Reality Check - The Magic of Middleware (Part 1)

This week on Reality Check, Lucy investigates how developers use middleware like SpeedTree and Umbra to create video games.

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Reality Check
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syler4815162342

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You don't just pop up trees in your game! every game has its own art style! I use Speedtree myself! but I moved on to a free open source version program called Tree it! https://80.lv/articles/tree-it-a-free-tree-generator/ those libraries are cool but usually, you make your own according to your art style! Witcher 3 also has its own specific version trees it's not like other trees, BTW there are lots of optimization and collusion that need to be adjusted before importing to a game engine, these things are not cheating! it's called the evolution of programs...oh BTW they don't just make it by hand even if there was no app like speed tree for it! there are lots of programmers created their own tree creation tools like the one for Blender Adds-On, or there is a script for 3Ds Max that makes it happen, you can find it at script spot, oh there is even a plugin for Zbrush! Maya... In Houdini it's much much better and easier since it's procedural, they used Houdini for the Last Ghost Recon game a lot! and there is also Plant Factory! so the point is programmers are smart! they find a way to make tedious things automatic and it's not cheating or anything!

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dfernand

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I love your games development Reality Check overview videos, ok you aint got the time to go into great detail but you are educating the masses.

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ps3gamer1234

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Edited By ps3gamer1234

Like the new player.

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GunEye

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A nice informative video. I remember playing Oblivion back in the day, with a not such powerful pc (at least for that game). When running around in extremely detailed areas, I looked up at the sky and framerate will skyrocket, all of the sudden everything looking ultra fast. Must have been a form of Umbra.

I only first noticed the Umbra logo when loading up The Witcher 3. It sounds like an amazing tech, I mean think of it, it needs to bring up and cut down everything simultaneously - so if you look forward, it loads everything up super quick, and removes everything behind you, but when you turn around quickly, it does the opposite, with no noticeable loading time.

Also interesting to know about Speed Tree. I wonder how both techs integrate themselves with original engines like UE or Red Engine 3.

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meedokicky

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Nicely done! I have heard of speed tree, but had no idea what it is.

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riotinto876

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Edited By riotinto876

wtf, did cam leave gamespot or something? wht happened?

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meedokicky

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@riotinto876: Cam and Seb both left to start thier own video production business called "Double Jump", they also have a YT channel named CamandSeb.

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deactivated-58b0b257815cf

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@riotinto876:

Yes, he left.

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Smokin105

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Edited By Smokin105

@doozie78:I also really like a number of Cam's videos too. Didn't know he left but I hope the best for him in his next adventures.

Lucy is doing a nice job though here, although I would have liked a little more science and depth after explaining things at a high level.

For example, how does the algorithm "grow a tree". This could still be explained to a general audience still by talking about perhaps how the decision to make a new branch is made and how the parameters of the algorithm influence this.

I think how explaining complicated topics done in shows like Through the Wormhole with Morgan Friedman and as other excellent shows like the Cosmos is incredible and would love to see more of that here (although obviously on a smaller scale and budget) It would be a unique aspect that not many other video game sites can offer and of interest to those of us who wonder about the science behind gaming.

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Majd_Abdulqadir

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An article about the impact of Unity3D on the recent onslaught of early access titles on steam would be nice, seeing as many of these titles rely heavily on 3rd party assets from the unity store.

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mehrdad19872010

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This is such a great show. Definitely my favorite on Gamespot. Thanks Lucy.

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Darko-TDR

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Lucy talking about trees and is that a tree necklace - treeception :)

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mbradk

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Been using SpeedTree on our current project and I have to say, it is awesome! :-)

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evil_m3nace

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Edited By evil_m3nace

nice work lucy, HAVOK FTW!

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Talavaj

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I'm sorry but these new checks suck. They aren't deep or informative, this video was merely a product overview for products anybody whose interest in games extends past button mashing has already heard of many times before.

What are going to say about PhysX and Havok in the next episode ? That they are made by Nvidia and Havok ?

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da_nibbler

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Lucy, awesome and informative as always. Love how you break it down into layman's terms (for me) ;)

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dmblum1799

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It's foilage and isn't it., and not in't it.

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Furry_McTank

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I miss Cam.

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elijafirebrand

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Dang you are one HOT female. Lovin' that accent. MARRY ME!

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DavidKnight

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@elijafirebrand: Epic!

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Gwynnblade

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Edited By Gwynnblade

@elijafirebrand: I'm sure there are already thousands of contenders for that...and most of them are, in all likelihood, better than you. Or probably, she already has one. Maybe its time to focus on her words more than her assets.

inb4 ''dis niqqa be white knighting''

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l0ne_wanderer

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@gwynnblade: Dang Yennefer you are one HOT female. Lovin' that avatar. MARRY ME!

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deactivated-5b9f50dd5cd38

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@gwynnblade: dis niqqa be white knighting

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elijafirebrand

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Edited By elijafirebrand

@gwynnblade: So, it's worth a try.

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Gwynnblade

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@elijafirebrand: God damn

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Sevuz7

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Awesome video and a fun way to learn a few things about game making. Nice work Lucy :)

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ahpuck

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I have to admit, I learned something from this video. Trees, who knew?

