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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.

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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:


(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.”

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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



Section 1

Amy “Amy Bousamra” Littlefield-Bousamra

Robotics and the World of Bugs

Robots. The word can conjure up all sorts of science fiction images. These robot images can be derived from such characters as Tik-Tok from Frank Baum’s Oz series, Gnut  from Harry Bate’s Farewell to the Master, or film’s C-3P0 and R2D2 from the blockbuster hit, Star Wars.

What about real robots? In recent times scientists are thinking small and looking to mother nature for answers. The current trend, particularly in the field of robotics, examines the extraordinary life of insects. Here are a few recent projects making headlines today:

1. The Robobees: The biggest buzz on robotic insects goes to Harvard University and their invention of Robobees. This robotic invention has received numerous amounts of press. The amount of press is not surprising though as for such a small (only half a gram) robot with ambitious capabilities. According to researchers at Harvard these tiny robots strive to achieve the following:

  1. pollinating a field of crops;
  2. search and rescue (e.g., in the aftermath of a natural disaster);
  3. hazardous environment exploration;
  4. military surveillance;
  5. high resolution weather and climate mapping; and
  6. traffic monitoring.

Interesting fact: In order to create robobees, a new technique in robotics called pop-up fabrication of microelectromechanics (MEMS) of robots was developed.  Prior to pop-up fabrication, robobees were manually assembled one by one. This technique was inspired from origami and children’s pop-up books. Like a pop-up book, the robot emerges from an assembly scaffold when popped upward into a three dimensional figure. The motion and calculated rotation that occurs during the pop-up process helps create folds (joints) in the robot. This technique could lead to the mass production of other electromechanical machines.

A detailed video on how this technique is applied to the creation of a robo-bee can be viewed at:

2. Robotic Ants:  The New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Swarm Lab continues to make advances with the development of robotic ants.  During this project, scientists engineered ten robotic ants. The study uncovered the ants’ navigational behavior in a colony.

Interesting fact: The idea for this invention came from researching ants and trying to mimic the pheromone trails they leave with the use of light. The ants are equipped with light sensors used to detect the trail of light left behind from their previous path of movement. The information collected from this project could lead to improving transportation in the future. A demonstration of this robotic ants can be viewed at:

3. The Robot Dragonfly:

The Robot Dragonfly would make a perfect a gadget for 007. This robotic project began with graduate students from Georgia Tech University. It was funded by the US Air Force and has now formed into the company, TechJect.

Interesting fact: This little bug has spy capabilities, which can provide information as it hovers over its target. It is also the first small robot that can produce aerial photography and is tiny enough to fit in a person’s pocket. The development of this robot dragonfly is one to keep an eye on for the future.


Davis , S. (2013, May 02). Robobees take first flight.

Retrieved from Dvorsky, G. (2013, March 29). Engineers build the first robot ant society.

Retrieved from Flynn, S. (2012, December 26). Big buzz surrounds micro-robots.

Retrieved from Harvard School of Engineering. (n.d.). Robobees a convergence of body, brain and colony. Retrieved from

Hopkinson, T. (2012, April 19). Synapses on fire. Retrieved from

McMillan, G. (2013, April 03). Scientists build robotic ant colony that learns from each other. Retrieved from

Ratti , J. (2012). Techject company. Retrieved from

Section 2

Jodi Heller

OK Go’s Rube Goldberg Machine

Some of you might be familiar with the band OK Go because of their over-night sensation “Here it goes Again.” For those of you that are not so familiar, they became widely popular for creating a securitized sensation with the use of treadmills in their music video back in the early 2000’s. This single-shot home video put this band on the map, making it possible for them to create yet another popular music video, “This too shall pass.”

OK Go wanted to create another masterpiece staying true to what made them popular in the first place. They wanted to recreate that dance they had with their machines. To help them recreate their vision they hired a team of people from Syyn Labs – an LA based company – that has been known for their surprising tech projects. The concept behind the video was a large-scale version of a Rube Goldberg Machine. Think of the board game Mouse Trap, where this large complicated machine is built to complete a small task.

Before going in to this project there where some demands that the band had for this machine. One being, that there would be no “magic.” It had to come off as readable or that a mother could understand what was going on. They wanted it to make great use of space, so that’s what they did. The warehouse that was rented was used fully and even had a hole dug so that the camera could be placed. Also the machine had to flow with the music as it played, making sure to hit certain beats along the way. Doing this would also able them to provide live audio of the contraption into the song itself. As simple as all this sounds it’s by no means a simple task. Everything had to be perfect! The temperature needed to be controlled and there was dusting done regularly. They found that the smaller objects were harder to control, so they left them in the beginning that way if something went awry they wouldn’t have to reset the whole machine all over again.

There were eighty-nine interactions that all had to be executed perfectly for this one-take shot. If something missed or a marble flew off in the wrong direction they would have to reset everything. The reset alone took over an hour to set up and there where over eight five takes with only three of those retakes complete. You can get the idea how intense it was to make sure everything was perfect.

The group learned a lot of things along the way, mostly, to be patient. With over a hundred trips to Home Depot under their belt, ten TV’s destroyed and two pianos smashed to oblivion they finally completed their version of a Rube Goldberg Machine. Even though I am not the biggest fan of this bands music I do look forward to see what they will come up with next and it all really makes me miss those days when MTV really stood for music videos.

