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The Challenges of Destructible Cover

Alex Champandard, at AIGameDev has posted a nice video analysis detailing some of the complicating issues surrounding the inclusion of destructible cover in an FPS game. He uses video from a recent trailer from the upcoming Brothers in Arms 2. As always, Alex details things rather well. He offers an off-the-cuff solution without getting terribly technical. I can understand why he can’t “solve” the problem… it is usually something that is very game and engine specific. Regardless, it shows the issue itself very well.

This reminds me of a conversation that was had at the AI Game Programmers Dinner at the 2008 GDC. There was a brief exchange where we were talking about points of visibility in the games that were represented in the room. Many games tend to use around 6 points… a rectangle representing shoulders and perhaps thighs, one for the center of the body and one for the head. Others may add a few more here or there. I asked Christian Gyrling (Naughty Dog) how many they used in “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune”… his answer? 20. That’s a LOT of ray casts. Admittedly, this was 20 points on the player’s body to determine if the enemy AIs could see him. However, the result is the same… 20 potential raycasts for each active enemy NPC. Ouch. (Welcome to the PS3, I suppose.)

I would like to think that specialized graphics hardware and simply more processing power will make this approach more cost-effective in the near future.

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