Archive for 2005
Careening around a righthand corner, your left front tire blows, and debris spatters the vehicle beside you. Your car body, already low to the ground, makes contact. It wails in protest as it’s forcefully shoved across the pavement, sparks fizzing like a comet from the contact point. Your vector is compromised, and you become a passenger as you careen into Willy’s Window Emporium, glass shattering energetically. Your car comes to an abrupt halt as Willy watches helplessly, screeching metal twisting out of shape.
Physics. The better you want that scene to look, the better your physics must be. And game developers are keenly aware of the fact.
The Cell processor, the nucleus of the PS3, has one PowerPC core and 7 operating SPE’s that are particularly well suited to things like image and video manipulation and physics calculations. As such, Sony’s announcements at the PlayStation Meeting make a lot of sense.
Sony is licensing Havok‘s physics and animation engines for use by developers on the PS3.
Because of Havok’s engine, development teams will be able to use what is arguably the industry’s most realistic physics system for any game that wants it directly out of the box. For the unfamiliar, the Havok system incorporates elements of real-world physics such as gravity, collision, friction, and similar dynamic forces so that they can be reproduced and blended with physically-based character animations in real-time.
But Sony also set up an alliance with AGEIA, the purveyor of the AGEIA PhysX SDK for in-game physics. The name may be familiar to you – they were in the news recently for their physics-specific hardware. It seems that they have some good software in the offing too. The PhysX kit has good multithreading capabilities, a must to make best use of the Cell processor.
“A licensing agreement with AGEIA is a strategic move for us” said Masa Chatani, corporate executive and CTO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. “With AGEIA PhysX SDK provided as part of Software Development Kit for PS3, we believe that numbers of content with entirely new forms of physics expressions optimizing the power of the Cell processor will be developed.”
Tom’s Hardware Guide kind of makes it sound like Sony is licensing the physics chip too, and not just the SDK, but I don’t think that’s the case. Or maybe I’m just misreading them.
These announcements mean that PS3 software developers will have a choice of two different physics engines when developing games for the PS3. I don’t know if developers will have to pay anything to use them, like they will with the Unreal 3.0 engine, or if Sony has that covered. Either way, developers will be able to choose the SDK which integrates with their tools better, or which does the kind of physical modelling better suited to their game.
This means that we have a lot of really cool content to look forward to. As game developers get used to the software Sony provides, they will produce better and better physical effects. I’m a big F1 fan, so I hope the F1 game in the works for the PS3 will make good use of them.
[Update: Gamespot's summary]
Sony is aquiring SN Systems Limited. SN Systems is a programing tool provider best known for its ProDG game-builder software. It will continue to provide Sony with its IDE, compilers, linkers, and debuggers. Now that SN Systems is part of the Sony group, “PlayStation 3 game development will be more streamlined thanks to the ProDG middleware and support programs”.
Sony is also teaming with Transmeta for “optimization tools and debuggers”.
From Software announced that they’re developing Project Force for the PS3. It seems to be a mech-simulation and runs at 1920 by 1080.
Factor 5 is developing a PS3 title known as Lair, and supposedly has lots of cool dragons. It will be a PS3-exclusive title and will be published by Sony.
Genji is a samurai action game for the PS3.
Endless Saga isn’t much more than a lady and a butterfly at this point, but it will be a PS3 game one day.
Ni-Oh is a PS3 game, but not much was revealed about it.
And Gundam also made an appearance at PlayStation Meeting.
Sony showed off some timelines at the PlayStation Meeting.
Sony Computer Entertainment leader Ken Kutaragi revealed Thursday afternoon his company’s plans to hold a “PlayStation Conference” in Japan in February of 2006. Kutaragi stated that this conference was to be held on the “eve” of the PlayStation 3 launch.
Which suggests, of course, that the PS3 is closing in on a March launch in Japan, just like the PlayStation 2 before it.
And for developers:
Developers are concerned about more than just the time of arrival for the system. The companies that make the Final Fantasys and Dragon Quests want to know when they’ll be getting their development tools so that they can make the games that you’ll be buying at launch and beyond. That’s what the two marks at the bottom of the above chart refer to, indicating the release of the PS3 Evaluation System in Spring of 2005 and the impending release of the PS3 Reference Tool this coming December.
Also in the link below are pictures of PS3 dev kits, past, present, and future.
Sony has entered a strategic licensing agreement to allow Sony to sublicense Epic’s Unreal Engine 3 framework. The Unreal Engine 3.0 has received quite a bit of attention for its high quality and amazing visuals. This is great step up for PS3 developers, who can now get the engine from Sony. Support will also be provided by Sony, and developers can try the software before they buy it.
As for the engine itself, it will include programmable shader tools, built-in physics, and a GUI-based attribution tool. Additional tools, such as scenario and movie scene development and animation and particle animation tools will be packed-in as well. In its official statement regarding the agreement, Sony states that it considers the programmable shaders the most significant aspect of the entire engine… allowing creators to reproduce photo-realistic images without going through a complicated calculation process. When used in conjunction with the other tools available in the kit, the Unreal 3.0 engine will allow developers to create all sorts of content with general programmers without the added need for specialists.