Lords of the Fallen Graphics Tech: Turbulence, Soft Body Physics, & Particle FX

By Published October 28, 2014 at 2:10 pm

We're currently in the process of GPU benchmarking Lords of the Fallen, a game that our own Nick Pinkerton previewed back at PAX Prime 2013. The game hosts impressive graphics technology in partial thanks to partnership with nVidia, who offer their GameWorks graphics SDK freely to game developers.

Developers CI Games and Deck13 utilized GameWorks (detailed here) to introduce physics-responsive particle effects, soft body (cloth, fabric) physical effects, volumetric lighting that responds to transparency and surface opacity / reflectivity, and destructible environment effects.

Before we get started, here's a trailer that showcases the effects in action:

A recent blog post by nVidia details some of the effects.

Lords of the Fallen – PhysX Inclusion

PhysX has long been touted for games like Borderlands (benchmarked), but its nVidia-exclusivity has made it somewhat half-finished in its implementation in a lot of games. Lords of the Fallen's developers are using a new part of the PhysX SDK called “PhysX Particles,” which allow simulated particle effects as our character moves through (and destroys) the environment.

A few examples would include interactive fog – fog particles that get pushed around and drags behind us as we move through them – alongside spark effects from metal-on-metal contact, explosions, and wind pushing environment dust around.

Given Lords of the Fallen's focus on magic and spells, particle effects can be seen every time a spell is cast; by way of example, fire spells spew more flames and embers upon movement through the air or collision. Turbulence (wind, gusts) also impacts particle movement and collision.

Soft / Hard Body Physics

Further physical effects are realized in the form of clothing, flags, and other soft body objects in-game. This would include the cloth comprising a tent, tabards, and similar items. These effects are not pre-baked into the game (in large part and when PhysX is active), so character movement will produce realistic cloth simulation as our hero dodges left and right. Spells colliding with soft bodies will push them around appropriate to the spell's strength.

This is all GPU-intensive and handled with nVidia hardware that's built for PhysX. We'll be performing PhysX benchmarking shortly.

Lords of the Fallen Lighting Effects

The game also has volumetric lighting built-in, creating “god rays” (sunlight cast through objects), bouncing points of light between multiple objects, light shafts through windows, and so forth. Many of these effects have been seen in other games, but are furthered in Lords of the Fallen. Included among these is ambient occlusion (object exposure to light sources and accompanying shadows) and surface material reactions. Light will reflect and bounce differently off of a metallic surface than wood, for one example. Light also sees exhibits different behavior with semi-transparent and fully-transparent objects, like panes of glass.

Volumetric lighting also changes the behavior of object and environment shadows. Shadows are faded toward the edges (when appropriate) and grow darker or lighter based upon the objects through which the light passes.

Considering how graphically boring games were toward the end of the previous generation's lifecycle, it's nice to see games being developed specifically on (and for) PC hardware. We'll have full benchmarks shortly.

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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