Irish firm Havok unveils latest games software

With new software, designers hope to be able to bring new dimensions to games

Irish technology firm Havok is set to raise the stakes in video game realism, with a software product that brings new detail and games physics to effects.

Havok FX will get its debut in Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege, which is due to be released in October for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Managing director of Havok David Coghlan said Havok FX would be a significant product for the firm.

“It’s opening up something different that hasn’t been seen before,” he said. “A lot of our customers are striving for Hollywood-style experience on consumer grade hardware. The question is how do you bring it? One of the things were often see in Hollywood blockbusters is a lot of emphasis being put on small details – debris and dust particles, for example.”

It is those little details that can bring a game to life and give the final product that Hollywood-polished feel.

Using the new CPU-driven software, games designers will be able to bring a new dimension to games, with shrapnel, dust, debris and smoke interacting with the player and the environment. That would bring games closer to the Hollywood experience, he said.

The product is the end result of extensive research into massive scale high-performance physics simulation and has been a number of years in the making, developed between Dublin and Germany. It will allow for richer, more dynamic environments and can be integrated with the company’s Havok Physics, a collision detection and physical simulation technology used in more than 400 games.

“It’s down to customers to show what is possible with this technology,” Mr Coghlan said, adding that he expected over the course of the year to announce further titles using Havok FX.

Although the focus at this stage is on bigger budget games and large cross platform titles, there is the possibility that the technology could be used elsewhere in the future. “The underlying thing we’re making possible is more visuals on screen with lower compute demand.”

Set up in 1998 in Trinity College Dublin, the company was later spun out and bought by Intel in 2007. It now has offices in Dublin, San Francisco, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai and Germany.

Since it began developing its technology, it has seen its products used in some of the biggest games of the past few years, including Killzone, Shadowfall, Infamous, Second Son, Call of Duty, Ghosts and Halo. Havok's technology has also been used in films such as X-Men First Class, World War Z, Harry Potter, James Bond and The Matrix.

The company has won a technology and engineering Emmy for its work on physics engines for games.

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