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Interactive hair simulation
AGEIA Technologies Inc (www.ageia.com) creates PC hardware for accelerating motion and interaction in computer games. The PhysX chip includes a processor that accelerates rigid body, fluid and cloth computations. AGEIA develops a software package, the PhysX SDK, which allows game developers to access the hardware using an API and tools. The software package is available not only for the PhysX platform, but also PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
AGEIA is always looking at expanding the feature set and interactive hair simulation for in-game characters is an interesting possibility. Off-line hair simulation has been used in movie production for several years, but interactive hair simulation has not been widely used in computer and video games. The PhysX chip and next generation gaming consoles will have the computing power to enable this.
The work will be divided into two parts, first part will be to review existing algorithms for interactive hair simulation including simulation, collision detection and rendering methods in the perspective of real-time game applications. It is far from certain that off-line algorithms are suitable for real-time adoption. A portion of the investigative work will be to determine the likely usage of real-time hair simulation and from that how the alternatives compare. The second part will be to develop a prototype application using the most appropriate algorithms from the review, which will be decided in conjunction with Ageia.
The prototype application should consider the following:
* Parallelism. All target platforms uses multiple cores, so the algorithm must be easy to parallelize, both in a shared memory and distributed memory architecture.
* Interaction with rigid bodies. The game character is typically built from rigid bodies, so there must be a way for the hair to collide with rigid bodies.
* Self-collision. The hair should include an option, not only to interact with rigid bodies, but also with itself, meaning that one part of the hair collides properly with other parts.
* Rendering. Even though our SDK does not include graphical rendering, we must offer a good interface to the game graphics engine.
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