AMD: Developers Only Use PhysX for the Money

Andy Chalk

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Nov 12, 2002
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AMD: Developers Only Use PhysX for the Money


Nvidia [http://www.amd.com/] today, saying that game developers only make use of the GPU maker's PhysX platform because they're being "paid to do it."

Open Physics Initiative [http://www.nvidia.com/page/pg_55418.html], which it claims is superior because it doesn't "lock in users to any single platform." Both systems offer complex, realistic physics in videogames, but Nvidia has taken a considerable lead in the race to become the de facto standard.

But AMD's Richard Huddy says that has more to do with Nvidia buying its way to the top than with the actual quality of its physics engine. "What I've seen with physics, or PhysX rather, is that Nvidia create a marketing deal with a title, and then as part of that marketing deal, they have the right to go in and implement PhysX in the game," Huddy, AMD's senior manager of developer relations, told Thinq [http://www.thinq.co.uk/news/2010/3/8/amd-game-devs-only-use-physx-for-the-cash/].

"[Developers] are not doing it because they want it; they're doing it because they're paid to do it," he said. "So we have a rather artificial situation at the moment where you see PhysX in games, but it isn't because the game developer wants it in there."

Huddy compared Nvidia's approach with PhysX to 3dfx's [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3dfx] Glide platform, an early 3-D acceleration API that was eventually surpassed by the more open Direct3D and OpenGL platforms. "I think the proprietary stuff will eventually go away," he said. "If you go back ten years or so to when Glide was there as a proprietary 3D graphics API, it could have coexisted, but instead of putting their effort into getting D3D to go well, 3dfx focused on Glide. As a result, they found themselves competing with a proprietary standard against an open standard, and they lost. It's the way it is with many of the standards we work with."

AMD's biggest problem at the moment is that no games support the Open Physics Initiative, while dozens of titles offer some degree of PhysX implementation. On the other hand, sticking with the graphics analogy, 3dfx jumped out to an early lead in 3-D graphics acceleration, yet I'd be willing to bet that some of you had never even heard of Glide before reading this, so it's not necessarily an insurmountable obstacle.

But what may really take the wind out of AMD's sails is the fact that Nvidia has previously committed [http://www.bit-tech.net/custompc/news/602205/nvidia-offers-physx-support-to-amd--ati.html] to making PhysX an open platform as well, with the SDK freely available to game developers and even competing graphics chip makers. Unfortunately, or at least ironically, the only other GPU manufacturer of note is ATI - which is owned by AMD.

Regardless of who comes out on top, an open standard would be better for everyone and AMD plans to make its case for the Open Physics Initiative at this year's Game Developers Conference [http://www.gdconf.com/], which began today. "When you have an open standard, everyone can join in and everyone can make free and well-informed choices," Huddy said, "and it's not about skewing the market with money."


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Woodsey

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I like Nvidia a lot (as much as you can like a company) but the PhysX engine is shit. It seems hugely labour intensive for not very much at all.

The Source engine (with the possible exception of the CryEngine 2) still has the best physics engine I've seen in a game.
 

Doc Cannon

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It wouldn't surprise me if they were right. PhysX is not great, yet I see it used in more and more games recently.
I prefer games that use Havok, it works just fine and doesn't murder my GPU.
 

DarkSaber

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PhysX is a complete and utter "What's the point" thing. It barely makes a difference to anything I've played.
 

MGlBlaze

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Woodsey said:
I like Nvidia a lot (as much as you can like a company) but the PhysX engine is shit. It seems hugely labour intensive for not very much at all.

The Source engine (with the possible exception of the CryEngine 2) still has the best physics engine I've seen in a game.
The Source engine is also one of the most efficient engines I've seen as well, if I recall correctly. That might not be entirely accurate, but I can run games like L4D2 on pretty high settings with fairly mediocre hardware and it still looks really good, so I'm willing to go out on a limb.

Seems there may be some somewhat shady market tactics being employed at nVidia though, if they really are just paying developers to implement PhysX.
 

AceDiamond

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Am I the only one who thinks Havok isn't all its cracked up to be? Maybe it's because my computer has 4GB of RAM and a Dual-Core processor but still chokes on a lot of high-intensity physics shenanigans in games (not badly mind you but enough to be noticeable, especially in things like Gmod)

Course maybe I'm just doing something wrong with the way I configure things
 

Nincompoop

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Physx? Ha! More like Phys0x!
..

First of all (directed at the comments above), Havok is not a very good physics engine in my opinion. It just seems to be a f**king standard with all games, and most games have rubbish physics. It's like a game either has an awesome physics engine, none, or havok (as the average). This may, of course, not be the engines fault entirely, but maybe the game developers' fault.

If nVidia's PhysX marketing forces game developers to add (good/average) physics, instead of none, or poor, I support their cause fully. But I agree that PhysX doesn't seem like much of an "zomg awesome phys11xXx" engine.

I do, however, think that it would be wise (and/or awesome) to make the GPU handle as many game related commands as possible, making it the only required hardware on running high-end games.
 

jamesworkshop

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Havok is great for rigid body physics like boxes but PhysX with its suppport for hardware acceleration (havok software only) makes it far better at the more difficult Cloth and Fluid dynamics.
Physics gets labled Effect (graphics) and Gameplay (movement, car damage etc) so far Hardware acceleration is King but only Nvidia cards support this so physics is limited to graphical effects rather than gameplay changing one that would stop non PhysX or too weak ones from playing the game.
Ati is backing Bullet physics which is based of Direct compute and openGl and thus supported by all Dx.10/11 Videocards.

In my view PhysX won't last once a true open standard Hardware accelerate physics library becomes available but without the push from Nvidia such a thing would not exist.

