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Submitted by Charles Bloom, posted on April 17, 2002

Image Description, by Charles Bloom

These images show a little particles system running on an XBox. The particles are time-evolved by the GPU in a vertex shader; that is, the CPU creates particles and then never touches them again. The particles live in memory only once (in the vertex buffer), there is no system memory copy. Particles can be added to this circular buffer by the CPU without stalling the GPU on the XBox.

I get about 30 million particles per second when their size is set to zero, but in practice particle systems are fill-rate limited. As usual, it looks much better in motion, but I'm afraid you need an XBox dev kit to run the demo ;^)

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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.
Ben Everett

April 17, 2002, 04:45 PM

This is very awesome, amazing how are achieve that many particles per second.

The reason it won't work with a Radeon 7500/8500 or GeForce3/4 is simply how it is compiled. He'd have to compile it for the PC for it to work on a PC.

Spaceman, I can quote several games that Microsoft has produced that have been popular. Dungeon Siege, MechWarrior, Asherons Call, need more?


April 17, 2002, 04:53 PM

I like mynthon


April 17, 2002, 04:53 PM


Neo Quietus

April 17, 2002, 04:55 PM

Spaceman 40, Microsoft doesn't actually have to MAKE any games at all, assuming that they let other people make games for the X-Box. Think about current computers. Microsoft makes the OS (Windows), and then others (Like Sierria, Blizzard, etc.) make the games for the system.
Also, if the consoles do not have games like minesweeper then they should. Minesweeper would be a simple "15" min. game like you suggest, and so it would be simple, but it might atract the attention of a non-player who then might look more closely into gaming.

Post #1


April 17, 2002, 04:56 PM

If Microsoft makes Minesweeper into a console game, they'd be laughed off the market.


April 17, 2002, 04:58 PM

But how many examples can you think of of good Nintendo games?

I'm not saying that Microsoft stinks. I'm saying that they should stick to computer software.

zed zeek

April 17, 2002, 05:02 PM

30 million!
though thats untextured undrawn though, but it does show what hardware when designed for a specific/limited task can do.
is this 30 million using the most simple vertex program, looking at the vertex program docs rate does seem to drop off quickly depending on the number of vertex program instructions.
though with vertex programs it looks like u can't do fancy collision detection though :(
still it does definitly have its use for 'unintelligent' particle systems, nice one Charles.


April 17, 2002, 05:04 PM

Snickers is the best


April 17, 2002, 05:18 PM

Midtown Madness 2 is a classic. Motocross Madness is a near classic.
These games have superb gameplay - graphics are given a secondary priority.

zed zeek

April 17, 2002, 05:20 PM

my take on the whole xbox thing
its funny its going 99% like i predicted
america - quite good start but will rapidly die out ( after quite a good start the newer sales figures show xbox console sales starting to drop behind the other 2 (i expect this gap only to grow) )
gamesales wise the xbox has never done well in the states 5/6 months for the first million selling title (halo which came with the console in 80% of those sales) is very slow sales
japan - no software aimed at a japanese audience (i see now ms have realised their mistake and are trying to develope more japanese orientated games but its gonna be very very hard to claw their way back)
europe - im actually expecting it to do ok here, though so far its done very poorly there (nearly as bad as its done in japan)

weve already see the first casuality of the xbox disaster, 'the ceo has resigned' expect more heads to follow (pr guys)
also EA's CEO (largest game company in the world) is having grave doubts about the future of the xbox.

basically it all comes down to dollars and the end result of this will be
xbox RIP 2001-2003 :(
there will be no xbox2


April 17, 2002, 05:21 PM

Yes, I'm aware of that Ben :)
He could compile it for the PC, and post the demo. Simple.


April 17, 2002, 05:30 PM

You are so ill-informed it's amusing :)


April 17, 2002, 05:30 PM

>> ... works so hard to give us an magnificent example of ...

Νε named it "little particle system".
Quite frankly, I don't think it took months to develop... :)
But it looks good.


April 17, 2002, 05:30 PM

Could you please stay on topic ? I think it's pretty disturbing having to read all these comments for and against some consoles. They are _really_ offtopic and just don't belong in the IOTD comments because they do not add anything of value to the topic.

Aren't the comments moderated ? Maybe it would help to delete useless post or move them to a seperate thread ?

just my two cents


April 17, 2002, 05:32 PM

Seriously, just post the .xbe and the data, I'm sure a lot of people here have access to a devkit, I for one would like to run it.



