Gaming Effects Versus Hollywood, Part II

Snow And Rain

The PC doesn’t know what to do with snow, a weather phenomenon simulated with copied flakes. As the snow is just an optical effect, it doesn’t remain lying on the ground, the levels never rise, and it can never melt. When PC hardware will be able to handle masses of particle snow is anybody’s guess. This effect is going to require considerable calculation by the physics units. The representation of landscapes and icy structures, on the other hand, are very advanced, and snowy tress and rocks look very realistic (and downright chilly).

Rain is also a major problem, as the drops are just an optical effect. If you stand under a bridge in Oblivion, you will still see the rain falling despite the huge masses of stones protecting your head. Stalker has come along a little further. The 3D engine lets you enter houses without reloading, and the roofs are real objects, so the rain only enters through holes. It isn’t really water, of course, so objects do remain dry and fires continue to burn (and you also can’t catch a cold).

Stalker: Clear Sky has achieved the first real improvement here. When set to maximum graphics quality, wet surface textures have a special effect. When rain will be made up of real particles is anybody’s guess. There are great demos out there with water effects, but the current physics units probably don’t have enough computing power for an entire 3D game.

The next stage is to introduce improved rain that makes characters and objects wet, and beads up and drips off them just like it does in the movies. This optical physics effect was announced for Hellgate London, but disappeared back into the pockets of the developers.

It is possible that the fact that PhysX was purchased by Nvidia and Havok by Intel got in the way of things. As Havok is shared with AMD, both graphics manufacturers have their own technology and license, which enables physics effects on the PC. Hopefully it will be possible to quickly agree on a standard before adapted games are released onto the market that are only capable of displaying the full range of effects with either AMD or Nvidia (but not both). According to rumors, Nvidia has now offered PhysX to AMD, which is going to work on driver support.

  • lucuis
    It can only get better :)
  • roynaldi
    Wasser -1, Wasser -3, -5, Wasserfall, Bewegungsunscharfe*.....

    German Tab names for the pics... Very Nice guys!
  • neiroatopelcc
    Part 1 had german names for the images too. I don't see how that is of any importance though as the titles for the respective pages were translated. Some of the games were in german too in case you missed it btw (bioshock amongst others)

    Anyway. I read the article and can't help to somehow be disappointed. Sure it's well written and explained, but somehow there's something missing! it seems to be more of the first part and not enough hollywood somehow. There are like 85% gaming screenshots, 8% reallife and the remaining 7% are hollywood. Also the article only covers stuff hollywood uses and games do too - nothing mentioned of stuff that pc's cant do yet other than visual enhancements that aren't treated as manipulatable objects - but then hollywood doesn't really supply that either, as all their stuff is static each time it's displayed.

    In short : not enough hollywood, and too much pc tech.
  • thr3ddy
    roynaldiWasser -1, Wasser -3, -5, Wasserfall, Bewegungsunscharfe*..... German Tab names for the pics... Very Nice guys!*movementSharpness!?!?Bewegungsunscharfe
  • thr3ddy
    Crap sorry about the double post. Bewegungsunscharfe = Motion blur.
  • Why are there no examples of the Source engine in these articles? The physics is unparalleled in a lot of ways. The new cinematic physics engine? Hello? What they do with characters alone (mostly in animation/facial animation) is amazing. I also don't notice any Gears/UT3 examples, which is just weird.
  • Tis a shame you mention water graphics and have no references to Uncharted.

    @Anony-Guy the first example was UT3 engine (stranglehold. I must admit though gears 2 had better water graphics.
  • hellwig
    I remember a cool water effect in Giants. If you ran through a body of water, the water would appear to react to your legs, and waves of water would rush up against the them. Of course, this wasn't really the water reacting, it was just a secondary effect being drawn at the point where the legs met the water. It still looked cool for a game from 8 years ago.

    I'm surprised there were no examples of water from Serious Sam. SS had transparent water, shadows cast underneath by the ripples on the water surface, etc..., and again, all back in 2000/2001. The Serious Engine was so impressive when it came out, far better than Quake III and UT, the other options at that time.
  • cruiseoveride
    Where is the Playboy Mansion PC vs Real life comparison????
  • JonnyDough
    What they need is better ripple effects now. When you walk through water, your character needs to slow and teeter more. Each stride should make noise, not just a general noise of sploshing. When you drop a gun in water, it needs come out dripping wet. When you swim, you need to do it in lunges, not smoothly. When the tide rolls in, the sand needs to change a bit over time. Your footprints need to disappear with each wave, etc. These little things aren't that hard to implement, and should not be taking up much system resources. I think it's just laziness on the part of most developers. There's always this "time limit" and "budget" that interfere as well...but then you have a monster giant corporation like EA who is spending money on stupid things like SecuRom instead of producing great games that will make sales.