Tomb Conditioner: Lara Has Real-Time Hair, Apparently

By Alec Meer on February 26th, 2013 at 8:00 pm.

apparently she also has a skull shaped like a baked bean now

I’m not sure how amazeballs this really is in practice, as PC Tomb Raider code is being witheld until the end of the week because reasons, but I dig the concept. Game hair’s not great, by and large – some engines certainly do OK by it, but the hair-helmet approach very much remains the norm. AMD’s come up with some tech to try and make locks more lustrous. Instead of taking two anti-aliasing systems into the shower, they’ve devised TressFX (oof), intended to make hair flow and change more convincingly. This will apparently first be seen in the impending Tomb Raider re-reboot, which has “the world’s first real-time hair rendering technology in a playable game”, it says here.

What we get, in theory, is the appearance of individual strands, rather than one fixed hair-hat or movable clumps. It can also change appearance if it’s wet or wind-swept. My hair does that too, only the outcome of both is that it looks like I’m wearing a giant, fuzzy mushroom on my head.

Anyway, enough about what I shouldn’t really but often do refer to as my Jewfro. What about that Lara? Well, here are some screenshots, and there’s a bit more guff on how it was done here


As far as I can tell it will work on any GPU with sufficient grunt, rather than being locked to ATI cards, but we’ll find out about that when PC TR code lands in a few days.

Following this, what I want to see is the world’s first real-time beard and twirly moustache rendering technology in a playable game. That dude in the Witcher has a beard in the third game, you know. Just imagine the hairy, scratchy possibilities!

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130 Comments »

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  1. Jim Rossignol says:

    I have real-time hair, too.

  2. aliksy says:

    I guess that’s cool? My inner “i play roguelikes”-ness wonders if this makes the game better. It’ll probably be the first thing I turn off as my computer ages, along with fancy shadows and foliage.

    • formivore says:

      Maybe just for once something like this could be accepted as unambiguously good news? Helmet hair has gotten more and more glaring as graphics improve.

      • woodsey says:

        I guess it’s just one of those things that’s so specific it seems odd to announce.

        • Donjo says:

          It’s such awesome news but it has totally overshadowed the new trouser-flare shader that’s just been developed. It won’t be applicable to many games (mostly just games set in the ’70’s with flares in them) but those games will be so much more enjoyable with this new tech. Exciting times!

      • sophof says:

        I’m sure no one is against it, but it sure feels weird to discuss it. I actually think good cloth physics and now this hair stuff probably has a bigger impact than more polygons or better textures, but I still feel silly talking about it :P

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      I don’t mean this in any sort of offensive way, but I think the TressFX makes Lara prettier

  3. Premium User Badge

    Lacero says:

    I’m suspicious as anything that this is being held until the weekend for pc reviews. They better get it fixed.

  4. povu says:

    ‘ as PC Tomb Raider code is being witheld until the end of the week because reasons’

    Maybe this was the reason.

  5. RockandGrohl says:

    “change more cionvcingly.”

    What happened here Alec, did you headbutt your keyboard? ;)

    Good news if it’s not locked to AMD GEEPEEYOUS, maybe Nvidia will go “lets stop being selfish dicks and let AMD use PhysX too for the progression of PC Gaming as a whole..”

  6. AndreTheTinny_withagiantdick says:

    This must be PS4 footage for sure!

    • db1331 says:

      Surely! Why, it would take at least a $2000 PC to power that ‘do.

  7. pupsikaso says:

    World’s first in a playable game? Eve’s captain quarters are not a playable game?

    • RaiderJoe says:

      *Insert joke about Eve’s steep learning curve here*

    • Motsew says:

      Eve isn’t really a game though is it? It’s a second job.

    • Skhalt says:

      Everyone is the first to do something, and every company is the leader of its domain. That’s just how things work.

  8. ResonanceCascade says:

    I’m surprised they got the clunky, plastic looking Crystal engine looking as good as this apparently looks.

  9. monkeybars says:

    Despite the negativity in the “pfft graphcis ar stupid” camp, this looks awesome. I’m stoked for natural hair and cloth on characters.

    • DK says:

      Too bad about the game they’re in.

      • monkeybars says:

        You mean the game that you’ve never played that’s getting quite good reviews?

        • DK says:

          You mean the game that does nothing even remotely new and exciting (unless you consider torture porn exciting) but has very effective PR leading good scores from gullible (not to mention bribe-able) “games media”?

          • monkeybars says:

            Yeah, that one, the one you’ve never played. What if RPS gives it a good review? Where will you turn to then?

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            KITTEN MURDERING

          • kraken says:

            Torture porn should be on the box cover features list.

          • pupsikaso says:

            @monkeybars
            I don’t think, unlike you, that he needs somebody to turn to to support his opinion.

