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The Great Divide: Unique Visuals and Deterministic Gameplay in 'Deserts of Kharak'


'Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak' is a classic RTS game with hundreds of heavily armed vehicles battling it out across a hostile landscape. The presentation layer uses Unity graphics and input, but is fully decoupled from the game simulation, which runs on a separate C# thread. Deterministic simulation keeps multiplayer synchronized, as game state changes only in response to low bandwidth command inputs that are shared across the network. Audiovisual presentation reacts to events and state changes output by the simulation. Vehicles are simulated in 2D using fixed point math and augmented with "aesthetic physics" in the 3D presentation layer. Large desert environments are authored as sculpted meshes painted with a multi-layered deferred decal system. Off-the-shelf and custom particle systems, shaders, post-effects and lighting are combined to achieve uniquely stylized visuals. Performance was optimized with a cache-friendly entity system, robust LOD techniques, and various extreme measures to avoid C# garbage collection.

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  • GDC 2017
  • Yossarian King
  • Blackbird Interactive Inc.
  • free content
  • Visual Arts
  • Visual Arts