Havok Exec Says Destructibility Is the Future

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Havok Exec Says Destructibility Is the Future

Havok logo

Havok's head of product management predicts that in the coming generation of consoles, gamers will be able to smash everything.

Everybody likes destruction, right? But probably nobody more than Andrew Bowell, the worldwide head of product management at physics middleware maker Havok, whose technology has been used in hundreds of games to very impressive effect. But with a new generation of hardware on the way, Bowell said it's time for videogames to up the destructo-ante even further.

"The way that ragdolls became the last generation thing and everything had to be ragdolls, we reckon next generation, everything's going to have to be destructible," he told GamesIndustry. "It will be no longer acceptable to walk into a room where you can't punch a hole in the wall or break a table and see it splinter."

That evolution would obviously be good for Havok but Bowell said it will also benefit developers, who won't have to "waste time writing actual tech," he explained. "Guys that I talk to and publishers, they just want to get their games to market as quickly as they can. I think it's a great opportunity for all middleware, to be honest."

I'm generally a pro-'splo kind of gamer, but I have to admit that the technology uber alles approach that appears to be on display here makes me a little twitchy. Blowing stuff up is fun but as id Software used to remind us on a semi-regular basis, great tech is a means, not an end.

Source: GamesIndustry

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And that end is wrecking shit.
I mean come on, not even Lego could make breaking bad :P

Good, as the Battlefield series has proved, 'splosions improve games.

There's still nothing as cool in first person shooters (to me) than when that radio tower on Caspian Border comes down, except for when it swipes a helicopter out of the air on the way.

Whilst stuff like that is still semi-scripted, if it becomes the norm then the push will be towards completely unscripted destruction and that could finally live up to the promise of Red Faction all those years ago. It'll certainly be more interesting than the 'walk through this cutscene' level of interraction we get from triple A games at the moment.

It looks like I may have to be a little more careful with my RPG launcher in future GTA instalments... Or not.

Countdown to someone pointing out that Red Faction did this years ago: Three...Two...

Oh, wait...

Where do these idiots come from?

I'm game with having everything being destructible. Its a cathartic experience when you just start wrecking the place for no raisin.

Misguided as the reasoning may be, I'm not against it entirely

Publishers love gimmicks, but it soaks up a lot of a game devs time; farming out the gimmicky side of things to middleware companies like this could be a more efficient means to placate those who crave the shiny & let the main dev team focus more on quality

RonHiler:
Countdown to someone pointing out that Red Faction did this years ago: Three...Two...

Oh, wait...

Red Faction actually used Havok for its destruction effects, so yeah.

Also, the article puts a bit of a negative slant on his comments without considering where he's coming from. As a developer of a 'middleware' like Havok or PhysX, of course you're focused on technology above everything else, as you're not developing games but rather the tools to make games.
Game engines and middleware gives game developers the means to focus on the important aspects like gameplay or story, without having to worry about developing a graphics and physics engine from the ground up.

RonHiler:
Countdown to someone pointing out that Red Faction did this years ago: Three...Two...

Oh, wait...

I wouldnt mind more game being able to be like Red Faction, in terms of the destructale enviroments.

So we might get a good sequel to Red Faction: Guerilla ?

I'm totally down with that.

With the graphics fidelity approaching its peak, destructibility and game physics is the next logical thing for devs to pass off as "innovation".

And I'm actually cool with that. Since it's inherently a game mechanic I can't see how this would make the games worse, so... go for it!

Wait, is it just me, or are "Destructible environments" Soooo two generations ago?

Honestly I would MUCH rather see the new gen utilization of horsepower focus not on graphic fidelity, but genuinely expanding the types of gameplay and how we interact with digital virtual worlds. Not to retread ground in the name of enhancement of an existing concept.

Give me a completely narrative driven game with meaningful and expansive consequences for actions
Give me a viable means to effectively combine gameplay types previously thought too large to put into one existing engine.
Ill pass on what really looks like borderline voxelism.

lancar:
With the graphics fidelity approaching its peak, destructibility and game physics is the next logical thing for devs to pass off as "innovation".

And I'm actually cool with that. Since it's inherently a game mechanic I can't see how this would make the games worse, so... go for it!

This.

As Bowell said, this is really good for middleware designers. Someone has to design these engines and since a single engine can be used for a plethora of games, I'm all up for this to happen.

