Activision patent could lead to better collision detection in video games

A new patent filed by Activision aims to improve the collision detection system by synchronizing it with the displayed frame rate of its games.

The virtual worlds of video games are becoming more and more visually realistic. Many first-person AAA games have reached a point where screenshots of game environments are nearly indistinguishable from real-world locations. However, once movement is introduced to an environment, it becomes much easier to tell whether that environment is real or not due to the subtle limitations of the game’s physics engine that can be seen acting on moving objects.

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Making a game’s physics engine realistic isn’t just about how objects behave on their own, but also how they interact with other objects and the player. This system is called collision detection, and it can be quite taxing on a PC or console, especially when many individual objects are affected at once.

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When players think about collision detection, it will usually be in relation to weapon and attack accuracy, and this can often be a point of frustration in games like Call of Duty. But collision detection is found in all games that contain individual assets that can be affected by the player. Activision has now filed a new patent that hopes to see collision detection become more realistic in games while simultaneously reducing the risk of framerate lag or drop whenever a large number of collisions occur at the same time. .


Collision detection in video games works in two phases, the first is described in Activision’s patent as “coarse” detection, and this sets the baseline boundaries for all the different game assets, and ensures that they cannot move relative to each other. The second phase is called “fine” collision detection, and it is during this phase that the points of contact with the player character are specified and the realistic movement of the object is calculated. Activision’s patent essentially hopes to combine these two phases and hide the processing time by running the system at exactly the same rate as the game’s displayed frame rate.


If successfully implemented, this patent could see a player’s interaction with in-game objects and other players become much more fluid and immersive without having to rework the game’s physics engine. This latest Activision patent will also periodically run the collision detection system even when the player is not interacting with an object to predict likely collisions and make them even smoother in the game’s frame rate.

Since this collision detection patent is directly related to the game’s displayed frame rate, it’s possible that frame rate drops will also become self-correcting if the pressure on the system drops immediately when the frames drop it. make. However, it could also mean that players with higher frame rates could have an unfair advantage when it comes to handling collisions in online games. Players of Activision’s online titles like Call of Duty: Warzone are already quick to report any unfair advantage found in the game.


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Carolyn M. Daniel