Ageia putting an end to realistic in-game physics

Well it seems that Ageia is planning to get a monopoly on real-time physics in the gaming sector. After announcing their PPU some months ago they recently just purchased Meqon, who provided another real-time physics SDK aimed at game developers. This somehow reminds me of what Creative Labs did some years ago when they realized that Aureal 3D had some good sound hardware : They just bought them, took all usefull stuff for their own and abandoned everything Aureal 3D related.

In my eyes Ageia’s actions and their PPU are really no good thing at all. As I stated I feel that they want to monopolize real-time gaming physics. First they create that PPU (recenlty they even got some hardware vendors like BFG on board) which in my eyes will do more harm than good. Not only does it cost as much as a high-end graphics card (250-300$) but it’s also a closed piece of hardware. So unless you want to “sell” your physics SDK to those guys, you won’t be able to expose this hardware with your own SDK. And that’ll make it hard for the free physics SDKs still out there (with Newton being my SDK of choice, but also think of e.g. ODE or TrueAxis). And second is now to buy up your “enemies”. I’m wondering what company/developer they buy away from the competition next. You know : Competition not only drives innovation (just take a look at the GPU market) but also keeps prices low.

So this is going to hurt everybody. Lack of alternatives, and a piece of hardware for a physics SDK that cheats on almost every aspect of physics. Just go and create the exact same scene in Novodex and in Newton and apply the same forces on the bodies and you’ll see what I mean : Newton’s solver will make the bodies move totally realstic, but the solver behind Novodex won’t. You’ll clearly see and feel that often things in Novodex just don’t react like in reality. And that’s the shame : The only thing “better” about Novodex is that it can handle hundreds (with the PPU even thousands) of rigid bodies without a huge slowdown. But to what price? Lacking realistic behaviour.

So now that all those big game developers out there start adopting Novodex (I think that many of them even didn’t evaluate other SDKs, maybe Ageia even send them some money to “help” them evaluate) users and gamers will get used to the unrealistic and fake physical behaviour that’s behind Novodex, and that’s in my eyes a very very sad thing to happen. I really can’t believe that all big developers (like Epic) fall for such an unrealistic solver model, but maybe they just see those hundreds of moving bodies and totally forget about the rest.

You know, I’m not easily to upset, but that whole thing Ageia is doing there is really bothering me and I hope people will start to think the same, so don’t ever never buy that PPU. Not only because the stuff I wrote above, but also ‘cause of the fact that both AMD and Intel are ramping up their multiple core CPU’s (AMD already announced their quadcore CPUs). So when those CPUs hit the street you’ll always have at least one single CPU core (remember : That’s up to 4 GHz and more of raw processing power) to do physics, and even more cores in the future. So who the heck needs a dedictad PPU for that then? In my eyes it’s almost like wanting to get back dedicated sprite-processors that have been used back in the good old Sega Mega Drive days.