April 17, 2002, 05:34 PM

But you, yourself, didn't comment on the IOTD. Hypocrite! ;)


April 17, 2002, 05:39 PM

zed zeek.. in fact you can do quite nice physics if you can write back to some buffer.. there is a topic about implementing soft rigid bodies and real rigid bodies with only springs/strings (dunno wich is the correct one;)), and very simple math.. all it needs is a very fast inner loop cause it has damn much stprings to process....

and.. as i see the current siggraph 2002 showing raytracing on gpu's, i think it'll be possible to do intersection-tests for the physics, too.. for example with some voxel-scene, like supposed in the rt-article, too..


April 17, 2002, 06:01 PM

by using XBox you support the MS monopoly and by that you're hurting competition. Which means we are all going to continue paying way-too-high prices for software.
PlayStation <b>is</b> better. I'm god, and I tell you this from personal experience :)
no seriously, I've never used a console, but you shouldn't give MS any money. Really, you shouldn't.

Hiro Protagonist

April 17, 2002, 07:10 PM

Can you post the demo somewhere I'd like to check it out.
Looks beautiful by the way.

(Just so there are no flames, yes I know I need an xbox dev kit to run it.)

Parashar Krishnamachari

April 17, 2002, 10:33 PM

The term "PC" has come to be reduced to x86 machines with x86-centric configurations and so on. Thus, the XBox is a PC. It is simply not marketed as a PC. Being Intel CPU, GeForce# GPU, AMD bus hardware, typical PC components, typical PC SDRAM (albeit soldered to the board rather than on DIMMs), typical (but on the small side) hard drive, and a stripped-down PC OS. Marketing it as a console doesn't change its guts, and it is those guts that people address when calling it a "PC."

Gamecube has a handful of aspects about it that are beyond XBox, and in fact, it had a lot more potential than the reality of the product shows. The big fault is the way Nintendo got concerned about power consumption and heat, which seems like a rather pointless concern for a console. A handheld, OK, but a console??! And thus, Gamecube is crippled from what it could be. But things are not exactly going to be duked out at this level alone....

Xbox 2 and PS3 are in the works... Nintendo probably has something more of its own... It's to be expected. And you do have to realize that getting in early with a lot of successful games is the single biggest contributor to success. Superior hardware isn't going to sell games. Granted, Nintendo is trying to erase their resputation of "kiddy" games, which is probably not likely to happen anytime soon. But kids are still the big market. Sony already made its mark in the teenage and up market with PS1, so they have established themselves, while MS is a total newcomer. People are stupid and don't like change (college is good proof of that).


April 17, 2002, 10:57 PM

I couldn't have argued the point better... that Linux argument was a killer ;)

The grotesque amount of Xbox naivete is mostly amusing, but when it occurs on a developer messageboard it's frightening. I say do your research, open your mind, and don't let puberty get you down. *smirk*


April 17, 2002, 11:10 PM

1. The Xbox IS a console and already has many, MANY, brilliant _console_ games (and no PC games that havn't been ported elsewhere aswell AFAIK). Tell me, how long have Sony been in the market compared to Nintendo and Sega? What did they do to Sega?! I don't expect Xbox to conquer all the way PSX did, but it will survive.
2. You made the point yourself that Microsoft recruit from outside for their gaming division, it's irrelevent where they're from, it's where they are NOW.
3. So Sega made their last not-quite-as-good-as-the-others-cos-we-jumped-the-gun-AGAIN console, but noone has EVER questioned their ability to make games. Thankfully, they seem to be developing for all three of the current players. Xbox does seem to be getting alot of rehashed DC games in the future though. Whether this is a good thing will depend on execution.
4. There is NOTHING wrong with the Xbox controller. If you DO have problems with it, then there's the controller-S. Okay, so it's big, but it's surprising comfortable and far from unwieldy. It feels like it's MADE for Halo, and I have no complaints playing DOA3, THPS3, Rallisport Challenge, Project Gotham Racing or Fusion Frenzy either (apart from the general mediocrity of Fusion Frenzy, thankfully it's not my game ;) ).


