Physics Engines and Physics in Games

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Physics Engines and Physics in Games:

KIVILCIM ÇELİK – 20056142 EntertaINMENT SYSTEMS YEAR 1 Physics Engines and Physics in Games

What is a Physics Engine?:

What is a Physics Engine? A “Physics Engine” is a piece of computer software that simulates physical sytems like collision, gravity, fluid and solid dynamics as well as more complex rigid body calculations. They are mostly used in games and film, as well as in dedicated physics simulators for scientific research.

Physics Processing Unit and General Purpose Processing on GPU:

Physics Processing Unit and General Purpose Processing on GPU PPU, or Physics Processing Unit is a processor dedicated to run physics calculations, especially in video games in real time. An example would be the PhysX chip, whis is the only exclusive PPU available. More common than PPU is General Purpose Processing on GPU’s, which allow physics calculations to run on GPUs. Both AMD and NVIDIA offer this service, as well as their own SDKs (software development kits) for their own GPUs specifially for physics calculations.

Scientific Engines:

Scientific Engines Scientific physics engines dates way back to the mid 40’s, as one of the first computers, ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was first accepted by the US Army in July 1946, where it was used to estimate the impact point of artillery shells, taking weight, angles and even the wind into account.


ENIAC Two programmers operating ENIAC’s main control panel.

Game Engines :

Game Engines In computer games, where gameplay and entertainment are the top priority, the simulated physics are a lot simpler and shallow in terms of complexity. This is also to allow the simulations to run in real time, as hyper-reaistic simulations could be too demanding for everyday machines. Of course, the actual accuracy of the physical rules in a game are also dependant on stylistic choices as well.

Game Engines - Features:

Game Engines - Features Gravity: One of the most elementary features, it is more common in 3D games and simulations. Collision Detection: Another basic feature, this is existent in nearly every game in some form. Rigid Body Dynamics: More complex algorithms that allow objects to act against forces depending on the size and the direction of the input.

Game Engines – Limitations:

Game Engines – Limitations As games run physics engines real-time, precision and realism are limited by the computational power of the hardware. With lower processing power, the simulation may run bugs, while higher levels of power might not be available or simply too expensive. Developers therefore have to compromise while building games around physics engines to make sure the games are playable on casual machines.

Several Bugs Caused by Physics Engines:

Several Bugs Caused by Physics Engines

Game Engines – Advancements :

Game Engines – Advancements While the physics methods in game have been limited to box-based rigid body physics for a long while, lately soft body physics, as well as volumetric tesselations are being used today for different results. Up to date physics engines like Havok and Bullet now run continuous collision detection, which, as the name suggests, constantly calculates collision to respond instantly to inputs. Soft body physics allow for liquid and cloth physics as well, which also expands physics engines’ uses in movies. The real time finite element system “Digital Molecular Matter” is a particularly innovate engine that is mostly used for realistic destruction effects not only in games like Star Wars: The Force Unleased, but also in movies like Avatar, X-Men and Harry Potter.

Shortlist of Some Common Physics Engines:

Shortlist of Some Common Physics Engines Havok PhysX Bullet Vortex Digital Molecular Matter