of a large group of objects with each other, like a whole bunch of pieces of a blown up building for example. The interaction of a single object, like making a football bounce right, or a character not being able to slightly enter the edge of a wall... I don't think that's what these guys are doing when they are making their physics accelerators.

As far as football goes... I agree that an accurate simulation that you talk about would be very cool, but I would guess that such a simulation with many people who are part squishy and part hard hitting each other would be exceedingly diffucult to do and far beyond the probably capabilites of any of these solutions in the near future.

The first 3D graphics didn't have realistic looking water and reflections and shadows and bump mapping, but we've progressed in that direction since then. Everything has to start somewhere. Whether it ends up being done on a CPU core, GPU, or PPU, early physics (but beyond what we have now) will probably focus on offloading things such as rigid body movement, cloth, destructable environments, and some fluid physics. After that's been firmly rooted in both the hardware and software sides, you can add more soft body movement, more advanced "fluid" movements including air and wind,, and a general increase in the scale of the physics. By that point, imagine what you can accomplish. You can destroy small items up through buildings and mountains, foliage can be deformed and respond to objects colliding with it, and can sway with realistically moving wind, fluids will function realistically, cloth and bodies as well. That stuff might be eventually accomplished, but only if the consumers and content providers both want it.

In regards to comments that physics stuff would just be a 30 second "wow look at that ok now let's play" thing, that's entirely wrong. That falls under the category of effects physics, I keep saying this. Real gameplay physics change how you think about the game. In HL2, I made sure to carry around objects with the Gravity Gun in Ravenholm. I had to remember where good items, like car engines and razor blades, were. Due to the ungluing of things from the ground, it became possible to use an object as a shield and weapon against an enemy, thus adding a new approach to the game. The best physics will be the ones which let you approach the game in a more realistic way. If you know somebody has an RPG, you'll have to actively look for things to hide behind which will survive the blast. If you're in a building being seiged you might want to get out so it doesn't collapse. If you know that you will leave a trail in the foliage you pass through, taking a trail might become a favorable option, forcing you to gauge what's best. If travelling can leave tracks, you'll want to find a way to cover those up. Stuff like that will make games much more fun without the 30 second wonder effects.
August 3, 2006 9:27:36 PM

Stranger... you shouldnt be so quick to point out people that quote things out of context.

You said it yourself
Quote:
Taking things out of context is an art form
.


And why did you say this?
Quote:
They cleary say they mean the same thing
when you were talking about soft forces. They did not mean the same thing at all!


;)  Smiles.
August 3, 2006 9:30:49 PM

Hey First time poster... just felt like posting my take on physics in games...

The way I see it, there are 2 types of in-game physics. Decorative (effects) and Gameplay related. What we've seen the PhysX do now is a lot of effect physics(like the tearing of cloth, particles from explosions, etc...) These only really enhance the look of the game. But once you can get "gameplay" Physics going that can be a lot of fun. Like getting hurt by schrapnel from an explosion or stacking boxes, but having them tip over on you... This will make a change in how good the game plays, and I think this is what needs to happen for accelerated physics to really catch on...

But this leads to some issues.

1. Multi-player. If i'm playing against you and I have the physX card and you don't and my PC thinks you got hit by a falling rock and your PC doesn't (because it can't simulate it) how does that work out?

2. Multiple vendors all having propriatary physics systems... It'd be like Games only supporting ATI or NVIDIA (Man I really wanted to play Half Life, but it only supports ATI...)



I think the first thing that needs to happen is that someone needs to come out with a standard physics API (like DirectX but for physics) so companies can make accelraters that work with that API.

Also I think this API should be tuned to run on existing Graphics cards, because, It's assumed that users already have a GPU in their system. So any gamer should, in theroy, be able to play any game with the physics turned on,(see #1 above) but maybe at the expense of graphics (lower framratse, resolution, etc...) but still playable. This would alow Physics to get it's "foot in the door". Then when "power users" want their physics and Graphics too, they could move on to more powerful GPU or a seperate PPU...

Because It's hard to sell an average user on a $200 part that only a few games can use... And it's REALLY hard to get developers to REALLY integrate physics into their games (so much that the game just isn't the same with out it) when the uptake of PPU's in consumer systems is so low.

