Physics! Watch Some Cars Tumble Down A Mountain

By Craig Pearson on June 26th, 2013 at 5:00 pm.


BANG! thudthudtund scraaaaaaaaaPPPPPPEEEEE bonk EWasssssssWWWWWWWWWWWWWSD crunch crunch moreeeeeeeeeeeee scrappppppppppping phut phut clanggggg crunch twang bonkkkk thuddddaddaddd twang carfallingdownmountainsounds bonk.

Just a little bit of New Game Journalism for you, there. It’s been a while. I’m attempting to convey the emotion of vehicles tumbling down the side of a very steep mountain. Did you feel it? Did it put you into the mind of a cage of crunching metal, where the bones of the car are twisted and gnarled, and its heavy skin is clawed at by rocky outcrops of pointed stone? Be the car, people. Be the car.

Before you wonder where it is you can buy such a game, and I actually would happily pay a couple of pounds where I can just toss those vehicles down a hill provided I could pause the scene and move the camera, I’m here to say you can’t yet. It’s just a demonstration of BeamNG’s tech for whatever they’re building. They’ve not yet said. It previously had the suspicious whiff of middleware, but it looks like they’ve realised just quite the fun little thing they could have here and turned it into something.

Oh my, they have Oculus Rift support. I’m not sure how I feel about that after seeing this video.

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56 Comments »

  1. pupsikaso says:

    Why do all “physics” engines seem to have one of two things:

    1. Non-earth gravity. Usually something between earth and moon.
    2. Friction of a warm stick of butter.

    The destruction model, however, is very impressive.

    • 00000 says:

      I AM A GIANT BLOB OF WARM BUTTER SOARING THROUGH THE THERMOSPHERE – shhhhwooooooshhhh mmmnnnnnnuuuuueueuuewwwwwwhhh butterinspacenoise nhnhnhnnhnn pew pew pew

      This game should be fairly easy to make then, right?

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      darkChozo says:

      Honestly, it looked pretty accurate to me. There’s a few parts where (educated guess here) the model of dry friction between rigid bodies is probably a bit unrealistic, and the cars should probably be affected somewhat by the vegetation, but otherwise it looked all right. Consider that it’s a rather steep incline (it looks like at least 45 degrees to the horizontal based on the end bit).

      • Chalky says:

        One of the elements of the simulation that made it look pretty weird is how wobbly all of the car parts were – as others have mentioned – it doesn’t look like it’s made of metal.

        To illustrate what I mean, just check out the end of the video when the car finally stops moving. Loads of random bits of car sticking out, constantly wobbling like the whole thing is made of jelly. The car does that the whole way down, slightly masked by the tumbling but it makes the whole thing look very light weight and bouncy.

        Also, what the hell is up with the tires on this car – usually one of the first parts to get detached in an accident like that, those things are apparently stuck on stronger than any other part, sticking out crazy angles and getting bashed around the whole way down but somehow staying on.

      • meepmeep says:

        I found this comment strangely sexy.

    • OrangyTang says:

      Because both of those lead to bigger/faster collisions, with greater penetration, and therefore tend to make the physics system less stable.

      • Brun says:

        How would higher friction lead to bigger collisions? Friction always acts to slow you down, if anything higher friction should reduce the intensity of physics interactions.

        EDIT: The OP was complaining that both gravity and friction were too low. Increasing both should, in many cases, reduce the speed of collisions. If what you’re saying is true then the developers of physics engines would be well served by doing just that, but they don’t.

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          darkChozo says:

          It’s been a while since I’ve done physics simulation stuff, but from what I recall anything that increases the forces on your objects is liable to cause instability, though it only gets silly for really big coefficients. Higher friction in particular tends to cause a lot of torque which ends up with cars spinning into the ground.

    • ChaseGunman says:

      It’s because ‘physics’ engine programmers are not as smart as you

    • jonahcutter says:

      It does look kind of floaty. They might of turned down friction, gravity and/or mass (or turned up slippery dairy-based products) to make sure there was plenty going on. Also, seems like a lot of bouncing/quivering in some of those parts.

