Fight Night Round 4: The Physics of Fighting

It's clear that the developers behind EA Sports' upcoming Fight Night Round 4 are aiming to exceed the already high mark set by 2006's Fight Night Round 3 in practically every capacity. As I wrote in my first look at the game last month, the developers at EA Canada behind FN4 have...

It's clear that the developers behind EA Sports' upcoming Fight Night Round 4 are aiming to exceed the already high mark set by 2006's Fight Night Round 3 in practically every capacity. As I wrote in my first look at the game last month, the developers at EA Canada behind FN4 have been focusing a lot of time on making sure that real physics play a primary role in the ring action--resulting in what is clearly a faster and more impactful boxing experience. In fact, as gameplay producer Brian Hayes explains in this Q&A, the very presence of gameplay physics in FN4 is a departure for the series.

GameSpot: Let's start with Fight Night Round 3. In retrospect, what did you like about the physics system in that game, what has been carried over into FN4, and what did you think needed improvement?

Brian Hayes:
Physics only showed up during the knockdowns in Round 3. In the punch-by-punch gameplay, physics wasn't involved. Technologically, nothing has been carried over from Round 3. Fight Night Round 4 is completely new and built from the ground up. There are some basic concepts that remain the same--for example, punching the opponent in the head will hurt them--but other than that, it's a whole new game.

The biggest things that we wanted to improve on over Fight Night 3 were: capture the realism of the sport of boxing, capture the speed at which these athletes can throw punches, and the responsiveness of the controls. I think we have done a great job on delivering on all these fronts.

GS: Take us on a brief tour of the development of a physics engine in a game like Fight Night Round 4. Where do you start? With the bodies of the fighters themselves? The physics of the punch and block? Or some combination?

BH: Prototyping is a very important part of the development process. You don't build the entire thing at once and hope it all comes together at the end. The development team works on creating different components to prove that they can work. We worked on multiple components separately and simultaneously. Because prototyping doesn't require that the feature be developed to a level of quality meant for store shelves, it allows us to experiment with different systems. To answer the question, it's a combination. We had early prototypes to test the full-body collisions of two boxer models and prototypes to test the physics impact from punches in the game going at the same time.

Lennox Lewis throws a punch at... who? Is this the mysterious eighth and final heavyweight?

GS: Many EA Sports games deal with violent contact between bodies/players. Has there been any sharing of technology between other EA Sports titles when creating the engine in FN4?

BH:
When it comes to physics, Fight Night Round 4 is kind of leading the way here at EAC. We benefit from only having to worry about two boxers as opposed to 10 basketball players or 22 footballers (or soccer players, if you will). The teams share information all the time, but not every game can employ the same solutions because we are all faced with unique challenges based on the sport you're re-creating. With that said, other teams at EAC have started to look at how we are using physics and are researching if they can adopt some of our technology in their games.

GS: One thing we noticed looking at the game was the impact of every punch that makes solid contact. Even jabs look like they sting a lot more than in the previous game. What kind of physics calculations are made during a punch in FN4?

BH: Several. Speed, direction, friction, degree of contact, and angle of impact all play a factor. All of that information is determined when every punch lands and factored into the effect the punch has. The game runs at 60fps, but the physics calculations are actually running at 120fps to help get the most accurate data possible.

GS: One of the big complaints in FN3 was the lack of inside fighting. You've put some effort into that in this game--Tyson looks to be a beast inside. Can you describe the problems with inside fighting from a development standpoint and how you went about solving them?

BH:
The first step was going with the new physics-based gameplay engine. From the very start our designs were that it would allow for much closer interaction between the fighters and for us to really make the boxer's physical dimensions play a factor. One of the interesting things we noticed was that many of the gameplay balancing designs we had initially, for example making boxers with long reach less effective on the inside, started to appear before we began actually implementing them. Because of the way punches retarget based on boxer proximity and the way punch strength is being calculated, the taller, longer boxers were almost innately less effective at close range than the shorter fighters. That being said, the system didn't make itself, and the team was always iterating on the collision volumes and physics calculations to ensure the game played the way we wanted it to.

Mixing it up inside and underneath.

GS: Has the import of inside fighting opened up new techniques, such as Bernard Hopkins' method of clinching an opponent, turning him away from the ref, and working the body down low until the ref breaks up the clinch? In simpler terms: Can you punch in the clinch?

