If you've ever wished you could use Neo style "bullet time" in Unreal Tournament
, you'll be happy to know that some Finnish researchers are looking into implementing a workable version of the ubiquitous time distortion effect.
In the past, developers had two options for implementing bullet-time effects, and both have significant flaws: making the perception of all players slow down at the same time (a tecnique used by games like Perfect Dark), or making one player move very quickly. But researchers from the University of Turku are introducing a third, superior option: a local perception filter (LPF).
When it applies to online shooters like Unreal Tournament, the concept is simple: The LPF will allow one player to gain a strategic advantage over his foes by entering bullet time, but it won't interrupt the pacing of the game. This bullet time-endowed character will see events happen at a slower rate, but to his opponents, he'll still move at regular speed.
This new bullet time will make use of the ways programmers already adjust the speed of games to smooth out the effects of time delays.
In locally networked games, time delays can be as much as 10 milliseconds, while transatlantic games suffer a latency of around 60 milliseconds. However, the use of LPFs means players do not notice any time lag because events are ever so slightly slowed down until the game catches up with itself.
Using a test-bench game called MaxMaze Demonstrator, Smed and colleagues found that they could also artificially introduce delays of up to a few seconds, allowing one player to slow down their environment and gain a strategic advantage, while game-time appeared normal to their opponent.
Check out the Gamepro brief and the original New Scientist
article at the links below.