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Oblivion's Missing Physics Acceleration 179

Posted by Zonk
from the sour-apples dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An article on GamesFirst discusses how much better Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion would be if it supported true physics acceleration. From the article: 'Oblivion lacks Casual Physics, and the result is a splendidly beautiful world that still requires a blind eye in order to buy into the environment...' How would Oblivion be different if there were more than just Rag-Doll physics, if bad guys reacted to the swing of your sword, or if mist realistically moved around you as you walked."
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Oblivion's Missing Physics Acceleration

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  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Monday April 17, 2006 @01:48PM (#15143372)
    I don't know how you can possibly call the physics in Oblivion anything but "comic". It has nothing to do with 'Casual' or 'Targeted' physics. The fact of the matter is that well done targeted physics are more than good enough if your goal is a good game. We're not doing nuclear simulations here, and 'casual physics' with hardware acceleration is only required to check a box on the marketing list. The reason Oblivion's physics stand out as lacking is that they're so rediculous. Crumpled up wads of paper interact with other objects as if they weighed hundreds of pounds... as does every other type of object. Enemies that die are seemingly uneffected by anything you hit them with... except for the killing blow, where your .1lb arrow sends even the biggest, heaviest enemies flying so far that it makes a Kung Fu movie seem realistic. When you jump... Oh let's not even get into it.

    Casual physics can actually subtract from a game, because it prevents you from making the obligitory tradeoffs between realism and fun. You don't wany full realism in a fantasy setting, quite honestly. If you're not going to use them though, please, pay attention to balance and details. It's that lack of attention to detail that makes the physics stand out in Oblivion. Stand out in a bad way, that is.

    As an aside, this guy says that Oblivion is close to perfect in visual presentation. I'd disagree. It's great, and shaders are nifty and all, but... Well, let's just say that more notes being played doesn't mean it's a better symphony. Use discression with the shaders, guys. Just because you can is no reason for you to make every single thing shiny.

    Also, all the Oblivion fanboys out there can hold off on flaming me. I'm totally addicted to the game, and I think it's great. It's OK to see negatives in something. Just because you spent $60 doesn't mean you'll be less of a man if let somebody give honest criticism.
    • Sounds exactly like Morrowind. Add that to the list of things that have passed into the sequel seemingly completely unchanged.
      • I wonder if you actually played Morrowind, or if you just tried it and wrote it off after an hour or so.

        It's changed, just changed for the worse. There were no object interactions in Morrowind (you couldn't move things around in the game world while the game wasn't paused), so most of this stuff is actually new. Enemies going flying in Morrowind was non-existant compared to Oblivion. If you shot, let's say a Cliff Racer, it fell straight down. When you shoot a flying enemy in Oblivion, it flys back and to o
        • Enemies going flying in Morrowind was non-existant compared to Oblivion. If you shot, let's say a Cliff Racer, it fell straight down.

          Floated straight down seems a better description.
        • If you shot, let's say a Cliff Racer, it fell straight down.

          If you killed something, then slept the moment it died (ie as it was falling), it would generally end up on the floor not where you killed it, but where it was when it first attacked you.

          Apart from that, yeah, things just dropped straight down (or as another poster pointed out, floated down) That's not terribly realistic, but from the sounds of it, Oblivion has gone too far the other way, with pinball corpses...
          • There was a scene in a movie once (can't remember if it was "Sunset", "Bandits", or another film) where one of the main characters is hooked up to a stuntman rig. When he gets punched, he flies back about 20 feet through the air (as if he had been hit by a large truck instead of a punch). That's pretty much anaolgous to Oblivion's "death blow" physics.

            -Eric

    • "Just because you can is no reason for you to make every single thing shiny." Thank you ... I thought I was alone in thinking this. It seems like I see this in so many games lately, but nobody really seems to mind. Maybe it's an issue with texture resolution, but there's just not a enough subtlety in the specularity maps...
    • Does the prospect of realistic physics really ruin a game?

      Is it really more fun when it takes 30 sword slashes to cut down an opponent in an RPG? Is it more fun when you hack a guy 15 times in the face with a dagger, then stab him and the knee and he dies? Is it fun when you block a swinging mace with your wooden bow and you don't even get knocked backward? Or how you can carry 349 of 350 pounds, and then pick up a coin and be completely immobilized?

