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Havok: All Next-Gen Games Should Have Destructible Environments

Let me preface this story with a little walk down memory lane-

Those who are old enough will remember the original Red Faction, which launched on the PS2 back in 2001. The game boasted what was called "GeoMod Technology," in that any part of the environment could be blasted away with explosives. This often didn't lead anywhere, and not every wall could be blasted, but it was a really cool feature.

Now, perhaps we could look at Minecraft, where of course everything is destructible as that's essentially the point. However, there are still very few games were our surroundings include a lot of destructible objects, and the maker of Havok Physics says this will change in the new generation. It kinda has to.

In speaking to GamesIndustry International, Havok's Andrew Bowell said destruction will be a key element in games for the new consoles:

"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. 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."

You've seen Havok Physics on display in games like Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, L.A. Noire, and the Halo games. Those games had virtually nothing in the way of destructible environments, by the way.

Tags: havok physics, next gen, next generation, next gen games

5/1/2013 11:25:21 AM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (13 posts)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 12:31:47 PM

I hope they are right, I was just thinking how lame it was that things only broke when they were supposed to in most cases this gen.

It just helps with tension and immersion when environments can be broken down. It's just unreasonable that an explosion isn't going to cause any damage to a bookshelf etc.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 12:46:01 PM

Heheh, i think this should be taken with a grain of salt. No, Nathan Drake wont just say, "screw the key or ancient puzzle mechanism. Let's just blow the door down with a rocket launcher." There still needs to be a directed game beneath all of the interaction. So while Im sure we'll see some games lean more heavily on destructibility, others may not seem to change very much at all in this regard.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 2:38:02 PM

That's the sort of thing that can be integrated with the game design at least, so when things can't just be blown open there will be a reason.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 1:13:16 PM

It doesn't even all have to be destructible as long as it

1) at least *moves* when it is logical that they should. No more tables, chairs, pots and pans welded to the ground.
2) stays where it landed - no more "resets" to original locations.

That's really all I ask when it comes to better physics in games. And now, finally, this is all very doable. No more excuses.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 1:44:24 PM

Being a huge fan of geomod in the ps2 Red Faction series, I miss those massively destructible environments. I wonder when destructible environments were first used in video games? Space Invaders,Centipede, Asteroids?

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 6:08:24 PM

I hope this does become reality. Red Faction was the first game I played that had destructable enviroments in the context of what they are saying. Though many forget that it had ridiculous limits. It even used its limitations to mess with gamers, those certain walls that brought you to the secret areas in which the best weapons were hidden, had to be done first and fast as once enough of the enviroment was destroyed it would become impossible to reach those areas. Then Dice really brought it to a new level with the Battlefield franchise.

This will do nothing but bring a more immersive experience to the gaming world, which developers will have new creative ways/tools to flesh out their stories. I am really looking forward to this.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 7:54:36 PM

I think more destructibility would be great, but I'm always opposed to blanket "all games must...." statements. Let the game designer realise their creative vision - if it doesn't include destructible environments (seriously, would Journey have been any better with destructible environments?) then that's not necessarily a bad thing. Most shooters these days are arcade shooters and adding destructible environments will barely make them any more realistic - and if you're not shooting at realism, there's nothing wrong with an artistic choice to make something non-destructible.

Of course, would be great to see more destruction (and better physics), but only where it's appropriate :).

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 8:26:41 PM

I agree with you on the artistic side and the blanket statement that not all games will require destructible enviroments. However I couldn't disagree more with your comment about shooters. Destructive enviroments in shooters is one of their crowning achievments. It brings an immense amount of realism to the games regardless of artistic choice(within shooters).

Back to your earlier point another genre that may stay away from destructible enviroments would be a lot of RPGs as many of them just simply won't need them, however some will still benefit from them greatly, one example would be the Fallout series.

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Friday, May 03, 2013 @ 7:04:56 PM

Aye, but what about a game like CoD or TF2, where realism is virtually non-existent? Isn't there room for an unrealistic shooter (well there'd wanna be, given the vast majority are), and once you've gone unrealistic, then what you do artistically with your environments is an artistic choice.

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013 @ 8:02:08 PM

Destructible environments in Battlefield bad company was awesome. I spent so many hours sitting on a rocket turrent blowing away entire towns.

I think it should when it is logical. The destructible environments in MGR was pretty good.

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Thursday, May 02, 2013 @ 12:32:47 AM

Agreed. That is all.

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Thursday, May 02, 2013 @ 5:40:04 AM

Funny thing, in Metal Gear 4, I wrote my initial in the wall with bullet holes and I shoot the bottles. And in Metal Gear Rising the cutting mechanics is impressive, of course they don't allow you to cut everything for gameplay sake, especially the cat(perfect evasion).

But in Crysis 2, I tried to write in the wall using bullet holes and it will suddenly disappeared in just a few moments.

And in Uncharted, I remember they used it pretty well like when you shoot the pillars it will collapse and will damaged things above it.

My point is it can already be done this gen if developers wishes to do so. So don't act like it can't be done in the PS3, the advantage of PS4 is that it can be done in a much more larger scale with all that RAM. What I hope for is that the developers should now create amazing water graphics with realistic physics because if they can achieved that then the rest is pretty easy. Cause if they can't top what Naughty Dog has done in the PS3 in terms of physics, what the hell are they doing with that easy to develop PS4 if only a few of them will push it to the limit.

Last edited by homura on 5/2/2013 5:42:04 AM

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Thursday, May 02, 2013 @ 8:23:10 AM

some games, not all of them.
some games need them, some dont so those resources would be better put towards things that are needed.
in shooters though destructible environments should of been standard years ago!
one thing that made me so sad red factions gone the way of the dodo, it really did have THE best destruction system ever put into a game!
DICE and FB2 really have no chance competing with geo mod, red faction armageddon was da bomb in the destruction department!

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