handcircus

Games and Interaction design

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Soft bodies

Often new types of systems present themselves for simulation - and for people to study in order to find ways of exploiting them to numerous ends. Often the games industry will find many hugely creative ways of making the most of these simulations by making them interactive and creating goals for the player to reach by manipulating them directly or indirectly.

We've had many systems before now take advantage of the ability for ever-increasingly powered computers to create these simulations in real time - Rigid Body dynamics (in games such as Half-life 2), simulations of large groups of agents (in games such as Lemmings or Medieval Total War), even fluid dynamics (such as Wave Race Blue Storm, Plasma Pong and Liquid War although still hugely underused int he commercial sphere). Could Soft body physics be the next simulation darling of the industry?

I think the first time I remember playing with soft-body physics was when Sodaconstructor first blazed round the net (this probably isn't real soft-body physics. Please excuse any rubbish I may be ejecting from my fingers). Simple collections of springs manipulated by forces applied by gravity and the player can create hugely interesting a. Of course the popular indie game "Gish" also uses soft-body-esque collections of springs for its main character. Games as different as Rigs of Rods and Loco Roco (which greggman has admitted was inspired by sodaconstructor) both take advantage of such simulations and both give a really tactile, organic experience to interactions.

For lots more examples of physics-based gaming, make sure to keep an eye on the fun-motion blog.

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