Havok rips into games with explosive force

20 Feb 2008

Artists will now be able to dramatically increase control over interactive cloth and destructible objects within games as a result of new technologies unveiled by Irish software player Havok at the prestigious Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

The Emmy Award-winning Irish company, which grew up on campus at Trinity College, Dublin and is now owned by Intel following a US$100m acquisition, makes the physics engines that allow realistic graphics to feature in the latest games.

The technology is also being used by Hollywood studios to employ realistic special FX in movies and has featured in iconic films like The Matrix and Kingdom of Heaven.

The Game Developers Conference is the world’s largest gaming industry event, attended by 16,000 delegates including representatives from companies like Nintendo, Microsoft, MTV, Ubisoft and Sony.

New technologies unveiled at the event demonstrate Havok’s move in the direction of off-the-shelf tools for game developers. The company’s technologies are currently used by developers for the Xbox, PlayStation, PC and Nintendo platforms.

At the event, the Irish company introduced its Havok Cloth tool that is designed to minimise the amount of time spent creating the behaviour of character garments and environmental cloth. It creates a highly realistic, physically-based simulation of cloth and clothing, such as stretching, damping and bending.

Another application, Havok Destruction, gives added realism to structural mechanics and graphical effects to capture realistic shattering, fracture and deformation.

“Havok Cloth enables scalable clothing that will significantly enhance the visual impact of on-screen characters,” said David Coghlan, vice-president of development at the company. “Havok Destruction will drive high-adrenaline action scenes with unprecedented levels of physics mayhem.”

By John Kennedy