Just my $.02
August 3, 2006 9:44:14 PM

Taking off of what others have said, I overall think that if/how/when physics can be applied to games, it won't really change the gameplay. Sure you could realistically pass a soccer ball to someone or detonate a wall with accurate debris flying everywhere, but that really doesn't change gameplay. You could think it is cool and more realistic, but the core gameplay is the same like in a football/hockey/soccer game where you choose who to pass to and they receive. Sure with better physics the game would be more realistic, but it is only marginal as the equations in games right now are adequate for playing games and a small fraction difference in where a ball might land won't make a difference in gameplay. I see physics for a while just being a marketing ploy which probably could pay off which is why I still see it happening.

I'm not really new PPUs or anything, I just don't see it being worth my $ to spend on something that doesn't change gameplay that much. Were not flying rockets here are we?
August 3, 2006 10:07:48 PM

Quote:
Just plain wrong, and gameplay IS physics (the story line is different). Physics in games is much more important than pretty graphics- it's probably the most important thing, and the hardest thing to do well. That's why the developers need new hardware help. Most people think it's just stuff looking like it's blowing up but that's wrong. Most of that is just pre-scripted events because they don't have access to real physics calculation horsepower. The building will "blow up" exactly the same way every time no matter where the missle hits it or how strong the missle is. Physics includes the whole "world" in the game. Gravity is applied to objects like jeeps, bullets, people, so they are drawn towards world-center. So when your character jumps, you come back down and don't behave like superman or a jet. Like the article said, it's simple to make a flat wall look textured like a stone wall. But once something happens to that wall you need physics. And the more the better.

Right now cloth doesn't behave ingame like cloth very well, nor does water. Empty soda cans on the ground don't even move, let alone crush when stepped on. Physics would let me pick up an individual can and toss it in a room to distract the enemy so I can flank them. Or move/stack boxes so I can climb on a roof. Some games have varying degrees of these things. Bottles and shelves move in FEAR but you can't do anything with them. Let me pick up a flare in one room, then 3 rooms later find a gas can, and let me make a IED if I need too.

Last time I threw a football and it hit the ground it randomly bounced all over. Right now in a computer football game the football behaves as if it was round, last time I saw. Of course they have to make it unrealistic to a degree so the gamer can easily get the ball, especially on consoles. In every game except maybe checkers, physics is very important but can't be done well yet. Even the original Pong game had a basic physics.


You and the person before you both missed the point of what Zok was talking about. He, like many others (myself included) dont give a rats behind about physics, atleast not to the point developers, and maybe you (and the guy who posted before you) would have everyone believe.

Game play is NOT physics, Physics is game mechanics (or atleast a portion of game mechanics) Gameplay is atmosphere, storyline, how well the game plays over all, etc. A well thought out game, with lots of atmosphere, a decent storyline, along with a well layed out UI, and probably something original (too many developers are just making sequels, or doing something someone else has already done to death).

As an example, lets take the two wulfenstien games. The original as I recall (I bought it when released) was released in the Mid 90's ( 93-94?), and was fine for a mind numbing game. Now with the second version, what has really changed ? Other than newer graphics (including Physics behind said graphics I'm sure . . ), sound, and possibly different, or at the very least, different LOOKING levels, nothing . . .hell for all we know, they're using the same game engine for both (highly doubtfull, but there is a point here).

How many FPS games did you play before they all started running together ? RTS ? MMORPG's ? The Idea what I think Zok was talking about is that we dont need more eye candy, but instead more originality. SO in effect, you're trading eye candy for good solid 'game play'.
August 3, 2006 10:08:15 PM

I still say the PhysX PPU idea is a good one. Anytime you can dedicate and optimize a component for a particular purpose, you're bound to get better results.

All cost aside.

I think at this point the support of the PPU is more of the issue; I agree that if DirectX had a DirectPhysics component to it, which would either utilize the CPU (either generally or a secondary core) or a dedicated PPU if available, it would broaden the concept.

The secondary issue in that is how to regulate getting the same end result regardless of what does the processing. If that was possible, then it would boil down to what takes the workload, and then multiplayer issues would be a mute point. I think the DirectX team needs to step up and call a huddle on a generally accepted API with all parties.
August 3, 2006 10:24:08 PM

Quote:
I still say the PhysX PPU idea is a good one. Anytime you can dedicate and optimize a component for a particular purpose, you're bound to get better results.

All cost aside.

I think at this point the support of the PPU is more of the issue; I agree that if DirectX had a DirectPhysics component to it, which would either utilize the CPU (either generally or a secondary core) or a dedicated PPU if available, it would broaden the concept.