April 17, 2002, 11:22 PM

Microsoft has nearly ALL the developers PS2 fankiddies mention when bashing the Xbox. Capcom has several title in development I believe, as does Namco, Tecmo, etc. Few, if any, are exclusive - but game exclusives seems to be an Xbox only bash. No other console ever got a bad wrap because it got a version of a game. Perhaps alittle envy because the Xbox version is often enhanced and not a straight out port as is traditionally the case?

Xbox is not _the_ console, you can't ignore the power of the other two (be it less than that of the Xbox, it's still considerable), but it is an excellent box in my opinion.

I'm concerned by this trend of referring to games as 'apps'. Ofcourse a computer game is by definition an application, but a Panda is also a giant Racoon (It's a BEAR I tell you!!! A freakin bear!!!). Apart from that whole programming thing, game development and application development have little in common. Applications exist to help complete a given task, games prevent any tasks from being completed. ;)

Finally... graphics are important, but if any magazine gave the graphics portion of it's review 50% of a games total standing, I wouldn't be buying it again. Graphics is no more important than any other element, and certainly less important than gameplay itself.


April 17, 2002, 11:25 PM



April 17, 2002, 11:37 PM

If people would post replys instead of in the main thread then it wouldn't be so much of a problem... ofcourse, if people who had something to say posted a thread in a relevant section then it wouldn't be a problem at all ;)


April 17, 2002, 11:49 PM

Oh god... Microsoft didn't get the monopoly by esionage and assasination, they did it by creating (or purchasing) software that people wanted to develop for/use. It's a terrible world we live in that punishes people for their successes.


April 18, 2002, 01:36 AM

That's funny...everyone's been debating weither the XBox is a CONSOLE or a PC. Let me say something: WHO CARES! they are both nicely builded words constructed with carefully chosen letters, that's all.

I think what we should look for in a PC or a CONSOLE...let's call this thing a's the power and the new features it can brings in order to make games look and play better than ever.

The XBox looks very promising from what I've seen so far. I hate it when people start saying things like "don't buy a XBox cause it's MS"...even worst when some people dare to say the PS2 is superior because blablabla. It isn't and will never be, technically speaking. Same for the gamecube. PS2 seems to be only a toy to have at home so we can all look cool.

If the XBox would sell below 200$ I'm sure SONY wouldn't have sold a lot of PS2. The thing is , people starts to praise one console over another simply because they can't afford the other and have to justify their choice.

Charles Bloom

April 18, 2002, 02:48 AM

Wow, this chain of messages is totally insane.

Anyway, this technique doesn't work on the PC because locking vertex
buffers is so expensive. On the XBox a vertex buffer is just a
chunk of memory; you have to do a little work to make sure the GPU
isn't reading bytes as you're writing them, but other than that there's no overhead.

On the PC, you could create a bunch of particles, put them in a VB,
and let the GPU do the rest, but you could not have an emitter which is continuously creating new particles on the CPU, which is what I think is needed for a legit particle system.

It's all rather pointless, but cute.

Oh, for those who want the XBE, I'll post it on the XDS newsgroups; that way I can make sure it's all legal.


April 18, 2002, 03:01 AM

"The main difference between the XBox and the other two consoles is that they haven't bothered spending any money on ensuring that it's small. But hey, it's made in America, and everything is big there, right?"

It's a big 'X'--how can you go wrong with that?

Seriously though, it's a good design when you think of who makes up the two biggest groups of console players, early-teen males who think a black X is cool counterculture ;), and stoned twenty-somethings who will think the X is talking to them, or is the groundbreaking evidence of a massive conspiracy by Microsoft.



April 18, 2002, 03:28 AM

There are a few reasons why we can't yet seal the fate of the XBox. The most important point is that most consoles (at least in America) are bought at Christmas by adults for their children. That means that it doesn't matter technically superior a system is (BetaMax v. VHS, Genesis v. SNES, etc.), it doesn't matter what is cool at the moment, it doesn't matter which controller is most comfortable. The three things that matter are price, number of games available, and name recognition. Price and number of games are currently against the XBox, but name recognition is very much in it's favor. Most adults know and revere Microsoft. On the other hand, the Microsoft name alone won't sell a product (MS Bob).

A lot can happen between now and Christmas. But maybe it doesn't work this way in other countries. The really interesting question is, will Sony follow in Sun's footsteps and sue MS for unfair competition? Maybe MS will make it's larger developers enter exclusive contracts, but I don't think that will happen since the XBox doesn't yet have the massive userbase like Windows.

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