JFK and Microphysics

Game physics are big these days. It wasn’t until today that I realized quote how much further we could go.

Most games with physics model big stuff only. Boxes and bodies colliding and bouncing around. It’s all very nice. But what about really nailing the feel of small-scale interactions? We don’t have the computer power to really accurately model physics for lots of bodies, but I played a game today that tries to models a very accurate ballistics model for just a small number of shots and targets.

It’s JFK Reloaded, a game where you play as Lee Harvey Oswald and try to recreate the assassination of JFK. The game is supposed to be about recreating the three historical shots, and either proving or disproving the official story of what happened. My interest was in the after-report of what you do during the shooting.

After you play, you get a shot by shot summary of what you did, with a 3D view of the president’s car and a line tracing the exact path of the bullet as it penetrates air, metal, or flesh. The bullet may change trajectory slightly as it passes through part of a car or person. It may hit the same person several times as it penetrates several limbs. This goes far beyond modeling wind and bullet drop.

I think other games could benefit from having some real effort put into their ballistics and microphysics like this. Most people think of having more debris and crates flying around when they think of advanced physics. But what if we could just do the same stuff we do now, but more accurately?

It won’t massively transform the game experience, but it could lead to lots of cool little stories, especially if it is combined with some kind of system to record your shots and allow you to actually see the trajectories of your bullets. Hitboxes aren’t doing it for me any more.

Finally, here is a cool video of stuff happening in slow motion to show you some other applications of the microphysics principle.

Finally, some rather historically inaccurate versions of the JFK shooting as played in JFK Reloaded. Where everybody in Dallas was on crack.
And another…

2 thoughts on “JFK and Microphysics

  1. Andrew

    I like the idea, but that game was a hilarious implementation of it (the simulation also wasn’t exactly perfect even though it was the selling point when I read about it). I think it was SomethingAwful that did a review about it, hehe.

    It’d be good for certain games. I think anything with anything nearly like sci-fi (energy weapons and stuff) will get silly fast, and very very difficult to make look right without actually having severed limbs and burns and whatnot.

  2. Tynan Sylvester Post author

    Just checked out the SA review, it’s hilarious.

    And hey, we have the technology to do severed limbs and burns, even if we have to narrow the number of weapons. I think a small number of super-fleshed out weapons with everything implemented in detail could be very entertaining. Just like JFK Reloaded, which has a twistedly large amount of replay value for a game with one 30-second level.

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