In the ongoing drive to upgrade Battleground Europe, Cornered Rat Software will be implementing Ragdoll physics with the live release of v1.31. Using a third party physics library called "Open Dynamics Engine" (ODE) players will now have the option of seeing an infinite variety of infantry death animations. Ragdoll is yet one more method the artists and coders at CRS are using to increase the immersion of WWIIOL.
How Does It Work?
The current version of the game uses a pre-determined library of infantry death animations that are played when your client receives a “kill” message from the host. Creating these animations was time-consuming which is why the library was limited. But ODE has changed that; now when the client receives that "kill" message, a physics loop takes over. The infantry model reacts to gravity and to the force of the impact to direct where and how the lifeless body will fall. Arms and legs work independently and the character drops its weapon as the body crumples to the ground. For concussive effects from grenades and other explosives, infantry models react to the force of the explosion: bodies are thrown up and away from the source, weapons flying away. Characters will also be effected when hit by vehicles. Early beta versions of ODE saw characters reacting in a very exaggerated manner with arms and legs windmilling and bodies flying 50+ feet after an explosion. This was toned down to more realistic parameters during testing. However these early tests did garner some extremely amusing blooper footage. Hysterical laughter became the norm the first week ragdoll went into testing, offices jammed with artists, coders and devs watching infantry slide, twitch, jump, and cartwheel around the game world.
Some have noticed in early video clips of the ragdoll testing that infantry weapons fall independently of the body. These weapons cannot currently be picked up and re-used. Server Tracked Objects (STO) could be used to allow dropped items to be picked up but that is a different system than ODE and the two do not work together at this time.
Because ragdoll is calculated by the client, what you see on your screen won't be exactly what others see. When you shoot an enemy infantry, the resulting reaction is a random, physics-based sequence that is run by your client. Another player's computer will run its own loop, resulting in a somewhat different animation than your own. For non-concussive effects, (gunfire) your view of the body's reaction to the force of impact will appear very accurate. Other players won't see it quite as spot-on due to limitations on the information being relayed to his client. With concussive effects, however, the physics are more consistently displayed. These issues are limitations of network traffic and lag (delay).
There are several other reactions brought about by the "kill" message and ragdoll; when an infantry is shot near a solid object (wall, tank, tree) a resulting blood splatter may be thrown against it. Blood will also pool slowly from underneath a corpse. There is even a return of an abbreviated version of the "death cam". After your death, the camera pops to an external view that is close in to your body, slowly rotating out for a few seconds. It's a very tight view, pulling out only a foot, so there is no issue with the cam revealing a hidden enemy position. Corpses will also litter the battlefield in the same way they do now; there will just be more variations in the positions of the "hulks". Just as it is now, your client will only display the corpses that were generated in your visual limits. So the first time you spawn into a battle there will be no corpses. After your client detects the triggers of the "kill" on enemies in your visual limit, subsequent re-spawns will display the bodies.
Like water reflections and some shadows, there will be an option to disable the ragdoll physics and resulting blood effects. It is currently an on/off toggle, but there is the possibility that a slider will also be available to choose levels of detail.
Adding the Open Dynamics Engine to WWIIOL:Battleground Europe is something we've all been looking forward to. It adds a whole new level of variety to the ground game. Combined with dynamic weather, new infantry smoothing as well as building and terrain updates, we're very excited to see how much deeper into this virtual war we can take you.
Q: How will paratroopers react with ragdoll physics? Will they bounce?
A: Paratroopers will react the same way to ragdoll after they've landed on the ground. Some of this needs way more testing and will require changes no doubt. Paratroops for one, falling into water for another. In the current build, the rag doll character hits the water and lands like it is concrete so we think that might need to change :)
Q: I don't expect each body will be the same as what everyone sees just wondering if the game will take into account if they were slumped against a wall?
A: The reaction of the ragdoll characters is determined by the individual's client so it may be slightly different for everyone.
Q: Can we pick up dropped weapons from ragdolls?
A: Not at this time.
Q: Will ragdoll characters fly and bounce away from vehicle impacts?
A: Yes rag doll effects are/can be applied to infantry as enemy vehicles strike them. What we do with the effect needs more testing tweaking. Ideally, the bodies would fly back from the strike and fall to the ground.
Q: Will there be additional sound effects for wounds and death?
A: We have added new sound effects for the ragdoll character as it impacts the ground and objects.
Q. Will there be any new effects to vehicles with this new feature?
A. Not at this time.
Q: Will ragdoll affect sheep?
A. We are sad to report that our flocks of sheep will not be affected by the ODE physics at this time. There is a vocal faction at CRS that are actively trying to get this slated as our next major update. Their doses have been increased by order of the in-house medical staff.