      Yes, many of these are gameplay mechanics that can be fixed without buying a $250 PCI card, but they are also elements that accelerated physics could really spruce up. Just because Oblivion in particular is a good game, doesn't mean it wouldn't be better if the world were more believable.
      • Does the prospect of realistic physics really ruin a game?

        Did I say that? It doesn't seem to me that I said that.

        Completely realistic physics would ruin Oblivion though. "Blown Away" effects add some fun to the game, but aren't realistic in any way whatsoever, for example. What's a realistic model for a fireball spell?

        They don't need acceleration, or even true realism to spruce it up. They just need attention to detail.

        All of this completely ignores the fact that you can use any physics engine you'd like, h
      • Is it really more fun when it takes 30 sword slashes to cut down an opponent in an RPG? Is it more fun when you hack a guy 15 times in the face with a dagger, then stab him and the knee and he dies?

        That is because the hitpoint abstraction used in Pen&Paper RPGs was carried to computer RPGs as-is. It is trivial to build a hit location system with separate hitpoints for limbs and torso, or even do away completely with hitpoints and replace them with real wound tracking system. It doesn't have anything

        • A simple matter to fix by recalculating your speed, jump distance etc. based on your load and max load.

          Oblivion (and Morrowind) already does this. If you edge your way up to the maximum load, you might not notice it, but your character's speed and jump distance are considerably greater the less encumbered they are.

          I can't remember if Morrowind did this, but Oblivion has a perk for the heavy armour ability where when you reach a certain level it encumbers you less. This also makes a dramatic difference in te
      • "Does the prospect of realistic physics really ruin a game?"

        Out of curiosity, are we talking 'realistic physics' as in "behaves EXACTLY like it would in the real world" or do we mean realistic as in "does a lot more bouncing around in a way that vaguely reflects what would happen in reality." Okay, that's not a very precise question, so I'll use an example: Grand Theft Auto's pyshics are comically unrealistic. You can do things to cars that are mind-bogglingly unlikely. (i.e. you can PUSH a firetruck...
      • Is it really more fun when it takes 30 sword slashes to cut down an opponent in an RPG? Is it more fun when you hack a guy 15 times in the face with a dagger, then stab him and the knee and he dies? Is it fun when you block a swinging mace with your wooden bow and you don't even get knocked backward?

        I've heard people propose these kinds of changes to videogames before, and I just don't that, in general, they would work. The first, and biggest, problem as I see it is that if you tried to model accurate b
      • Ignoring the fact that what you've just described doesn't actually talk about the physics engine in a game, but damage engines, there are still reasons that arbitrary physics can be a mess.

        The most common example is "stacking stuff" and breaking the 'freaking scripting. You've got a bad guy, you've got a castle. You are to go into this castle after the bad guy has revealed himself to have a climactic battle with his accountant. So instead of playing along with the game, the player stacks up a bunch of ra
    • I've not played Oblivion, so I'll not comment on it. However, on the physics side, the idea of "casual" physics does not mean that you have to forego trade-offs between realism and fun. Assuming that the physics engine is little more than a set of Newtonian physics equations, with dedicated processing power to them, you just have to change a few values to muck about with the physics of the world. For example, if you want an area to have low gravity, simply change the value of G in that area, viola, you h
      • PPUs aren't some magic though. It's just another offload engine. None of those things you describe require them, and the hardware itself doesn't make it any easier for the game designers to implement that stuff. All it does is free up the CPU for other things. If you don't assign parameters for everything in your world, the physics are going to suck, fancy hardware, well-marketed (over-hyped) engine (library) or no.

        At the end of the day, it's not the fancy technology that is going to make the most of the di
    • 'casual physics' with hardware acceleration is only required to check a box on the marketing list.

      I'll just say you're flat-out wrong on this one, at least regarding the hardware acceleration. In 5-10 years, people will be laughing at you at least as much as they were at the people who said "You can't fill 512k of RAM with meaningful code!"

      There are a lot of technologies added to games that have been called overhyped and unnecessary until we figured out how to use them, and now we can't live without them.
      • I'll just say you're flat-out wrong on this one, at least regarding the hardware acceleration. In 5-10 years, people will be laughing at you at least as much as they were at the people who said "You can't fill 512k of RAM with meaningful code!"

