Frostbite Engine – one of the biggest graphical game engines of the past decade—received a major step forward recently when EA showcased its next-gen hair rendering for future games.
Frostbite is a game engine developed by EA. It is mostly used for cross-platform games on Microsoft Windows and seventh generation game consoles like PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Later developments in the Frostbite Engine allowed eighth-generation game consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to achieve higher fidelity than most other game engines of the previous era.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the Frostbite engine is without flaw. We all know EA and BioWare’s recent Anthem. The Frostbite engine is considered to be one of the reasons why Anthem experienced so many bugs and glitches ever since its launch.
Other games such as the Battlefield series and Mirror’s Edge managed to utilize the Frostbite engine rather well. To this date, the Frostbite Engine has remained exclusive to only EA games.
On May 20th, 2019, Electronic Arts uploaded several short videos on YouTube, demonstrating the latest achievement in Frostbite Engine technology. As the videos show, the Frostbite Engine is now able to render individual hair strands.
Furthermore, Frostbite Engine can now utilize realistic hair physics as well as changes in volume, lighting conditions, and color during simulations. It is worth noting that these demo videos are unlisted as of now, it is likely EA will make them public after E3 2019.
The majority of hair rendering techniques incorporated by previous game engines utilized what is known as geometrical mesh rendering. Hair is considered as a geometrical block or a shape instead of individual strands.
Since the human eye doesn’t really perceive each individual hair strand separately anyway, designing hair as a solid geometrical shape tricks the mind into perceiving it as hair.
You may have seen many games use this technique, artists also use this technique all the time. Just like drawing each hair strand using a pencil can take a lot of time, rendering each individual hair strand can put a significant amount of stress on computing hardware.
Of course, movies render hair strands all the time. But that is only possible when the entire clip is rendered as a movie clip. Games, on the other hand, have to render everything in real-time. That makes rendering hair strands incredibly hard in games.
But this latest breakthrough in EA’s Frostbite Engine will allow games to render hair strands in real-time. It will be interesting to see how EA uses its new hair rendering capabilities in the future. One thing is for sure, EA’s upcoming Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order will use Unreal Engine 4 instead of Frostbite Engine.
EA will most likely use this hair rendering in future games that are made in the Frostbite Engine. And with PS5 and Xbox Scarlett close to the release, the new hair technology will be plausible. It is also likely that we will get to see some of this new rendering tech at E3 2019 during EA Play which is just a few months away.