Nvidia has released a nice little video showing off some of the new APEX Turbulence features of its PhysX physics system, using footage from the free-to-play mech shooter Hawken.
Unlike the SPH-like (Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics) systems commonly used in games, APEX Turbulence is a grid-based fluid solver, and calculates only surface turbulence and velocity fields.
These forces can then be applied to particles generated with other systems: in this case the APEX Particles module. The result is more detailed fluid flow for things like smoke, dust, fog and plasma effects.
Cool tech: how does it look in practice?
Whether that’s a good thing in Hawken a matter for debate. APEX Turbulence provides a range of eye-catching swirly effects when you shoot things or power up, but we have a niggling doubt that the game actually looks better without some of them. The burst of embers when you destroy another mech is nice, though.
The second half of the video shows the use of APEX Particles to add showers of debris from impacts, and for us, this worked much better to add a sense of detail and immersion – although again, there is a lot of debris. Even a mech doesn’t send up a shower of concrete chunks from the floor every time it takes a step, surely?
Read more about APEX Turbulence on the PhysX wiki (More technical detail)