        History is on my side. Problems frequently move back and forth between hardware and software as complexity of processors and processes increase in a cyclic pattern, but after time the processes end up staying put based on simple clasification. Processes with low IO ra
  • by skankinny7 (448458)
    Right, and then the game would probably only run on the top 20 supercomputers in the world :)
  • by cjb909 (838363) on Monday April 17, 2006 @01:49PM (#15143384)
    What if Oblivion was projected in 3d holograms....and online....in space! Forget swords....more lasers! And Cheese Graters!
  • But would it make the game better, worse or no change at all.
  • by Inoshiro (71693) on Monday April 17, 2006 @01:59PM (#15143450) Homepage
    I've played through Half-Life 2, with its (in)famous physics engine, and I've also put a couple of days into Oblivion. One of these two games has a lot of content to go with its eye candy, and is a game I'll likely replay again. The other is Half-Life.

    Except for some of the silly physics (like being able to run the horse along a steep cliff without falling), I don't think Oblivion would gain much from being super-real-istic. I don't play Oblivion because I'm interested in real-world physics.
    • Does physics add to gameplay? Yes. Immersion is key. Role playing games are all about immersing you into a fully realized world and allowing you to run around and do as you please. The more realism that world has, the more it can pull you in. Is this a really hard concept to understand? How could making our escapist gaming worlds more cohesive and realized be bad? Should we just go back to playing Adventure for our RPG satisfaction?

      I don't play Oblivion because I'm interested in real-world physics.

      No, you p

      • You seem to be under some delusion that immersion and realism are linked somehow.
        • Ha yeah. Silly me. Pole Position is totally more immersing than PGR3.

          You seem to be under the delusion that realism == mundanity.
          • Realism is mearly one method of making a game immersive. I would argue that it's not always the best method.

            Try using your imagination some time.
          • I picked up the recompiled version of Plane Scape: Torment (that works under XP). Those 1999 graphics are not going to blow anyone's mind.

            But the game is immersive. The *story* is immersive, to be specific: you actually can enjoy the interactions of the characters and your choices do make a difference.

            Meanwhile, making the "game world" a FPS with a physics engine is no guarantee of immersion. The story can still be poorly written and artificial stupidity can ruin the experience.

            People who think that high en
      • by The-Bus (138060) on Monday April 17, 2006 @03:22PM (#15144030)
        "The more realistic the fantasy world, the more clever and interesting your adventures would be."

        That's ludicrous. The statement should read: "The more realistic the fantasy world, the more of a real world it becomes."

        If Oblivion's engine was realistic, then there would be no point in locks or lockpicking as I'm sure a fireball could set any door on fire and windows could be broken to crawl into any area. Also, item prices would change as supply and demand affect the worldwide economy. And you know what else?

        There'd be no fucking monsters made out of ice cubes or perky, nubile spider-women who can shoot lightning.

        I think the word you're looking for is not "realism" but "consistency" which has nothing to do with the physics engine and everything to do with how that engine (no matter how realistic or fantastic) is applied to everything. BUT... in video games, as in movies, you need to have something called suspension of disbelief. Otherwise, if I decided to just keep walking east, I wouldn't hit a magic force field that says, "You can't walk over there." Otherwise, I'd be wondering... where exactly are all the kids in Cyrodiil?

        Personally, I prefer being able to walk up to a group of guards and hit them with a sword to send them flying like so many Agent Smiths. For every moment I have where I say, "Oh, that's stupid, why can't I carry this candle across the room" I have another one where I jump off the side of a cliff and get a one-shot kill mid-air on some bandit 80 feet below me, then land on the ground and eviscerate his companions while I simultaneously pick flowers. That is what Oblivion is about.

        As far as the original submission, they asked: "How would Oblivion be different if there were more than just Rag-Doll physics, if bad guys reacted to the swing of your sword, or if mist realistically moved around you as you walked?"

        I wouldn't care. It's already a fun game. This is what saddens me about the tech demos I'm seeing lately: "Look, the car falls apart realistically!" While that gets me to geek out for a few minutes I wonder if so much effort will be put into gameplay.

        One look at the current quality of the average game and I think I have my answer to that question.

        • If Oblivion's engine was realistic, then there would be no point in locks or lockpicking as I'm sure a fireball could set any door on fire and windows could be broken to crawl into any area.

          Ah - you've played Arcanum, I see. Disintegrate spell is the supreme key :). But a battleaxe will do in a pinch - swords have a nasty way of getting damaged when used on hard objects.

