Destruction is the new ragdoll, says Havok

Product head says generational shift an opportunity for all middleware even as mobile erodes money spent on AAA games

Havok's worldwide head of product management has foreseen the next generation of consoles, and it is a devastated wasteland, but in a good way. Speaking with GamesIndustry International recently, the physics middleware provider's Andrew Bowell said the company sees destruction as one of the big drivers for its products with new, more powerful systems from Microsoft and Sony on the way.

"The way that ragdolls became the last generation thing and everything had to be ragdolls, we reckon next generation, everything's going to have to be destructible," Bowell said. "It will be no longer acceptable to walk into a room where you can't punch a hole in the wall or break a table and see it splinter."

If that prediction proves accurate, it would likely help drive developers to adopt the newest version of Havok Physics, but Bowell said his company is by no means the only one poised to benefit from the generational shift.

"It will be no longer acceptable to walk into a room where you can't punch a hole in the wall or break a table and see it splinter."

Andrew Bowell

"It's more key than ever that developers don't waste time writing actual tech," Bowell said. "Guys that I talk to and publishers, they just want to get their games to market as quickly as they can. I think it's a great opportunity for all middleware, to be honest."

That's not to say it's entirely without challenges. Bowell said the mobile gaming scene has clearly taken dollars away from AAA development, prompting publishers to make fewer of the sort of titles that have traditionally been Havok's bread and butter. The company's Project Anarchy, a free-to-use suite of Havok development tools for mobile platforms--is a way of adapting to that reality. Beyond the simple attraction of "free", Bowell thinks Project Anarchy should also benefit from the movement of AAA talent into the mobile space.

"What's interesting is some of these guys as they leave the big devs to form their own indie studios, I think we have an advantage there in that they know our tech," Bowell said. "I think that's a trend and it's a good one for Havok."

While the tools don't cost anything for companies to use, Bowell said they provide an opportunity for "upselling", such as allowing developers to pay to remove the requisite Project Anarchy splash screen when the game starts up.

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Latest comments (3)

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 7 years ago
Well, given that some of the most fun I've had in gaming is playing Sandlot's Earth Defense Force games and the Red Faction series partly because of the levels of non-Havok generated destruction, this is a great thing to read and hope gets used in more games. Of course, I can see it being "the new lens flare" if it's overused...
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 7 years ago
I'm all for destruction, but it needs to make sense in terms of the game design.
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development7 years ago
Agreed. Rag dolls got old real fast too. It would be great to smash up a building as long as it fell correctly, with tensions and reinforced structure holding their shape properly. Sliding blocks don't do it for me at all.

What I'm waiting on is good water that doesn't have to be constrained to a fish tank with a tsunami in it.
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