Project B and the G4
THE NEW POSSIBILITIES
If we all had SUPERCOMPUTERS for playing games, what kind of amazing things could we do?
The important point is, what would a game requiring a supercomputer as the MINIMUM spec look like. Awesome, thats for sure! One way to answer it is to look far far back in time, to when the PowerPC first emerged from the primordial soup. Pre PowerPC we played games which at best would have simple 3D worlds with characters that looked flat, like cardboard cutouts. With the PowerPC, we could have real 3D characters, scenes, and objects - things which had a front, back, and sides.
Scenes could have new shapes - they stopped being boxy, and started being more like real places. Textures became more detailed. Lighting was not just on and off - smooth shades and cast shadows were possible.
Think of the humans, animals, and monsters in todays videogames. The characters are no longer flat drawings. They are sculpted by artists in high end applications, placed alone or on skeletons, and moved in the game. The way they move in games is a lot like the way puppets move in childrens theater. Someone moves the strings (by changing the skeletons or choosing a different animation) and the puppet/game monster moves on stage (or on the screen). This is far more complex than the pre PowerPC entities.
So now we are at another revolution - the switch from PowerPC alone to the PowerPC + Velocity Engine which is in every G4 machine. All this extra power means new things are possible. The playing field has changed, and games need to change to match it. So, we went and built an engine (with the internal name 'Project B') - one that really needs the kind of power of the G4 provides to go flat out. We are testing new possibilities.
All this new stuff is still secret. We are going to let out more information with time, and this is the page to look on for that new info. In the meantime, we've included links and comments on how the G4 makes all this possible.
Almost everything in a real time 3D engine relies on fast math. Most of the things in a 3D world are collections of numbers, most of which are called 'floating point numbers' (which means they can handle huge ranges of values - big enough for the 3D worlds and galaxies). The faster you can change and test those numbers, the faster and/or more detailed the things you see on the screen are. What makes the new generation of hardware so great is that they can crunch through numbers at incredible rates. It's really a huge jump. For example, older PowerPC machines like the G3 can do something to one floating point number at a time. In the same period of time, a G4 can do the same thing to FOUR floating point numbers. This means some big speedups are possible.
However, a faster game rate isn't everything. There's no point in playing a game changing 100000 times per second if the human eye can only see 70 changes per second. So, we figure the changes will instead be through having more detail, like seeing the bristles on the chin of another player. However, after a while, more of something becomes boring and not very useful. It's very cool to see that much detail, but realistically how often do you get close enough to do that?
The really neat stuff will come from new things. Things that aren't in any game you can buy or demo today. Things that change the way you play. Games that will crawl on a machine that can't do something to a BILLION floating point numbers EVERY SECOND.
What to expect - types of games and % speed increases.
Go back to the main Project B page.
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