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CryEngine 3 soft-body physics simulator (geek.com)
173 points by 11031a on May 29, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 70 comments

After we achieve mostly-realistic physics simulations I look forward to the new middleware that re-enables implausible effects. It turns out that most real-world physical interactions are nasty and short, and lacking in beautiful, orange and crimson fireballs.

I haven't had a good computer in about 10 years until recently (used a netbook in between), and I've tried many new games recently, and I'm disappointed to notice that the movements of the characters have barely changed over the past decade.

The graphics have gotten quite good, although I would've expected to see much better by now, and I think they started stagnating on visuals in the past 5 years (after Crysis) because of the rise of laptops, which are replacing PC's for most people.

But still my main disappointment was with how unrealistic the movements of the characters are. The characters "look" pretty real, but then that idea gets completely ruined by the way they move. It kind of ruins the experience.

Take Skyrim for example, great visuals overall, especially for the environment, but I hate the way the character moves and how it fights. While the visuals make you think you are in 2012, the movements make you think it's still 2003, the year of Morrowind.

It depends on the game. I think we're right at the point right now where some developers are making a huge push toward absolute realism (see: LA Noire's facial models and Battlefield 3's destructible environments), but it's still in the early stages.

I think a huge part of the problem isn't a sudden move to laptops, I think it's that the current generation of consoles is seven years old, and major developers (i.e. those with the resources to innovate) tend to design with the console in mind these days.

LA Noire's facial animation, while very impressive, was lifted from real people: so we're a bit far off from simulating that (in the sense that we're simulating physics in games).

For anyone who played Bad Company 2, I think Battlefield 3's destructible environments were a bit of a letdown: the levels got more complex but they really toned down what you were allowed to destroy (a wall here, a wall there, etc). I'm not exactly sure why they did this.

I agree that the current generation of consoles are holding us back. I can't wait to see what kind of games we get on next-gen hardware, I just hope it happens without too much of this online-required nonsense that seems to be becoming the craze..

Try out Max Payne 3. While there's still motion capture etc, the euphoria motion system is fantastic and I think character movement is a nearly solved problem.

Facial animation I just wish they went back to BrĂ¼tal Legend because they were cartoony, but the most expressive faces I've seen in a game.

LA Noire was just rubbish in every way.

The reason the destruction was toned down is because the maps would look extremely barren after a while. Even now, if you get rid of all the trees in e.g. Caspian Border, a lot of cover get lost and air and land vehicles would be having a heyday.

Blame both laptops and consoles. The reasoning is the same: both have less powerful hardware and developers want to maximize the availability of their game.

I'm not sure laptops account for a lot of the choice, when designing games, to be honest. Consoles, sure, there's a market and a reason to take them into account.

But you don't really have many AAA devs planning on running their game on laptops.

I know what you mean. It still amazes me that it's so easy to find games (even it cutscenes!) where foot planting doesn't keep the feet from skating across the surface.

It seems like such a simple thing, and I'd rather have a game get that right than render a realistic mustache. A quick check of a trailer on YouTube seems to show that Madden 13 still doesn't have it, and it breaks the immersion every time I see it.

Backbreaker [1] did it two years ago, and it looks so much better to my eyes because of it.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Backbreaker_(video_game)

GTA, Red Dead Redemption and Max Payne 3 all uses NaturalMotion. And it works and looks really great.

Lifeless animation has always been a thorn in Bethesda's side. It would be nice if in the future Carmack and company decided to cross train with the Elder Scrolls team. Maybe Carmack's crew can show them how to animate and the Elder Scrolls / Fallout guys can teach Id software how to write a decent story.

If both teams mastered the other's strengths, the resulting games would be nearly perfect.

Some games are better than others. Battlefield 3 has really good character animations for the most part, although you notice it less because it's not an NPC-dialogue heavy game. Deus Ex on the other hand, has some of the worst NPC-dialogue animations of any game I've ever played: bad lip sync, fidgety characters who look like they are constantly uncomfortable.