          And it has a simple, ingenius way of increasing immersion - people go to sleep in their beds at night. That's when you rob a shop. Of

        • This is what saddens me about the tech demos I'm seeing lately: "Look, the car falls apart realistically!" While that gets me to geek out for a few minutes I wonder if so much effort will be put into gameplay.

          I think all 'graphics vs. gameplay' arguments are typically wrong in their assumptions about how games are made and sold.

          The fallacy of the 'lets do less of x and more of y' is that x is typically very well defined and achievable with a limited budget and schedule with the proper people and tools, sub
        • You're right, I'm looking for consistency. Also a bit of creativity. Ideally, an RPG would... well...

          there would be no point in locks or lockpicking as I'm sure a fireball could set any door on fire and windows could be broken to crawl into any area.

          YES. Exactly. And the developer would be forced to either make sure the doors were magical, or steel, or come up with a more realistic explanation for why you can't get in there. Maybe better AI, so if you break a window, you get a bad rep, and eventually t
      • by NichG (62224) on Monday April 17, 2006 @03:23PM (#15144035)
        The problem is tradeoff. Lets ignore development time, since putting in an actual physics engine can actually speed that up if it means you don't have to explicitly program stuff, the same way that putting in random generation stops you from having to tweak each individual NPC's name and appearance.

        No, the tradeoff I'm talking about here is system specs. Oblivion is a good game, immersive, fun. It was a good game back when it was called Morrowind and ran on computers that would be laughable by today's standards.

        Now, I'm not saying they should have kept the graphics the same in Oblivion. But I'm saying they could have and if the rest of the game is solid, that wouldn't make it a not-fun game. Since systems have gotten better, then they can choose to improve the graphics and thats great. But the sort of casual physics they're talking about in that article isn't something that could realistically be done on modern systems. I was even surprised that the physics in Oblivion could be done until I realized that they had an on-off switch for it, so stationary objects weren't simulated. Meaning they had to do at most a couple dozen nodes at once - not a big deal.

        Or, to put it another way. I can make a game that solves compressible Navier-Stokes to derive the weather patterns so that the player can influence the weather via the butterfly effect. Or I can stick in a random distribution. If its free, I might as well do the former. But it isn't, so if I want anyone to be able to play my game, I choose to do the latter which is almost as good. Putting in by hand swirling smoke gives you something which takes you as a developer more time to do, but the benefit is that the computational difficulty drops and you have spare cycles to do even more interesting stuff. I'd rather have my cycles used for a really clever AI, or even an evolving world, than simulating the grass. And since I have a finite computational power, thats a choice that must eventually be made.
        • I'd rather have my cycles used for a really clever AI, or even an evolving world, than simulating the grass. And since I have a finite computational power, thats a choice that must eventually be made.
          And that's why the article is talking about supporting hardware physics acceleration, with one of those special chips.
          • Sure but the tradeoffs still exist. Hardware acceleration means money towards that particular card means money that isn't spent on other aspects of the system. Also, restricting physics to the hardware puts a limit on the sort of physics that can be done if it HAS to go through the hardware. Since most physics can be expressed in terms of or at least take advantage of large matrix operations, that might be the best and most general way to go. Fourier transforms on the hardware are useful for certain kinds o
        • Right. Progess is needed. Choices have to be made for performance and development reasons.

          I wasn't arguing that Oblivion should have better physics now, but disagreeing with the position that it doesn't need better physics at all.
      • "No, you play Oblivion because you want to adventure in a cool fantasy world! The more realistic the fantasy world, the more clever and interesting your adventures would be."

        Maybe this is true of you, but in my fantasy worlds, magic is cool, mushrooms make you bigger, and flowers give you the ability to shoot fire. Making these worlds more realistic might help a particular genre, but it'd be of limited benefit to the games I play where things like magic, jumping over buildings, etc, apply.

        I think the immer
        • For the sake of all that is intelligent and reasonable! Realism != Mundanity

          Realism is not mundanity
          Realism is not mundanity

          Sorry to repeat myself but it will help you remember.

          Maybe this is true of you, but in my fantasy worlds, magic is cool, mushrooms make you bigger, and flowers give you the ability to shoot fire. Making these worlds more realistic might help a particular genre, but it'd be of limited benefit to the games I play where things like magic, jumping over buildings, etc, apply.

