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Funcom plans to further expand PhysX integration into their games

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Last year, Funcom has announced the integration of “server-side PhysX” in Dreamworld engine, a technology behind popular MMO titles, such as Age of Conan and recently released The Secret World.

Rui Casais, Chief Technology Officer at Funcom, has joined us today to shed some light on how the company plans to further utilize the PhysX engine in their current and future projects. So what exactly is the server-side PhysX, integrated into Dreamworld engine?

Rui Casais: One of the most computational expensive operations we do in our servers is collision checking. Due to the nature of PC gaming, we can never trust the client and have to therefore validate all the player movement in the server.

We had a homebrew collision system that worked ok, but when it comes down to it nothing beats the performance of a physics library like PhysX for collision checks.

In addition to this the addition of PhysX makes it possible for us to do more interesting physics simulation in the future, collision is just the beginning. Since PhysX SDK has replaced your own collision detection system, has it resulted in any performance improvements or ability to implement new physics features?

Rui Casais: Server performance doubled when using PhysX, and we plan to expand on the physics side of gameplay in the future, although that isn’t a simple problem to tackle. But we like challenges! How advanced is the PhysX SDK integration with Dreamworld engine in terms of feature set? Have you already implemented any of the NVIDIA APEX modules?

Rui Casais: We have all the base PhysX scene integration done and some basic APEX integration. What version of PhysX engine is utilized in your games currently?

Rui Casais: We are using PhysX 3.2 Are you planning to use any client-side physics in The Secret World or future projects? We mean anything from trivial ragdolls to complex effects, like destructible environments or character clothing simulation via NVIDIA APEX.

Rui Casais: Yes, we will be adding more and more PhysX and APEX support. We have some experiments going on internally and we hope that soon we’ll have them ready for the players on The Secret World. Will you add any types of hardware accelerated PhysX effects to The Secret World?

Rui Casais: Yes, some of the effects are GPU accelerated. Can players expect any type of PhysX enhancements for Age of Conan as well?

Rui Casais: We don’t have any PhysX enhancements planned on the short term, but as we share a lot of the technology it’s completely plausible to integrate some effects later. You have worked with the PhysX SDK engine for quite a time. What are your impressions of it? Will you rely on PhysX in future projects and iterations of your game engine?

Rui Casais: We are very happy with PhysX, its feature set and the support NVidia provides on it. It is a technology we rely on and that will be present in our future games.

Written by Zogrim

September 29th, 2012 at 8:16 pm

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