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last updated 7/2/2011 | 21007 views
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Projects . Torsion

This is a gameplay prototype that I was working on for several weeks about one year ago. The player is given the ability to warp space by placing two warp anchors anywhere in the world, warping the space in-between those anchors. Space warping also affects physics, which may be used to make objects roll off curved surfaces, bridge gaps etc. ike the previous demos, this prototype was built on top of my engine/framework/sandbox called breeze.

Best viewed in HD, click the title and switch to full screen on Vimeo.

Realizing the idea of warped space turned out to be quite demanding, especially using a third-party physics library (PhysX) that was actually built to simulate realistic physics, but was certainly never meant to support the implementation of arbitrary new fictional laws. In the end, getting the physics right involved a lot of maths, creativity and approximative hacking that made physical actors act just close enough to what would be expected. The graphical part was much easier to implement, warping is basically just a vertex shader displacement, requiring objects to be evenly tesselated.

Due to time constraints, it is currently uncertain when I will be able to continue working on this project, I will for sure keep you posted via this website and my twitter account when there is new stuff to share with the world.

Update 7/2/2011:

Wow, this has really become an incredible weekend. So the footage of my space warping gameplay prototype 'Torsion', quietly posted right here on this site less than a week ago, has recieved quite a lot of attention lately. The 100k-views-kind of a lot of attention, with praise and criticism rushing in from all sides (praise outweighing criticism, luckily), the kind where so many people have so many things to say that you will hardly ever get to even read all of it.

To me, never having come into contact with reddit, the main drive behind this rapid build-up of public interest, ever before, this came as a big surprise. I don't even know to whom exactly it is that I owe this incredible amount of publicity, in the end it probably comes down to a lot of people spreading the word, so thank you all for your great interest into this project. I now feel like I've been reading through hundreds and hundreds of tweets and comments, and I am really grateful that so many of you have found such kind words, even defending my work against some of the criticism without me having to intervene in any way whatsoever.

The PC gaming magazine 'Rock, Paper, Shotgun' was even so nice as to write a short review on the whole thing. Being compared to momentous projects like Narbacular Drop and TAG really is a great honour to me, especially since it was never planned for this extremely experimental prototype to be seen by such a vast audience, and it does clearly not (yet?) match the final depth or quality of either of them.

Of course, one of the most frequent questions asked was whether I would at some point continue working on this project. For the time being, all I can say is that I would definitely love to continue exploring the idea of this prototype, especially with PhysX 3 being out and providing some nifty new ways of customization PLUS DirectX 11 becoming more and more available on consumer desktop PCs, providing hardware support for tesselation, which seems a rather perfect fit for this kind of project. However, I have to admit that time is a bit scarce at this very moment with me being only halfway through my studies. I will for sure keep you posted via this website as well as twitter when there is new stuff to share with the world.

Another thing that came up about every other comment was, as expected, the comparison to the nowadays pretty commonly known mechanics of portals. At the heart of this comparison lies the eternal question, as someone put it, that must be asked: "But is it fun?". I, for my part, would have put it slightly differently, the question being: "But could it be made fun?". That one, for now, I cannot answer for sure. While many have already considered the early playable preview I had uploaded last year quite fun, others correctly remarked that this prototype is still rather weak in what concerns pacing, complexity and reward, in fact providing more of a sandbox-like testing environment than real challenge or variation. This remains subject to lots of thinking and creativity - and feedback, rest assured that I have certainly been taking notes while reading through your comments. To sum things up, I will simply end this entry with this link Chris Hecker sent me around this time yesterday, only shortly after the whole world had gone insane.

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