I haven't played Skyrim so I can't really comment on that. Oblivion had fairly decent character animation but it was mired by moon-physics: NPCs eagerly charging down stairs (or off a small ledge) to engage a foe would sort-of float and there would be this "running in the air" effect that was especially noticeable at the very beginning of the game.

Yep, that's the one thing that still bugs me about even the latest games. To me it seems like their movements are too deliberate/precise, while not being random enough.

Like when humans are talking there are lots of tiny little movements all the time, even when we intend to stand mostly still. When a character in a game moves his arm it goes from point A to point B, stops immediately, and doesn't affect much of the rest of the body.

The problem there isn't technology, it's the skill of your animator. Our lead artist told me that learning to animate humanoids isn't so hard, but making those animations look lifelike can be incredibly challenging.

In my opinion, they've stagnated not because of laptops, but because of consoles. 5 years ago, the PS3 came out, a year before that, the Xbox 360 came out. Cross platform development has caused things to stagnate. When the next round of consoles comes out, we'll have a discrete jump in technology, and it will slowly increase and level out.

They actually did that with the newest Twisted Metal game. They had to bring in an engineer to customize Havok to make the physics more cartoony, because nobody wants realistic car physics in a Twisted Metal game.

When I was watching the demo, I couldn't help thinking how annoying GTA would get if I wrote off my car like that every time I hit something.

Realism is interesting, but like you say - it's not always going to be as much fun.

Wait, but you do write off your car like that in GTA?

At least I do. The damage model may not be as realistic, but my cars rarely stay in proper shape for as long as 15 seconds.

Partly because wrecking cars is 70% of the fun in GTA...

And because you're rarely more than 5 seconds away from having a brand new car.

Call the setting: Mythbusters, replicate results.

Sure. But, you can't really use those results to secretly improve underfunded research areas with actual value - like medicine - while making a buck with games.

Just to make sure that I understand what you mean here - are you saying that games have no value?

This looks amazing.I tip my hat to those guys, and would love to see this in a Burnout game.

I wonder how easy it is to incorporate this in a game model. In the truck model looks like each piece of the car is modeled individually and might be a lot harder for the artists to make models. And wonder how are materials calculated, some things in the model bend in different ways.

> In the truck model looks like each piece of the car is modeled individually and might be a lot harder for the artists to make models. And wonder how are materials calculated, some things in the model bend in different ways.

If I had to design the modeller/composer for this kind of thing, I would probably make some kind of "paintable" deformation weights. I could be totally wrong, but I don't think there's any way they could calculate tensile strength based on the model's geometry in (playable) real time. So they might have to manually set how weak/strong groups of vertices are...and tie those vertices to some soft body joints. I imagine if they only do the physics on those joints (movement, bending, crunching), it could be pretty cheap?

Example of how joints apply weights to vertices in things like humanoid appendages: http://i.imgur.com/QiDDu.jpg

If any of you brilliant Crytek guys are reading this, could you comment on the setup? :) I'm an amateur 3d engine guy, and I love this stuff.

While calculating material strength in real time is probably not possible, nothing stops you from auto generating those deformation weights using a lot of simulation time while the game is in development.

So you're saying they would create the model assets, and then do physical calculations on each component of the model, then bake those weights into the model? It sounds somewhat plausible.

My gut tells me they manually place soft body joints and then paint the weights for the models. It seems like that would be easier to maintain and more predictable for the deformations that they expect to see.

For example, you and I know how the front of a truck "should" look if half of it gets crunched in, but that deformation is because of an engine, the body, lots of metal/plastic components, etc. Obviously it's not yet realistic to model every single component of a truck, and perform a physical simulation "baking" step, so that the truck crunches in that way in the game. They have to fudge that kind of crunch...so it makes me think they're manually rigging the softbodies.

I believe that in many cases, physics simulation has the potential to actually reduce the development effort. Because physics defines additional constrains, the developers have to define less them self. In your example, it might be less work to model the mechanics of the car, then to create dozens of different crash animations that look somewhat realistic and don't repeat them self in a too obvious way.

One thing I noticed is that they didn't have any soft-body on soft-body collisions. They had second cars floating around the track, but I didn't see them collide the two.

