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Games Entertainment

The Details of Dead Bodies in Gaming 195

Posted by Zonk
from the have-to-put-them-somewhere dept.
Via Stephen Totilo's Second Player blog, his most recent post at MTV concerns dead bodies in videogames. This rather morbid topic may seem like a small concern, but it's a big deal for the people making the games. From the article: "Dead bodies have been vanishing in games for decades because of technical difficulties. Old 2-D games -- like just about anything on the original Atari, Sega and Nintendo systems -- could only display a limited number of character graphics, or sprites, on a TV screen at one time. Letting a zapped enemy lie prone on the playing field caused problems, limiting the amount of new things, like new on-rushing enemies, that could be drawn onto the screen. 'You would end up sacrificing one of your precious moving objects to display an essentially useless dead body,' [game designer Ralph] Barbagallo said." With the advent of the newest generation of consoles, Totilo explains, we now have the luxury of corpses as far as the eye can see.
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The Details of Dead Bodies in Gaming

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  • Ah, that makes it all worthwhile...
  • Realism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by master_kaos (1027308)
    Anything that adds just a bit more realism is usually a good thing (in video games). There are cases where there can be too much realism, but this isn't one of those things. There is defiently a point where you will want to dispose the dead body - otherwise the environment can be completly littered and could possibly pose framerate issues. But either way, with the increase of horsepower these new consoles have, it will be extremely interesting to see what type of objects they place in our virtual world th
    • Re:Realism (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:18PM (#17632082) Homepage Journal
      I wish corpses remained solid. It would add a whole new element to gameplay, making it a priority to get your butt through a hallway before the corpses pile up to the ceiling.

      Also, in team play. Want to block off a path? Litter it with your opponents' corpses.
      • Re:Realism (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:46PM (#17632594) Journal
        That's fine -- as long as they carry through to the logical extension -- you can blow up the corpses into smaller and smaller fragments, or grab them and throw them out of the way.

        I'm sick of bushes that either don't exist as immaterial, or are like a spike of some mithril adamantium substance that causes a truck to flip over.
        • Re:Realism (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mmalove (919245) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @03:00PM (#17634052)
          Ahh yes, nothing like playing some flatout or carmageddon, and hitting the corner of a wooden shack or frail tree with a mac truck only to be completely wasted due to that object being "permanent". There was an MMO released last year called auto assault, which unfortunately lacked in many areas, but one thing I really liked about it was the nearly completely destructable environment. Roll up into an enemy camp guns ablaze, or roll OVER the enemy camp, through every building/structure.

          If corpses are going to block projectiles, they need to be destructable. I could see this adding quite a bit of strategic element to even an FPS. I really wish that in battlefield 2 the tanks wouldn't immediately explode, because they made great infantry shields right up until they went boom, and presented a nice little mobile fortification.

          If corpses don't somehow hold an interaction with the game, I see little point in their long lifespan. If I can't pile them high as a makeshift sand wall, or eat them to regen some health, sweep them along to digital heaven already.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cowscows (103644)
          I'm sick of bushes that act as barriers. First off, I could probably jump over that bush in real life. But even if I couldn't, my character is carrying a chainsaw that he already used to cut a half dozen dragons into pieces. You mean to tell me that that same chainsaw can't cut through a few shrubs?

          Uh oh, a wooden police barricades. No way I can get past that. I guess my character isn't flexible enough to crawl under it, or strong enough to just push it over. Nevermind the rocket launcher that I'm carrying.
          • by arivanov (12034)
            Play nethack.

            Some of the Ranger quest levels are a fine example of what you are describing. They are a spiral maze made of trees. You can spend your time fighting along the maze or you can take a big axe and chop your way through. Or zap a wand of fire or throw a few fireballs. Voila - trees begone.

