Home / Gaming / Don't Miss: An in-depth look at the physics of trains in Assassin's Creed Syndicate

Don't Miss: An in-depth look at the physics of trains in Assassin's Creed Syndicate

The next weblog submit, until in a different way famous, was once written by way of a member of Gamasutra’s group.
The ideas and reviews expressed are the ones of the author and now not Gamasutra or its guardian corporate.


On this article, I want to provide our customized simulator which we created to style the physics of trains in Murderer’s Creed Syndicate. The sport is ready within the yr 1868 in London throughout the days of the commercial revolution when steam and metal marked the growth of the society. It was once a super excitement to paintings in this distinctive alternative of bringing to existence the sector of Victorian Technology London. Consideration to the historic and the real-world main points led us to the advent of this physically-based simulation.


It isn’t not unusual in this day and age to jot down your individual physics engine. On the other hand, there are eventualities when it is rather helpful to create your individual bodily simulator from the bottom up. Such eventualities would possibly happen when there are particular stipulations or wishes for a brand new gameplay characteristic or part of the simulated sport global. That is the location which we got here throughout when growing railway gadget and the entire control of trains operating within the 19th-century London.

The usual coupling gadget for trains in Europe is gifted in determine 1 at the left. The similar gadget was once utilized in 19th-century trains in London [1]. After we began our paintings on trains we briefly learned that we will be able to create fascinating interactions and behaviors when bodily simulating the chain. So as a substitute of getting rigidly hooked up wagons, now we have them hooked up with the movable coupling chain which drives the motion for all wagons within the educate.

Determine 1. Chain coupler main points at the left (supply: Wikipedia [1]). The coupling gadget in Murderer’s Creed Syndicate at the proper.

There are a few benefits for our personal physics answer on this case:

  • A curved railway monitor is more uncomplicated to control with the 1D simulator. Having to pressure the 3-D physics middleware to make use of constraints to restrict the motion into the one-dimensional house is relatively a dangerous answer. It may well be very susceptible to each imaginable instability inflicting wagons to fly within the air. On the other hand, we nonetheless sought after to stumble on collisions between wagons in a complete 3-D house.
  • Movable coupling chain offers extra freedom in gameplay design. Compared to the genuine global, we’d like a lot more distance between wagons. That is to have extra space for the participant and the digital camera to accomplish other movements (like hiking to the highest of the wagon). Additionally, our coupling chain is way much less tightly hooked up than in the genuine global, so now we have extra unfastened relative motion between wagons. It lets in us to deal with sharp curves of the railway traces extra simply, whilst collision detection between wagons prevents from interpenetration.
  • With our gadget we will be able to simply strengthen wagon’s decoupling (with particular dealing with of friction) and collisions between decoupled wagons and the remainder of the educate (for instance when the educate stops and decoupled wagons are nonetheless rolling in any case hitting the educate).

Here’s the video with our physics of trains in motion:

We can delivery with the phase explaining first how we keep watch over our trains.


To simplify our dialogue, we use the phrase “tractor” to explain a wagon nearer to the locomotive and the phrase “trailer” to explain a wagon nearer to the tip of the educate.

Controlling locomotive

We now have an easy interface to keep watch over the locomotive – which is composed of asking for a desired velocity:

Locomotive::SetDesiredSpeed(glide DesiredSpeed, glide TimeToReachDesiredSpeed)

Railway gadget supervisor submits such requests for each educate operating within the sport. To execute the request, we calculate a pressure had to generate desired acceleration. We use the next method (Newton’s 2nd legislation):

the place F is computed pressure, m is the locomotive’s mass, , and t = TimeToReachDesiredSpeed.

As soon as the pressure is calculated, we ship it to WagonPhysicsState as an “engine pressure” to pressure the locomotive (extra details about it within the subsequent phase).

Since the bodily habits of the educate can rely for instance at the collection of wagons (wagons colliding with every different developing a sequence response and pushing the educate ahead), we’d like a solution to make certain that our desired velocity request as soon as submitted is totally completed. To succeed in this, we reassess the pressure wanted to achieve desired velocity each 2 seconds. This fashion we’re certain that the request as soon as submitted is in any case reached. However consequently, we don’t seem to be in a position to all the time fulfill TimeToReachDesiredSpeed precisely. On the other hand, small deviations in time have been appropriate in our sport.

Additionally, to stay the rate of the locomotive as given by way of SetDesiredSpeed request, we don’t permit the coupling chain constraint to modify the rate of the locomotive. To compensate the loss of such constraint impulses, we created a distinct strategy to style the dragging pressure – extra about it within the phase “the start-up of the educate”. In spite of everything, we don’t permit collision reaction to switch the rate of the locomotive apart from when the educate decelerates to a 0 velocity.