      Those are probably factors that can be easily tweaked though. It looks like the basis for what could be an excellent damage modeling engine. I’m excited to see what kind of game this is used in. Seeing vehicles like this flying around in a game with plenty of explosions and environmental destruction could be oh so satisfying.

      And the music in the first video is just perfect. I hope that remains the main theme for whatever the final game is.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      #2 is especially troubling in a game that models cars, since the friction modelling is the most important part of doing car physics.

    • Koozer says:

      Because air resistance is hard, and horrendous clipping can occur with high speed collisions.

    • salgado18 says:

      Gravity is fine, unless those Newtons miscalculated something.

      I’ve done some physics for a simple racing game once, and cars seemed to float rather than fall from a big jump, despite the numbers (weight, speed, gravity) being similar to reality. What I think happens is that, because in a simulation, objects eventually reach too much speed, a lot more than we are used to seeing. Even movies have a hard time showing a car properly jumping off a cliff at over 200 mph, and that happens very often in a racing game. So I don’t think it’s the engine’s fault, it’s our lack of real experience with high speed movement.

      Friction, however, is indeed lubsy.

      • pupsikaso says:

        Movies down’t ever show cars properly jumping off cliffs because there’s nothing spectacular about a car jumping off a cliff. It doesn’t jump. It simply plumets in a nice parabolic arc. That’s not very hollywood-y when the big hero needs to jump a retracting bridge to save the princess.

    • pupsikaso says:

      To be clear I was complaing about the “floaty” look of the car. As if it wasn’t a chunk of metal weighing something like 2.5 tons of kg but instead a childrens plastic toy. And also about the fact that as it collides with parts of the hill it actually gains speed! When a collision happens between a moving and a static object, the moving object loses energy (well, it actually gets transferred into potential energy if the car crumples, heat and sound, some gets transferred to the static object, maybe some light too (where are the sparks as the metal is grinding on the rock, btw?)), not gain it and start going faster…

    • danchez says:

      because proper simulation takes hours per frame to calculate corectly

    • The Random One says:

      No, no, see, those are mass effect fields…

    • hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

      It’s funny, I was going to say the opposite. As a person who has been in a rollover car wreck, I found that the first-person camera experience almost exactly matched what I saw, whereas the third person had me rolling my eyes, as the damage would be significantly more significant.

  2. PrinceofBees says:

    I’d love to see this in a racing game.

    • TheFlameBeneath says:

      I’d love to see THIS as a racing game, with the finishing line at the bottom of the cliff

      • pupsikaso says:

        They already have that

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Yeah! Someone make a cheese rolling simulator, with accurate tryingsohardnottofalldownohnospinalcordinjurywhere’smycheese? physics.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Flatout has ragdolls

  3. skyturnedred says:

    I’m gonna need this for my next Flatout and/or Carmageddon.

  4. 1Life0Continues says:

    All car windshields need regenerating health…

  5. Captainwinters says:

    Ah yes, ‘Next gen physics’ now with more crashing…

  6. Mbaya says:

    “I’m attempting to convey the emotion of vehicles tumbling down the side of a very steep mountain. Did you feel it?”

    Maybe I’ve been playing too much Team Fortress 2 recently…but what I imagined from the very descriptive text was: Heavy slams open door, walks in dragging his gun behind him. Gasps as he notices the Scout eating his Sandvich – run’s over (getting a little out of breath at this point) and swings his gun into the scout, sending him flying across the room. The scout gets up in a daze, run’s over quickly, open’s his bag and slides out a can of Bonk to apologise to heavy, while the heavy cries somewhat like a carfallingdownamountainorsomething.

    I should have known better from the picture.

    There’s something really fun about this though…I’d love to do some online racing, only to get to torture the opponents car by wrecking it after winning (or most likely watch in horror as someone throws my pride and joy down a cliff…).

  7. Muzman says:

    So Mount Dismount it is huh.

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      cpt_freakout says:

      You made me think of Mount and Blade. Imagine horses and tiny armored men screaming YAHH VICTOREHH as they crash down the hill with a lot of physics. Like, 3.4 kilograms of physics.

  8. Moni says:

    I thought it would be fun to play along and scream as the car rolled all the way down the mountain. It’s a very big mountain, and now my throat hurts.