            Similarly in nethack you can permanently freeze water into ice and make it walkable on top, destroy walls, obstructions, etc and dead corpses stay for a considerable amount of time. Unfortunately the big beast co
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by markh1967 (315861)
            I was always glad that, when playing Doom, none of the monsters thought to make armour out of whatever the doors were made of.
      • Re:Realism (Score:5, Informative)

        by antime (739998) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:55PM (#17633930)
        In the old C64 game Nemesis the Warlock [c64.com] you had to pile up corpses to make platforms to reach high parts of the levels. In some levels this was the only way to reach the exit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SeaFox (739806)

        I wish corpses remained solid. It would add a whole new element to gameplay, making it a priority to get your butt through a hallway before the corpses pile up to the ceiling.

        Think what this could have done for Doom. Demons with variable mass! A demon in the hall that is too large to push past at 20% health, but you can at 60% (or if you have a Bezerker Pack). Demon corpses blocking the path of new demons. How about being able to pick up demon corpses and throw them at oncoming attackers?

        • by Tim C (15259)
          Demon corpses blocking the path of new demons.

          And the demons climbing over them, pushing their way through your makeshift barricades.

          In fact, that could've been damn fine with tables, chairs, etc, let alone corpses.
    • Well, the game "rogue trooper" handles this pretty well, in that bodies stay indefinitely until you harvest so-called "salvage points" from them.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      There are cases where there can be too much realism, but this isn't one of those things.

      There was a serious discussion by Red Orchestra [redorchestragame.com] game devs at one time (or least they said) about the use of keeping corpes in the game because they are aiming for the most "realitic" game ever. And RO is brutally realistic if you have never played it. (no crosshairs, realistic weapon trajectories, and realistic human attributes)

      Given the fact that Stalingrad was literally covered with dead bodies that couldn't be buried
      • by XO (250276)
        Problem is just plain that Unreal can't handle it. The only way you could realistically do it is to replace the corpses with much lower-poly versions, and turn off their Karma after a while. Also, there are problems with making Karma ragdoll corpses that collide with other mesh-actors, in that if you have it collide with a living mesh, it will destroy it upon impact.

        *thinks* i'm going to attempt to implement that "turning Karma off" after the bodies come to rest, maybe that'll do something useful. Still
    • Anything that adds just a bit more realism is usually a good thing (in video games).

      I stopped reading at this point.

      Why must ALL games be realistic as possible? Does it really enhance Mario for a Goomba to stay squished on the floor?

      Realism ! = Games

      Games are about having fun and some times this means gore fest super realistic and other times it means a fat jolly man bouncing on Mushrooms. Realism has a time and a place, not always is it in games.
    • Hitman: Bloodmoney does a really good job of this. Go play the mission called "A Murder of Crows" it takes place across several busy city blocks in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, literally wall to wall people, not just in the streets but you can enter most of the buildings and find them filled with people as well.

      If you have enough ammo you can kill every last person in that level, none of them respawn and their bodies lie on the ground until you exit the level. You can even pick them up and move them ar
  • Thief (Score:4, Interesting)

    by starwed (735423) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:49PM (#17631608)
    I'm pretty sure dead/unconcious bodies were a game element in Thief; didnt' you have to hide them to avoid alerting any guards who stumbled across them? (I've never actually played Thief, but I remember my roommate dragging the bodies into closets all the time.)
    • That's true. Although in Thief there was a very limited number of enemies in any one mission (usually no more than 20 IIRC) and typically you wouldn't kill more than a couple of people so there was never an issue of the system being overwhelmed by too many bodies.
    • That reminded me of Deus Ex for the PC...

      Except I was usually throwing the bodies at the guards.
    • One step further (Score:3, Insightful)

      by plopez (54068)
      By extension, wouldn't you have to mop up the blood stains as well?
      • By extension, wouldn't you have to mop up the blood stains as well?

        You had to clean them using water arrows.
      • by cortana (588495)
        Yes. If you killed someone outright, their blood would make a mess. You could clean it up with a well-placed water arrow.

        Perhaps this only added for Thief 3, however... can't remember.
    • by Thansal (999464)
      yes, dead/unconcious bodies have been a player in stealth actions games (Thief, MGS, etc) for a little while now. However these games you rarely had a large number of badies in any one area.