          And isn't it gr

          • I assure you, I'm not. Believable fantasy worlds are not helped by the physics engine of Half-life 2, at least not in my mind, because part of the acceptance of magic is the realization that the gravitational constant may be different in that world, or that alchemy is alive and well, etc.

            I'm just saying that there are a lot of other good things they could take the time to write for the game that would help a lot more, such as that AI I talked about. I've watched guards walking into walls for 20 minutes at
        • World of Warcraft has unrealistic physics on par with Oblivion. It hasn't seemed to hurt its popularity :)

          If by "unrealistic" you mean "non-existant," then yeah, WoW has unrealistic physics.
        • I think the folks who wrote Oblivion would better spend their time by making it so that having more than 2 human characters on screen doesn't grind an Athlon64 with a gig of RAM and a Geforce 6800 to 7-9 fps, or make the NPCs walk into each other before moving to go around
          Och... I wish a lot of games would do that. Anyone remember seeing hordes of demons coming after them in Doom? And remember how Unreal had about two enemies per level? Doom used lowtech graphics and dumb intelligence, so they could have
  • by Valdrax (32670) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:03PM (#15143470)
    Physics realism in the game is nothing compared to the lack of social realism especially with regard to crime. If you steal something anywhere in the game, everyone in the game knows that it wasn't yours and may take steps to punish you for it.

    You can steal a horse in one town and ride it to the furthest town away that you can get to, and everyone will know that it's not your horse. You can pick up an alchemy book to read it with no one in the room and put it back down when finished only to be accosted as soon as you open the door. If you kill a guard in an alleyway, every single guard in town will come straight for you to kill you.

    Until the game gets social realism down, a few odd-looking collisions means nothing for my immersion.
    • by chanrobi (944359) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:22PM (#15143600)
      Besides the physics issue, anything that can be modded script wise (such as the stealing thing), has been modded already. There is a big community out there with a great number of mods for almost anything imaginable already. The stealing issue has already been fixed, as has the "psychic" guards.

      Here is one among many: http://www.oblivionsource.com/ [oblivionsource.com]

      If you can't find a mod for it, mod it yourself and let everyone else enjoy it!

      • 99 out of 100 of those mods have unexpected and undesireable side-effects.

        There will be great mods for Oblivion. Almost none of them are ready yet though.
      • Is it a good game if you have to hunt down and install countless mods, all with unknown side-effects, just to make the game enjoyable?

        If you can't find a mod for it, mod it yourself and let everyone else enjoy it!

        What if I want to play a game, rather than write and exchange mods?
        • Is it a good game if you have to hunt down and install countless mods, all with unknown side-effects, just to make the game enjoyable?

          Hey, look at the average FireFox advocate. "FireFox is the best, just install these 5 extensions to get the functionality that Mozilla and/or Opera include with the base install."

          If it works right out of the box, it doesn't qualify for the Slashdot Seal of Approval.
    • No kidding. Whats the point of being a master lockpicker or laying out a huge plan to assasinate someone to gain access to their house if everybody knows what goods are hot and what goods aren't? I mean...if I'm in a house with a close door...and I loot EVERYTHING there, even if its a generic item, how in the HELL is some shop keeper going to know it was stolen? I mean...yeah, if it was an amulet that some guy never took off and I'm trying to hawk it, sure, I'd be a bit suspicious, but a metal plate? Wh
    • Having played Morrowind, I understand why they made this game behave the way they did, but I can't say that I agree with it. In Morrowind, it was very simple to amass large quantities of wealth by stealing everything in houses and going off to the nearest trader, who would give you money in exchange. This was certainly much easier than killing the overpowering monsters that attacked you (especially as a thief) and then getting 5 gold for their pelts. I think, however, that they thought this was _too_ eas
      • by Osty (16825) on Monday April 17, 2006 @03:24PM (#15144040)

        Part of what made Morrowind so fun was the ability to steal without getting caught in a realistic way.

        If you're getting caught stealing in Oblivion, you're doing something wrong. Use sneak mode and make sure nobody sees you taking stuff. If nobody sees it happen, you get no bounty. If you have no bounty, guards won't try to arrest you. Sure, you still can't sell stuff to normal shops, but it's easy to join the Thieves' Guild to get access to fences (you have to advance in the guild to get access to better fences).