Within the subsequent phase, we describe our elementary point of the bodily simulation.

Fundamental simulation step

This can be a construction used to stay bodily details about each wagon (and locomotive):

struct WagonPhysicsState

As we will be able to see there is not any angular speed. Although we take a look at collisions between wagons the usage of 3-D packing containers (with rotation all the time aligned to the railway line) trains are shifting within the 1D global alongside the railway line. So there is not any want to stay any details about the angular motion for the physics. Additionally, on account of the 1D nature of our simulation, it is sufficient to use floats to retailer bodily amounts (forces, momentum and velocity).

For each wagon we use Euler manner [2] as a elementary simulation step (dt is the time for one simulation step):

void WagonPhysicsState::BasicSimulationStep(glide dt)

We use 3 primary equations to put into effect our BasicSimulationStep. Those equations state that speed is a by-product of place and pressure is a by-product of momentum (dot above the logo point out by-product with recognize to time) [2 – 4]:

The 3rd equation defines momentum P, which is a multiplication of mass and speed:

In our implementation, making use of an impulse to the wagon is solely an addition operation to the present momentum:

void WagonPhysicsState::ApplyImpulse(glide AmountOfImpulse)

As we will be able to see, right away after converting momentum we’re recalculating our velocity for an more uncomplicated get right of entry to to this price. That is carried out in the similar method as in [2].

Now, when now we have the fundamental strategy to advance the time in our simulation, we will be able to transfer ahead to the opposite portions of our set of rules.

Top-level steps of the simulation for one educate

Here’s the pseudo code for the whole simulation step for one educate:

// Section A
Replace educate start-up velocities

// Section B
For all wagons in educate

// Section C
For all wagons in educate

// Section D
For all wagons in educate

It is very important point out that, as it’s written within the pseudo-code, each phase is completed consecutively for all wagons in a single educate. Section A implements explicit habits associated with the start-up of the educate. Section B applies deferred impulses that come from collisions. Section C is our coupling chain solver – to make certain that we don’t exceed most distance for the chain. Section D is chargeable for engine and friction forces, the fundamental simulation step (integration) and dealing with collisions.

In our simulation set of rules, we all the time stay the similar order of updates for wagons within the educate. We begin from the locomotive and continue consecutively alongside each wagon from the primary one to the ultimate one within the educate. As a result of we’re in a position to make use of this explicit belongings in our simulator, it makes our calculations more uncomplicated to formulate. We use this feature particularly for collision touch – to consecutively simulate each wagon’s motion and take a look at collisions most effective with one different wagon.

Each a part of this high-level simulation loop is defined in main points within the following sections. On the other hand, on account of its significance, we begin with phase D and SimulationStepWithFindCollision.

Simulation with collisions

Here’s the code for our serve as SimulationStepWithFindCollision:

WagonPhysicsState SimulationStepWithFindCollision(WagonPhysicsState InitialState, glide dt)

First, we carry out tentative simulation step the usage of the whole delta time by way of calling

NewState.BasicSimulationStep( dt );

and checking if in a brand new state now we have any collisions:

bool IsCollision = IsCollisionWithWagonAheadOrBehind( NewState );

If this technique returns false, we will be able to use this newly computed state immediately. But when now we have a collision, we execute FindCollision to discover a extra actual time and physics state simply earlier than the collision tournament. To accomplish this activity we’re the usage of binary seek in a an identical approach as in [2].

That is our loop to seek out the extra actual time of collision and physics state:

WagonPhysicsState FindCollision(WagonPhysicsState CurrentPhysicsState, glide TimeToSimulate)

Each iteration will get us nearer to the fitting time of the collision. We additionally know that we want to take a look at our collisions most effective with one wagon immediately forward folks (or in the back of us in a case of backward motion). Approach IsCollisionWithWagonAheadOrBehind makes use of collision check between two orientated bounding packing containers (OBB) to give you the consequence. We’re checking collisions in a complete 3-D house the usage of m_WorldPosition and m_WorldRotation from WagonPhysicsState.

Collision reaction

As soon as now we have discovered the state of physics simply earlier than the collision tournament, we want to calculate suitable response impulse j to use it on each tractor and trailer wagons. First, we begin with a calculation for present relative speed between wagons earlier than the collision:

A an identical price of relative speed  however after the collision tournament:

the place  and  are velocities after the collision reaction impulse j is carried out. Those velocities can also be calculated the usage of velocities from earlier than the collision and our impulse j as follows ( and  are wagon’s plenty):

We’re in a position now to outline the coefficient of restitution r:

The coefficient of restitution describes how “bouncy” the collision reaction is. Worth r = Zero way a complete lack of power, price r = 1 way no lack of power (easiest leap). Substituting into this equation our earlier formulation we get

Organizing this equation to get our impulse j:

In spite of everything, we will be able to calculate our impulse j:

In our sport, we use r = Zero.35 because the coefficient of restitution.