      In action games the bodies did have to be quickly removed so that you could make room for the new baddies. recently we have started to see bodies being left about, however I have yet to see MUCH of a point to it. Yah, it is a nice idea for realizim, however in most casses it does not add much realisim (rarely to the b
    • by PingSpike (947548)
      Yes, it was one of the main dynamics of the game. If a guard that was awake discovered the body of his fallen comrade, he'd sound full alarm and the guards would stalk the whole compound looking for you. So you had to tuck the bodies away. In fact, if you killed them with a sword a suspicious blood pool would be left behind that also would cause an alarm.

      If a knockout went bad and the guard managed to yell for help before you took him down you were in a tough spot. You moved slow with the body and you neede
    • Hasn't this been around a long time. MGS anyone?
    • Re:Thief (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kelbear (870538) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:41PM (#17632494)
      They were also around in Hitman games, I never cared for the silent assasin, stealth, 1-kill-and-exit approach. I just killed everybody and piled up the dead in the bathroom. Good times.

      Die by the sword had persistent corpses, along with dismemberment. So you could cut off a kobold's head, throw it at it's partner, then hack off the kobold's limb to beat the partner to death with it. Fun.
    • by macshome (818789)
      (I've never actually played Thief, but I remember my roommate dragging the bodies into closets all the time.)

      Dude. I hope you got a new roommate...
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:52PM (#17631660) Homepage Journal
    Because an episode called "Knee-Deep in the Dead" kind of lacks impact when the dead don't lie around, let alone stack up to your kneecaps.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by My Iron Lung (834019)
      There certainly were corpses in DOOM.. they just looked the same from every direction!
      • by vertinox (846076)
        There certainly were corpses in DOOM.. they just looked the same from every direction!

        Personally, I found the meaty piles of flesh and giblet production more entertaining.

        Of course, I think the game was made to play with IDKFA, IDDQD, and BFG or stimpack the entire time.

        Although the chainsaw did have its moments.
    • Because an episode called "Knee-Deep in the Dead" kind of lacks impact when the dead don't lie around, let alone stack up to your kneecaps.

      After iD released the source code to Doom, the engine got some rewrites. IIRC, Doom Legacy [newdoom.com] supports solid corpses. Enjoy.

  • UOZaphod (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UOZaphod (31190) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:53PM (#17631682)
    This reminds me of one of my buddy's D&D stories. The DM would track the corpses on the map and would force players to make a skill roll (I forget which one) if they wanted to step over a body. My buddy asked if he could carry a kobold corpse around with him to lay in front of enemy combatants to force them to make a roll. The request was denied, of course.
    • Re:UOZaphod (Score:5, Funny)

      by PFI_Optix (936301) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:07PM (#17631922) Journal
      "The Lich lunges forward and...trips over a dead kobold."

      "I pick up the dead kobold and hit the lich with it."

      "Eww"
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      It's been 4yrs since I played, but I'd say it would be a standard Dexterity check. And if that was my table, by all means he would be allowed to drag the corpse around and put it in people's way. Of course, he would have to deal with things such as: the weight of the corpse, handling the corpse steadily and the decaying body (which would bring in disease, as well as the smell of a dead body).
      • by maroberts (15852)
        The list of problems would go on. Increased exhaustion, causing reduced of chance to hit, increased AC in combat. Reduced DEx while carrying body, lowered ability to respond to surprise attacks..... Loss of charisma due to smelling of dead kobold all the time....

