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Lower Barrier to Market: Physics?

Chuck Arellano argues that indie game developers can compete on physics.

Players are expecting higher quality artwork in their games, especially with the advances in hardware we’re seeing. Creating said artwork, however, is generally expensive, and can easily be outside of the budget of an indie. So what do you do, especially if you want to compete with much more established companies?

Compete on physics. Physics is basically an application of math. You don’t need to pay experts to create physics assets. You just code it! And with some of the libraries listed in the article, you may be able to plug-and-play. Make it realistic or make it fantastic, but with physics, your game can be innovative and fun.

I will agree with Erik that physics isn’t the only place where indies can innovate. What about sound? What about input? I think that games like Platypus show that even with graphics, there is room for growth.

4 replies on “Lower Barrier to Market: Physics?”

Physics may be an application of math but more importantly it is also an application of processing power. The newer mainboards already have the PhysX chip built right in but I think it will be a year or so before there technogoly can be exploited widely by users. Besides Unity, Darkbasic Pro fully supports the PhysX functions. I wonder if many indies know that Darkbasic also has a C++ IDE version as well as there BASIC package? Anyway…

I think your right GB, physics would be an area to explore.

I’d argue that physics is just easier to compete on compared to hyper-realistic graphics. Of course, even with graphics, there are different ways to explore. Pencil Whipped is a good example of a game that took a standard FPS and made it look anything but standard.

Truly accurate physics also offers a lot of opportunities for new types of games. It also means fewer graphics tricks are needed to simulate actual graphics.

Doom 3’s big thing is lighting physics, which means they don’t need to waste coding time on graphics to simulate lighting. They just damn well do it.

Imagine a low-graphics but very-accurate space combat game, like the old Mantis from 1994 but with modern processing power. You fly by keyboard, not joystick. Very very different game feel, made possible by accurate space physics.

Interesting. A couple of my gaming prototypes as of late have relied heavily on physics simulation. I discovered the same efficiency with physics as Arellano describes. Additionally, physics applied leads to very interesting emergent gameplay mechanics that are impossible to introduce otherwise and sometimes even predict.

I’ve had my fill of small-component game design with the likes of Chess and Bejeweled and I’m now moving on to evolving tapestries of interactive indulgence. In fact, I have been so enamored through my exposure to emergent gameplay that, with the exception of a rare few, my game designs will indiscriminately incorporate physics-based rulesets as their primary drive for gameplay. This, it seems, is the future of our interactive medium.

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