I don't think this is going to happen. either way you look at it, adding more havok physics to all unimportant objects is only going to severely hurt the performance of games. with the mainstream market trying it's best to improve visuals, adding destructible walls isn't worth losing the extra horse power. Not to mention Havok is shit.

Also being able to destroy everything is not going to improve gaming in any significant way. only a few games would that even make sense (shooter maybe) but most games aren't going to need this or benefit from this. Havok is basically trying to convince people (developers) that they're going to NEED Havok for the next generation. Just like they got so many people to use Havok for it's terrible ragdolls that make serious games look like a poor child's game with it's wacky flimsy physics.

As much as I like destroying stuff, I don't see this happening. Most game developers focus and rely so much on everything being "perfect" and scripted, the player doing stuff that might mess things up is probably their worst nightmare.

And if "destroy everything" means just being able to destroy certain (or unimportant) objects.... then this is just as "important" and as much of a "feature" as Tomb Raider's pony tail technology.

Andy Chalk:
I'm generally a pro-'splo kind of gamer, but I have to admit that the technology uber alles approach that appears to be on display here makes me a little twitchy. Blowing stuff up is fun but as id Software used to remind us on a semi-regular basis, great tech is a means, not an end.

But unlike id, Havok isn't a games developer. This allows them to concentrate entirely on creating great tech for developers to use in interesting new ways. It's why I suspect that the market for middleware will continue to grow in importance this generation, as it frees up developer resources, allowing dev teams to create bigger and, hopefully, better games.

Sure, some will be all flash and no substance but we should still want better tech for those games that decide to go for flash and substance.

What worries me is what this actually means for gaming. I've seen some bad applications with what we already have, and I worry a rush to fill the market will lead to a ton of those. In the right games, awesome. However, I can definitely wait to see my favourite game series plagued by bad applications.

FFP2:
So we might get a good sequel to Red Faction: Guerilla ?

I'm totally down with that.

The thing with Guerrilla is that it's essentially the least-Red-Faction-ish game out of the entire series.
Every game had environmental manipulation, some more than others, but the series was mostly underground and linear. Guerrilla largely was neither.

That doesn't mean that I wouldn't love a new Guerrilla style game (because, funnily enough, Guerrilla is still my favorite Red Faction game), but with THQ gone and Red Faction sold to Nordic ... I'm not too hopeful we're gonna see anything ambitious from that IP anytime soon.

Destructibility is nice but I would prefer better Improved AI. a lot of thing being Destructible won't go with every game but Having Good AI improves all games.
make things destructible is really not meaningful but it's kinda fun.

Eventually, there will be an entirelly meta game where you 'break' the fundamental coding and programming of the game itself to conquer your enemies and destroy the fourth wall...and it would be awesome.

So what happened to Bad Company 2? It was somewhat scripted in it's destructo physics but it worked well in terms of balance as it alternated between cover and destroy-able stuff.

I remember people talking about destructible environments as if they were going to be commonplace back before Gears of War 2 came out. It's one of those things they always made sound like it'd be a big deal, but half of the games that included it only used it in an entirely superficial sense.

I do like the idea behind it, and the possibility it can have for game-play though.

Zachary Amaranth:
What worries me is what this actually means for gaming. I've seen some bad applications with what we already have, and I worry a rush to fill the market will lead to a ton of those. In the right games, awesome. However, I can definitely wait to see my favourite game series plagued by bad applications.

Although that said, this is a very good point as well. We all know what developers and publishers are like with good ideas. They will try and stick them in everywhere they can and it will quite likely get to the point where it is over-saturated and used even when it adds nothing to the experience.

Developers and publishers cannot seem to grasp that it isn't normally the features that make the games popular, it is how well they are used.

FEichinger:

The thing with Guerrilla is that it's essentially the least-Red-Faction-ish game out of the entire series.
Every game had environmental manipulation, some more than others, but the series was mostly underground and linear. Guerrilla largely was neither.

That doesn't mean that I wouldn't love a new Guerrilla style game (because, funnily enough, Guerrilla is still my favorite Red Faction game), but with THQ gone and Red Faction sold to Nordic ... I'm not too hopeful we're gonna see anything ambitious from that IP anytime soon.

It's a shame that all of THQ's IPs are pretty much fucked now.

Reincarnatedwolfgod:
Destructible environments is nice but I would prefer better Improved AI, better stories/characters, and/or meaningful interactions with the game world being the future instead.

That's the entire point of middleware developers though. They make the ragdoll/destructible/physics engines easy to use so the game devs don't have to mess with them too much. This allows the devs to focus on...

