Anatomy of an ex­plo­sion

Videogames love a good ex­plo­sion, but how are these spec­tac­u­lar ef­fects de­signed?

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Rick Lane

Ex­plo­sions are some of gam­ing’s most daz­zling ef­fects. Ever since Doom’s toxic bar­rels let play­ers turn demons into soup, de­vel­op­ers have striven to make ex­plo­sions big­ger, more spec­tac­u­lar, and more dy­namic. To­day, ex­plo­sions ap­pear in all sorts of forms for all sorts of pur­poses, whether it’s start­ing a rev­o­lu­tion in Just Cause, or trig­ger­ing a tac­ti­cal chain re­ac­tion in Divin­ity: Orig­i­nal Sin. In a mat­ter of mo­ments, ex­plo­sions can change dramatically in size, shape, and color. They can be trig­gered by the player in all kinds of dif­fer­ent ways, and rad­i­cally al­ter the ex­ist­ing game state. But how do de­vel­op­ment stu­dios ac­tu­ally tackle these stun­ning, vi­o­lent and oh-sofleet­ing ef­fects?

1 Par­ti­clesThe core of any ex­plo­sion is the game’s par­ti­cle sys­tem. Orig­i­nally, ex­plo­sions were com­posed of sprite an­i­ma­tions, but to­day’s ex­plo­sions com­bine an­i­ma­tion with par­ti­cle sim­u­la­tion, re­sult­ing in ex­plo­sions that re­spond dy­nam­i­cally to other in-game el­e­ments, such as weather.2 V i s u a l i z at i onEv­ery ex­plo­sion is dif­fer­ent. The JustCause team starts by ref­er­enc­ing real-world ex­plo­sions. “A lot of time is spent tweak­ing the tim­ing, an­i­ma­tion, and col­ors of an ex­plo­sion to make sure that it’s im­pres­sive and read­able both close up and at a dis­tance,” says VFX artist Chris Jud­kins.3 Au­dioThe sound of an ex­plo­sion is just as im­por­tant as how it looks. Au­dio ef­fects are also based upon real-world sam­ples, mixed by a sound en­gi­neer to suit the game. They then need to be syn­chro­nized to the in-game ef­fects, and bal­anced so that they ap­pear to be com­ing from the right lo­ca­tion.4 Sy s t e msAlong­side how they look and sound, ex­plo­sions in games in­flu­ence the en­vi­ron­ment im­me­di­ately around them. “Ex­plo­sions are also tied into our physics sys­tem, so that the force of the ex­plo­sion pushes and breaks things like build­ings or trees around it,” Jud­kins ex­plains.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.