        In all, I like Oblivion's theft implementation a little bit better. Sure, I have to seek out a fence to sell my stuff, but at least I know exactly what stuff is stolen and I don't have to keep track of who I stole it from. In Morrowind, the same "Stolen Property" flag was there, but hidden. If you didn't keep good track of what you stole and kept, you could find yourself weaponless or armorless if you ever got caught by a guard (because they took all of your stolen merchandise, just like in Oblivion). More importantly, if you stole an item from a shopkeeper, you could never sell that type of item to them again (whether it was the same item you stole from them or not). Even worse than that, some NPCs would even refuse you service if you ever stole from them (most notably enchanters, where they would refuse to enchant items for you if you stole from them -- whether you were caught or not).

        Is it realistic that guards know exactly what you've stolen at all times, even if it was something you stole many game-months before? No. Does it hurt gameplay? Not really. Not nearly as much as it did in Morrowind.

      • The stolen flag seems to be a cheap way out of a hard problem. A better way would have been a proper scale of value. Ever had a garage sale? If you completely cleaned out Joe Peasant's house, you shouldn't be getting more than a pittance. Maybe you'd get more by cleaning out some sultan's castle, but then you've got the guards, magical traps, locks, etc. that all that fortune brings.

        As for the "stolen" flag itself, a merchant should be able to recognize his own goods, and then figure out the rest. How
        • So, you can do a skill check between the perception of those present and the theft success value (basically skill of the thief versus value of the item stolen). A successful check would mean that the thief gets away with the item on the spot.

          Then you check the value of the stolen item versus the average value of the items in the owner's domain, and check that against the owner's carefulness rating. This determines whether the owner knows it's been stolen. To determine whether the thief's identified, you cou
        • The stolen flag seems to be a cheap way out of a hard problem. A better way would have been a proper scale of value. Ever had a garage sale? If you completely cleaned out Joe Peasant's house, you shouldn't be getting more than a pittance. Maybe you'd get more by cleaning out some sultan's castle, but then you've got the guards, magical traps, locks, etc. that all that fortune brings.
          They kind of do that, moreso in Oblivion. Low-quality items that are mass-produced tend to be low value compared to their we
      • I think, however, that they thought this was _too_ easy and too tempting for ordinary classes.

        I am really liking Oblivion, but the things I miss from Morrowind are all along those lines - the Mark/Recall and Levitation spells especially. I also was annoyed that there is apparently no Mudcrab or Scamp merchants who have a lot of gold available, so I got a mod to add one because otherwise there was no one to buy higher-level items for what they're really worth.

        I'm not sure why Bethesda was so concerned about
    • by spectecjr (31235) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:56PM (#15143852) Homepage
      You can steal a horse in one town and ride it to the furthest town away that you can get to, and everyone will know that it's not your horse.

      Of course they know. They check the license plate and the bumper sticker - it's pretty obvious.
    • I agree thief is really quite hopeless. Then again, the other way I've seen it done (just go into every room where there's noone and loot) isn't very realistic either. I mean people will start to notice things missing, investigations, who has been in that room or seen people go into it, you'll have rumors flying around in the town about plundering etc. Like the merchant quest if you've done that, people will start to ask questions about where things come from. If you killed a guard, the guard would probably
    • Or you can buy the house in Skingrad, enter the house, walk out onto the balcony, walk back in through the balcony door, run to the other side of the world, and get arrested for breaking in.
    • They had to make theivery 'bad' somehow, make it special. That's why they did all that stuff.