        I think soon he would get the message.
    • What a lame DM. I would never have my players make trivial checks like that. I mean, who can't step over a kobold with little effort. Maybe, if it was combat, then some kind of check. But why do you have to step over them in the first place? It's not like they would mind. And how can a DM deny a request like that? "No, you're player can't do that." "Why?" "Because... because I said so!! Yeah, that's right." I hate DMs like that.
      • Re:UOZaphod (Score:5, Funny)

        by hal2814 (725639) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:37PM (#17632440)
        In my DM opinion, if a player comes up with a novel solution, it's at least worth a roll. I had a player one time convince me that letting his character scream like a woman would surprise the enemies for long enough for the other players to each get in an attack. The idea surprised me so I allowed it. I let him roll against charisma/4 (the div 4 was for the small likelihood of such a thing really working). He hit it. I let him repeat it with exponentially diminishing odds. Eventually it wasn't worth wasting a turn over, but we still occasionally talk about the group of fire golems he stunned by screaming like a woman. The DM is there to create and/or interperet an exciting world, not lord power over everyone.
        • Re:UOZaphod (Score:5, Funny)

          by Cervantes (612861) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:35PM (#17633518) Journal
          One of my favourite moments came in a game of Magic a few years ago. The DM was a dick whom we shortly thereafter stopped playing with, but at the time we were giving him the benefit of the doubt... so he decides he wants to kill us all, for some unknown reason. So he sends us into this large, open field, with only a small shack and a few trash cans to hide behind, and then pops a Black Ops helicopter with mega armour and 6 turrets of chain-gun goodness up from no-where. One of our mates tries to shoot it. "Whoops, no natural 10, your bullets bounce off harmlessly. Now, let's calculate your damage taken from being shot by it." (picks up 6d10)...
          Yeah, he was a real winner.
          So, anyways, bullets don't work, rocks don't work, apparently the structure of the chopper is magic-resistant so melting it or turning it into a giant donut isn't an option. So, with half the party shredded, up comes my turn. Me, the mental/hand-to-hand guy.

          Me: Can I see the pilot?
          DM: Yeah, I suppose, through the bullet-proof canopy.
          Me: I plant a suggestion in his head.
          DM: Hah! He's a trained soldier, getting him to go back to base or crash into the ground is gonna take a natural 10! Pfft, go ahead, what's your suggestion?
          Me: You know his control panel?
          DM: Hah! He's a trained soldier, you'd need a 9 to get him to think snakes are coming out of it! Give it up!
          Me: The "engine fire" light is on.
          DM: ...
          DM: ...
          DM: ...
          DM: ... crap ...

          We broke up that gaming group shortly after, but I'll always remember with great relish and glee, the moment that he had to grudgingly admit that getting someone to believe some simple tiny light bulbs was on wasn't really that hard, and that the absolute, unavoidable consequence of a pilot seeing all his Engine Fire lights on would be to stop fighting and immediately land somewhere close and safe to inspect the aircraft.

          I'm sure this is completely unrelated to the article, but your story just reminded me of that, and how much I enjoy finding novel solutions to problems.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by XO (250276)
            game of Magic? Do you realise that Magic is a card game?
            • by Cervantes (612861)
              Whoops, didn't mean Magic, sorry. :) It's been a really long day.

              Of course, now I can't remember the name of the damn system at all... it was one of the fun ones though.
          • by Omestes (471991)
            I remember doing something like that back in highschool when we used to play Vampire, we alternated storytellers per game, so each player got to play and dm. We had one guy who would never try to kill himself as story teller, and really liked to power game, so the rest of us got together and decided to see if we could kill the whole party. Luckily it was my turn to dm. I had millions of rats attack, the powergamer decided to throw napalm on them, and forgot he did so, never igniting it. Everyone forgot
            • by Cervantes (612861)
              I know whatcha mean with insta-death... our DM loved it. He'd use it if he bought a new book and wanted to alter systems. Then he'd use it again if he decided he didn't like that system and wanted to go back.

              A good friend of mine used the point system to build twins who shared a soul... completely out of the book, completely by points so not even a chance of faked rolls, 100% legit. We got to play it for all of one session before he decided we were "Too powerful", mostly because we played very well as a tea
        • We had a running gag in one campaign where the standard attempt to initiate a surprise check we to point and say "Look it's the Good Year Blimp", generally this only occured if we were already engaged with th epotential combative opponents. The DM would roll a d100 check to see if they looked for the Blimp (it being an anachronism and all). The one time it actually worked, I think the DM was more surprised than the mobs.

