Massive Attack

If he only had a brain ...


1. BUILD THE AGENT Massive agents begin life rendered as three-dimensional characters, not the stick figures of older software. Each body part has a size and a weight that obeys the laws of physics–as, for example, when the agent is beheaded and topples off a 50-foot ladder.

To create a 50,000-strong mob of intelligent digital warriors, Massive creator Stephen Regelous builds each agent piece by piece, implanting a digital brain into a rendered body. Then he replicates and tweaks the agents. In a scene, agents make decisions based on their abilities-and on what’s happening around them.


Movement data gleaned from human actors performing in a motion-capture studio is loaded into the Massive program and associated with a skeleton. The programmer can fine-tune the agents’ movements using the controls on the bottom of the screen.


The core of every agent is its brain, a network of thousands of interconnected logic nodes (only a fraction of which are shown here). One group of nodes might represent balance, another the ability to tell friend from foe. The agent’s brain relies on fuzzy logic, a kind of artificial intelligence in which values are continuously variable and outcomes intuitive. Massive characters act more like people than like robots.


When a variety of agents have been developed, copies are created from each blueprint, then the copies are tweaked to give each fighter a unique mix of various characteristics-height, aggressiveness, even dirtiness. The 50,000 characters in the scene will act as individuals. They are placed into a battlefield grid for testing.


The simulations begin. Since agents are programmed with tendencies, not specific tasks to accomplish, there is no

guarantee they will behave as the director needs them to. Only through a trial-and-error process, in which the characters’ programs are constantly adjusted, is the battle scene finalized.