      Is it realistic? Not at all. But something was needed, and that's what they put in.
    • One could argue that a horse is branded and therefore easily identifiable. Possibly the same could be argued for any item which you make visible by wearing or wielding it. Arguably, merchants should also purchase certain unidentifiable items. What annoys me is that if you steal something with no one around, your next interaction with a guard sees you arrested even though no one witnessed the arrest. Even interacting with on a door can see you arrested if it turned out to be locked when a guard was passing.
  • If you want all this mist-swirling and stuff interacting with you as you brush past it, just wait for Crysis. The engine looks very impressive. Let's just hope there's a solid game behind it!
  • waste of time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tengennewseditor (949731) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:06PM (#15143493)
    Jesus christ, the physics are fucking impressive for an RPG. They can only put so much effort and manhours into Oblivion, and with the ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF GAME CONTENT I'm surprised they even got a physics engine that is as fun as it is. True physics would have been nice, OK, but not worth the time. I mean, developers will release a game solely on the merits of its physics engine (see: Black) so it's not something that's trivial to add...
  • by Cornflake917 (515940) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:10PM (#15143513) Homepage
    The /. article title and summary cover the least important topics about the title. It really has nothing to do with Oblivion except that they talk about how cool Oblivion would be if more physics were added and these physics were processed by a PPU (physics proccessing unit). I think this is a very interesting idea. Having a physics accelerator card that is completely dedicated to the physics of the game would add huge amounts of realism without performance drops. I think this could be cool. It might even change the way games are made. However, I'm not sure how many gamers will be willing to add another expense when they upgrade their system. But I think retailers would love to have another periphiral to sell that will increase a computer's performance.
  • The only thing that really annoys me is that fires don't die out. It's such a huge cause of disbeleif for me that I have serious trouble getting back 'into' the game each time after I've visited the city.
  • by cgenman (325138) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:16PM (#15143548) Homepage
    So they claim that Oblivion would be much better with AGIA brand physics acceleration hardware support. And if they had just supported AGIA, then so much more realism and immersion would be possible.

    'smells like a press release to me. Nobody has an AGIA physics accelerator card yet. That's like saying the game would be better on a blue-ray disk. I wholeheartedly hope that physics acceleration will become a more standard piece of gaming kit at some time in the future, but nobody has one yet.

    The success of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion makes it the perfect example of what's missing from our current conception of next generation games... Oblivion lacks Casual Physics, and the result is a splendidly beautiful world that still requires a blind eye in order to buy into the environment.

    Or maybe the success of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion shows that Casual Physics are not necessary for a great game.

  • by verbatim_verbose (411803) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:23PM (#15143604)
    They should really do a little more research on other aspects of reality, such as how difficult it actually is to cast fire directly from your hands. Just what kind of world do these guys live in?
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday April 17, 2006 @02:48PM (#15143794) Homepage
    You don't really want realistic physics in your combat games. You don't have enough control to use it. If game combat had real physics, game players would have to have real martial arts skills. "No, no, your lead knee must be slightly bent before you start that throw". "Yes, sensi". Few gamers put in the dojo time to get those skills. You can't express them through a game pad, anyway. (A DDR pad and full VR gear, maybe. But even then you lack physical feedback, which is about 5x faster than eye/hand coordination.) Then you need an AI good enough to do real martial arts, a tough problem in itself.

    Just insisting that swords actually hit a vulnerable point with enough force to cause damage makes play too hard. Guns, yes; we can do guns. (Basic problem of video games: players can shoot well and move adequately; little else can be done well through a game pad or keyboard.)

    We know how to do much better game physics. What we're actually getting, though, is mediocre physics for everything in the environment. Which is all Ageia delivers; it's not better, you can just use it on more objects at the same time.

    Question: If we had a first-person combat game that took two real joysticks to play, and considerable practice to learn, but let you do real martial arts, would you play it?

    • Yes (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Monday April 17, 2006 @03:21PM (#15144025) Journal
      But then your talking to a Grand Prix Legends player here. So perhaps I am not entirely normal.

      GPL for those who don't know is a very though historic formule 1 game that focusses on realism. It was so realistic that it took fans a lot of time to realise that all the setups of the cars had been done wrong. Modern F1 games are made to ride as low to the ground because of airodynamics BUT the F1 cars in the era simulated do not even have wings.

      So while all the players tried to get the cars as low as possible they were in fact making the cars impossible to handle. The cars instead needed lots of clearance in able to fully use their shocks to get around corners.

      GPL is harder then most driving games as you need to special controls of being able to break and accelerate at the same time. So the usual joystick setup of only one axis for both just isn't good enough.

      GPL is also a game in wich you shouldn't mind loosing. You probably just won't be good enough to beat the AI drivers. Then again the thrill of coming 10th in that game is infinitly greater then coming first in lesser race sims.

      So I would like to play a game with more realistic combat, not to realistic offcourse (just as I can pause GPL for a bathroom break and don't actually have to fit enough to handle a high performance car) but giving me a real challenge in actually having to do some fighting and not just push a button.

      I liked Oni. While not realistic you could at least use all your different moves to great effect. Far better then the regular hit or block. Still love that move where you ran to the side of badguy then swung around his neck kicking his companions in the face before snapping his neck.

