Power of Cloud Can Enable Computationally Intensive Features Like Tree Destruction & Physics Effects

SpeedTree’s Kevin Meredith discusses the potential of the real-time foliage creator.

Posted By | On 25th, Feb. 2016 Under News


Of the many technologies that will have application in gaming for years to come, SpeedTree is perhaps one of the top-most. As a real-time foliage creation software, SpeedTree has found use in games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Batman: Arkham Knight and many other high-profile games. How will it benefit from the power of cloud computing in the coming years though?

GamingBolt spoke to SpeedTree director of business development Kevin Meredith about the same. After the reveal of Crackdown 3, is there an application for streaming large amounts of foliage through the cloud? “Yes, the cloud should enable computationally-intensive features like tree destruction and other physics effects, which can impact both aesthetics and gameplay. We’d like to think SpeedTree offers a lot of options for customers who cloud-stream their games.”

Meredith also commented on resolution vs. frame rate, especially with many games taking alternative routes to increasing visual fidelity even at a lower frame rate (like Star Wars Battlefront, which focuses more on alpha effects and post-processing). How does SpeedTree fit into such an alternative scenario?

“We’ve always tried to develop SpeedTree so it works great in any game, whether it’s a twitchy first person shooter or the latest Sims game. Artists can design trees in the SpeedTree Modeler for the particular look-and-feel they’re after, and tweaking the rendering code in the SDK is something we encourage.”

Thoughts on all this, especially with the potential that SpeedTree will unlock with cloud computing? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Mark

    Well Microsoft bought out Havok, in part for use on the cloud. Now what do they think about SpeedTree? All that I can say about it is, because of studios using it, I’ve been blown away in current gen games from The Witcher 3, to even the Gears 4 demo. Something as simple as trees blowing in games, create that realism, that makes me appreciate the current gen systems over the last ones…

    • JerkDaNERD7

      Got to admit, in terms of graphical leaps it seems Microsoft is truly taking that task on. I’m starting to realize it difficult to achieve what we see in these demos without financially breaking these companies. So I guess cloud is the answer for now, but they’ll have to prove it.

    • andy

      And yet their console is the one currently lacking an exclusive mind blowing actual next gen looking game that does next gen things, that also runs at 1080p.

    • DLConspiracy//

      He didn’t mention Xbox. You did. Stop hating on cloud compute just because it’s associated with a console you have consistently whined about for years. I am looking at this from a gaming stand point and you should too. You act as if something that will make our gaming experience better on any platform is a bad thing. Now go back to railing your plastic device in the USB hole. It gets really old andy. Your $400 device is more powerful. Now move on with your life dude.

    • DarthDiggler


      @jerkdanerd7:disqus did mention Microsoft. @disqus_cg6oqy3NFA:disqus Never hated on Cloud compute. He was just remarking there are consoles on the market that can achieve certain benchmarks that other consoles can’t.

      I think many of us are excited about the future possibilities of the cloud. There are also many of us that understand that cloud is mostly a marketing buzz-word and games have had “cloud” features for a long time. MMOs operate in an environment that is basically a cloud. Many FPSes do as well. Pretty much any sort of game or application that relies on dedicated servers is more or less a cloud. Certainly what MS looks to do with Crackdown seems promising, but nothing about that technology is exclusive to Microsoft. The cloud application for Crackdown 3 is Cloudgine’s which is running on Azure.

      The big issue I have with this is MS could very well use this feature to sneak their Always Online business model back into the Xbox One. Especially if they start implementing the cloud heavily into single player experiences.

      Just because I and Andy aren’t bending over and grabbing our ankles at the mention of the word cloud doesn’t mean we are some kind of technological Luddites.

    • DLConspiracy//

      Ever since cloud has been mentioned it’s been a PS vs Xbox BS conversation and Andy has been online for years naysaying anything. Its OK to be sceptical. It’s OK to take it with a grain of salt but that’s not what he is doing or has been doing since before this Gen started. If it was his first remark I wouldn’t have been so harsh. Is cloud fully ready for this gen? I don’t know. Is it not ready? Nobody can say. MS has a lot of money and they always seem to be readying for the future. Both consoles are pushing an online future. They do it in all their marketing. It isn’t until some little ddos kids bring either network to a standstill that it’s been a concern. They both push day one digital. There is a reason because it’s cheaper and a lot of people make up those connected than the ones who are not.

      I’m just hoping cloud will be an extension of gaming at some point regardless of who it’s for. When I see people always trying to throw a stupid “my console is more powerful jab” into the mix… it comes across as an agenda. An agenda that includes putting anything down outside of Sony. Which is stupid.

    • DarthDiggler


      I participate in comments for years now and Andy is not a complete unknown, but he certainly doesn’t attempt to hijack and drive conversations like some of the console and PC fanboys we see out there.

      In terms of his SINGLE comment here, I am 100% correct in what I pointed out.

      What do other people’s agendas have to do with me, you or Andy? That sentence seems completely superfluous.

