GDC 2022 Reveals Several Horizon Forbidden West Panels

GDC 2022 revealed they have several panels on the way next month that centers around the recent release of Horizon Forbidden West. The even has seven different panels that you'll be able to attend during the event, which is set to run from March 21st-25th in San Francisco at the Moscone Center. However, like a lot of the programming announced so far, they have yet to put down any official times and dates as to when they'll be taking place. For the time being, here's all seven panels and their descriptions for you to read up on.

GDC 2022 Reveals Several Horizon Forbidden West Panels
Credit: Sony Interactive Entertainment

Architecting Jolt Physics for Horizon Forbidden West
Presented by: Jorrit Rouwe (Lead Game Tech, Guerrilla Games)

For Horizon Forbidden West, Guerrilla Games switched from a commercial physics engine to Jolt Physics, an open-source physics engine that was born as a personal hobby project. By switching to this new engine, we saved memory, executable size and were able to double our simulation frequency while using less CPU time. This talk describes how we use a physics engine at Guerrilla, how our previous physics engine caused bottlenecks while streaming in data and while interacting with the multi-threaded game object update. Jolt was architected specifically to help solve these two problems and the talk explains two of the systems that made this possible.

Level Design Summit: Knocking on Death's Door: Designing a New Bunker for Horizon Forbidden West
Presented by: Blake Rebouche (Senior Quest Designer, Guerrilla)

In this talk Guerrilla Senior Quest Designer Blake Rebouche goes in-depth explaining the creation and iteration process of the new Horizon Forbidden West quest "Death's Door." Providing examples detailing the change in the level design during each stage of development, Blake demonstrates how "Death's Door" grew as an extension of what made the underground bunker levels of Horizon Zero Dawn so engaging into a platform for showcasing Forbidden West's new gameplay mechanics.

Adventures with Deferred Texturing in Horizon Forbidden West
Presented by: James McLaren (Senior Principal Tech Programmer, Guerrilla)

To accelerate its foliage and alpha tested geometry Horizon Forbidden West implements a novel loosely tiled deferred texturing system. A visibility buffer is drawn as a pre-pass followed by analysis and shading steps which run entirely in compute shaders. The use of compute shaders also provides extra flexibility that allows for the implementation of a software variable rate shading solution. Due to being able to run on the compute pipes on PS4 and PS5 it is able to overlap both the G-Buffer rendering and the rendering of cascaded shadow maps meaning that analysis and shading typically have very little overhead. This presentation will describe details of the system, and the optimizations and design choices made to integrate it into the Decima engine.

Building Machines for a Better Future in Horizon
Presented by: Maxim Fleury (Lead Asset Artist, Machine and Weapons Team at Guerrilla Games) and Lennart Franken (Senior Asset Artist, Machine and Weapons Team at Guerrilla Games)

This presentation breaks down the process of creating and building the iconic machines seen in the Horizon franchise. It discusses the machine asset pipeline at Guerrilla from a technical and organizational perspective. The session shows the complete pipeline from concept to game delivery and elaborates on the techniques used. In addition to looking at the technical part of the process, it also expands on the production side. It evaluates what it takes to manage a creative team, particularly providing ownership that fosters motivation and passion during a long project. The presentation also details the role of outsourcing in this process, and how this external potential complimented the work done at Guerrilla.

The Real-time Volumetric Superstorms of Horizon Forbidden West
Presented by: Andrew Schneider (Principal FX (Clouds) Artist, Guerrilla Games)

Real-time Volumetric Cloud systems in Games have seen increasing adoption by game developers in the past few years. Many systems use a coverage/type map based modeling method combined with an optimized ray-march and shading solution similar to or expanded upon what was described in detail in the SIGGRAPH 2015 Publication, The Real-Time Volumetric Cloudscapes of Horizon Zero Dawn. This session will focus on explaining how Guerrilla expanded its Nubis cloud system to include tornadic superstorms, internal lighting and lightning flashes, a solution to render faster moving clouds with temporal upscaling as well as visual enhancements – all without using expensive simulations or lighting calculations so that the system could scale between current and previous-gen Playstation consoles.

Creating the Many Faces of Horizon Forbidden West
Presented by: Arno Schmitz (Principal Character Artist, Guerrilla Games)

People have an intrinsic ability to identify the attributes of the human face and remember details. This is no different with the faces of a game character: we remember their names, attributes, and expressions. Building quality characters, with their faces as the most important graphical benchmarks, is, therefore, one of the core pillars of game development. Guerrilla wants to share how they achieved the final quality of the characters' faces in Horizon Forbidden West and show off the incredibly high fidelity thanks to the power of the PlayStation 5. Most importantly, Guerrilla will discuss how to do all this to scale so that all faces in the Forbidden West's open-world have a similarly high quality.

Evolving the 'Horizon' Series: Animating Believable Robots and Characters
Presented by: Richard Oud (Gameplay Animation Director, Guerrilla Games)

Horizon Forbidden West is the latest game created by Guerrilla and is the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn published in 2017. The animation team worked hard to produce new mechanics, features and enemies for Aloy's new adventure. In this session, Richard Oud (Gameplay Animation Director) will cover an in-depth look at the supporting animations and systems that drive these topics, ranging from player mechanics, robotic creatures and human enemies defining the core gameplay experience of Horizon Forbidden West. A strong focus lies on the team keeping close watch of the character personalities and background story during development to make sure it fits the visual language established in Horizon Zero Dawn.

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About Gavin Sheehan

Gavin is the current Games Editor for Bleeding Cool. He has been a lifelong geek who can chat with you about comics, television, video games, and even pro wrestling. He can also teach you how to play Star Trek chess, be your Mercy on Overwatch, recommend random cool music, and goes rogue in D&D. He also enjoys hundreds of other geeky things that can't be covered in a single paragraph. Follow @TheGavinSheehan on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Vero, for random pictures and musings.
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