BH: In simple answer, yes and no. Clinching in our game is full-on clinching. You can press a button and attempt to tie your opponent up. We experimented with several hit-and-hold techniques and methods of contextual tie-ups, but they continuously dragged the user into hugfests when they didn't want to. That being said, due to the interaction between the boxers, you will see arms getting tangled or one boxer seemingly pushing down on the other guy's head while he's about to throw another punch, but all these interactions evolve organically from the other stuff the boxers are doing. It looks amazing and nobody has to spend 20 years in a Philly gym learning those dirty tricks of the trade. One of the techniques I like to use is to get body to body with the other boxer and then push off to create space, and as soon as I do that I fire off a punch right away to catch my opponent off guard.

GS: With FN4, the series moves away from the sometimes-awkward parry system in the previous game to a more straightforward blocking scheme. How does blocking work in FN4, and how does that affect the gameplay?

BH: Control-wise, blocking is much simpler. You can block high or low the same way you did in Round 3. There is no more left and right directional blocks and no more parries. However, blocking isn't perfect. We've incorporated the element of block strength that decreases when the opponent hits your block. So just covering up in front of a big bad heavyweight isn't going to do much good for very long. Eventually those punches will punch through your guard and do damage. This makes it more important to use head movement and footwork defensively.

GS:
How big a factor is boxer movement/momentum in the game, in terms of opening up angles for clear punching and for adding impact to a punch?

BH: Movement is a big factor. Footwork and head movement are really important defensive tools in the game, and because defense creates counterpunching opportunities, they are offensive tools as well. You will see refinements to the movement controls that really open up the number of things you can do in the ring. Momentum is factored in to the physics calculations for every punch. So if you are moving into the path of a punch, it will be more impactful, and if you move away from or roll with a punch, it will be less impactful.

A hard shot to Lewis' jaw.

GS: There seems to be much more variety in terms of how punches land--everything from solid shots to glancing blows. How are you calculating damage this time around? Also, how does fatigue/injury affect a fighter's punch/block accuracy?

BH: As mentioned above, there are several factors involved in calculating the force of each punch: the strength of the boxer and his current level of fatigue, the type of punch, the level of contact, the area of contact, and the level of fatigue of the opponent. And that is just high-level. There are people considerably more intelligent than me that are doing all the math. The effect of fatigue is something that we focused on in gameplay this year because many people had complaints about the stamina in Round 3. As your boxer becomes fatigued, their movement and punching gets less snappy, punches have less power, and they become more susceptible to incoming punches.

GS: Thanks for your time, Brian.

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Discussion

140 comments
Keitha313
Keitha313

Wow Tommy Morrison another heavyweight fighter that isnt even anything special biggest thing he did was a Rocky movie... Lame EA need to get the Boxers everyone want to see!!... Or atleast add downloadable roster of them... David Haye (Cruiserweight+ Heavyweight) Vitali + Wladimir Klitschko (The brothers of heavyweight division) Floyd Mayweather (Best P4P fighter of all time) Even though he has some serious issues with his behaviour

durhamp
durhamp

That mystery boxer looks a lot like Tommy Morrison!!

usglenn
usglenn

I hope the graphics is a little bit better than the screenshots. The models look like they trained by eating the chicken instead of chasing it lol. I hope this don't turn out bad. EA has let me down pretty bad lately with live and Madden could have been better, and let's not mention NCAA b-ball. I'm still waiting for the demo and UFC

krazy_b18
krazy_b18

YHHHHHHH im liking this look cool carnt wait 2 c and feel the actual gameplay.

bschroth
bschroth

Can't wait for this game. Loved 3 and this looks 10x better, not just visually. Great article too, I always enjoy developer interview. I hope there are more interviews to come regarding FN4's career mode.

boricua1888
boricua1888

have not played a boxing game in a long time but this one has pulled me in..ill be checking this one out..graphics are ridiculous

CGavin
CGavin

Tommy Morrison.. Has to be.

nikko-fenix-
nikko-fenix-

i cnt wait!! it looks like an amazin game

JxNeeley
JxNeeley

alkaline_DnB this is boxing not Mortal Kombat lol, can't wait for FNR 4, looks great and alot more realistic, definitely buying this game. Muhammad Ali all day babay!

alkaline_DnB
alkaline_DnB

i doubt they will include this in the game, but it would be cool if you could knock someone senseless to the point that they fall out of the ring...oh and fatalities...that would also be rad.

Monkboon
Monkboon

Wow, Fight Night finally somewhat catches up to what the Victorious Boxers franchise perfected years ago. I'll wait for Prizefighter 2, Monk....

Toby1010
Toby1010

anyway, is the video shown here a cutscene from the game or the gameplay itself. if its the gameplay, im definitely gonna buy this

Travo_basic
Travo_basic moderator

It certainly looks amazing.

kkkudin
kkkudin

look realistic graphics..... that what i like... hmmm yum... yum....

tmaclabi
tmaclabi

Very Excellent Graphics!