          • monkeybars says:

            @pupsikaso you mean somebody that’s actually interacted with the thing he’s making an opinion about.

          • Vagrant Zero says:

            pupsikaso: “I don’t think, unlike you”

            See that could be the issue right there.

          • f1x says:

            monkeybars, how you dare to ask people to play the games before saying they are shit? that would be actually logical, but we don’t act logical here, we are super-cool-indie guys, remember that son

          • f1x says:

            BTW DK, so you don’t like the game, that must mean all the reviews out there are “payed by PR”

          • Phantoon says:

            Everyone has to play the game before they can insult it/make fun of it/rule 34 it. Criticism is only for those that bought the game. Did you buy the game and hated it? Stop being so entitled. You paid for it, after all.

          • f1x says:

            No I didn’t buy the game because is not out yet, but yes I will buy it

            I just can’t stand how someone is gonna go full critics on something that has not even touched, because yes, can’t really judge something for a couple of PR videos,
            and when that someone is pointed about the positive reviews the game is getting he says “reviewers bought by PR”

            well, thats just bias and thats why I get upset

          • Lemming says:

            This.

            The Non-NDA signers haven’t reviewed it yet. Also, look at the Eurogamer review by Ellie. Takes the piss out of the game from start to finish and ends in an 8/10? Something ain’t right.

            @Phantoon

            “Criticism is only for those that bought the game”

            Yes, because that would really show the developers a good yard stick wouldn’t it? “Everyone bought our game and hated it….but they all still bought it. Thanks for the money, morons!”

          • Reinou says:

            What the hell happened to RPS? Why are RPS members so negative about everything these days?

          • Reapy says:

            Having played games for mostly my entire life, having read magazine previews, played demos, watched videos, and pretty much tracked almost every reasonably popular game game coming out (as most people here do I think), it is startling to know that you actually think you need to play the game to know what it will be like to play?

            Just have to watch one demo play through to know all about it. It looks like a reasonably decent 3rd person action shooter. They are going different and hyping thematic differences, which is all they have. While theme can make a difference, the gameplay is identical to 5000 other AAA games that have been released for the past 10 years.

            While I think the hair tech is super cool and the screen shots look nice (why no movies of it in action??), it doesn’t change the fact that this game looks like a well executed corridor cover shooter interspersed with cut scenes, *shrug*.

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            drewski says:

            What I took from Ellie’s EG review is that she was frustrated by all the niggly things getting in the way of a game she was actually rather enjoying, not that EG got bought off to give it at least an 8.

            She probably could have written a bit more positively about what she did like, but I can completely understand the review because I often do that with my friends – complain endlessly about all the things that are wrong with something I completely enjoy.

          • KenTWOu says:

            …the gameplay is identical to 5000 other AAA games that have been released for the past 10 years.

            OMG! We have 5000 decent Uncharted clones for the past 10 years! Where are they?

          • Milky1985 says:

            “You mean the game that does nothing even remotely new and exciting (unless you consider torture porn exciting) but has very effective PR leading good scores from gullible (not to mention bribe-able) “games media”?”

            So i assume you have played it to completion and read all details on it, not just watched a trailer (intended for thickos so it needs to be bombastic and actiony) and gone “its not new”? Cause i played it at an event and the survival aspect was there, the exploration aspect as well, which considering a few of the comments here seem to be under the radar, is there as well at least for the bit i played. Developers even say the hub areas expand as you get new abilities in a metroidvania style and based on what i’ve seen and actually played i believe them.

            The good scores i understand, i don’t trust scores until after all NDA time is over as its a known fact that publisher only let out good reviews early. But any games website that does that sort of thing gets hit repeatedly with shoes. I know eurogamer has been mentioned and as much as eurogamer’s community is a bunch of dickholes who light you on fire if you say one bad thing about Sony, or have you hung drawn and quartered if you say a good thing about Nintendo the writers for the site i would say have integrity., they were ones who put up stuff about paid for trips early, took down adverts for warz etc. As people said, although she was taking the piss in her review, she seemed to enjoy it besides the minor issues that were annoying her, so while I won’t proclaim the game to be the next coming of jesus, i will have a bit of optimism till the weekend and monday when i expect more reviews to come out that may be negative.

          • RProxyOnly says:

            monkeybars says:

            Yeah, that one, the one you’ve never played. What if RPS gives it a good review? Where will you turn to then?

            LMAO. You make it sound as if RPS is some kind of last bastion of integrity… have you read some of the shit they’ve published?

      • hlm2 says:

        I’ve played it, and enjoyed my time with it very much, and intend to buy the finished product on PC as soon as possible…..

  10. Dudeist says:

    Hair ok, but what about tits?

