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The NVIDIA Ninja Graphics Technology Report 2.0
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So What Is Ninja Graphics?

Normally, primitive data is converted to vertex points in 2D space before textures are applied and the scene is rendered. However, when an NVIDIA Kepler-based graphics card detects a game that supports Ninja Graphics, the GPU will automatically replicate an extra set of 3D primitive data for each frame and modify one copy with a random variable so that there are two slightly different primitives. The modified data will be sent back to the game, while the unmodified data sent to the vertex shaders and rendered normally.

Why do that at all? Well, the modified primitive data tricks the game into showing the player at a slightly different position in the game's world space. What this means is that the player appears slightly off to one side or another to other players (or the game's non-player characters) even though he is exactly where he's supposed to be. Perhaps this is why NVIDIA calls it Ninja Graphics - the player appears to be there, but isn't actually there.

In a head-to-head scenario of a first person player (FPS) game with another human player, the opposing player may have you in his gunsights, but he is only seeing what's presented by the modified primitive data. The actual position of the player is only slightly adjusted so it won't interfere with the game physics but this will be enough to change a headshot to a miss, or a critical hit to a non-critical hit. How about that!

According to the internal whitepaper, this slight modification is why it needs so much processing power. Before the duplicated 3D primitive data can be modified, the graphics driver itself must use some logic to analyze where the player is, in relation to the rest of the world, and how much the position should shift. Then the GPU needs to modify and rebuild the 3D primitive data before sending it back to the game.

It appears that the "position jiggle" is restricted to no more than 5-6 inches (12-15 centimeters to the rest of us) in the virtual world so the player won't appear ridiculous, like he's embedded into a wall, for example. That would give the game away immediately! Of course, they also randomized the process so that there will be times when your character will be in the correct position in the game's world space.


Game Support

It appears that while NVIDIA has worked out the concept, but they still need to get the developers onboard. Without game support, the NVIDIA Kepler-based graphics card will behave like any other graphics card.

One of the first developers to agree is apparently EA Digital Illusions, the developer of Battlefield 3. There is a demo video of a Battlefield 3 headshot demonstrating the difference between having Ninja Graphics enabled and disabled, from the perspective of an opponent, of course. The video shows what would have been a clean headshot but when the trigger is pulled, the opposing player (with Ninja Graphics enabled) did not keel over and die. In fact, the shot appeared to hit the pavement behind his head.

Obviously, this is a significant advantage for the player who has a card that supports Ninja Graphics. Although the randomized process means this "trick" only works some of the time, it is still a very unfair advantage. From what we understand, no player will ever know what's going on. The NVIDIA player will assume that he just got lucky, while the non-NVIDIA player will assume he missed. However, NVIDIA appears to be hoping that the effect will be significant enough to filter down to the gamers' subconscious so that they will associate good luck with NVIDIA Kepler graphics cards.


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