It's probably just because the person doing the demo just didn't think of it, but it would have been interesting to see how it handled soft-on-soft collisions.

The creator said this on reddit (http://bit.ly/K87f3X):


Looks really cool. Would have been cool to show a two vehicle collision though.


Not possible just yet.


Zinklesmesh, Is this physics system limited to Cryengine, or is it going to be a pluggable piece, much like Havok? Is anything else in the works, such as real-time dynamic breaking or deformation of terrain (so many games seem use some kind of swapping out of art assets cheats, I'd love to see actual cutting and deformation of the mesh itself, difficult as that would be from a texturing standpoint) Will you have the ability to up the soft body collision detection quality, and the polycount for those people who have high end systems? I think this is the most amazing real time soft body demo I've seen in a long time, and would love to see it pushed to its usable limits.


We can port it to any engine pretty easily. We already support breaking apart of parts and meshes to some extent - we're still developing that. The collision is also a work in progress, and will be much better in the future.

The developer submitted a copy to Reddit's /r/gaming where he did some follow-up Q/A. When one of the redditors asked him about truck or truck action, he said the current state of development couldn't do it, but it was in the works.

Hm, looks sweet! One gripe about super-realism - usually "fun" stems from unexpected game-play variations (and decreasing entropy). In Quake 3, it was the rocket jump. In sandbox games, it's, well, the sandbox. This is also why finding (physics) bugs is so fun. Here, however, I'm not sure if one will be able to do interesting things. Can you, for example, smash half the truck away and be left with a "bike"? Just random destruction seems like it will get old fast.

Minor Pedantic Point of Contention: Quake 1 had the rocket jump "discovery"; by Q3, it was an expected part of the gameplay. However, this does not affect your argument in any way.

In Q3, it was more the way jumping impacted your movement speed which was a discovery. Another example would be the Tribes series, with skiing which was also an abuse of the game physics (and taken as the main movement mechanic in the latest game, Tribes Ascend).

It's nice to see such parts of gameplay emerging from simple bugs. I would argue that it's much more rare nowadays, with games which aim to be always more realistic, and blocking your movement.

> In Q3, it was more the way jumping impacted your movement speed which was a discovery.

Not really sure what you're talking about. Rockets and grenades hugely impacted player speed in Quake 1, but not so much in Quake 3. Check the speed run of the following level to see what I mean:


The quad damage'd grenade jump at 11:19 is mind-boggling. I don't remember seeing that in Quake 3.

It was quite serendipitous how although Rocket jumping was "incidental" to Q1 most levels still played extremely well using that feature. Still level-designers who later knew about it and designed for it managed to (ab)use it even more. I designed a level where the entire layout was optimized around rocket-jumping being possible (and encouraged) as much as humanely possible, great fun!

"most realistic damage model ever." I'm willing to bet that most car companies have far more advanced simulations which use extremely sophisticated finite element analysis to test designs. Albeit not in real time.

It was probably implied that they meant to add "in a game engine".

Also real-time.

Yes. LS-Dyna (http://www.lstc.com/) is the used in the automotive industry extensively.

That and Ansys AutoDYN have given me enough grief over the years. I look forward to software looking like, and having the ease of use of the CryEngine 3.

There was an game that did this (obviously nowhere near as well) called 1NSANE. I spent hours smashing cars off of things, because I find the destruction so interesting and awesome.

Things I'd love to see:

* Soft body on soft body. Imagine Destruction Derby 2 with this stuff.

* Explosion modelling - Stuff getting ripped apart and sent flying.

* Aircraft destruction modelling - if you could clip your wing on a building and have your aerodynamics adjust accordingly.

In Carmageddon i completely bent my car around a light post. It could only drive in circles after that.

+1 for Carmageddon, still one of the best games of all time.

I can't even remember what the game-goal was (hit checkpoints or something?) but I do fondly remember randomly wrecking cars for way too many hours...

There were 3 ways to win.

* Smash all opponents

* Kill all the people in the streets

* Finish the race (1st)

Of the 3, smashing all opponents was the easiest.

Ahh I hope shit like this happens in Resurrection.

