View Full Version : Interview with CloakWorks Interactive

13th Sep 2011, 15:38
Hi. I had an interview with Joe van den Heuvel from CloakWorks Interactive via our site www.pardisgame.net. They are creator of Shroud Cloth Simulation. As you know this technology has been used in Hitman: Absolution.

1-Can you give us some information about CloakWorks Interactive ?

CloakWorks is a new middleware technology company based in Chicago, IL. The
idea to create a technology company devoted to the creation of cutting edge
effects technology with artist friendly tools came to me after spending a
decade developing animation and physics technology for individual games at
game studios. Researching experimental new techniques and then creating
easy-to-use tools for them requires an investment that isn't practical in a
milestone-driven game development environment. CloakWorks is dedicated to
developing the best cloth simulation available on the market, making it
possible for game developers to create cloth, hair, grass and similar
effects that have never been seen before.

2- I saw the performance of Shroud Technology and it was very impressive.
Can you give us some information about this technology ?

Today's computer hardware is incredibly powerful, but maximizing the
hardware's potential can be very difficult. Shroud's unique performance
comes from taking a different approach to cloth simulations. Rather than
expecting the hardware to be good at running any code you give it, Shroud
instead turns around the techniques for cloth simulation and formulates the
work in a way the current generation of hardware can execute very quickly.

3- Recently IO Interactive announced that they are using Shroud Cloth
Simulation for Hitman: Absolution. How did they find you? What did they want
from your technology?

IO was evaluating different cloth simulation solutions for their new Glacier
2 Engine that will be powering Hitman Absolution. They actually stumbled
across an early video of Shroud on YouTube and contacted me to see at what
stage the technology was. At first, their primary use case for Shroud was
47's tie, but once the artists got their hands on the technology, it quickly
spread to his jacket, and then throughout the game. It is really great to
see the creative things that the talented artists at IO Interactive are
doing with Shroud, and I can't wait for them to release some video to the

4- Tell us the differences between Shroud Cloth Simulation and other Cloth

Shroud is focused on soft-body physics simulation only, and does not require
any kind of rigid body physics system to work. This singular focus gives it
a remarkable amount of capacity to be the best at what it does as compared
to all-in-one solutions.

Shroud's content creation pipeline has a slightly different focus as well.
It aims to minimize the impact on modelers while empowering the character
animators. Cloth is a motion technology, and having the movement of a
character and the clothes he/she is wearing move well together is going to
become more and more important. Characters in games are becoming
increasingly realistic and iconic, an the clothes they wear are a big part
of their identity.

5-Nvidia has a powerful technology for cloth simulation but in Mafia II
they used this technology but performance on the PC was very better than
console. How about Shroud? Is there going to be differences between PC and
consoles ?

Shroud's performance is excellent on PC and consoles. It* *is designed to
be portable across many platforms without bias towards a particular vendor,
yet take full advantage of modern multi-core processor design. As a
CPU-based technology*,* it is able to achieve performance on par with
GPU-based implementations without taking precious processing time away from
the game's graphics.

6- I saw Shroud performed a Virtual Dressing Room. Is this going to be the
future of shopping?

We can only hope! CloakWorks finds itself an unexpected beneficiary of the
success of advanced camera technologies like Microsoft's Kinect. Virtual
Dressing Room applications, like the one Cisco showed this year in Las
Vegas, are now finding a bigger audience thanks to the growing installed base
of powerful consoles, PCs and Kinect-like camera technology. So when
developers of these applications are looking for a cloth physics solution
that is developer-friendly, can be used on a wide variety of hardware, and
provides a high quality result with minimal processing overhear, Shroud should
be the top of their list. We're watching this space with great excitement.

7- What are the other usage of Shroud Cloth Simulations?

The killer app for Shroud is character clothing, as it can be extremely
challenging to get it right. Whether or not you can do it well
often affects the design of the characters in the game. In addition, Shroud
is good for typical environmental cloth objects like curtains and drapes but
also for less obvious things, like walls that dent when you push on them.

Shroud's support for simulating large numbers of independent strands also
opens up a world of possibilities. Grass that reacts to you as you walk
through it, willow trees whose long branches blow in the wind, beaded
curtains in doorways that characters can walk through. In one of our demos
we covered a soldier in strands that look like leaves to make a gilly suit
that fully reacts to his movements.

8- Does anyone else beside IO Interactive is using this technology ?

We're not ready to announce any of our other clients yet, sorry.

9-Do you guys have other plans for diffrent kind of technology. Something
like Hair Simulations system ?

Thanks to the strand simulation feature, hair is something that we are
actively supporting now. For ages long hair has been something that video
game character designer have had to avoid, because bone-based hair animation
has always looked horrible when the hair interacts with the character's
shoulders. Now with Shroud, characters can have hundreds of individual
strands of hair that fall nicely across their shoulders, blow in the wind,
and do what you would expect long hair to do! It is really going to free up
modern character design.

10- What could Shroud technology do in next generation of video games ?
Thank you for your time and I wish you the best because this technology is
very impressive and I'm sure it is going to be magnificent in videogames
like Hitman.

For the next generation of gaming hardware*,* Shroud is poised to deliver
dynamic, interactive cloth that is even better looking than today. Much of
the beauty of cloth comes from how it drapes and folds, so being able to use
a more dense cloth rig and more detailed collisions thanks to the bump in
processing power will pay dividends visually. Add in going from hundreds of
physics-based strands to thousands or tends of thousands... imagine seeing a
shock wave from an explosion ripple across an entire field of fully
interactive long grass to reveal a sniper that was hiding there.

And we're not waiting for the next generation of hardware for our tools to
support advanced effects. Whatever the density of the cloth or hair, it
should always be easy for developers to work with and add in to their games.