          Same campaign we used to roll; 'check for traps', 'check for secret doors/hidden', 'che

  • Total War. (Score:4, Informative)

    by maroberts (15852) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @12:56PM (#17631708) Homepage Journal
    AFAIK, the Total War sequence of games has no problem tracking dead bodies, and there may be thousands of them!

    Certainly Rome:Total War leaves the dead on the battlefield, even if they are simplified. Even missiles, such as arrows are tracked into the ground and only disappear after a while.

    I fail to see the problem with letting the dead pile up, they're just objects like everything else.....
    • by forkazoo (138186)

      AFAIK, the Total War sequence of games has no problem tracking dead bodies, and there may be thousands of them!

      Certainly Rome:Total War leaves the dead on the battlefield, even if they are simplified. Even missiles, such as arrows are tracked into the ground and only disappear after a while.

      I fail to see the problem with letting the dead pile up, they're just objects like everything else.....

      Total War doesn't let you build any units during combat, so it always knows that if it can draw the start of the batt

      • Another reason Total Annihilation was ahead of its time -- the "corpses" of your giant robots were burned out hulks on the battlefield, which could then be mined for metal. They also provided blocking areas, too. And if they took enough damage, they turned into a small debris field that no longer blocked, but could still be mined, although for a much reduced amount of metal. Trees could be mined for energy, but if the forest caught on fire and burned, the burned stalks could only be mined for much less e
  • Protection (Score:2, Interesting)

    by plopez (54068)
    Now you can stack up corpses and use them as cover while you fire. Just like in a real war! I can see Leningrad and Stalingrad scenarios where you could build barricades with frozen corpses.

    Too bad we don't have smell-a-vision, the smell of burnt and decaying human flesh would lend that extra realism to the game.

    Though if that's what you want, you could just volunteer for Iraq or Afghanistan.

    All-in-all I find the topic rather morbid.
    • by hclyff (925743)
      I can see Leningrad and Stalingrad scenarios where you could build barricades with frozen corpses.
      Only corpses you could pile up in Leningrad was those of starved civilians. Russians never got to fight for the sieged city. I kind of hope nobody would go that far in game realism.
  • These technical limitations led to one of my favorite video game effects, where enemies explode and disappear in a puff of smoke after being 'dealt with' by the player. Certainly doesn't work for say, HL2/GoW style games, but effective and very cool when it does. The Windwaker is by far my favorite implementation of this, followed by Super Mario, where the baddies just fall off the screen, down into some unseen pit of doom.
  • by Godai (104143) *
    I could have sworn in Doom II that monster corpses didn't vanish. I have memories of some of those balls-to-the-wall firefests that ended with me low on health and frazzled looking out over a field dead brown imps.

    Or am I misremembering?
    • Kerrect! (Score:3, Funny)

      by way2trivial (601132)
      try playing the level 30 of doom with monster respawn in god IDDQD mode.... in about 10-20 minutes it will crash.. too much information..
    • My favorite part of doom 2 was whenever I turned around, the corpses always had their feet facing me. Moving behind my back, sneaky undead....
      • by necro2607 (771790)
        Yeah, the game used sprites for monsters/items as opposed to 3d models, so they only drew one "dead" state graphic for each monster.. Which led to breaking the whole "suspension of disbelief" situation when the supposedly lifeless shotgun-blast-ridden corpses around you were magically rotating to face you at all times... :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:05PM (#17631890)
    Disappearing bodies is not much of a problem anymore, because fewer games (especially those that emphasize realism) have infinite enemies. If a game does have infinite enemies it must have disappearing bodies or someone is going to spend ten hours killing enemies to make it crash, just because they can. More powerful hardware can certainly increase the number of bodies the game is capable of displaying, but can't ever eliminate the limits.
  • by kabocox (199019) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:06PM (#17631906)
    With the advent of the newest generation of consoles, Totilo explains, we now have the luxury of corpses as far as the eye can see.

