Physics Based Games

Ryan Fox on June 17, 2008 12:55 PM

You can try out XMoto as well:

Crayon Physics for the win…

but does anyone know where I can find some information about how to offload some of my processing threads to the GPU


If you want something that exists today, and not a research project, you need to get into pixel shader programming: see it has a primer on general-purpose GPU programming near the end or get some open-source library to help you:

Refer to the OpenGL specs for how to do get the GPU to do some shader programming. or something… I usually just google the function name cos I happen to know them already. You can find them in the spec tho…

I find its always best to work from the “manufacturer”'s spec than from tutorials or guides.

atm you have to do some lovely tricks, like putting your data in to textures or coordinates (colors, normals, texcoords etc…) so that you can get it in there. Also there are various precision issues to be mindful of…

its all great fun. :slight_smile:

“Red Faction: Guerrilla” (XBOX360/PS3, early 2009) is doing some very interesting things with Havok.

Here’s a fairly realistic web-based bridge construction game:

There is a nice flash demo of Boom Blox, so
you do not need a Wii do experience the basic idea behind it.

(-google and search “boom blox flash”)

Greatest physics-puzzle-game I played lately.


One more vote for Elastomania (or Action Supercross, to go further back in history).

The first few levels are standard physics-based gaming, but very quickly it turns into a demonstration of how to abuse the edge cases of your physics engine to best effect…

It’s really amazing that the sorts of things the first supercomputers were doing could now be done on the little Java engines on our cell phones.

Who said physics wasn’t fun?

How did you encode video on your GPU? Can that easily be accomplished? I encode H.264 all the time, and I would love to speed the process up, even slightly.

It never really hit me how much simulated physics can enhance game play in video games until I played half-life 2. There’s nothing as satisfying as launching a sharpened gear at an approaching zombie foe.

very cool links, the water/fire simulation really blew me away!

Check out: Mirror’s Edge a href=""

Computer games physics has in my opinion had way to little focus. But a cool water simulation does not make your world come alive, if only the water looks real and the rest is dead. That was what amazed me so much about World of Warcraft, how the world felt alive. The landscape was unique, the big cities where crowded, every armour/weapon changed your character. It might not look photorealistic, but it to me somehow visualised that the world is not perfect. There is no such thing (yet?) as cloning in real life; even twins are not equal, no matter how similar they look. So yes simulating the laws of physics is cool, but what about the “forces of nature?”.

Anyway, where is all the god-simulators, I miss Populus, Powermongers, etc…

I also highly recommend Portal. It is one of the best games I have played in my life. However, the underlying physics engine (Havok) does not really shine in that game, since it is more about tossing around boxes and portal-jumps abusing static gravity, heh.

As a nice and fun sandbox I recommend Garry’s Mod, an addition to Half Life 2 (you need to buy both the game and Garry’s Mod, but prices are reasonable), which enables you to use a couple of sandbox areas as well as the maps of all games running on that engine that you have installed. It also supports ‘Multiplayer’, i.e. multiple people operating in the same sandbox over network (however, for best performance you should do it within a LAN). is quite an interesting watch about physics in games.

I’m waiting for an article how to create video games!

About physics and games try Toribash:
It’s not the game in traditional meaning, but it is great to play with human body. You can do there amazing things, but in the same time You realize, how difficult it is to do some things with Your body.
Damn, It is easier to do the back flip in real life than in this simulation!!


thank you, thank you, thank you for showing me the light on a new bridge building game! i played the one back in 1999 and absolutely loved it. i had no idea it was updated with 3d graphics! must. buy. now.

database on gpu: “Relational Joins on Graphics Processors”

hope will see gpu powered db driver soon…

I picked up Trials 2 on Steam for 10 dollars yesterday, and I have probably gotten that much value out of it already. I love the minimal four arrow controls, and the graphics take advantage of modern GPU’s, too.