The secondary issue in that is how to regulate getting the same end result regardless of what does the processing. If that was possible, then it would boil down to what takes the workload, and then multiplayer issues would be a mute point. I think the DirectX team needs to step up and call a huddle on a generally accepted API with all parties.



I'd have to agree with the poster that said it would be better to use a seperate CPU for Physics (or maybe that was one of the scientists ?). Programming a CPU, is more flexable than programming for a proprietary piece of hardware, especially when the developers of said hardware, arent very forthcomming in giving out information about how it works.
August 3, 2006 10:26:20 PM

looks like a nice theoretical background on why this is such a cunning innovation of technology. clearly, this justifies the price tag, performance aside. i dearly want one of these just to revel in its attractive theoretical background.

nice marketing piece, though, maybe next time a statement from intel that runs 5 pages on why it is better than its competitors would be appropriate?
August 3, 2006 10:34:59 PM

Quote:
i think that was in the article. basically since the ageia chip has hardware encoded algorithms it can't update the way it does physcis with out a chip refresh. cpu's and gpu's are both more flexible in how they do it.


Well arguably, you could do the same on an expansion card, there are software development tools (using a high level language), and chips that can use the instructions from this high level language, but like you said, it would require a software 'refresh' or update. This is kind of neat, as you can for instance make a single chip pac man now days vs in the 80's it took 1-2 JAMMA PCB boards to make. Albiet, making a Physics add on card is nothing like making pac man . . .
August 3, 2006 10:37:13 PM

Heres the deal....

Ageia did something innovative...it didnt show very impressive results.
Nvidia and Ati found a better way to do it by using 1 extra graphics card.

However...i think they are all wrong. (my optinion)

Adding the option of a second processer to a motherboard thats strictly dedicated to physics would be the best idea. CPU's are made for high algorythmic calculations on the fly (they deal with everything) which would be perfect for physics intensive games.
Just think...a conroe 6700 paired with a conroe 6400 focusing on physics.
Or a x2 4800+ paired with a x2 4400+ (the better processor in each case is the main cpu, the smaller processor is for physics.)

This would also use less voltage than adding a 2nd or 3rd grfx card to the equation. Fixing the 1000watt psu issue going around

Perhaps the AMD 4x4 (quad coore) will show some major benefits for gamers who want physics in the games they play.

We are really starting to see the dawn of physics in games. Enhancing the gameplay entirely (i don't care what some of you people say "It doesnt change the game, just the apperance" touche' salesmen....touche') just look at the new halflife portal.....prey....the source w/ havok. Duke nukem forever with meqon's physics (just the most known example) and Unreal engine 3.

Upcoming games like CRYSIS (OMG...*GETS ALL EXCITED*) will take advantange of physics like never before.
Drive a truck throguh a building completly collapsing it and killing everyone inside.
Walking through the jungle with leaves and grass reacting to your everyfootstep.
Shooting bullets in the jungle breaks the trees when your shoot them. Or peirces through the leaves.
Airplanes and helicopters landing making every plant, bush, blade of grass, tree, article of clothing, dust, and chunks of small rocks react in real time.

Physics = The future of games
August 3, 2006 10:39:26 PM

Just throwing something out there.... but....


Didnt Red Faction's gameplay require the illusion of physics to make it possible?? And didnt the fact that you could make new routes by destroying walls make the gameplay that much beter? And wasnt the effects just cool? Too bad they f'ed up on RF2 and destoryed the franchise. But If they had that in all kinds of games that would just be awesome! I could change the "gameplay" to suit how I want to play though a mission, but that would require beter ability to render physics.



Sigh,


installing RF.
August 3, 2006 10:43:25 PM

Yeah, that was the "geomod technology". It was very innovative.....but it had a limit to how much could be destroyed. They had a patent on that technology for like 4 years.....still havnt seen anything taking advantage of it.

Hopefully some company will create a fully destructive gameplay environment. That would be fan-freakin'-tastic.
August 3, 2006 10:46:29 PM

There was mods to remove those limits so pplz with beter processors could destory much larger areas at once.


I always thought that Geomod + ghoul engine from Soldier of Fortune + physics from HL2 would make a perfect engine base for a game.
August 4, 2006 12:15:55 AM

Well its officially.
Artifisial studios and Immersion has announched they found a publisher for there upcoming Full retail game. And announced Cellfactor:Revolutions.

That game will be one off those Ageia PPU games but with gameplay PhysX. At a much larger scale then that rushed Cellfactor combat training is. Well just annouced so the waiting starts.

