Gamers, this may be the ticket.@ 2005/03/05
ONE OF THE COOLEST DEMOS at IDF was a game called Robohordes from Naked Sky Entertainment. I say demo not game because it was meant to show off the dual core capabilities of the P4/Smithfield, and if you spend the time to talk to the developers, it actually does so fairly well.
Robohordes is notable for two things, it is truly physics based and the devs actually care about real physics. The technical specs are no less impressive, it is based on Unreal Engine 3, the latest and greatest next gen engine to almost be out. UE3 does pretty much everything, and it takes a really high end card to run well.
The thing that makes it a good multicore demo is the threading model. Robohordes immediately spawns four threads for physics, allowing them to run the physics model at 200FPS. This means that things bounce realistically and happen at a more granular level than the display can show. For the end user, items don't get caught in walls, you fall like you think you should fall, and everything works. If you drop it to a single core, the physics engine drops to 100FPS so things get less real. You also lose terrain deformation.
The gameplay is old arcade style, you are a robot in an arena, doors open, and tons of bad guy robots come out. Your job is to pick up weapons, shoot them all, and then shoot the next round of them. You get guns, machine guns, powerups, and even a piano. There is one special weapon that drops a piano on the robotic hordes coming at you.
The robot is a little guy with a ball for legs and guns for hands. Not much more to say there, it looks fairly ordinary. The trick is he is realistically modeled with the physics engine. If you are going one way and make a sharp turn, he leans, bobs and 'steers like a pig'. If something comes at you from the side and you do a sharp turn, your view snaps over but your arms and body have to move more slowly. Your guns take a bit of time to arc across, so you end up blasting lots of walls. It takes skill, and shows off a lot of what game designers tend to overlook.
The game is a bit early, just a few months into development, so don't look for it on the shelves next week. I could not even get a rough date from the devs, so nothing more to say on the when front. On the day that it does come out, it will be well worth a long look, especially if you have a fetish for old arcade games. Naked Sky seems to have gotten the style of gameplay right, and that is the most important bit. µ