AMD together with Square Enix and Crystal Dynamics under the Gaming Evolved programme are ushering in a new kind of technology never before seen in the gaming world: hair simulation.
“Since the dawn of the 3D era, characters in your favourite games have largely featured totally unrealistic hair: blocky and jagged, often without animation that matches your character’s movements. Many games have attempted to disguise the problem with short haircuts, updos, or even unremovable helmets. But why?” AMD asked.
TressFX aims to drastically improve how hair is rendered during gameplay to the point previously only seen in pre-rendered footage like cutscenes. It does this by lifting some of the rendering off the GPU via the DirectCompute programming language.
DirectCompute is not exclusive to AMD boards, Nvidia’s latest GPUs also include this language. However, TressFX is built on AMD’s previous work on Order Independent Transparency (OIT) which uses Per-Pixel Linked-List (PPLL) data structures to “manage rendering complexity and memory usage.” Despite this, TressFX will not be exclusive to AMD boards. It will work on any GPU that supports DirectX11.
The Tomb Raider reboot will be the first ever game to feature TressFX’s incredibly realistic hair rendering technology. It’s physics system “treats each strand of hair as a chain with dozens of links, permitting forces like gravity, wind and movement of the head to move and curl Lara’s hair in a realistic fashion.”
AMD further explains that TressFX will have collision detection to make sure that no strand of hair will pass through another strand or through other solid surfaces like her body, an issue quite noticeable in plenty of games including Square Enix’s own FFXIII.
There is no telling how much tension this will cause on AMD GPUs. However, they do mention that the Radeon 7000 series handles it especially well.