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Getting GPU PhysX effects into games: interview with NVIDIA Content Team

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Certainly, many of you will agree that the addition of GPU PhysX effects to PC games has a positive influence on overall gaming experience and immersion in such titles. But how difficult is to attach hardware accelerated physics effects to a game?

Today, with the help of David Schoemehl, Manager of GPU PhysX Content in NVIDIA, and Johnny Costello, Technical Artist, we will try to give you a brief “behind the scenes” view on the process of enhancing games with extra PhysX content. Hi, Johnny and David. Can you please introduce yourself?

Johnny Costello: My name is Johnny Costello, I’m 29 years old and am a native to the Midwestern United States. I went to college at Savannah College of Art and Design and received my B.F.A. in game development. I have been a technical artist at NVIDIA for about two and a half years. During that time I have worked on several GPU PhysX titles such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, Mafia II, Dark Void, and Alice: Madness Returns.

David Schoemehl: My name is David Schoemehl, I joined AGEIA in 2006 as an applications engineer and was the project manager on Warmonger. Since the purchase of AGEIA by NVIDIA in 2008 I have led or supported several shipping GPU PhysX titles and demos including Batman: Arkham Asylum, The Samaritan Demo, Sacred 2, The Great Kulu Demo, and Alice: Madness Returns.

My current title is Manager of GPU PhysX Content and I am responsible for aligning NVIDIA’s engineers and artists to support developers on GPU PhysX engagements. I also work closely with Epic Games to ensure a solid integration of GPU PhysX/APEX features in UE3. Johnny, what is your task as a PhysX technical artist?

Johnny Costello: My tasks can change a lot from day to day, but usually I’m working on a game title in some capacity. Our goal at NVIDIA is to provide the tools that developers need in order to add great GPU features to their games. So I spend much of my time working with developers to help guide them as they use our technology to create exciting content.

Depending on the structure of a particular engagement I may also work alongside the developer to create GPU PhysX content. Then there are other days where I help design and review our tools and production workflows.

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Written by Zogrim

February 10th, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Exclusive: NVIDIA talks present and future of PhysX Technology

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Almost four years has passed since NVIDIA aquired Ageia and presented their version of hardware accelerated PhysX Technology. However, anyone who is watching GPU PhysX progress closely can say, that so far it has not shown any significant advancement – but is the fight already lost or is it just taking time to harness up, but will ride fast?

We got a chance to chat with Tony Tamasi, Senior Vice President of Content & Technology in NVIDIA, Ashu Rege, Vice President of Content & Technology, and Rev Lebaredian, Director of Engineering, to clear up these questions, and recieve some insider information on future development plans for PhysX SDK and NVIDIA APEX toolset. Over last years, amount of GPU PhysX games is actually decreasing. There were five games in 2009, three in 2010 and so far only one in 2011. How can you explain that?

Tony Tamasi: It was a choice on our part. We had a large amount of resources we could otherwise dedicate to content, but we needed to advance the core technology. We needed to get PhysX 3 done, and we needed to get APEX done to the degree where it is usable by game developers. We had to put a lot of resources there, which meant that some of those resources weren’t directly working on games.

But in the long term, game developers can actually use PhysX and APEX, and make use of the GPU without significant amounts of effort, so that a year or two years from now more games will come out using GPU physics.

Alice: Madness Returns - most recent GPU PhysX title

Rev Lebaredian: When we initially acquired Ageia, we made a big effort to move many games over to GPU PhysX. We learned a lot in that period of time: getting GPU physics into games, what are the problems, what works and what doesn’t. That gave us the opportunity to regroup, refocus, and figure out how to do it correctly.

We made a conscious decision. After we did a bunch of PhysX and APEX games in 2009 and early 2010, we said “Ok, we have learned enough, we need to sit down and focus on finishing APEX and changing it based on what we just learned, as well as PhysX 3”. Doing as many titles as we were doing before was just going to slow us down.

It made more sense to slow down the content pipeline but get the tools right, but that puts us in the position when once those are complete, it is actually less work for us to get PhysX in games.

This slowdown has not been because of any problems. It is something that we have decided to do.

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Written by Zogrim

October 20th, 2011 at 6:43 pm

Posted in Articles, Reviews, Other

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NVIDIA Glowball demo showcases PhysX calculations on Tegra 3 device

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NVIDIA has has published a nice video, that is showcasing technical demo called “Glowball”, running on their next quad-core mobile chip known as “Project Kal-EL” or Tegra 3, presumably.

Glowball demo features some complex (for a mobile device) real-time dynamic lighting and shadowing effects, and decent level of PhysX based physics calculations – rigid body barrels and drapes, fully simulated as cloth obejcts.

Cloth simulation is partically interesting: scene contains 10 drapes, likely 100-150 vertices each, affected by gravity and board movement, calculated simultaneously – new kind of physics effects for mobile devices. This tech can be used not necessarily for flags or banners, but for dynamic clothing on characters, for example.

Demo was running on PhysX SDK

Update: More physical demos on Tegra 3 platform

Mobile devices are interesting environment for PhysX SDK to evolve and adapt, so we are eager to see how things will play out in this direction.

Written by Zogrim

May 30th, 2011 at 10:45 am

Posted in Other, PhysX Hardware

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NVIDIA APEX and UDK: Destruction Project

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Since March version of Unreal Development Kit, that has brought us NVIDIA APEX integration, users are playing with the new features trying to figure out their capabilities and limitations.