  9. Liudeius says:

    Oww. I already get a falling feeling in my gut when I jump off a high place in a game, I don’t need the Oculus Rift to make my body think I’ve just died.
    (Though that thing is sounding more and more interesting as I think about how much more sensory immersion it would provide over a screen sitting a few feet away.)

    But that’s the Cry 3 engine? (In the post video links, there is another BeamNG video for the Cry Engine 3 with similar deformation.)
    I’ve always been kind of racist against big, widely used engines like Unreal (since I figure using the same engine means the same limitations and similar physics, therefore similar games), and as a result was disappointed that Star Citizen is using Cry 3, but that actually looks very good.

    • Brun says:

      The original tech demonstrations for CryEngine 3 were actually quite impressive, but Crysis 2 and 3 didn’t really take proper advantage of the advanced physics features due to consoles.

    • Premium User Badge

      BlazeL says:

      IIRC they have switched to the Torque engine.

  10. Stuart Walton says:

    One of the mods for GTA4 lets you increase the co-efficient of restitution for vehicle impacts as well as increase the vehicle deformation (as well as changes to increase vehicle acceleration and lower tyre traction). The result is a much like these videos but obviously not as good.

    Sturdier cars and physics that lose a lot of kinetic energy on impacts make for a lass frustrating experience. But I prefer the more chaotic setup. I found I could progress through the main story quite fine if I altered my driving style to a more tactical approach. Driving at speeds acceptable to the road and traffic conditions. Slowing down for junctions and corners. Preserving the integrity of the vehicle. It works quite well, mainly because the cop AI still drove in a manner that lead to them causing all manner of havoc.

    Ans if you did mess up, the crashes and pile-ups were worth any setback.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Do you remember the name of the mod?

      • Stuart Walton says:

        I think it was this one, it also makes the choppers fly with less restriction on pitch and roll.

        http://www.gtagarage.com/mods/show.php?id=5529

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4owoMdT53w

        As you can see, much more of the kinetic energy is conserved upon impact. Often it gets transferred into rotation. The deformation is also quite dramatic on impacts where a lot of velocity is killed off. Note in the video how just clipping a wall at high speed will destabilise the car, sending it out of control. It might just spin out or it could hit the kerb sideways and roll. Compare it to the vanilla physics, where the cars act more like bricks slamming into each other.

  11. Soldancer says:

    Craig: “…I actually would happily pay a couple of pounds where I can just toss those vehicles down a hill provided I could pause the scene and move the camera…”

    Yes, please. It’s cool, I’ll wait.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    Just like driving home from the pub.

  13. Dephen says:

    This quite probably my favourite thing to do in Just Cause 2. Go to a mountain, call in that little beast of a sports car and then launch it off the side. Bliss.

    • pupsikaso says:

      Until it explodes soon after and the fun is ruined :(
      Unless you jump out and keep falling and go “wooo”

  14. AlienMind says:

    Carmageddon did that in 1997

    • pupsikaso says:

      Well, yes, but not to this extent. They were limited by hardware at the time. These guys are obviously still limited by hardware today but can accomplish what computers of 1997 couldn’t.

  15. Megakoresh says:

    I remember how impressed everyone was at those early PhysX demos. A game. Give me the game. Then I can judge.

  16. Elmarby says:

    They have the classic “single tire rolling away from catastrophic crash” spot on. It could only have been improved by the tire being on fire as it did.

  17. Urthman says:

    Why aren’t they exploding? Everyone knows cars explode when they fall more than ten feet. I think cars have some kind of accelerometer that ignites the gas tank when it senses that the car has driven off a cliff.

  18. Dowr says:

    Some one needs to mod this into Just Cause 2.

  19. The_Great_Skratsby says:

    Gosh add that to a new Interstate, Carmageddon, Demolition Derby, Flat Out, 1nsane, anything please. The child in me has to have it.

  20. bstard says:

    A new game genre has been born. Throw Shit Downhill.

  21. SuicideKing says:

    Oh wait, it’s missing the HUGE EXPLOSION.

    You know, the one that happens the moment the car hits something.

    What? You don’t know what i’m talking about? Y u no watch Hollywood?