We follow impulse +j to the tractor and impulse -j to the trailer. On the other hand, we use “deferred” impulses for the tractor. As a result of we already processed integration for our tractor and we don’t wish to exchange its present speed, we defer our impulse to the following simulation body. It does now not create any vital exchange in visible habits as one body distinction may be very arduous to note. This “deferred” impulse is amassed for the wagon and carried out throughout phase B within the subsequent simulation body.

A video showcasing the prevent of the educate:

Coupling chain

We will be able to take into accounts the coupling chain as a distance constraint between wagons. To stay this distance constraint happy we compute and follow suitable impulses to modify velocities.

We begin our calculations with a distance analysis for the following simulation step. For each two wagons hooked up by way of a coupling chain, we calculate distances they’ll shuttle throughout the approaching simulation step. We will be able to compute such distance very simply the usage of present speed (and examining our integration equations):

the place x is our distance to shuttle, V is present speed and t is the simulation step time.

Then, we calculate the method:

the place:

 = distance the tractor will shuttle throughout upcoming simulation step.

 = distance the trailer will shuttle throughout upcoming simulation step.

If FutureChainLength is larger than the utmost period of the coupling chain, then our distance constraint will likely be damaged after the following simulation step. Let suppose that

If distance constraint is damaged, d price will likely be certain. In such case, to meet our distance constraint we want to follow such impulses that d = Zero. We can use the wagon’s mass to scale suitable impulses. We wish the lighter wagon to transport farther and the heavier wagon to transport much less. Allow us to outline coefficients  and  as follows

Please realize that . We wish the trailer to transport with the extra distance  and the tractor with the space  throughout the following simulation step. To perform it by way of making use of an impulse we want to multiply the given distance by way of mass divided by way of the simulation step time:

If we can use further image C outlined as follows

we will be able to simplify those impulses to

We will be able to see that they have got equivalent magnitude however the reverse signal.

After making use of each impulses, wagons hooked up with this coupling chain won’t destroy the space constraint throughout the following simulation step. Those impulses adjust velocities in such method that integration formulation will finally end up at positions enjoyable the utmost distance for the chain.

Nonetheless, after computing those impulses for one coupling chain, we will be able to perhaps destroy the utmost chain distance for different wagons in a educate. We’d want to rerun this technique a number of instances to converge to the overall answer. On the other hand, in apply, we run this loop simply as soon as. It’s sufficient to succeed in just right world effects.

We execute those calculations consecutively for each coupling chain in a educate ranging from the locomotive. We all the time follow impulses to each wagons hooked up with the chain. However there’s one exception to this rule: we by no means follow an impulse to the locomotive. We wish the locomotive to stay its velocity, so we follow impulse most effective to the primary wagon after the locomotive. This impulse carried out most effective to the trailer must atone for the entire required distance d (in such case now we have ,  and ).

Correction throughout sharp curves

As a result of our simulation runs alongside the 1D line now we have issues of a really perfect are compatible for the coupling chain at the hook when wagons are operating on a pointy curve. That is the location when our 1D global meets 3-D sport global. Our coupling chain is in any case positioned within the 3-D global, however our impulses (to atone for the space constraint) are carried out most effective in our simplified 1D global. To right kind the overall placement of the chain at the hook we quite adjust MaximumLengthOfCouplingChain relying at the relative perspective between instructions of the tractor and the chain. Larger the perspective, smaller the utmost to be had period of the chain. First, we compute dot product between two normalized vectors:

the place  is the normalized path of the coupling chain and  is the ahead path of the tractor. Then, we use the next method to in any case compute the space we wish to subtract from the bodily period of the coupling chain:

glide DistanceConvertedFromCosAngle = 2.0f*clamp( (1.0f-s)-Zero.001f, Zero.0f, 1.0f );
glide DistanceSubtract = clamp( DistanceConvertedFromCosAngle, Zero.0f, Zero.9f );

As you’ll see we don’t calculate the precise price of the perspective, as we use cosine perspective immediately. It saves us some processing time and is enough for our wishes. We additionally use some further numbers, in line with empirical checks – to restrict values inside affordable thresholds. In spite of everything, we use DistanceSubtract price earlier than beginning to fulfill the space constraint for the coupling chain:

MaximumLengthOfCouplingChain = ChainPhysicalLength - DistanceSubtract;

It seems that those formulation paintings really well in apply. It makes our coupling chain putting as it should be at the hook even on sharp turnings alongside the railway curves.

Now, we can describe explicit case of the start-up of the educate.

