"Rats Horde" by Edoardo Grimaldi uses Niagara for GPU particle simulation in Unreal Engine
In an impressive display of technical artistry and software mastery, Edoardo Grimaldi, a technical artist at Flying Wild Hog, has brought to life a teeming mass of virtual rodents in his latest project, "Rats Horde."
Developed in Unreal Engine and utilizing the Niagara framework, the project allows for complex behaviors in particle simulation, resulting in a swarm of rats that not only react to the player and environmental cues such as light but do so with considerable efficiency in terms of performance.
This digital horde, individually animated and responsive, represents a significant step forward in real-time simulation and in-game AI behavior.
"Rats Horde" showcases a multitude of state-driven actions for each particle, supported by a Level of Detail (LOD) system that ensures both close-up detail and performance sustainability for larger swarms.
Grimaldi's use of Vertex Animation Textures (VAT) brings the closest rats to life with vivid animations, while less resource-intensive techniques like World Position Offset (WPO) maintain the illusion from a distance.
The simulation goes beyond mere aesthetics; it interacts with game mechanics, avoiding light sources with a realistic skittishness and providing an actual in-game threat that can be stomped or shot by the player, enhancing the gameplay experience with a dynamic and interactive element.
Edoardo's project also includes a unique gameplay twist: amidst the chaos, a single white rat introduces an element of strategy and potential narrative.
This adaptability of the simulation was further demonstrated when Grimaldi adjusted the rats' behavior to emerge from a sewer, suggesting the system’s potential application in various game scenarios.
With tools like Houdini for procedural generation and Substance 3D for texturing, "Rats Horde" is a testament to the power and flexibility of Unreal Engine's Niagara system, and Grimaldi's innovative approach to particle simulation and AI design within the game development industry.
Although we're not crazy about rats, especially when they're in "hordes", this piece genuinely captivated us.