Interview
helios

Particle Swarms in Metroid Prime 3’s Helios Boss with Paul Tozour

Alex J. Champandard on March 9, 2009


Metroid Prime 3 was a Wii launch title and received critical acclaim from the press for its gameplay, design and controls. The game didn’t receive as much attention from the gaming community as a whole though, and wasn’t listed among our best games in 2007. Paul Tozour (Senior AI Engineer on the project) joked with me at the time that he would have put Metroid Prime 3 on that list… Having not played the game at the time, I didn’t quite understand that he was undoubtedly right — until his interview last December.

One aspect of Metroid Prime 3’s innovation was its use of particle swarms to portray various enemies in the Sky Town level, as well as the final Helios boss himself. This boss is radically different from the usual Nintendo archetype as he’s composed of one prime bot and many smaller bots swarming around him… Paul Tozour, who was behind the implementation the design of Helios, talks about the development process in this video.

In the segment that precedes the following 4 minute highlight, Paul talks how the boss was implemented, in particular its use of multiple swarm controllers that can move the individual bots around and make smooth transitions between them. The clip below goes into the details of how the controllers for each of Helios’ forms behave.

NOTE: Paul’s use of waypoints is a bit of an inside joke. Paul is not only a strong advocate of navigation meshes, but he actively discourages waypoint uses… So his admission of using waypoints for Helios was quite a surprise!

Early in the recording, Phil Carlisle’s question was about the performance of the swarm when colliding with the geometry, and how the individual bots were prevented from intersecting with the level itself. If you’d like to hear more from Paul, as well as his answer to these topics about optimizing the particle swarm to run on restricted hardware, you can find the Premium Members’ Area right here.

Discussion 1 Comments

PaulTozour on March 14th, 2009

Thanks for posting this, Alex! Just a quick note re: [QUOTE]NOTE: Paul’s use of waypoints is a bit of an inside joke. Paul is not only a strong advocate of navigation meshes, but he actively discourages waypoint uses… So his admission of using waypoints for Helios was quite a surprise![/QUOTE] I only discourage the use of waypoints for pathfinding specifically ... They're great for everything else :)

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