  11. db1331 says:

    PRESS X TO TAME LOCKS

  12. SuperNashwanPower says:

    This tech has been around for ages. I remember a youtube video showcasing it last decade. I guess the motivation to start pushing visuals a bit more has started to take root now we have the new consoles on the horizon, and manufacturers need to start testing out the things that will lure people away from their old boxes. Shame the tech has been held back by an old hardware cycle, but them’s the breaks I guess.

    I think I did see tech like this in a Skyrim mod actually.

    • monkeybars says:

      Ray tracing has been around for a while. When do you think that’ll become used in game development?

      • SuperNashwanPower says:

        But thats hardly a useful comparison. We already have lighting tech that looks almost as good as ray tracing, and which uses less resources. What we have in the head department is The Helmet Hair. If we already had the BetterHair-allation engine, then this would be a good comparison to make. But we don’t – we have women wearing lego wigs.

        I like lego too, but its time to move on. Come, its bright and sunny here in The Future (TM) :) << EDIT: Added smiley face to reduce any unintentional snark

        EDIT 2: Now not sure if comment was serious or sarcy :D I tend to jump to the latter conclusion in comments sections. I wouldn’t be against ray tracing, I’ve seen some lovely examples of the tech.

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          darkChozo says:

          It’s a useful comparison, I think. Both ray tracing and systems like this are examples of things that make your game prettier in exchange for some computational cost, which turns it into a cost/benefit analysis for developers. Fancy physics-driven hair may be at the point where the benefit (Pretty hair! Minor in the grand scheme of things but relatively noticeable) outweighs the cost (Relative computational cost, which goes down as the total available computational power goes up) for practical usage. Ray tracing is facing the same comparison, but clearly hasn’t reached that desirable cost/benefit ratio that pretty hair apparently has.

          • SuperNashwanPower says:

            The improvement to good-looking hair by this tech is far greater than the improvement afforded to general lighting by ray tracing. RT looks good, but is a smaller iteration on whats available.

            Compare that to going from Plast-o-Wig to flowing tresses, and its a night and day comparison IMO. Its worth the extra overhead, whereas RT is not. So in your cost benefit analysis, hair tech beats ray tracing by some margin in terms of improving the one thing it set out to improve.

            That and my response was based on the assumption of sarcasm by the poster ;)

            EDIT: As this is RPS, I should have said, “Hair Tech? Why? Because its worth it”. Sigh … Yup.

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            darkChozo says:

            Oh yeah, totally. Ray tracing is a bit light on the benefit and a bit heavy on the cost right now (I know nothing about graphics, just guessing here). It probably is going to be for a while, graphics fidelity is pretty good right now, and animations/physics are way more noticeable improvements than things like lighting are.

            Also, someone in the comments said “the future is here” and didn’t even think to change “here” to “hair”. I was aghast.

        • monkeybars says:

          Serious with a side of sass.

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    DrScuttles says:

    TressFX? I can only conclude that this technology incorporates Tresemmé in some way.

  14. lofaszjoska says:

    Alec must’ve been aching to find find a justifiable use for the term “Jewfro” in a video game article.
    Must’ve been a long wait too, rarely do the worlds of PC gaming and male grooming collide.

  15. thekyshu says:

    Can’t wait to see the glitches that come out of this!

  16. Jake Albano says:

    Alice: Madness returns had “real time hair” a long time ago.

  17. deadly.by.design says:

    I’ve been using this tech for the development of my upcoming FPS (first person styler) title, Chair of Duty: Modern Hairfare.

    • Magnetude says:

      I expect a fierce rivalry between this and Hattersfield 3.

    • Keyrock says:

      I’m holding out for Chair of Duty: Black Highlights

    • Corporate Dog says:

      I hear Bioware’s using the same tech in “Mousse Effect 3″.

      Two words: Krogan Mullets.

    • Phantoon says:

      I’m shaving my head in protest of these puns.

  18. Roboito says:

    “the world’s first real-time hair rendering technology in a playable game”

    I’m not sure if there was any fancy technology behind it, but Alice’s hair in Alice: Madness Returns looked pretty similar to this.
    Although, this TressFX does look a bit more impressive, and hopefully the game it’s used in’s not too bad either.

    • SuperNashwanPower says:

      One GeForce Titan, please
      EDIT: I don’t know why I said that here. It has nothing to do with your comment. Sorry about that **scratches head**

    • monkeybars says:

      Looks like Alice had it through PhysX.

  19. BobbleHat says:

    ‘Lara-éal – Because I’m Worth It’

  20. Keyrock says:

    I hear TressFX does wonders for split ends.

  21. F. Lynx Pardinus says:

    I know it’s not PC-related, but isn’t “real-time hair rendering” the whole point of Bayonetta?

  22. Beybars says:

    So will this run on a Nvidia card or not?

