Fascinated with Lara Croft's hair in the new Tomb Raider? I know we're not supposed to focus on Lara's aesthetics in the new game, but it's impossible to play through it and not admire that lush head of hair. I bet it smells like flowers mixed with blood and sweat.
Well, you can chalk those gorgeous follicles up to the hard-working folks at AMD who pointed out that realistic hair has been "one of the most complex and challenging materials to accurately reproduce in real-time." All you need to do is look at the mop on Leon Kennedy's head for proof.
Apparently to convincingly recreate a head of "lively hair," you need to draw tens of thousands of tiny and individual semi-transparent strands. Each of these strands casts "casts complex shadows and requires anti-aliasing. Even more challenging is that these calculations must be updated dozens of times per second to synchronize with the motion of a character." Hey, who said video game designing was fun?
Thankfully, AMD, along with Tomb Raider developer Crystal Dynamics, are working to solve this massive challenge with a new piece of technology called TressFX Hair, described as "the world's first real-time hair lighting and physics system in a playable PC game."
It's time we tame Lara's unwieldy pony tail. "TressFX Hair combines advanced lighting, per-strand physics, and collision detection to bring unprecedented realism to this final frontier of image quality in PC gaming," according to AMD Graphics' Matt Skynner. This tech combines advanced lighting, per-strand physics, and collision detection, allowing Lara's hair to respond in a realistic fashion to forces like gravity, wind, and movement of the head. Who new hair was such a bi*ch to create?
So the next time you simply brush off hair physics in a video game, think of the hard work put in by AMD and Crystal Dynamics.
Check out the gallery above for a look at TressFX in action. And below are two comparisons of TressFX enabled and disabled.