Sony Online gets dPVS for bigger games

The next EverQuest expansion and Star Wars Galaxies will use a dynamic visibility system to pack the gameworlds with many more objects and players.

Sony Online's upcoming EverQuest: The Shadows of Luclin and Star Wars Galaxies will use Criterion Software's dPVS middleware product for larger, more densely populated gameworlds. All 3D game engines try to predict how much of an environment a player can see, reducing the complexity of 3D information the game needs to work with, but in most cases this is precalculated. With dPVS, a game engine can do visibility checks on the fly, which allows for dynamic game environments.

Sony Online's games will use dPVS on game servers to check whether or not players are visible to each other. This process of filtering out unneeded data will reduce network traffic and allow servers to handle richer gameworlds. It will also have the side effect of preventing client-side cheats that allow players to see through walls, simply because the server won't send the player data on what goes on beyond walls. Developers call the data that allows for visibility culling the "potentially visible set" of 3D objects (or PVS).

Kelly Flock, president of Sony Online Entertainment, commented that dPVS "will help create 3D massively multiplayer worlds of unimaginable scale and scope, and both titles will benefit from the ability to build totally dynamic environments." David Lau-Kee, president of Criterion Software, commented further, saying, "It will be especially effective in online games--where you have extremely dynamic game worlds filled with hundreds of thousands of constantly moving players and other objects."

dPVS is designed to work as an integrated part of Criterion's cross-platform RenderWare engine or as a plug-in for other engines.

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