    Any one remember playing the original doom and getting to that one map where it was you and a massive room full of demons? I cheated to get through it. Now we can have hills of demon corpses. O.K. They most likely mean human corpses, but that's the least interesting to me. Unless they are thinking about decomposing corpses and how long it takes which could be very interesting game play in where a massive battle field that isn't cleaned up spreads disease and what ever troops are around that battle field end up dead.

    Another thought would be revisiting the same areas/maps where previous battles were fought and the dead piling up over the generations the map has been used. Think of the dead becoming just part of the background or that they you have to bury them or burn them to prevent disease and end up making a new map if played several times.
  • I'm waiting for the simulated typhus and bulbonic plague epidemics now.
  • Tom Hall, Commander Keen's designer, made it a priority that kids see the consequences of their actions. Killing those evil little robots left their corpses rusting on the platform.
  • but will they render 400,000 dead?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darfur_conflict [wikipedia.org]

    Estimated number of deaths in the conflict have ranged from 50,000 (World Health Organization, September 2004) to 450,000 (Dr. Eric Reeves, 28 April 2006). Most NGOs use 400,000, a figure from the Coalition for International Justice that has since been cited by the United Nations.

    i'd rather they didn't lay around. it's nice to see the payoff for good play but this is supposed to be a game not an experiment in psychology (i'

  • by Jerf (17166) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:21PM (#17632142) Journal
    We've had this capability for a while. And I don't even mean "I've seen it in other games"... I really mean that we could have been doing this for a while.

    The problem is that even as consoles improve by a factor of 10, game designers/programmers/whoever decides the features try to improve the graphics by a factor of 11. Witness the PS3 games that have framerate troubles... forget console fanboyism, forget everything like that, that is nothing more and nothing less than bad judgment by the game developer and biting off more than they could chew.

    Forget about the extra power to display corpses... despite our gaming rigs having more power than I would ever have dreamed of in my childhood, we still have games that can't keep up 30fps. I'd rather see more attention payed to that than corpse retention.
    • by necro2607 (771790)
      No kidding, I've been griping about this for a long time now. I'd like to see game developers spend this huge CPU/graphics capacity for ultra-realistic physics, extremely high quality audio effects, advanced character AI (I'm talking ADVANCED, not the procedural pseudo-"AI" we have in games now), and most importantly, more details storyline and "universe/world" development.

      Of course, all of these things are not really tied to technological limits, but rather the limitation of the people developing the game
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @01:30PM (#17632316) Homepage Journal
    In a lot of games where the corpse IS left around none of your enemies ever seem to take note of it. Oblivion made a halfhearted attempt to for town guards but it didn't seem like any of the monsters in the game would ever notice their tribe/packmate lying there in a pool of his own blood. Likewise in WoW a patrolling mob will walk right over the corpse of one his (presumably) friends without even blinking.

    I'm all for stacking the dead up chest high in the game but if you're going to do it then you should also make the in-game characters react with horror or whatever's in-character for them.

    • by Jim Hall (2985)

      In 'Thief' and 'Thief 2', if you left a body on the floor and a guard found it, they'd react by coming to look for you. And they'd look hard - not like when they heard you make a noise, and they'd give up after a minute or so, thinking they'd heard a mousefart or something. No, if they saw a body, the jig was pretty much up.

    • by bcmm (768152)
      I always thought that was a major issue for the stealth-based parts of Deus Ex. Guards would simply ignore them and go about their patrols, whereas if they saw the player they would sound the alarm. It also irritated me that one could throw unconscious people into water, and they would remain unconscious rather than dead.

      The best handling of NPC reaction to dead bodies has got to be the Hitman series. They stop dead as if shocked, then run and hide, shout to alert guards, or start glancing around nervously
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Worse than that, you can attack a group of three monsters on patrol (e.g. the goody goody centaurs near the tauren lands), quick-slaughter one and run away before the remaining 2 can kill you. Run far enough and they give up and return to what they were doing, and where, which means they march back to where they were on their patrol point and continue.