    This reminds me of the Physx incident with Arkham Asylum, where only Nvidia cards were able to run the Physx options, but that was changed when AMD threatened to sue.

    • Low Life says:

      It’s using plain old (or new) DirectCompute, so it should work on Nvidia. But we’ll see..

  23. Premium User Badge

    Colonel J says:

    I miss Nalu the Nvidia mermaid. Now that was hair.

  24. Hawks says:

    Doesnt Witcher 2 have something like this already?

  25. Jahkaivah says:

    We’ve come a long way since the days when Lara’s ponytail had to be cut off because the developers couldn’t make it react believably with her movement.

  26. Strangerator says:

    Finally, the future is here.

  27. Jediben says:

    HAIRFACE

  28. Premium User Badge

    cpt_freakout says:

    My Voodoo 2 is ready for this, oh yes.

  29. Ruffian says:

    Yay! Finally some cool effects that will run on AMD cards! Kinda sucked the first time I realized my 6950 could barely handle the all the cool particle effects of dat PhysX. Hair!

  30. Dances to Podcasts says:

    Hair care DLC incoming!

  31. Premium User Badge

    Tunips says:

    Splendid. Let’s mod this back into Skyrim. The beards must run free!

  32. Bart Stewart says:

    Will NPCs enjoy this new hairtech as well?

    Or must I drop out of my preferred first-person mode to enjoy TressFX?

    No complaint if the latter answer is “yes” — it just occurs to me that great protagonist hair is likely to be irrelevant if you prefer playing in first-person perspective. (Not that I expect the new Tomb Raider itself to be anything but third-person.)

  33. ukpanik says:

    I would like to see how it looks under water.

  34. sbs says:

    Great you fixed the hair, now fix her face. What is wrong with her FACE

  35. Citrus says:

    Great, another tech that majority of PC gamers will never see cause they are all using nVidia cards (similar to how PhysX is useless for AMD cards).

    Nice job AMD and nVidia.

    Also, I am pretty sure nVidia already demoed similar hair in a tech demo years ago.

    • evertju says:

      AMD used DirectCompute to develop this feature, so any good card capable to run DirectX 11 should do the job.

      • Citrus says:

        AMD/ATI are known to lock out such features to nVidia users. So I doubt it that they will make this run on nVidia cards without any slowdowns or make it run at all on nVidia.

  36. kalirion says:

    Wait, I thought Tomb Raider 2 had the world’s first real-time hair rendering technology in a playable game!

  37. Runs With Foxes says:

    More realism for the Lara-doll.

  38. eclipse mattaru says:

    I remember when they made similar promises of awesome about ragdolls some 10 years ago, and we still have all these weightless dummies flying around in every game. I’m looking forward to see what kind of capillary insanity this brings us.

    • Shepardus says:

      Those weightless ragdolls always irk me; I thought those would have faded out of existence by now, but apparently not. For large objects, I’d rather see them immobile than getting kicked around as if the monstrous beast that was just destroying everything around you only weighed a kilogram.

  39. Yglorba says:

    I gave you hair! (ROBOTIC HAIR!)

  40. Rian Snuff says:

    This is awesome. I love little things like this. : )

    Thanks AMD. And thanks for not locking it to AMD either.
    Respect.

  41. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Not that I have a machine to run it, but this is pretty cool stuff. Hopefully clothes that aren’t painted on are next – for some reason the way Lara’s tank top is glued to her torso regardless of how she’s standing really bugs me.

    But it’s a mark of how far graphics are coming that I’m irritated by such a tiny, tiny detail.

  42. b0rsuk says:

    Yay, playable hair !

  43. Knaarfje says:

    So.. Like Alice in Madness Returns?

  44. Oryon says:

    “the world’s first real-time hair rendering technology in a playable game”

    I’m sorry, but didn’t Alice: Madness Returns already do this? Alice’s hair in that game was impressively modeled.

    • eclipse mattaru says:

      I thought about that too. No one seemed to care when Alice did it, so I shrugged it off as the kind of worthless nothing that only I make a big deal about because I’m such a faggot; but now this is like the greatest news in every gaming website.

  45. derella says:

    While it obviously not going to change the face of gaming forever or anything, I do think it looks great. And yes, helmet hair annoys me. Faces have gotten more and more realistic, but hair has been sort of holding things back.

    And yes, we’ve all played games with hair animation. I’m assuming “first” here refers to how it was done… Or is just typical marketing nonsense.

    Either way… Yay hair!

  46. TechnicalBen says:

    If Ati/AMD “Physics” implementation is not locked to the GPU brand like “Physx” is, then AMD will gain a customer for life. That kind of honest business practice (give a valuable product to your customers, not a monopoly to yourself/unfair competition to others) encourages custom.