Elemental Physics part 2

By on December 26, 2008 2:59:51 PM from JoeUser Forums JoeUser Forums

Frogboy

Join Date 03/2001
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When looking at the graphics in Elemental as we show them, there are two things to remember:

1. We're over a year away from release so we're talking very preliminary artwork.

2. It's a strategy game not an RPG so the units aren't going to have the kinds of detail that an RPG has because we have to display thousands and thousands of these units on screen.

So the other day we discussed how equipment being added to your units would work with the Intel Havok physics engine. The idea is that when you add armor to a unit or  other equipment that it wouldn't just be some sort of texture blend as seen in most traditional 3D games but rather the equipment mixes and matches with physics being applied.

The trick here is performance and obviously this would not be displayed on lower end machines (the graphics would just stay together like in most games). But the idea is to future proof the game and provide some visual candy and greater immersion as people see their created units doing their thing.

It's worth noting that one could just play the game zoomed out in the cloth map and never even see an actual unit so people who don't care about this kind of thing don't have to look at it.  But people (like me) who really like seeing their units in action can watch the units go into battle.

For this video below, we took a horse and equipped it with horse armor to show how it worked together.

Video: http://draginol.stardock.net/videos/physics.wmv

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December 26, 2008 3:15:09 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

It may not be immediatly visible to everyone, because this is armor on a horse - it's even a bit silly that everything isn't tied down. But I'll point it out; Watch the front part of the horse armor, and how it bounces as the legs move.

That looks absolutely great, Frogboy, and even if the graphics doesn't improve further (which I in no way would be suprised if they do) that will look great for a 4x TBS.

I'd love to see an armor-less horse for absolute comparison, though.

I can see a big furball scuttle around with a leather armor harness already.

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December 26, 2008 3:57:49 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

I reserve the right to arm bears.

Looks fantastic.

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December 26, 2008 4:02:17 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

From the screenshots I've seen so far and that video, I can say that I'm a fan of the graphics. One trend I've noticed with Strategy games over the years is that as graphics improved and complexity increased, the amount of units on screen has reduced. The Total War series is, nevertheless, an excellent example of some large scale combat. The upcoming Empire: Total War looks inspiring!

By keeping the overal graphics simple and compatible with a lot of systems, it frees up a lot of room for the developers to get more units, particle effects and other eye candy/mechanics on screen. While we've not seen the magic and the carnage yet, I'm sure if SD is going for epic battles (careful with the "thousands and thousands of units" statement, it can backfire! *cough Black&White2 cough*) and super destructive spells, a less intense graphics engine would accomodate that. Important to note is also that SD want to have the game work on as many different PC rigs as possible so it always ends up as a this or that equation.

I prefer a more epic game with awesome units, spells and stylized graphics to super realistic graphics but only 10 units to look at.

Having said that, I can't wait for the day when Crysis Graphics + Populus Gameplay combine, but it's not here yet.

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December 26, 2008 4:16:15 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting ,
...It's worth noting that one could just play the game zoomed out in the cloth map and never even see an actual unit so people who don't care about this kind of thing don't have to look at it.  But people (like me) who really like seeing their units in action can watch the units go into battle. ...

I played GC2 for a long while on a sub-spec box, so I avoided the 3D views b/c they could really mess me up. I'm also pretty hung up on the largest maps. But I definitely like the zoomed-in view in GC2 now that I have a box that can handle it, and I suspect Elemental might be a big factor the timing of my next graphics hardware purchase--even though I'm still likely to spend most of my time out on the cloth map level.

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December 26, 2008 4:38:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Niiiiiiiice. Next video could be one of those paladins with armor, helmet and shield?

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December 26, 2008 4:48:28 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tamren,
I reserve the right to arm bears.

Looks fantastic.

Quoting Wintersong,
Niiiiiiiice.  Next video could be one of those paladins with armor, helmet and shield?
Bear Paladins?

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December 26, 2008 5:14:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Bear Paladins of Pooh, the Honey God!

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December 26, 2008 6:52:39 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Wooooo that looks great It really does look like all the individual elements have their heft to them and interact together as solid objects should I can imagine with a thousand such units it will look absolutely awesome!

I'm really enjoying the process of watching the development of this game come along bit by bit, it's really addictive! I just want more more more

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December 26, 2008 10:56:18 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

The individual pieces of this game keep growing more and more tasty.  I'm confident you guys can pull them all together and make an amazing game.

Looks great

Though I do have one question.  You talk about the physics engine future-proofing the game.  How much more detail could we expect on a higher end system? Or even a future, say 5 years, high end system? I ask this because if you can do fine details such as hair (as in the horses tail moving more like hair), you can also do things like, grass and leaves and other minute details, that can truely bring the entire world to life. If you zoom in on a tree and a breeze blows and the leaves ruffle in the wind in a believable manner, while that may be no more then eye candy, it can profoundly impact the visual immersion for your game.

I'm pretty sure such detail isnt going to be possible with this particular engine, at least maybe not without heavy modification down the road. And even if it is possible the problem then becomes, is it worth the cost?  But I'm still curious to know just how far you think the tech can go with this games engine.

Keep the tid bits coming!

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December 26, 2008 11:18:43 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

awesome.  What was rendering that?  (I know 3D max doesn't let you move the camura in rendering... at least not the copy I use )  It didn't look like in-game per say, but then you said it had physics on it?

So is custom content going to have the physics automatically applied to it?   I mean that movement on the horse straps could have been scripted for all I know, and if its not, how hard is it going to be for custom user content to take advantage of those physics?

