This update adds the ability to create shapes using a particle collector. The physics for each particle is calculated independently for individual destinations; they do not need to have the same destination. This allows me to specify any number of destinations, which can be moved independently. Because the physics system takes care of tweening between positions, the collector destinations can jump from place to place, and the physics will result in a fluid animation.
Well, it turns out I was able to guarantee the destination of particles by a deadline. This requires a little bit of cheating; as the lifetime of the particle advances, the velocity vector dictated by the physics is blended with a velocity vector of the same magnitude pointing directly at the destination. This, in combination with a maximum velocity can virtually guarantee that the particle will hit its destination by a specific time. If the velocity vector is blended to point directly at the destination by half the lifetime, and the forces acting on the particle only contribute to increase the velocity towards the destination regardless of its position, then the particle is guaranteed to hit the destination by the end of its life.
Attempt number 2 at getting particles to stick to a collector: apply gravitational pull to the collector. The ideal is simple; the closer a particle gets to the collector, the greater the force of gravity acting on the particle towards that collector. In this case, I used the inverse of the distance squared. This produces an “Ideal” orbital pattern as shown below:
I saw a video online recently of several cubes flying into the scene and stacking up to form a larger cube. A pretty simple yet powerful effect. The effect was achieved using Particle Flow, so the movement of the particles are entirely animated. Check it out below:
After seeing this, I immediately wanted to try it, but with a more general solution. So, off I went to write a physics system for my particle engine. Now, there are a lot of challenges in getting a particle rocketing through 3D space to land in exactly the right position with physics alone. There are a few options. With physics, we can exponentially increase a force on the particle in the direction of the destination with relation to the distance from the destination. Another possibility is merging a pure physics system with a pure spline animation to allow a random initial velocity, but a guaranteed stopping point.
My first step however, is developing some way to attract the particles to their destination. I decided to start with a spring system. Although the system will exert forces on the particles to aim the particles at the destination, it is very unlikely that they will pass directly through a predetermined point, and instead orbit around the destination.
For those interested, here’s the nice little gem used to compute the spring force. I modified this algorithm from a cloth simulator used in the book “Physics for Game Developers”.
Well, I was getting tired of not having a CMS for my site, and since I have been doing enough development to warrant a blog, I decided to switch to wordpress. Enjoy the new site, hopefully I’ll have things migrated over from the old one soon!
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