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Havok Interview (con'd)
Firing Squad: As games get more and more realistic in a visual sense, do you feel gamers will demand better depictions of the real world in other ways?
Jeff Yates - Yes definitely. We believe that run-time character animation holds great potential for increased realism (and fun) in games. Over the past 10 years, a great deal of R&D has gone into the technology behind rendering and physical simulations in games – these areas will certainly continue to mature - but run-time character animation methodologies are still relatively young in comparison. We are investing in this area ourselves and will be showing a new Behavioral animation product at GDC that we hope will help foster further development in this area.
Firing Squad: Even though Havok is the leader in game physics tools, another company AEGIA is getting lots of attention for its upcoming physics hardware processor. What is Havok's position on having specialized hardware for game physics and is it something Havok might be interested in for the future?
Jeff Yates - Havok will always be driven by what game developers need, and so when new hardware platforms arrive and there is clear customer need for them, we always take a serious look. That said, as you can infer from our direction with Havok FX, we really don’t see the viability of a proprietary device in the PC game space. The GPU companies seem to have this aspect of the business well in hand, and with the advances in multi-core machines from AMD and Intel, the trajectory for affordable PC/GPU compute power seems sufficiently unbounded. We have not yet been able to find any game developers who believe in the viability of a proprietary hardware device like this. But if/when that ever changes, we are sure to be listening.
Firing Squad: What are some of the challenges that Havok sees for the future of physical interactions in PC and video games?
Jeff Yates - Certainly scalability of existing software technologies on multi-core game systems is paramount for the near term. This is a very achievable thing for us, but just represents investment of time and a commitment to constantly improve scalability and performance over time - and across all platforms. This is something we are certainly passionate about and feel comfortable we will lead. We also know that physics can do so much more to enhance character animation in the game, by blending physics with traditional animation systems. We introduced some novel approaches to this at last year’s GDC conference, and this year we are rolling out the next chapter in our efforts to help developers realize their designs more quickly.
Firing Squad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Havok and its current and future plans?
Jeff Yates - We’re very dedicated to understanding our customers’ needs and helping reduce their risk and total cost of development. We take their design goals and deadlines very seriously and we’ll continue to keep that kind of focus going forward. Game-play physics is our bread and butter – and we’ll continue to invest in increased performance for physics and in broad, cross-platform support. But we’ll also explore new ways that physics and animation can combine to enhance the interactive performance of characters in the game.
FiringSquad would like to thank Jeff Yates for participating in this interview. For more info on Havok FX, please visit the Havok FX website here.
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