I'm glad you mentioned this. BeamNG was actually founded out of a game called Rigs of Rods, which in turn was influenced by 1NSANE.

What you ask for is possible in Rigs of Rods (although soft-body on soft-body is usually enabled on a per-vehicle basis). There is a plane that ships with RoR (the Antonov) that actually starts to wobble and shake apart at high speeds (I believe above 150 knots).

How would one design & test this? How would one sanely design alien or futurstic looking vehicles?

It's very cool, nonetheless, but imagine if there had to be 2 people riding this thing, part of the gameplay, and now the truck looks so damaged, that placing these two characters inside would produce even bigger mess.

So what you do - you disable the truck collision for this case? You place the characters anyways?

Or just deal with a progression break, in now what would be much difficult ways...

Simple. Make two game modes: Indestructible Cabin mode and Hardcore mode. In hardcore mode, if you get into an accident and the cab happens to crush your legs, you have to finish the rest of the game in a wheelchair.

not for an fps game

Or you flip the truck over right at the beginning of a mission..

The solution: vehicle availability. That is how GTA solved the issue.

yes, but again not for an fps game, especially if playing along with ai, scripted or not, or other players (coop)

I don't see how this is any different from the thousand other ways that players can fail a game challenge. OK, you broke your car. Either go on without it or load a previous saved game.

Of course, if you're talking about hand-holding, heavily scripted games (like CoD), then you'd only apply these physics in scripted sequences anyway.

Why not? I don't see any reason an fps game couldn't allow vehicles to be damaged.

In concept it is interesting, but I feel that it would add very little to gameplay beyond whats already been available. Many games feature pretty good vehicle destruction (mostly faked, but good enough to suspend disbelief).

As usual, I would prefer these companies invest their effort into more interesting AI and game mechanics. I played Crisis 2 a while back, and beyond the improved graphics, it did not feel much different from Half Life 1 to me.

Also, racing games often come with license mandating a certain maximum level of damage some cars can take: some cars can be screwed, while others can only be scratched.

Wait, what do you mean by "with license mandating a certain maximum level of damage"?

Some car makers only allow developers to use them in the game as long as you can't destroy their cars past a certain point, both to keep the car recognizable and to not hurt the reputation of the brand.

Deformable physics like that isn't much of a problem if you only have one vehicle in an empty world on the most expensive consumer-grade hardware.

CryTek are showing off their own physics engine here, that's the big news. There's nothing too special about their physics engine over others, it's more about the pipeline and the amount of work needed to create a soft-body vehicle.

It's not their own physics engine. It's a licensed technology:


You're right. I'd heard that they were now working for CryTek, but I can't find that confirmed anywhere. They still appear to be independent.

But my point still stands. What is special here is the workflow in creating a physics-based vehicle. Other physics engines like Havok come with pre-made rigs, but tuning a vehicle for desired gameplay is still hard. Making it run fast in a game environment is harder still.

This user looks like a (new) pusher of Geek/Extremetech stories.

Does anyone know the title/artist of the music in the video?

Is there a way to filter out gaming articles?

Video games are one of if not the primary driver of consumer hardware. You're reading these words right now using probably dozens of technologies originally invented to make better games.

Gaming may not be your cup of tea, but the cutting edge of video game technology is definitely of interest to hackers. Calling this a "gaming" article is a little spurious, I feel.

This video is more interesting than most game stuff, and I really would like to read something about how the algorithms work, even though I don't ever code stuff like that.

I'm not too interested in consumer hardware though.

I would actually like to see more gaming articles on HN, as long as they have as technical slant like this article does. Video games are a huge avenue for computational exploration, with many difficult research problems in graphics, AI, physics, optimization, systems, high-performance computing, and even cognition modeling.

Of course, I'm certainly biased since I'm attending the Foundations of Digital Games [1] conference this week.

[1] http://www.fdg2012.org/

What a subtle plug :)

It's a real time soft-body physics simulator. It's certainly well suited for entertaining humans with real time simulations, but you don't have to use it for games if you don't want to.

Open your mind, figure out how to use it for something else instead!

No more than you can filter comments.

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