Hawken Destructible Map Demoed & Detailed

Earlier in the year we showed you the new hardware-accelerated PhysX effects added to Hawken, a free-to-play, mech-based first-person shooter. Each enhanced the action, adding dynamic physics-led effects to the game’s chaotic battlefields, immersing players in the fast-paced battles to the death.

Recently, we showed off a potential new addition: destructible maps. Instead of heavy ordnance merely striking walls and other surfaces, it can blast through with destruction enabled, tearing maps to pieces and dynamically altering the battlefield. Rocket mech camping a key area, using a wall for cover? Destroy the wall! Take a look at the tech in action in our video below, and if you fancy, stick around after for some extra info about the inner-workings of PhysX Destruction.

By utilizing the NVIDIA PhysX APEX Destruction toolkit, and GPU Rigid Body (GRB) simulation, Adhesive Games were able to maximize the amount of simulated destruction to create one of the richest destructible environments ever seen. This destruction allows players to create their own paths through levels, set traps for enemies, and experience the real power of their mechs as they tear through the environment.

To create this destructible playground, each wall, building, and surface was imported into the APEX Destruction toolset and quickly ‘fractured’ by Adhesive’s level designers, defining the ways they crumble when struck by weaponry. Each of these fractured pieces continues to persist in the level and can block enemy attacks, or be used as new, dynamic cover. Over 100,000 pieces can exist at any one time, and as they’re physical pieces of geometry they cast their own shadows and can be self-shadowed, adding to the image quality of the scene.

To further emphasize the weight of their multi-ton mechs, Adhesive ensured floors were also destructible, so when a mech comes crashing to earth after a lengthy jetpack jaunt, the force of their landing will more than likely destroy the floor, adding a new environmental hazard for friends and foes alike. Furthermore, as this occurs, the scenery beneath the newly-created hole will be lit dynamically by Unreal Engine 3’s environmental real-time lighting, illuminating the area and radically changing the appearance of the map.

To overcome the age-old videogame issue of solitary beams unrealistically supporting entire structures, Adhesive utilized new physics calculation tech developed by the NVIDIA PhysX team to ensure structures and other objects collapse realistically, as they would in the real world. This, in particular, is a massive step forward for physics-led destruction, enhancing the realism and immersion of the effect by a greater degree than any other technique or process.

PhysX is supported by any CUDA-enabled NVIDIA GPU released in the last six years, so to ensure that Destruction runs smoothly on all systems Adhesive used the aforementioned GPU Rigid Body simulation tech to dynamically scale the amount of destruction on-screen. Players with older hardware will see the Destruction required for gameplay purposes, and as the power of the GPU increases so will the amount of Destruction, allowing high-end users to enjoy an unprecedented amount of destruction simulation that has thousands of pieces of debris tumbling from walls and then be further manipulated by mechs, other pieces of debris, and weapons fire.

And finally, to keep everything in sync online, the APEX Destruction network runtime ensures that the static portions of the destructible objects stay in sync across all clients, regardless of the level of PhysX destruction on a user’s screen, as determined by the speed of their GPU, thus providing matching cover for each player in a match. All destruction and particle manipulation beyond that point is rendered locally on a player’s machine, and though the non-critical physical interactions should look similar on two identical machines, they are not guaranteed to be identical.

If you’d like to see this tech in-game, drop by the Hawken forums and let Adhesive know!