Improved AI, better stories/characters, and/or meaningful interactions

Well obviously a company doing destruction sim software will say that is the next big thing, if they were making glue they would say gluing is the next big thing.

And while I wouldn't say they make the best stuff they at least aren't pushing hardware exclusivity like some competitors, which makes them a billion time more beneficial to real progress.

FFP2:
It's a shame that all of THQ's IPs are pretty much fucked now.

How so? Maybe we will see a new RF, and maybe we won't. But at least now there is a question. While it was in the hands of Volition and THQ, it was dead. Not coming back. Ever. Now at least there is hope for it. Not as much as if, say, Rockstar had bought it. But still...

Captcha: "Get Well". Why thanks you captcha, although I wasn't aware I was sick!

XCOM Apocalypse had mixed reviews but that is something they had down pat. Fully destructible environment including some (very basic) force simulation so objects broke when their supports were removed, etc.

So far no other game has let me use the strategy "blow the building out from under him".

rembrandtqeinstein:
XCOM Apocalypse had mixed reviews but that is something they had down pat. Fully destructible environment including some (very basic) force simulation so objects broke when their supports were removed, etc.

So far no other game has let me use the strategy "blow the building out from under him".

i was going to say its one advantage rts and turn based strategy has had over fps games. leveling the entire battle field if you want :) INCOMMING !

Why must it always be 'X is the future!'? it's never just 'there's a sizeable place for X in the future'. I'm totally cool with games that let me blow everything up, but I don't want it in EVERY game... do we really want racing games with destructible environments? that would totally break the whole racing-line flow thing. Fifa with exploding stands? not everything needs to be destructible, just as not everything needs to be sandbox or motion-controlled.

Keneth:

Reincarnatedwolfgod:
Destructible environments is nice but I would prefer better Improved AI, better stories/characters, and/or meaningful interactions with the game world being the future instead.

That's the entire point of middleware developers though. They make the ragdoll/destructible/physics engines easy to use so the game devs don't have to mess with them too much. This allows the devs to focus on...

Improved AI, better stories/characters, and/or meaningful interactions

Shuush... You know that any thing that improves visuals or is in some possible way related to Michael Bay is bad. What we need is more 8-bit stories about a poorly drawn triangle that cant find love in this awfull black and white world with no gameplay whatsoever. /sarcasm

OT:It totally makes sense for them and it is actually a very important game mechanic, imagine a Hitman game with a physics system like Red Faction with an entire apartement building that lets you place C4 in strategic places making the building collapse. There you go, the fact that the level is destructable added a new layer to the game.

Reincarnatedwolfgod:
Destructible environments is nice but I would prefer better Improved AI, better stories/characters, and/or meaningful interactions with the game world being the future instead.

You mean destroying everything that you behold is not a meaningful interaction? I disagree destructible crates and boxes were one of my favorite things in Half Life 2 and the fact that you can pick up almost anything and throw it around i cannot explain why but throwing an old shoe into a fellow citizen's face is immensely satisfying experience. Just imagine that you exchange the citizen for a woll and shoe for the grenade.

I think it may be to much of a waste of time/resources for environment artists to create every asset destructible.

fix-the-spade:
Good, as the Battlefield series has proved, 'splosions improve games.

There's still nothing as cool in first person shooters (to me) than when that radio tower on Caspian Border comes down, except for when it swipes a helicopter out of the air on the way.

Whilst stuff like that is still semi-scripted, if it becomes the norm then the push will be towards completely unscripted destruction and that could finally live up to the promise of Red Faction all those years ago. It'll certainly be more interesting than the 'walk through this cutscene' level of interraction we get from triple A games at the moment.

Red Faction: Gurilla allows you to destroy anything unscripted, even Armageddon has it to a degree. Arma 2&3 has destruction too, but not to red factions level.

RicoADF:
Red Faction: Gurilla allows you to destroy anything unscripted, even Armageddon has it to a degree. Arma 2&3 has destruction too, but not to red factions level.

Guerilla allowed you to blast buildings and structures, it still didn't let you remodel the terrain (and buildings collapsed into nothing when destroyed, which was a shame, I wanted tower dominoes).

Way back on Red Faction 1 you could blast away terrain to make bridges or circumvent cover, but levels (and available power) limited it. I want craters and tunnels appearing ad-hoc on the map, that's what Geo-mod promised over a decade ago damnit!

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