A quite interesting addition to Hawken, MMO mech shooter with GPU PhysX support, was demonstrated by NVIDIA booth PAX East 2013. We are talking about one of the most exciting physics features – fully destructible environment.
Update: all the new features are promised to be included in a patch, coming out in April.
Update #2: GeForce.com article – Hawken Destructible Map Demoed & Detailed
A special level, consisting of APEX Destruction assets such as destructible building and barriers, was showcased as proof of concept illustrating how destruction will work, when it will be eventually added to Hawken.
Official features are listed as follows:
APEX Destruction – APEX Destruction provides both the tools and runtime libraries needed to integrate fully destructible environments into games. Using the tools the artists were able to quickly create fractured versions of the buildings and barriers for use in Hawken. APEX runtime handles all of the complexities of rocket blasts and impacts destructing the walls, as well as providing the ability to network the destruction in a multiplayer setting.
Destructible Environments – Destructible buildings, barriers, and roads. Mechs can shoot, run, and stomp through objects on a scale never witnessed before. No two gameplays will be alike as players rip through the environment. When a rocket hits a wall it won’t leave a decal, it will leave a hole.
Emerging Cover – Cover is created by the wall fragments left behind after destruction. Punch a hole through a wall and use it to snipe other players. Watch your cover disappear in shower of debris as rockets from enemy mechs slam into it.
Networking – Destructible environments present some unique challenges when it comes to keeping clients in sync. The level of complexity becomes even greater when you consider the scalability of destruction across clients. APEX Destruction handles this by ensuring that the static portions of the destructible objects stay in sync across all clients (regardless of compute HW), thus providing matching cover for everyone in the game.
Scalability and GPU Rigid Bodies – APEX Destruction allows us to scale the amount of rigid body simulation to meet the capability of client machines. This means that players will see appropriate amounts of rigid body simulation based on what their hardware can handle. High-end users with CUDA capable hardware can enable GPU Rigid Body Simulation (GRB) and enjoy an unprecedented amount of destruction simulation as thousands of pieces from walls tumble to the ground and interact with the mechs.
This is quite an ambitious project, as it not only requires a huge amount of carefully created art assets, but also a set of fragile mechanisms (networking, interaction between CPU and GPU rigid bodies, scalability) to be working properly.
As something previously seen only in Tech demos, fully destructible environment was never never done in PhysX games before, at least not at this scale.
We will keep an eye on APEX Destruction in Hawken and will try to provide you with all the news, as soon as they emerge.