Sweet New Tech Makes Video-Game Fire Look Real Enough To Burn You
Today I got a look at some of the graphics tech we’ll see in next year’s games. That came in the form of new Nvidia GameWorks tools, which I saw during a press event in Montreal, Canada. What’s new: advances for in-game fire, smoke, physics and lighting effects.
The briefing took place at an editor’s day in Montreal, which I attended as a guest of Nvidia. In the video above, you’ll also see a demonstration of their new fire system, and how real-time GPU effects like foam, spray, water simulation, mass, displacement, rigid body and turbulence are all interacting with each other for the first time.
The GameWorks program plays a big part of Nvidia’s close relationship with major game studios. For instance, Batman: Arkham Origins will use a range of Nvidia optimisations, including GPU PhysX for realistic turbulence, particle and cloth effects.
“Imagine characters with fluids squirting out of them." Blood splatter is about to get all kinds of crazy. “It’s science, engineering and art.”
Next up was FlameWorks: a visual effects SDK for volumetric smoke and fire like you see in movies. A natural compliment to Nvidia’s WaterWorks fluid simulation and freaky FaceWorks face rendering.
In some situations, game devs and artists currently use work-arounds like sprites and billboards or alpha-blended quads to simulate depth without it being a true volume effect. However, I’m told this can cause side effects like blending and sorting issues or GPU intensive overdraw. That’s where FireWorks comes in and Nvidia has already started integrating it into core engines. So you can expect to see it start appearing in games next year. Watch the video for a glimpse of the tech demo.
Anyway, so with Flex and FlameWorks joining the programmer party – will we see simulated water extinguish simulated fire? Good question. Nvidia hasn’t gone that far yet, but Nividia says it’s “headed in that direction.”
Another step forward is GI Works, Nvidia’s new real-time global illumination solution. Instead of, say, placing thousands of little lights around to create an ambient effect, global illumination is a more elegant/time-efficient approach to help solve some of the problems that come when trying to develop realistic interplay between light and shadows.
“We’re trying to get things to interact with each other in a correct way, help developers and solve some fundamental problems.”