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PerfectEngine™ and Perfect Golf: Their Many Uses
While Perfect Golf is the product coming out of Perfect Parallels’ game studio, the core technology is also fueling the company’s strategic partnership with Nicklaus Design. The gaming technology is enabling the Nicklaus Design team to experience a highly detailed 3D model of the entire course in real time—whether in flyby mode or native 3D navigation mode. More importantly, it also enables Nicklaus Design to virtually play their proposed layouts before a single shovel or bulldozer touches the ground.
I’ll discuss in more detail how Nicklaus Design utilizes Perfect Parallel’s technology, but while on the subject of game play, I’ll cover the aspects of the gaming product.
Perfect Golf is currently in an early release or tech preview running phase on Steam. Jones said the game should officially be released in the fall.
The first thing one might notice about Perfect Golf is its stunning graphics. (see image 03 – 04) What makes the graphics special is they’re procedural textures-based, unlike say, the popular WGT (World Golf Tour).
“WGT is a 2D/3D environment based on photographic images,” Jones noted, “So they have a unique advantage in photo-realism. But you can’t actually walk around in that environment; you can’t hit your golf ball and then take a golf cart down the cart path to your ball. Perfect Golf has the technology that can enable such a capability.”
As a true 3D modeled environment with PerfectEngine™ technology behind it, Perfect Golf is a virtually habitual environment with simulated weather based on geo-referenced locations, coupled with industry leading golf ball and turf physics.
And this shows in the game play. Having played Links and Links LS in the late 1990’s and, more recently, the popular Tiger Woods Golf (TWG), Perfect Golf has some immediate charms and advantages.
Advantage number one is the procedural texture graphics. I was particularly impressed with the edge conditions along the bunkers and the overall variety of textures for foliage and turf. (see image 02 for turf edge, image 06 and the flyby)
The second advantage, and likely the most important one, is the physics behind the ball flight and ball-to-turf interaction. Unlike say the Tiger Woods game franchise, you can’t just jump into Perfect Golf and immediately start shooting par and sub-par rounds. Jones explained why:
“We have real-time, randomized physics, including the weather. If you have the wind settings turned up high, you may get a random wind gust half-way through your ball’s flight.” Jones also explained that they have random lie conditions when you end up in the rough and bunkers. This means, depending on your ball flight conditions, you might face deeply embedded lies in bunkers and awful lies in the rough.
What’s neat about Perfect Golf is that the game provides the player data on the condition of their lie in these shots, estimating percentage of loss in power and spin. And you have to time your shot in the game perfectly to match those estimated percentages.
Speaking of spin, Perfect Golf is the first golf game I’ve ever played that captures truly realistic spin physics with the golf ball. You can take a look at the QuickTime movie below for an example. If you strike a short iron from a good lie and land on the green, your ball will react very realistically. It will hit, bounce forward and then spin back. And depending on the green’s “stimp” or speed settings, and the actual slope and contours of the green, the ball could spin back all the way off the green—just like at the Masters!
What Perfect Golf does so well is simulate playing a real course under actual conditions. As such, the game is a fantastic self-teaching and practice tool for golfers of all abilities, because it helps you hone your course management skills.
While this is not a full game review (we’ve never really done a game review), -I’ll summarize Perfect Golf this way: It sheds the gimmicky features of simulated galleries, virtual tours and prize money (at least for now) in favor of great simulated golf play and beautiful, immersive 3D-modeled golf environments.
A great simulated golf playing experience on top of the best 3D-modeled golf environment turns out to be a really valuable asset to Nicklaus Design. As Bobby Root, the Manager of Technical Applications for Nicklaus Design, said, “Nicklaus Design has always been a leader in the use of computerized technology, and when we saw what Perfect Parallel had to offer, we knew this held value to both our clients and the design process.”
The global trend in computer-aided industries, such as architecture, engineering, aerospace, manufacturing and medicine, is that we have entered the era of simulation and performance evaluation. In the late 20th century, computer-aided design (CAD) focused on digitizing the drawn and visual workflows of countless industries, transitioning from 2D to 3D modes.
Then, with the arrival of computer graphics, we went from wireframe and simple-shaded models to models with image-based and procedural textures baked onto the polygonal surfaces in 3D models. Computer gaming, Hollywood special effects, and government defense industries all contributed to rapidly propelling the technologies that led to simulation of real physics and physical properties and actual imagined environments. This is the stage we are at in the golf course design/architecture industry and it is still nascent.