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Ragdoll Physics, how do they work?

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When asked for his theoretical opinion, Gordon Freeman was... unavailable

I've been thinking about finally taking a step into some unknown territory, that being ragdoll physics. 

There's so many of them it seems simple enough to learn how, I realize alot of the "silly ragdolls" submissions are more or less happy accidents resulting from someone tinkering with the .phy files.

My main question before I delve into it, which will help me figure out what tools, resources or whatever I need,

"How does it work?" is it a series of writable scripts like "biped_upperarm_L: weight= 1337, damping= 9001...." or is it more of a ragdoll physics quandary requiring some special tool?


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