      So you see the idiotic spectacle of supposedly intelligent and goody two-shoes creatures reassembling on top of the corpse of their now dead companion, and i
    • by elrous0 (869638) *

      Oblivion made a halfhearted attempt

      I was working on a mission in Oblivion a couple of weeks ago and had a funny moment. I got attacked by some bad guys in a house in town. I run out into the streets and the town guards make quick work of them. I come back days later and the bodies are still there in the street. One of the town guards walks by, sees one and says something like "There must be a murderer about." Not very realistic, but funny.

      -Eric

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Speck'sBacon (1042490)
      For a console game that gets this more or less right, see Metal Gear Solid 2 and up (and the GameCube MGS: The Twin Snakes). Bodies can still disappear for garbage collection under 2 conditions:
      • The body is discovered by a guard, who presumably checks the body's pulse, and when he finds him dead, the body is cleared from the playfield, and he guard radios in the alert.
      • The body was a member of an attack team sent in to find and attack your character during an alert. The bodies are cleared to keep from c
    • Keep in mind that this is a game with kung-fu bunnies and wolves. Generally, you are an anthro-bunny, fighting other anthro-bunnies or anthro-wolves. So, it's like human combat, except wolves can run insanely fast (and are viciously strong), and bunnies can jump incredibly far (think like Superman before he could fly).

      Corpses in Lugaru do stay around, until you win -- and it's very realistic in a few other respects, too. For instance, if an enemy died from blunt trauma, there might be a bit of blood from wh
  • ...survive at sea by making a raft of bloated bodies like in Rome [wikipedia.org] or Watchmen [wikipedia.org].
  • When you can carry, wield, throw, sacrifice, eat, partly eat and refrigerate corpses, when you can turn them to statues or feed them to your pets or put them in tin cans and lob those at your enemies as well, and when it matters whether or not you're wearing gloves, and when rotting corpses can give you food poisoning or turn you to slime (among more beneficial effects), and when mold and fungi grow on them and you can observe vampires drink their blood...

    ...then the present will finally catch up with ro
  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:23PM (#17633312) Homepage

    I'm responsible for some of this. Here's the first ragdoll falling downstairs [youtube.com], from 1997. Yes, that's how that cliche started. I'd written the first ragdoll system that really worked right, so it was time to make demos. The first try had six-legged bugs dropping through a funnel, which is tough technically but not very interesting. Then there was the big mecha toss [youtube.com], to show that we did heavy objects right. (Most game physics systems still get that wrong. The physically animated objects all move like they're very light. We call this the "boink problem". There's a cube/square law in contact handling that's not captured by the impulse/constraint systems.) So I was looking for a hard case that exercised the system and was way beyond what anybody else could do back then. The fall down a circular staircase was it. It's a tough multiple-collisions problem with friction against multiple surfaces, and contact computed against the polygonal geometry, not some oversimplified model. Every step and every stair railing is an individual object; the feet can slip through the space between the railings.

    After we did that, everybody did ragdolls falling downstairs. It got to be a cliche, like caustics on shiny logos. One vendor in the early 2000s had a waterfall of bodies falling downstairs as a GDC demo.

    Our original plan was that this was a step to physically-based character animation, where the chararacters really balanced and moved because their feet had friction with the ground. My eventual goal was real martial arts moves, where the throws really were throws. But the industry went off in a different direction - motion capture with interpolation. This provides a reasonably good look without having to solve all the control problems of robotics. The companies trying to solve the hard problem went bust, even after some systems that worked, so that didn't seem to be a direction worth pursuing.

    So what did we get from game physics engines? Dead bodies. As CPUs got faster and the algorithms improved, lots of dead bodies. Then, "infinitely destructible environments". Disappointing.

    • by ricotest (807136)
      NaturalMotion [wikipedia.org] essentially does what you're describing - it uses robotics and AI to have characters generate procedural animation in reaction to whatever is around them. They might fall over or trip realistically, catch their fall on a nearby wall and push themselves back up, etc. Lots of films are already using the technology, in addition to LucasArt's new Indiana Jones game [wikipedia.org].
      • by Animats (122034)

        NaturalMotion is a step in that direction, but not a very big step. That's a somewhat brute-force learning system, and those peak low. You need a little more abstraction than that. But it's progress.