One of the most noticeable examples is this Destruction Project by the user named RU1NOUS. Even in current state it is demostrating nice a clean level design, good usage of general APEX Destruction features and interaction of APEX actors with tearable cloth objects.

Currently, APEX Destruction still requires a lot of work to make it really powerful and practical fracturing/destruction simulation tool, so let’s hope NVIDIA has all necessary additions on the roadmap.

We’ll try to keep the eye on RU1NOUS’s work and will update this post accordingly.

Written by Zogrim

April 24th, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Posted in Other

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NVIDIA: PhysX continues to play an important role for us

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If you know PhysX only as GPU accelerated physics effects for PC games, lack of news and announcements of new GPU PhysX titles may give you an idea that NVIDIA has decided to drop support for PhysX completely. Forum threads like “Is PhysX Dead?” or “Physx dead?“, popping up from time to time, are indicating – users are worried.

We were able to contact NVIDIA and Mike Skolones, product manager for PhysX, has revealed us the company’s plans regarding PhysX Technology. Is PhysX still playing important role for NVIDIA ? Are you planning to use and evolve the PhysX Technology over the years, or thinking about abandoning it in a favor for other solutions ?

Mike Skolones: PhysX has been and continues to play an important role for NVIDIA, as well as for the thousands of game developers who use PhysX for physics simulation across a broad range of platforms, including PC, Xbox360, PLAYSTATION 3, Nintendo Wii , iOS (including iPhone, iPod, and iPad), OSX, Linux, and Android (including NVIDIA Tegra™ devices), MMO servers running Linux and Windows; OSX ports; and Windows games, where GPU-accelerated advanced simulation is poised for continued growth.

Monster Madness - one of the fist games that utilizes PhysX SDK on Android platform

More importantly, because PhysX continues to be the choice of developers for integration into world’s leading commercial game engines, including Unreal Engine 3, Trinigy, Unity, Torque, Gamebryo, Lightspeed, Hero, and Dark Basic, not to mention other internal tech engines which also use PhysX, designers and artists know they have compelling development platforms they can immediately take advantage for making their games that much more realistic and interactive.

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Written by Zogrim

April 17th, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Posted in Articles, Reviews, Other

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APEX 1.1 will include APEX Turbulence, APEX 1.2 will add GPU Rigid bodies

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NVIDIA has prepared a “surprise” – fully upgraded and rewamped Developer Zone.

Among with full set of new features and content, PhysX section was renovated too (previously, certain parts were staying without update for years).

Browsing through new website, we have found some intersting data, never revealed before – for example, APEX FAQ states that:

What APEX modules are available?

APEX 1.1 will include Turbulence and APEX 1.2 will include APEX Destruction with GPU Rigid Bodies. If you are interested in Turbulence or Destruction with GPU rigid bodies, please email us at

APEX 1.0 Beta was released to public several weeks ago.

Several updated pages we recommend you to visit:

Main PhysX page



Written by Zogrim

April 5th, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Posted in Other, PhysX Tools

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Clothing simulation solutions for games

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Physical simulation of character clothing is yet inceptive, but very promising trend and a great way to make game characters more believable.

We are giving an overview of most interesting cloth simulation packages in our new article : “Clothing simulation solutions for games“.

Written by Zogrim

March 22nd, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Posted in Articles, Reviews, Other

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GDC 2011: Video of DX11 Samaritan Demo from Epic Games

with 3 comments website has published hand camera footage of next-gen Samaritan Demo, showcased behind closed doors by Epic Games few days ago. Previously, only screenshots were revealed to public.

Update: cam video replaced with official one

This demo relies heavily on DX11 technology, and also utilizes APEX Clothing and APEX Destruction modules at certain degree. One may say, that physics effects fit organically into the demo composition, but we’ll say they are almost unnoticable, unfortunately.

But in general, demo looks great.

Written by Zogrim

March 4th, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Posted in Other

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Physics demos from NVIDIA GTC keynote

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As good tradition, several interesting physical demos were presented during GTC Day 1 Keynote by Tony Tamasi, Senior Vice President Content and Technology in NVIDIA.

First one was showing some high-fidelity smoke simulation, with particles interacting fully with characters, producing nice fluid and turbulent behaviour.

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Written by Zogrim

September 21st, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Posted in Other

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Manju Hedge, former CUDA and PhysX VP, is leaving NVIDIA to join AMD

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KitGuru website has brought us news that Manju Hedge, former CUDA and PhysX Solutions Vice President (previously – CEO and co-founder of Ageia) has left NVIDIA to join AMD.

Our own sources at NVIDIA are indicating  – this information is truthful.

However, according to our data, Manju departure won’t affect PhysX (he hasn’t been working on PhysX for over a year) or CUDA development process in NVIDIA, and his new roll in AMD won’t be connected to game physics related projects (instead, Manju is going to be involved in ISV recruitment).

Update: Pursuant to latest press-release, Manju Hedge will lead AMD Fusion Experience Program.

Update #2: from X-bit Labs article

In particular, [Manju Hedge] will manage the developer relations teams that help independent software developers (ISVs) to implement program code optimized for heterogeneous multi-core microprocessors.

We want to thanks Manju Hedge for awesome work on PhysX front and wish him best of luck with this new assignment !

Written by Zogrim

May 25th, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Posted in Other

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