I have a thought on which I would value the community's feedback.
Say you have a tree. For ease of reference, this is just a cylinder. Now, you have an actor swinging an axe. Given a few variables, we know how deeply the axe can "cut" into the tree, the angle of the strikes and so on. Based on these angles and deepness of the cuts, I want to deform the base model potentially separating it entirely, doing some dynamic texture swapping to keep up the illusion you're actually chopping into a tree.
Does anyone see a computational hindrance here even when considering potentially hundreds of NPCs? Would it be possible to "destroy" the original model and have two models if you, say, chopped a wedge out of the side of this tree so they could then be interacted with independently?
No, I have not done any programming work on this myself, yet. I don't want to waste time on something that could prove to be a fool's errand. I'm just asking from a conceptual, theoretical basis. This is the tip of an iceberg should this be doable. I just thought this would be an "easy" starting point. I know there have been some examples with water and pouring between containers and with other liquids. My understanding of them is they work with, more or less, particle systems. This would be with solid models. I've thought about doing this with voxels, and while possible, I would prefer to use traditional models. I would think the tradeoff here would be putting more work on the CPU and GPU if what I'm asking about is doable versus keeping a voxel model and all that contains stored in memory at once.