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December 27, 2008 3:46:25 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

They weren't rendering that with 3d Max or something like that, it was real time, like... a 3d game. Because it is a 3d game .

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December 27, 2008 4:14:22 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

well, sure.    But that doesn't mean it wasn't in something.  You saw the grid floor right?   What game engine defaults to having something that looks like that?  (well, you could say 'their's does'  but that isn't the point)it looked like the modeling program to me.

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December 27, 2008 8:26:00 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting landisaurus,
[...]
So is custom content going to have the physics automatically applied to it?   I mean that movement on the horse straps could have been scripted for all I know, and if its not, how hard is it going to be for custom user content to take advantage of those physics?
As far as I understand it, the very point behind having these physics is so that custom content will have it, and be able to use it easily.

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December 27, 2008 9:35:52 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting landisaurus,
awesome.  What was rendering that?  (I know 3D max doesn't let you move the camura in rendering... at least not the copy I use )  It didn't look like in-game per say, but then you said it had physics on it?

So is custom content going to have the physics automatically applied to it?   I mean that movement on the horse straps could have been scripted for all I know, and if its not, how hard is it going to be for custom user content to take advantage of those physics?

First, I can't imagine 3D max won't allow you to render motion shots. I've never used 3D max, but from my experience with other software I imagine you would have to create a new camera object to do so, rather than to use the default. Or possibly play with render settings.

Secondly, there would be no point in having a physics engine if the animations are scripted. The point of Frogboy's post was to show the physics engine in action, not to show Stardock's scripted animation skills. And like Luckmann said, the whole point of using a physics engine is so that the user-designed units will still move realistically.

Although I guess there is a difference between units designed in the unit editor vs. user-made models. I guess if somebody wants to mod in bears and have the physics work well with their bear model, they would have to provide some extra information, like mass.

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December 27, 2008 10:06:05 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

This looks awesome! I especially like the soft feel of the texture of the graphics, you almost feel you want to pat the horse ...     The only part that could need some extra work is the horse's tail.

Next thing will be to see how the units really moves, when attacking and not least when being blown out of the way by a dragon's breath. This will be as important as the look of the unit, especially when the game is going for the "LOTR Sauron making people fly on the battlefield" look. Would be incredibly cool if it is pulled off well, but could look extremely corny if not done well. We're keeping our faith in SD.

 

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December 27, 2008 10:31:43 AM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Now that I've seen an actual unit in motion with the art style, I would also say I'm a big fan of the style choice.  Well done and thanks for the movie, Brad!

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December 27, 2008 12:08:53 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Still some room for improvement, 

It's a great demonstration of how the physics are supposed to work and what they do for the figures.  It is a better implementation than a lot of other games, say, like Mount & Blade.

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December 27, 2008 12:39:55 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

I love how the parts of model move semi-indepently with their own momentums, as well as how the textures of different parts convey what they are (compare the cloth saddle to the armor pieces).

Curious how it will animate moving uphill and downhill and when impacted on from different facings.

I wouldn't knock Mount and Blade. It's not perfect, but it has some physics ideas that could probably be borrowed.

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December 27, 2008 12:50:12 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Are you nuts? Mount and Blade has fantastic physics. Weapon hits do damage depending on the speed of the your weapon and hits are not random, you will only do damage if your weapon actually touches your enemy.

Sure it might not be a very "sophisticated" game but it does mounted combat like no other.

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December 27, 2008 3:00:32 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

OMG THAT PICTURE MADE MY DAY LOL! God run for the hills THE BEARS ARE COMING! (dies to bear's headshot.) On a side note finally a video looking good.  That kid in the pictures going to die... soon right?

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December 27, 2008 6:04:29 PM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Quoting Tamren,
Are you nuts? Mount and Blade has fantastic physics. Weapon hits do damage depending on the speed of the your weapon and hits are not random, you will only do damage if your weapon actually touches your enemy.

Sure it might not be a very "sophisticated" game but it does mounted combat like no other.

Agreed, Mount and Blade is a great little game. Considering how few people actually worked on the core game (not counting the hoard of modders working on it) they did a good job on all the right places. Physics are a little crude but Tamren points out some strengths. Watching a rushing cavalry charge get peppered with arrows and seeing some of the knights slide off their horses is awesome!

 

Quoting pigeonpigeon,


Although I guess there is a difference between units designed in the unit editor vs. user-made models. I guess if somebody wants to mod in bears and have the physics work well with their bear model, they would have to provide some extra information, like mass.

I'm hopeful that modders will have access to all the code for the physics. Tweaking existing behaviour or materials + creating new ones for modded content will be key to letting the masses mod in some really crazy stuff. Zero G combat anyone?

 

Bear Paladins?

This.

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December 27, 2008 8:12:08 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

"Zero G combat anyone?"

Or one could take it to the opposite extreme... 50 G combat anyone? *watches units implode under their own weight*

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December 27, 2008 8:45:07 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

You know what would make Brad's computer explode? Gravity Golems

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December 27, 2008 9:57:31 PM from Elemental Forums Elemental Forums

Quoting Tamren,
You know what would make Brad's computer explode? Gravity Golems
You know what would make my head explode? Gravity Bears

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December 28, 2008 6:37:41 AM from Stardock Forums Stardock Forums

Tehee... I love the stampede of bear comments.

To summarize:

 

Honey God worshiping Paladin Bears with Guns protecting innocents while fighting a mysterious and unseen enemy army in 50g environments.

I think that's pretty gangster.

 

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