About this article with Physics specialist. Games requier a different realistic appoximation of physix. It must be realistic for the gamer. Not for rocket scientis where the least significant digids are also very important. So depends on the PhysX feature what presision is needed.
Like someone noticed 2,49999999999999 would be 2,5 well that will do for culumbia orbital calculation or for a geo-stationair satelite.
But for game it could be far more crude till even players will notice. As if they have a cray next to it to check if it is correct. 2,465 could be 2,5 to.
depends in what contex. Like a nade curve. Or this long range Bullit external balistics.

It would be way better to interview. Physics programmers for gameprojects and there intake on PhysX for games and what hardware acceleration could mean.

Crytek
Epic
and some havok using develpors.
Also API makers and not alone ageia or havok but newton etc.
They are field experts in PhysX and game software enginering.
They are in to it.

Also PPU internals are unknow. But there patents are.

it could be some specialised area of CoPU units acting like PhysX 'Shader'
Very optimised for PhysX. But hay just specualting.

Then The GPU and PPU soultion are the same'In both way you gone pay for physics dedicated hardware acceleration.

AMD 4x4 or Dual Socket is not the same. As a game must go for the choice to go tot dedicate it for PhysX. They could use more cores also for extensivly cranck up AI. Depends on what gameplay the are going for. CPU are general purpouse and could eb use for any thing including PhysX.

As for Red fraction yes played it . they are very recognisable simplistic destructable walls. Wich make generating the Hole at hit point easy.
But imagin how it will get more complicated if there are more different and complex wall made of one or more different materials witch are complex in texture or even bump map.

Ageia set the ball rolling that Physx in game take a big step. And havok with ATI and nV are pushing it to.
August 4, 2006 2:28:20 AM

With multi cores hitting the market and taking flight, why not just dump the physics calculations onto one of these multi core cpus? Seriously can AGEIA produce a chip on their little 250$ physics cards that can out do AMD or Intel in proccessing?
August 4, 2006 2:55:17 AM

Quote:

Drive a truck throguh a building completly collapsing it and killing everyone inside.
Walking through the jungle with leaves and grass reacting to your everyfootstep.
Shooting bullets in the jungle breaks the trees when your shoot them. Or peirces through the leaves.
Airplanes and helicopters landing making every plant, bush, blade of grass, tree, article of clothing, dust, and chunks of small rocks react in real time.

Physics = The future of games


See there's my problem with the "real physics" focus... I figure as far as gameplay is concerned, you can have a building collapse, or the leaves and grass react to your steps, or shoot and destroy trees, or a helicopter landing, with total fake physics that aren't close to reality at all and the gameplay is the same. Someone mentioned following someone through a jungle by the moving leaves or whatever... well you dont need the leaves to be moving exactly right in order to follow em through the jungle... I think that developers should focus on making the character interact with the environment in more different ways and giving you the options to use that in your strategies then on how close it is to perfect physics it is when it does that.

With gameplay its all about "what can I do", not "how perfect is it when I do that"... like back in the days of doom and myst, hell myst was gorgeous but in doom you had total fluid movement and that, at least to me, was worth so much more than just the graphics being pretty.

So yeah... I am all about being able to blow a hole in a wall to make a new path or hiding behind something solid or whatever is useful as far as the gameplay is concerned so that I can use the environment in my own ways to win... but I don't see how it's necessary for it to behave in exactly the perfect physical ways as long as its close enough to be predictable to the point where I can do those things.
August 4, 2006 3:22:40 AM

This post has really frustrated me about 50% of the time. That 50% are the people who ignorantly claim that physics would not add to the game play.

Tell, how many times have you followed a player in a online game (for instance CS:S) and saw when they turned, their rifle or gun went through the wall.

If I turned with a scope up to my eye and hit a well I would expect a black eye...or a least a bit of disorientation.

Physics can change the entire game. A concushion from an explosion can cause damage, sure. But, a chunk of flying concrete could end things right quickly!

Please think of the possibilities before stating that physics is unneccesary. When you state such thing you clearly have not thought it thorugh. That type of thinking is, "things are fine the way they are" and there is no forward thinking, imagination or creativity (stroyline or technology related).

Sure, Ageia may not have it right (now) but the is no mistaking that the idea is right.

Don't be a "12:00 flasher" (If you didn't get that it's the ones who cant set the time on their VCR (yes, VCR) and you might be one)
August 4, 2006 3:26:27 AM

with out physics you could not move , fire .. hell there would be no game at all
!