        They're about the third company to try that. Other companies are MotionFactory (defunct, very planning-oriented) and Boston Dynamics (doing OK, mostly selling to DoD).

        It's a hard problem, but more CPU resources help. I spent some time on it around 1994, at 20 MIPS, and it took hours to simulate a few s

        • I spent some time on it around 1994, at 20 MIPS, and it took hours to simulate a few seconds. It was just too early. Today, though, the hardware is here.

          Are today's processors really that fast? You're talking about on the order of 1000:1 speedup to get real-time ragdoll physics in 3d if it took hours to get seconds a decade ago.
          • by Animats (122034)

            Originally, I was using Working Model, from Knowledge Revolution. On hard problems it was painfully slow, and that was a 2D system. The problem just wasn't well understood in 1994. Then from 1995-1997 I wrote Falling Bodies, which was almost real-time for single humanoid characters at 200 MIPS. Since then, there's been steady progress.

            The algorithms in wide use today aren't really that good, though; accuracy has been sacrificed for speed. That's why most ragdolls don't move quite right. The computa

    • by ardor (673957) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @06:02PM (#17637632)
      From your site:

      "Our technology for high-quality ragdolls is patented. This broad patent covers most spring/damper character simulation systems. If it falls, it has joints, it looks right, and it works right, it's probably covered by our patent."

      Thank you for stifling innovation yet again.
    • Bravo to you, I say. (seriously) Way back when, when I was looking for a flight simulator game to play, I ended up with Flight Unlimited because their game solved (simplified) fluid equations rather than using data table lookups for how the planes behaved in different conditions with different control settings. That way ANY model you could describe could be flown in the game. (I never did get any expansion planes though.) For the same reason, I appreciate your efforts
  • Why, when I played videogames, all the enemies I killed either got smashed flat and disappeared, or flipped upside down and fell off the bottom of the screen. Young whippersnappers making things complicated...
  • by localman (111171) on Tuesday January 16, 2007 @02:48PM (#17633778) Homepage
    I remember a couple of hacks in Unreal Tournament that allowed you to keep bodies (and body parts) around as long as you wanted, as well as to keep blood stains, bullet holes, and powder burns on the walls and objects as long as you liked. Friends and I would crank them all the way up and play a small-room deathmatch. It actually made me queasy at points. By the end of the round the place looked like a slaughterhouse in hell. It was pretty damn disturbing.

    And, uh, I loved it :)

    There was still a technical limitation though, if you set it to keep them permanently and played a long round, your performance would degrade considerably over time.

    Cheers.
  • Having the bodies last forever would easily use memory and other system resources.
  • I've been playing Eve and it leaves your frozen bloody corpose laying around for quite a while after you die.
  • by jjohnson (62583)
    Medieval 2: Total War leaves bodies on screen, and some impressive images can be achieved. After a hole is knocked in a castle wall, the attacker tries to surge through it, while the defender rushes bodies in to block the gap. After each side has lost 3 or 4 units in the battle, the hole literally looks as plugged up with corpses as it did in the movie Kingdom of Heaven.
  • fully destructible bodies. They've recently been adding destructible environments, i.e. environments where pieces of buildings blow off, solid volumes can be shot apart in chunks, etc.

    What I haven't seen is any effort to make people die realistically. The most that is usually visible is a spot of red where the bullet hit, and some red painted on scenes behind. When someone is shot by a machine gun... or a tank for that matter, this is not what happens. A realistic portrayal of this would be a good deal more
  • The first time I played through Half-Life, it was like this. Pretty much every corpse or bullet hole, likely up to some predefined limit, stayed where you left it, even if you went forward a level and then back, or saved the game and reloaded. It was just part of the environment.

    Same with Half-Life 2, by the way, although they do seem to get rid of corpses of things that spawn infinitely (like Antlions) -- although I don't remember actually seeing the corpses fading, and I imagine they try to do it when my

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