      But why can't we have both? GPL has lots of helper functions wich if all turned on make the game a lot easier. No fun, but a lot easier.

      In fact all the really though sims do this.

      Morrowind in fact had three different attack moves. Probably considered to complex for console players but there is no reason it couldn't have been an option in Oblivion.

      So yes, I would buy such a game and I think I am not alone. True for every Operation FlashPoint fan there are plenty of gamers who could not handle the fact that bullets arc BUT that can be a selling point as well.

      To me Oblivion is a nice game, just as soon as I got the instant kill mod because the current fighting get to bloody boring. Especially those damn gates. Endless non roleplaying level with boring enemies dropped around the place. Yawn.

      • Thank you for lauding the intended use of this technology instead of poo-poohing it like everyone else here. Racing, flight sims, sports games, fighting games, and a zillion new kinds of games could be made to take advantage of a PPU. And nobody says realistic physics have to mean reduced gameplay or fun. Not every physics-based game has to be as hard as GPL.
      • As a fan of the Janes line of flight sims, I would agree that this has its place. Whenever I play, I usually turn all of the realism features on (sunflare, black/red-out, aerodynamics, etc.). I know that there is still a departure between what I am doing and what it must actually be like to fly an F/A-18; still, the closer the better.
        That said, I still think a good physics engine would enhance any game. It's not necessarily about realism as it is a consistent experience. When I do something in a game w
      • Oblivion has several attack moves, depending on your level of skill with a particular weapon.

        Doesn't mean the physics don't bug me-- we had far better object behavior two years ago in HL2 on much slower hardware, but in Oblivion you have to watch your step or you might accidentally kick a 40-lb. warhammer 30 ft. away and off the edge of a cliff while you're trying to pick it up.

        That's my only gripe. It *has* a rudimentary physics engine, but it treats everything like it weighs the same. Wads of paper can
    • Just insisting that swords actually hit a vulnerable point with enough force to cause damage makes play too hard. Guns, yes; we can do guns. (Basic problem of video games: players can shoot well and move adequately; little else can be done well through a game pad or keyboard.)

      The lightsaber play in Jedi Academy left me feeling like I really had years of jedi training. In combat the sabers would clash in the right spots, the swings would go the right way and turn on a dime if I wanted them to, the body move
  • If one see Oblivion's current hardware requirements, one should understand why things are like they are.

    Sure, new solutions are appearing to more accurately reflect "accurate" physics, but the developers still have to cater for the large masses, not design for today's cutting edge graphics cards only. This game is bad enough as it is already. I have no doubt that if Betheshda could've made assumptions that most of the gamer community would have graphics cards supporting the real-time near physics accelerati
  • by cafn8ed (264155) on Monday April 17, 2006 @03:36PM (#15144122) Homepage
    If you want a real physics model, go outside, pick up a rock, and throw it. For bonus points, you can throw it at your own window. You'll get a physics model, a destructible environment, and full stereo sound, all at once. Soon to be followed by an all-to-realistic economics model based on a goods and services, skilled labor market.

    Meanwhile, um, Oblivion is a magical fantasy-based role playing game. I can't speak for anyone else, but I play games like that because they're NOT perfect models of reality. When I want reality, I turn off the computer and take a walk with my dog.
  • Aside from making the game prettier, how much would physics actually help the game? All those calculations are expensive (be it in CPU power, or in actual dollers in the case of a dedicated physics unit) for the fact that they don't do much for the game itself. Sure it'd help with the sense of immersion, but we just had a story ealier today about how much better HL was than HL2 despite its lack of gee whiz physics or the latest in graphics technology. You have to think in terms of how much bang you get for
  • In other news: If a frog had wings it wouldn't bump it wouldn't bump its ass when it hopped. Film at 11.

    Yeah there are a million things that could make any given game better. The physics of Oblivion hasn't made the game unplayable, or even unpleasant for me.

    More potshots from the peanut gallery.
  • by DrXym (126579) on Monday April 17, 2006 @05:24PM (#15144795)
    According to Something Awful, it's asshole physics engine [somethingawful.com] is also lacking. i.e. you can be a total asshole in the game and no one cares.
  • Check out the most downloaded mod for Oblivion [oblivionsource.com]

    DISCLAIMER - I haven't played the game, perhaps teh boobies are that impressive.

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