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Physics-Based Realism Subject of New Game Development Book

Book by David Bourg Just Released (December 12, 2001)
When David Bourg became professionally involved in game development, he discovered that colleagues from his "other" profession as a naval architect and marine engineer thought that making video games was less intellectually challenging than designing ships. "The funny thing," says Bourg, "is that classical engineers, such as mechanical and marine engineers, and game developers are often solving similar problems using similar techniques, but they just don't know it."

Bourg, who is author of the just-released "Physics for Game Developers" (O'Reilly, US $39.95), adds, "While engineers focus on physical accuracy when solving problems, often at the expense of visual development, game developers have often focused on visual realism at the expense of physical accuracy. This dividing line is becoming blurred now as game developers strive to add physical realism and engineers strive to add advanced visualization to their respective products or processes."

Physics-based realism is not new to gaming; in fact, many games on the shelves these days advertise their physics engines. By applying the laws of physics--specifically mechanics--game developers can realistically model nearly anything that moves to create compelling, believable content for computer games. Bourg uses the example of designing a hunting game, complete with first-person 3D, beautiful textures, and an awesome soundtrack to set the mood. "But as a developer, you still have a sense that something is missing. This something," Bourg says, "is realism. You want the game to feel more 'real' by challenging the gamer's marksmanship by adding considerations such as distance to target, wind speed and direction, and muzzle velocity. Moreover, you don't want to fake these elements; rather, you would like to model them realistically based on the principles of physics."

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