    • DLConspiracy//

      Huh? I had to reread stuff as this is a few days old. I was originally pointing out how people turn cloud into some nonsense about cloud and online. How ms and Xbox are bad for wanting an online future and for trying cloud which is completely reasonable. I don’t know where it is now but that was my point. People hate MS and Xbox because it’s not number one. Then take everything they say and turn it into “they lie” scenarios. I don’t love MS but people need to chill out. Neither of these companies have a perfect consumer past. As much as some people want to believe it.

    • red2k

      They have a nice plan with the cloud the problem is that they need push the tech faster. The cloud can be huge for simulate different climates and unpredictable environment and offcourse mixed with DX12 adding more light resources can make a great scene.

    • andy

      So Cloud is what Forza needs to have dynamic day to night cycles and dynamic weather like Gran Turismo 5 then? Who knew? 🙂

    • Gamez Rule

      MS keeps on talking about this stuff for the last three years, but still has nothing to show for it in a real game. Until that day comes nothing changes.

    • Psionicinversion

      hey man, did you talk to the mod about that thing you said you were going do?? if you have and hes done it… i havnt seen xbotmk1 around in a while know what im saying?!

    • Gamez Rule

      Like I said to you I was waiting till you troll me again with another puppet account, but yes things were said and noted ☺, and xbotmk1 has nothing to do with me lmao!

    • Psionicinversion

      sick of this stupid approval system. Nothing wrong with my comment yet fails to pop up. short version. I know xbotmk1 isnt you, was saying if mod banned associated accounts thats why hes not posting on here anymore. he accused me again on another site i told him what me and you spoke about, hes not been on here since. I dont use puppet accounts, techjunkie pfft id never use that, to unoriginal

    • Gamez Rule


    • DarthDiggler


      MS will likely have a Crackdown 3 demo this E3. I think it looks cool and I can’t wait to see how Cloudgine’s technology gets implemented in other games.

    • DarthDiggler


      He wasn’t saying that Froza implemented the cloud to simulate weather. He suggested that would be a good thing to offload to the cloud.

      Stuff that doesn’t require tight latency is a great fit for the Cloud.

  • Psionicinversion

    This stuff could be really good but like the guy said youll probably have to have the game streamed from a server to really handle the load and seeing as in 10-20 years thats what it will more than likely be, have to get the tech ready for when the transition comes

    • DarthDiggler


      youll probably have to have the game streamed from a server to really handle the load and seeing as in 10-20 years thats what it will more than likely be, have to get the tech ready for when the transition comes

      You kind of butchered that sentence so I may not have interpreted the meaning properly.

      What you are saying is already being done today with PS Now.

      Are you and I reading the same article? Where did you pull this 10-20 years time frame from?

    • Psionicinversion

      im talking about where console hardware and maybe even PC gaming hardware basically doesnt exist as it does now and your gaming is 100% online. ATM if you want the best experience you need local hardware and by accounts from other people PS Now is pretty crappy in a lot of places. Coupled with lower bandwidth and stringent data caps from ISP’s not ready for it. Something like what speedtree wants do cant be done on consoles it would be to data heavy to do it locally coupled with everything else, and even if it just crunched the data youd be limited by the horsepower in the console.

      having big powerful servers online rendering the game for you would open up a gaming world where you could have some insane effects but it would have to be games designed to be streamed by the server

    • DarthDiggler


      PS Now is doing what you are saying will require another 10-20 years. Sure not all internet connections are created equally and your mileage may vary if you live in an area with sub 5MBPS internet (note 5MBPS falls on the slower side of internet connections these days).

      In the USA most people are not dealing with datacaps. From what I understand they aren’t that uncommon in Canada.

      Something like what speedtree wants do cant be done on consoles it would be to data heavy to do it locally coupled with everything else, and even if it just crunched the data youd be limited by the horsepower in the console.

      The entire point of a cloud solution is to do something remotely that you can’t handle locally. Sure there are still certain hardware limitations to deal with, but the scope of the cloud should expand your compute capabilities or there is no need to use a connected solution. The level of hardware on the host side would have to be very poor not to compliment the client side.

  • DarthDiggler

    This put everything into the cloud strategy of Microsoft’s is a sneaky way to reintroduce the always online requirements on Xbox One. Current issues with XBL already reveal many features of XB1 require XBL to be connected to work properly. The cloud will only expand these issues.

    Bringing cloud based solutions to single player games will also decrease their shelf life, at the very least the publishers would be in control of when the games have the servers shut off.

    Its cool stuff, but it has a price and I can easily see people complaining about the consequences of games being designed with so much online support required.

    • OC Guy

      “sneaky”? Always online and DRM are simply how everything will be done in the future. How far down is debatable but there will come a time not too far off where that will all be common.

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    • DarthDiggler


      Yes sneaky — MS wasn’t the darling of E3 with the announcement of always online and digital DRM laced throughout the system. Using technologies such as this is a very clever way reintroduce those features.

      I am not saying that the future doesn’t include more cloud technology deployments, but today the mass market doesn’t exactly support that especially in a global sense.


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