Havok Bought – Means What to Second Life?

You might know that Havok is the physics engine used by Second Life. It is the part of the system that figures out when the avatar bumps into a wall or walks on a floor and keeps the avatar from passing through.

It is the part that figures out when a bullet collides with us or misses. It makes balls roll. We see it in operation not only in Second Life buy in Call of Duty, Halo, and is used in movies like the Matrix. 

The company making Havok, writing the computer code, was bought from Intel by Microsoft. No rumor. Is a fact and Microsoft has announced the purchase. Ciaran Laval has more details on his blog: Microsoft Buy Havok From Intel, What Does This Mean For Second Life? Hopefully Nothing!

Ciaran thinks the purchase will have no affect on Second Life. I pretty much agree. However, long term it might. Microsoft buys lots of things and messes them up and eventually turns them off. The technology from these things makes it into other Microsoft products. So, it isn’t a total loss for MS. The plan is to continue licensing Havok to 3rd parties and incorporate the tech into Windows and Xbox. An example of what they want to have come out of it is Crackdown 3 (video above).

I wonder how much of that tech is making it into Project Sansar? Is Sansar going to use a third party physics engine? No word yet. But, if they develop their own physics engine, it doesn’t matter what is done with Havok long term. Recent Havok updates have not been picked up by SL, as best I can tell. It is usually a sort of big deal when the physics engine gets an update.

I suspect that Microsoft and Intel have symbiotic goals, verses competitive goals, and are looking at how to best move into the VR realm of computing. Remember. Computers are just barely able to provide the computing power needed for VR. Remember, the minimum specs for Oculus? i5 CPU, NVIDIA 970…

Building Havok into Windows… really!?! That has to be an effort to provide more computing power to support games. The idea is Microsoft and Intel can get closer to the hardware, meaning less drivers and programs to go through, and thus provide faster performance. Gamers already prefer Windows. But, game play on Windows is nothing like it is on XBox. Nor can I see Microsoft eliminating the need for XBox by putting the same level of performance in Windows. But, Microsoft has always been good at supporting programmers. So, this may make them more competitive with other game engines or at least make it easier for those engines if they use Windows.

Is this a move to create hardware and software that is less dependent on high end video cards? Intel already shapes CPU’s for video streaming (think Netflix). NVIDIA is shaping their video chips for VR. I expect the race is on to see who comes up with the best VR. All of them want to make something better that we JUST HAVE TO HAVE.

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