Tweney, D. (March 2010). How OK Go’s amazing Rube Goldberg Machine was built. Retrieved from

n.n. (April 2010). Adam Sadowsky engineers a viral music video. [Video file]. Retrieved from


Benjamin Thompson

          The Kraken, 4,177 feet long, 65 miles per hour, 7 inversions and a 144 foot drop. A steel roller coaster located at Sea Word Orlando. This is not a ride for the faint of heart. But how does it work? What goes into making this thrill ride even possible? Physics, and a whole lot of it. Beginning with the lift, gaining potential energy to push you in to the next maneuver… vertical loop, a twist, or a drop, all requires physics to build these extreme thrill experiences. Let me walk you through what it takes to make this ride a possibility.

As you ascend the lift, you are generating potential energy. At the top of the lift you have gained the energy you need in order to complete the first maneuver. But the tricky part is what is too much? And what is not enough? And all of that is dependent upon what is next.

Oh it’s a drop that leads into a full loop! You scream as you race down 144 feet going directly into a large vertical loop, and for that split second your whole world is turned completely upside down. During the drop you gather kinetic energy, energy that is put into play as you move right into the next maneuver. Enough energy to make sure that can complete a full loop with out sliding back the way you came. How is this possible? What would have happened if you had been going too fast? Or not fast enough?

Roller coasters utilize the principle of gravity and inertia as their primary power source to power them through the entire length of track. As we know gravity pulls us down and when you have the kinetic energy and inertia behind you, you are able to pull up against gravity. Once the RV hits the “gravity zone” you have an object that follows Newton’s 1st law, an object in motion tends to stay in motion. The object in this case is the ride vehicle and designers utilize the tracks to channel and direct this motion.

If we were to do this we would need to factor in the height of the lift, the mass and weight of the RV, the resistance from the track the height and the angle of the loop. Engineers and ride designers have spent countless hours running scenarios and creating simulations, punching the numbers to make sure that it works perfectly. Sounds easy right?

So, who gets to design these gravity defying machines? What would you need to do to become a roller coaster engineer and designer? As you can imagine, roller coaster engineer positions are few and far between. In order to be considered for a position with Bolliger & Mabillard (the company that designed the Kraken) you must have a Masters degree in structural, mechanical or electrical engineering. This is true for most companies; in short you need, the education, the experience and the connections, not an easy list. But with the many different companies that design roller coasters the requirements and responsibilities vary on each project so its important to make sure your prepared for anything.

Harris, T. (n.d.). How Roller Coasters Work. How Stuff Works . Retrieved July 28, 2013, from

Kraken – SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Florida, USA). (n.d.). Roller Coaster DataBase. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from

Roller-Coaster Designer What they do . (n.d.). College Foundation of North Carolina . Retrieved July 28, 2013, from

Magloff, L. (n.d.). What Is Needed to Be a Roller Coaster Designer? . eHow. Retrieved July 28, 2013, from

Kraken Front Seat on-ride HD POV Seaworld Orlando. (2010, November 20). YouTube . Retrieved July 28, 2013, from

Section 3


Kevin Griffith

Physics in Games


When I first decided to come to Full Sail I debated whether or not to go into the programming side of computer animation or the art side. Had I taken this class prior and know more about physics I wouldn’t have been so hesitant in my consideration. That and programmers, an average, get paid about twenty thousand more a year.


I chose the art side of the industry because I’m more visual than technical. As a web designer currently, I know what it’s like to start at code all day and it can be draining. But the allure of creating, what would be nature laws and phenomena’s in real life, in a digital realm is still there. Imagine having to write the coded properties of the physics of fire. How it burns, propagates, migrates and dies out. Being the person that writes the code for gravity, weight and run speeds that players are going to be bound by as they take control of a world you created. With the inclusion of artificial intelligence for non-playable characters this is as close as playing God as one can get.


According to Arnason, Pong started physics in videogames back in 1972.  There’s still a debate on whether this was the first video game ever made but it’s a basic example of potential and kinetic energy in motion. I remember when I was younger playing games and shooting the enemy and knowing that my bullets rarely ever missed. I found out later that it wasn’t my skill it was that there were, at that time, no actual projectiles being launched from weapons. It was a simple algorithm that calculated a hit or miss. Now coders actually have to write in projectiles with varying weights, velocity, speed, and gravitational factors so my bullets now act as closely as they would in real life.


It would be impossible in this day and age to sell a video game that didn’t utilize physics in some way. It’s an unspoken, unseen law of how we interact and view things in an interactive space. Even something as simple as Pac-Man with random and predetermined paths for the ghost had to add in acceleration and potential energies every time Pac-Man ate an “energizer” then ran around eating ghosts and their eyes ran back to the safe area.


My favorite example of physics in a game is a mode in Saint’s Row called Insurance Fraud. Basically the game allows you to be a ragdoll and throw yourself in front of cars with the gravity settings turned down a bit for hilarious results (and money). Havok is a company that most videogame companies use to create these types of physics on people. They have been around for over a decade and are quietly responsible for what happens to a body once it’s been shot and killed, exploded or even thrown out a window. If you need a physics engine Havok is the most trusted.


Collision and ragdoll physics are the main two I have been talking about here but thee are so many other factors that go into delivering a working world in a video game. Things like particle effects that emulate water, gases and fire, deformation physics that allow objects to break and bend realistically and soft body physics along with that that allow for the transfer of kinetic energies to move and move through an object. It is safe to say and very obvious if you know what to look for that physics plays a major role in the video game scene and isn’t going anywhere.


References:, Average 2012 US Dev Salary, Eddie Makuch


Evolution of Physics in Video Games, Bjarni Por Arnason, Understanding Pac-Man Ghost Behavior, Chad Birch