Stiler
Stiler

[quote]Cant be him, he got aids from hookers an cant box anymore >.>[/quote] no, he doesn't have aids.

Megaship
Megaship

The playable characters in FN3 really amazed me of the details of how real they look. FN4 is probably gonna scare me with the new features they're going to add in.

JRDEE1912
JRDEE1912

" would say it's Tommy Gunn from Rocky V" Cant be him, he got aids from hookers an cant box anymore >.>

jrorl63
jrorl63

this game will be amazing because it looks like they got rid of the clipping problem that there was in fn3

NobleEskimo
NobleEskimo

I would say it's Tommy Gunn from Rocky V

epidemia79
epidemia79

corection is Tommy Morrison not Jim Morrison

epidemia79
epidemia79

i know who is the last heavyweight contender is Jim Morrison he was in the movie rocky 4

Keitha313
Keitha313

Well if we are all sensible... And wanting a decent heavyweight in this game we will be hoping for Vitali Klitschko... but the long hair at back would say otherwise will just have to hope for many Wladimir Klitschko afterall he is the number one in heavys... Or is it Vitali....

swamptick
swamptick

The physics trailer gets me so excited I want to run through a wall!!!

_Brennan_
_Brennan_

@damaster DUH!!!!!!! of course be able you will to play the game online... :roll:

sirfrancisco
sirfrancisco

Donnie Lalonde that's the 8th heavyweight...

MGVladutz
MGVladutz

FN3 ps2 was too slow the PSP version i LOVED it and this ps3 version is gonna [hopefuly] be sweet

Generic_Dude
Generic_Dude

Mystery Boxer = Burger King??? Joking aside, this looks phenomenal.

swamptick
swamptick

I hope they represent Lennox Lewis well. I boxed for years and have allot of first hand knowledge about the sport that casual fans might not. That said, I view Lennox Lewis as one of the best fighters of all time. He came along at a bad time for the sport and was not the revenue getter that Tyson was, but the man was MONSTROUS. There has never been a heavyweight THAT large with THAT kind of speed.

swamptick
swamptick

I am so pumped about this game. The mystery boxer is Tommy Morrison based on the pictures.

rrandolph
rrandolph

No doubt about it Tommy Morrison

xbox4life76
xbox4life76

There is always going to be arguments about omissions to these type of games, I'm just hoping for a solid game play and graphics...

prtynacan
prtynacan

It looks like Tommy Morrison - but I really doubt it. Why would EA create such hype over a "secret" 8th fighter, and then reveal it's Tommy Morrison? Talk about a huge disappointment. My dream was that it was going to be Ivan Drago - I'm already in tears over seeing the hair.

conkzz
conkzz

FIRST DAY Defo, First Day

NobleEskimo
NobleEskimo

@ wonzan: I think they want to make the punches faster than previous outings, but not so fast that the average joe boxer will be overwhelmed by someone who constantly flurries his punches. FN3's punches were fairly slow, but that was to compensate for the left/right parry system. Now that that's gone, punches will be faster, but not real-life fast. No one would be able to play a game like that and enjoy it and online play would be ruined by the slightest amount of lag. In other news, with this and UFC coming out, I'm in combat sport-gaming heaven. Though the UFC game looks kind of lame...

wonzan
wonzan

This game seems really cool. I have one problem though. In the trailer the punches seem really slow. I box and kickbox so I can say that with a bit of background knowledge. Funny how they tout that the punches are faster than ever. How slow were the punches before!!! A game with excellent punch speed is Victorious Boxers 2, which also has physics (not to this degree). This game was released for PS2 YEARS ago!! lol

Jono789
Jono789

With the random cuts appearing im sure alot of fights are going to be just trying to injure someone as much as possible. Im just hoping the soundtrack has something other than rap on it , or maybe even being able to upload your own music for the menus

joel_c17
joel_c17

why no roberto duran :( hes my favorite

playboi815
playboi815

the tyson bite off ear attack would be lame and a waste of time to add to this game. it's been along time since that inciedent and we dont want or need to hear about that anymore. if you do then go hack a copy of punchout or something and move forward. as of tommy morrison in my opinion he is weak and i hope they do better with the last few fighters they add.hope they are worth mentioning at all because i really would hate to see it ending up being a really garbage heavyweight division in fight night.

downsideofup
downsideofup

Nah, if it was Chuck Norris, Lennox's head would be flying off of his shoulders. Definately Tommy Morrisson.

aruchin
aruchin

Tommy Morrison isn´t dead his alive!. Regarding AIDS in his last exams he was HIV negative (nor AIDS or HIV positive) In fact he was about to start boxing again, but so far I have no news he is.

ProVail
ProVail

ITS CHUCK NORRIS, THE MULLET GIVES IT AWAY