While Collision Detection addresses the problem of preventing objects from intersecting each other adequately for most applications, some games and simulations may need to model more realistic dynamic interactions between objects, taking into account such things as an object’s mass, friction, elasticity and external forces.

These uses may require the use of a physics engine. This is a system that can model interactions between objects using physics equations, taking into account far more parameters than a simple collision response system can.

Panda3D offers several choices to use for physics. Before you choose one, however, think carefully whether you need the additional complexity, performance and authoring cost of a physics simulation, and whether perhaps Collision Detection on its own might be adequate for your use-cases.

  • Panda’s Built-in Physics Engine: Panda3D has a very basic physics engine built-in that may apply forces to classes. The physics engine can handle angular or linear forces, as well as viscosity.

  • Bullet Physics Engine: This is a good choice for more advanced physics in most games.

  • The Open Dynamics Engine: This is another option provided as part of the Panda3D binaries, but does not support as many features as Bullet.

When you have a very simple simulation, you will most likely want to use the built-in physics, which works with Panda’s collision system. However, many applications that need physics simulations may find it inadequate, as the Bullet system is far more full-featured.