The beginning-up of the educate

As discussed earlier than, we don’t seem to be permitting the coupling chain impulses to modify the rate of the locomotive. On the other hand, we nonetheless want a solution to simulate results of a dragging pressure – particularly throughout the start-up of the educate. When locomotive begins it drags different wagons, but additionally the locomotive itself will have to decelerate consistent with the dragging mass of wagons. To succeed in this, we change velocities when the educate speeds up from a 0 velocity. We begin with calculations in line with the legislation of conservation of momentum. This legislation states that “the momentum of a gadget is continuous until exterior forces act on that gadget” [3]. It implies that in our case the momentum  earlier than dragging some other wagon, will have to be equivalent to the momentum  simply after the coupling chain is pulling some other wagon:

In our case, we will be able to extend it to the next method:

the place  is the mass of the i-th wagon ( is the mass of the locomotive),  is the present velocity of the locomotive (we suppose that every one already shifting wagons have the similar velocity because the locomotive),  is the rate of the gadget after the dragging (we suppose that every one dragged wagons may have the similar velocity). If we use further image  outlined as follows

we will be able to simplify our method on this method

 is the price we’re on the lookout for:

The use of this method, we merely set the brand new speed  for the locomotive and for all wagons (from 2 to n) these days being dragged by way of the coupling chain.

In determine 2 under we will be able to see the schematic description when the locomotive  and two wagons begin to drag the 3rd wagon :

Determine 2. The beginning-up of the educate.

Here’s the video with the start-up of the educate:


To compute friction pressure (variable m_FrictionForce in WagonPhysicsState) we’re the usage of formulation and values selected after a sequence of experiments to higher strengthen our gameplay. We now have consistent friction pressure price, however moreover, we’re scaling it consistent with the present velocity (when the rate is under four). Here’s the graph of our usual friction pressure for wagons:

Determine three. The usual friction pressure for wagons.

We use other friction values for indifferent wagons:

Determine four. The friction pressure for indifferent wagons.

Moreover, we wish to permit the participant to simply bounce between wagons throughout a brief period of time after the detaching. So, we use a smaller price of the friction and we scale it with the time passing from the detaching tournament. The general price of the friction for indifferent wagons is given by way of:

the place t is time handed from the detaching tournament (measured in seconds).

As we will be able to see, we use no friction throughout the primary three seconds after which step by step build up it.

Ultimate remarks

In our trains, we even have movable bumpers on the entrance and the again of each wagon. Those bumpers don’t generate any bodily forces. We carried out their habits as an extra visible component. They transfer consistent with the detected displacement of a neighbor bumper in some other wagon.

Additionally, as you’ll realize, we don’t seem to be checking collisions between other trains in our simulator. It’s the accountability of the railway gadget supervisor to regulate trains velocity to stop collisions. In our simulation, we take a look at collisions between wagons most effective inside one educate.

It is very important point out that for the fine quality belief of trains within the sport sounds and particular results play an important position. We’re calculating other amounts derived from the bodily behaviors to keep watch over sounds and FXs (like sounds for the stress of the coupling chain, bumpers hit, deceleration, and so forth.). 


We offered our customized physically-based simulator for trains created for Murderer’s Creed Syndicate. It was once a super excitement and a large problem to paintings in this a part of the sport. Within the open-world revel in, there are numerous gameplay alternatives and other interactions. It creates much more demanding situations to ship solid and strong techniques. However in spite of everything, it is rather rewarding to look at trains operating within the sport and contributing to the overall high quality of the participant’s revel in.

Thank you

I want to thank James Carnahan from Ubisoft Quebec Town and Nobuyuki Miura from Ubisoft Singapore for reviewing this text and helpful recommendation.

I want to thank my colleagues at Ubisoft Quebec Town studio: Pierre Fortin – who let me delivery with the physics of trains and impressed to push it ahead; Dave Tremblay for his technical recommendation; James Carnahan for each discuss physics we did in combination; Matthieu Pierrot for his inspiring perspective; Maxime Start who was once all the time glad to begin a discuss programming with me; Vincent Martineau for each assist I’ve gained from him. I would really like additionally to thank Martin Bedard, Marc Parenteau, Jonathan Gendron, Carl Dumont, Patrick Charland, Emil Uddestrand, Damien Bastian, Eric Martel, Steve Blezy, Patrick Legare, Guillaume Lupien, Eric Girard and each different one who labored on Murderer’s Creed Syndicate for making such unbelievable sport!


[1] “Buffers and chain coupler”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffers_and_chain_coupler

[2] Andrew Witkin, David Baraff and Michael Kass, “An Advent to Bodily Based totally Modeling”, http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~baraff/pbm/

[3] Fletcher Dunn, Ian Parberry, “3-D Math Primer for Graphics and Sport Building, 2d Version”, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Workforce, 2011.

[4] David H. Eberly, “Sport Physics. 2d Version”, Morgan Kaufmann, Elsevier, 2010.

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