PhysX is the standard physics library of the Unreal 3 engine and thus most games have it by default across Xbox 360,PS3 (software only) and PC (software + hardware GeForce acceleration)

"ATi, don't come whining to me about market forces. If you don't like what Nvidia is doing, well, I suggest you find a way to offer a better product."

-From the office of Andrew Ryan
 

Woodsey

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snowplow said:
Woodsey said:
The Source engine (with the possible exception of the CryEngine 2) still has the best physics engine I've seen in a game.
I'll echo this sentiment. Its sad that Half Life 2 from 2004 still leads in terms of physics in 2010.
Agreed. It does do Valve a lot of credit in terms of how talented they are though. Both that the version of Havok they use (its a heavily modified version) is still the best in the industry, and that the Source engine has come so far and still looks good.
 

Katana314

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HG131 said:
Source is always the best with physics. That is because Source uses Havok. Havok>Any other physics engine.
I LOVE it when people make this huge misconception again and again.
Technically, you are correct. Valve downloaded the Havok library and used that code in their game. It is also worth noting that they practically STRIPPED OUT about 90% of that library and rewrote it.

It is not hard to compare Source to the 100s of other games using Havok (Doom 3, OBLIVION, Just Cause 1 and 2) and see that they're not the same physics. Source's is more precise, faster, and used for more forms of movement. Just check out Garry's Mod.
 

Tharwen

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Woodsey said:
I like Nvidia a lot (as much as you can like a company) but the PhysX engine is shit. It seems hugely labour intensive for not very much at all.

The Source engine (with the possible exception of the CryEngine 2) still has the best physics engine I've seen in a game.
Source uses havok.
 

Woodsey

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Tharwen said:
Woodsey said:
I like Nvidia a lot (as much as you can like a company) but the PhysX engine is shit. It seems hugely labour intensive for not very much at all.

The Source engine (with the possible exception of the CryEngine 2) still has the best physics engine I've seen in a game.
Source uses havok.
A "heavily modified" version of Havok.
 

Gildan Bladeborn

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Andy Chalk said:
I'd be willing to bet that some of you had never even heard of Glide before reading this, so it's not necessarily an insurmountable obstacle.
Ah, Glide - that brings back memories of the first 3D-accelerators I ever purchased, back when video cards with hardware accelerated 3D rendering abilities were not bog standard default options. Happy memories too - there's just no way I can properly convey to the whippersnappers in the audience how awesome it was to see one of my games running in hardware rendering mode instead of software for the very first time.

Heck, I'm dating myself here just by calling it hardware-accelerated 3D rendering in the first place - games these days don't even come with the option of software rendering anymore, and even the crappy on-board video chipsets Intel shits out still have 3D capabilities of some sort. I pre-date that whole development and got to live through the age of conflicting APIs and proprietary vs open standards first hand - gamers from my generation suffered for our 'spiffy' graphics that were worse than the most mediocre graphics you take for granted today.

Now get off my lawn!

[small]Thank you so much for making me feel old now Andy, that was all kinds of awesome, really. I'm not bitter and crotchety at all, no sirree![/small]
 

Hurr Durr Derp

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Andy Chalk said:
I'd be willing to bet that some of you had never even heard of Glide before reading this
Stop making me feel old. ;_;

Also, I really haven't a fuck to give about this physics stuff as long as it works in my games, but I can't help thinking how AMD comes across as "Baww, everyone is using my competitor's stuff and not mine!"

Kinda like how Sony whined about Microsoft buying third-party games not long ago.
 

AceDiamond

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Hurr Durr Derp said:
Andy Chalk said:
I'd be willing to bet that some of you had never even heard of Glide before reading this
Stop making me feel old. ;_;

Also, I really haven't a fuck to give about this physics stuff as long as it works in my games, but I can't help thinking how AMD comes across as "Baww, everyone is using my competitor's stuff and not mine!"

Kinda like how Sony whined about Microsoft buying third-party games not long ago.
Yeah that's the exact sentiment I got here. Maybe if AMD offered the better product they wouldn't be having this problem. I mean when I was building my own PC I asked around and everyone said "Intel and NVIDIA is the best combination you could make right now". Not to say that NVIDIA might not be offering kickbacks but at the same time I'm sure AMD could've worded it better.

Also in the same vein Sony would be one to talk seeing as how they paid ridiculous amounts of money to make sure that Blu-Ray won the format war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, a victory that has since proven hollow.
 

jamesworkshop

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AceDiamond said:
Hurr Durr Derp said:
Andy Chalk said:
I'd be willing to bet that some of you had never even heard of Glide before reading this
Stop making me feel old. ;_;

Also, I really haven't a fuck to give about this physics stuff as long as it works in my games, but I can't help thinking how AMD comes across as "Baww, everyone is using my competitor's stuff and not mine!"

Kinda like how Sony whined about Microsoft buying third-party games not long ago.
Yeah that's the exact sentiment I got here. Maybe if AMD offered the better product they wouldn't be having this problem. I mean when I was building my own PC I asked around and everyone said "Intel and NVIDIA is the best combination you could make right now". Not to say that NVIDIA might not be offering kickbacks but at the same time I'm sure AMD could've worded it better.

Also in the same vein Sony would be one to talk seeing as how they paid ridiculous amounts of money to make sure that Blu-Ray won the format war between Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, a victory that has since proven hollow.
"ATi, don't come whining to me about market forces. If you don't like what Nvidia is doing, well, I suggest you find a way to offer a better product."

-From the office of Andrew Ryan
 

veloper

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we don't need a physics engine from a GPU manufacturer. Let them make better GPUs.

Our quad cores are idling and there's more engines on the market.