Originally Posted by newtekie1
The simulations have nothing to do with it, the games look really damn good. And I don't know what simulations you've been looking at, but some of the PhysX ones I've seen look damn good. In fact, I think the only one I remember with balls in it was from way back in the begining of PhysX, maybe even before nVidia bought the technology. Most of the demos now show of either the soft body effect, the fluid/smoke effects, or the cloth effects. None have balls in them...
You don't understand. Those are still using balls, they just don't appear as balls. You can see it really clearly in that Alice example when she's walking through the oil. It looks awful, not realistic or detailed. You can actually see the balls getting kicked up and bouncing around, doesn't behave as a liquid at all. It's like someone dropped marbles on the floor. Hell in that game every instance looks like some tacked on effect that doesn't belong, but that's an issue for most physx games. Scaling up in quality to say a blockbuster effect in maya water is still essentially just a bunch of tiny balls with special magnetism and weight properties, only they're so numerous it looks quite a bit better. In all physx simulations the ball count is just too low, that's why I equated it to low resolution. It really is like low resolution physics.
As for the performance. In games that use is sparingly like UT3 there's actually a performance gain, but once it's taken advantage of like those custom UT3 maps with tornados and what not there's a pretty noticeable penalty.