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DAOWAce

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Edited By DAOWAce

Games without occlusion culling tend to be ones that run like complete garbage, for example, a notable MMO: SWTOR.

It's one of the most performance critical things in gaming.

Yes, it can have certain visual bugs with certain models (which basically stems from poor development), but otherwise it's absolutely required in modern gaming.

Final Fantasy XIV actually has an option to turn it on or off.. and when using the preset quality values, 'high' turns occlusion off, which is just insane as the framerate tanks for no practical purpose other than to mitigate some of the minor rendering bugs with disappearing objects. I assume it uses its own method rather than something like Umbra.

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GameYakuza

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Edited By GameYakuza

volexization has replaced manhattanization as my favorite word ever.

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AFMSASMTH

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I wonder if there is middleware for water as that is routinely touted as the most difficult visual to be done well. Whoever designs that would be pretty wealthy.

I was watching the NBA finals tonight and the water effects used for the Golden State logo was pretty bad.

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ahpuck

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@afmsasmth: I thought it was hair, but I can see how water can be difficult to render well.

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deactivated-58a78a043e9d4

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@ahpuck: Water in games hasn't evolved much past moving polygons of a single mesh back and forth. If it had the kind of fidelity that something like Hairworks does (waves interacting with each other physically rather than in animation) then I'm not sure the game would run at all.

The only method that exists today (or at least the most common) is SPH or smoothed-particle hydrodynamics which treats the water as little balls that can behave independently. In game sizes they would be only a couple of inches in size. Now imagine how many would have to be simulated to just the surface of the water in GTA V physical. Games can barely handle the physics of 20 cheese rolls.

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NL_Skipper

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@pongley: The Witcher 3 had actually planned to use physics based water simulation for the game. Unfortunately due to the limitations of the consoles it's one of the features they had to remove, but they did say a high end PC of today would have no issue running such a thing. Too bad, maybe for Cyberpunk 2077... though not of it too is released on PS4/Xbox One :(

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deactivated-58a78a043e9d4

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@nl_skipper: Just Cause 2 has physically simulated water on PC if you have an Nvidia GPU, it looks more or less the same though, it just react better. It's like Hairworks, it doesn't really look any different (except Geralt started using conditioner) but it interacts with itself and objects better.

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B1ueMoonDragon

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This was quite the enlightening video. Also, loving tree necklace. It's a nice touch!

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Lanjin

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Whoa, the lighting is very different now. Nevertheless, very good video.

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SaintsRowLA

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Great show Lucy. It was very interesting, entertaining, and educational.

"We tend to take things for granted. . " Yes, we do. I would never Lucy for granted. You're Great.

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loafofgame

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Edited By loafofgame

@SaintsRowLA: She is Groot.

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GameDelay

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@loafofgame: Gosh-darn it! Where's my 'Like' button?!?

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Fallenstaph

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"speedtree" seems like a name to a skyrim mod, either way nice video really, we normally see games as "how much time and effort it will take to build a goddam tree really?" then we see they have a program now to help speed simple yet tiring task like this one, it will take a lifetime to build so many trees that are in the witcher 3 and with that app man they look gorgeous, guess we have to thank to the guys of speedtree and umbra for good detailed and more fluid games.

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Doozie78

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Edited By Doozie78

Sweet vid Lucy, keep 'em coming! I'm happy to learn more of the details of the games we're enjoying.

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EdjeGameSmith

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I'm a game dev, and I love that you guys are getting so far into explaining the technical side of the craft.
Kudos!

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squall_83

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@edjegamesmith: I wish I could like this, stupid new comment system. I am not a developer, but I have spent a lot of time researching and playing around with game development and rendering as a hobby. I have to agree. Nothing drives me nuts more than seeing people throw comments around about stuff that just simply don't know enough about the industry. These videos will really help to educate people. It's great stuff.

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amdreallyfast

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Edited By amdreallyfast

Interesting stuff, this. It seems that most software engineers in the game industry are in the business of middleware.

I'm curious what Star Citizen has used. I think that it's starship engine was built from scratch, and I think that it is mighty impressive what they've done in incorporating inertia and the concept of non-inventory cargo (that is, cargo that can be placed in a cargo hold and not a magic "cargo" inventory).

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hystavito

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@amdreallyfast: Yeah the way they are doing things like as as "real" objects in the world rather than just variables tied to contextual actions is very cool. I've always dreamed of an "ultimate game" where you are playing in a world where everything just exists and interacts with everything, like in reality. Of course that will probably never happen, certainly not with decent graphical representations :), but Star Citizen is at least showing a desire to take small steps towards that kind of virtual world.

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quickshooterMk2

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so middleware is basiclly a dev tech for hire

cool

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bbq_R0ADK1LL

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Great one. I wouldn't mind longer eps though.

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deactivated-5abc14ca5e8cc

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Lucy, as always, such intelligent! So personality! Over 9000.

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vanti

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This reminded me of spending hours waiting for the pre-vis calculations for Quake 1 to finish generating data of what is visible and not for each point of the map when the water textures were transparent so you could play the hardware accelerated OpenGL version with all the bells and whistles turned on... yes you needed a fancy expensive card in your computer to make the water transparent...

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MaXiMuS2oo9

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Goddamn Gamespot where did you find this little hottie!!

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