Hello class my name is Jonathan Montgomery, I wanna talk a little about physics in game design. As an aspiring Game Designer you might ask your self, “I make video games, these games are not based in real life, why would I need to know physics?” Well lets take a closer look at video games. I will use Skyrim (My favorite game) for example.

Image found at: ( http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=221572497 )

For those of you who played Skyrim, I must ask you, without physics how might a dragon act in the game? Well you could have dragons who fly backwards, or dragons who just fall out of the sky. How would landing look? Would the dragon just abruptly drop to the floor? There are so many small things within Skyrim that require physics. One physics feature I found amazing in the game was a dragon’s crash landing. If a dragon was flying and took too much damage it would come crashing into the ground.

Watch this video:

Dragon Crashes Into The Ground:

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W4NKz-cs-U)

(28 Sec. long, not the best video but its short.)

In this video you can see some of the beauty of physics in action. Notice when the dragon crashes into the floor rocks and dust go flying everywhere as well as the ground rumbles from the amount of force exerted from the dragons fall. Without physics a dragon crashing just wouldn’t look or feel like a dragon crashing.

But there is so much more in Skyrim that require physics, one that I find to be important is movement, You are going to be working with Kinetic physics when working with any type of movement. For instance Npc and Character movements, proper jumping, flying, bullet speed bullet drop, gravity, weather. Kinetic Physics affect nearly every aspect of the game. When I play a game and decide to move through water this should look and feel just like real swiming, in order to accomplish this you are going to have to have a general knowledge of the way physics work. You are going to need to know how the water is going to displace how the water is going to move, if where I decide to start swimming looks like a flowing river then I should feel like i’m being forced downstream.

Another style of physics you will see a lot of in games is Acoustic physics. Acoustic physics involve music, ambient noises, the sound of walking, etc. One thing the dev team of Skyrim did right (in my opinion) was their acoustic physics.

When walking through Skyrim you can hear the difference between walking on wood and walking on stone. something as small as this can really add to the elegance of the game you are designing/Playing. The sounds in a game help convince the players minds that they are not just playing a game. Which makes the game more enjoyable. When you’re done playing a video game and come back feeling like you have just taken a break from the world of reality you know you’re playing a good game. I’m not gonna say “You can’t build a good game without physics” this would not be true I am sure there are a few good games out there that have their own laws of physics, it just doesn’t beat the real thing.

Another acoustic physic that Skyrim did right was using doppler effects. “The Doppler effect (or Doppler shift), named after the Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, who proposed it in 1842 in Prague, is the change in frequency of a wave (or other periodic event) for an observermoving relative to its source. It is commonly heard when a vehicle sounding a siren or horn approaches, passes, and recedes from an observer. Compared to the emitted frequency, the received frequency is higher during the approach, identical at the instant of passing by, and lower during the recession.”

Found At: ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doppler_effect )-

When playing through skyrim you might have an npc trying to talk to you. However, you are on a more important quest so you begin to walk away from the quest giver, as you walk away you notice you still hear them they just sound distant. This is known as a doppler effect or doppler shift. This acoustic physic is amazing to me and adds a sense of realism that I have not felt from many games I have played.

This doppler effect can help a player within your game in so many ways. for instance say someone is playing one of your games, the player is going through a dark cave, by using the doppler effect you can help your player find his/her way through this cave as well as get him in the mood you want him in for this game scene.

{Game Scene:

Player: “I know that I am looking for _ _ _ _ ,

there is likely a Something protecting this _ _ _ _,

Player Hears a distant Growl forming to his north east

Player investigates the sound

as he gets closer the sound gets louder assuring the player he is on the right path… ”


You can use acoustic physics as a way to help guide your players through this dark cave you have made then you use acoustic physics and get just the right music and ambiance sounds playing and you have a player who is now starting to really anticipate what lies ahead for him in this dark cave. You could also just use the Doppler effect to add more realism to your game.

However, acoustic physics could be as simple as playing good battle music that properly fades in and out depending on the scene you go into. Music in a game for me almost always is my selling point, I don’t think I have ever played a good game with bad music in it. I see a connection here.

I am going to wrap this up now I just wanted to point out some of the things within a video game that truly require physics or a great knowledge of how the world around you works. My last question to you is, How can you create worlds if you know not of the way your own world works?

Jonathan Montgomery