Tuesday, December 6, 2011

QuickStart Engine v0.24 coming soon

I've been hard at work on the next version of the QuickStart Engine, trying to get some much needed features into the engine while I still have some free time. I predict I'll have this next version checked in within the next few days.

Here's my changelist so far:
  • Messages now have a new member called 'protocol'. This gives the message properties so that it can not return after being handled by a single source, but also continue on to other components. It also lets the sender and handler know the intent of the message, for example, a SetPosition message has 'Broadcast' type, which means it is going to be broadcasting a change from the sender of the message to any component that is listening. In contrast, a GetPosition message has 'Request' type, which means only a single component should handle the message, and the handler is expected to return new information in the message. And finally there is the 'Accumulate' method, which allows the user to send the message to multiple components, and each one will have a chance to make changes or add to the data.
  • ViewMatrix, ProjectionMatrix, and ViewFrustum data members in BaseEntity were moved to the CameraComponent class. This will save on memory by not having these exist on every entity, and also will remove clutter from the BaseEntity class. This did cause some changes to the variables passed through various functions, mostly in the GraphicsSystem class.
  • When using the QSGame.QueueMessage method message protocol is enforced, to prevent the user from sending a request message, which would fail because request messages must immediately return results to the caller.
  • Changed the default physics deactivation values for the engine, added constants for this that can be changed based on the game and scale used. This will result in a better framerate when there are lots of dynamic physics objects in a scene.
  • Entities and components now receive a call to a new function called 'AddedToScene', which is called whenever the entity is added to a scene. This allows the entity and components to do things that normally required a game message to be sent, which couldn't be done until an entity was in the scene.
  • LightComponents no longer need to have InitializeLightDirection() called manually on them to properly rotate the light, this is now done automatically within the component.
  • Entities with SkyComponents no longer need to be manually attached to the camera, they will now handle this on their own.
  • GeometricPrimitiveType enum uses 'Box' now instead of 'Cube', to match the ShapeType enum.
  • Terrain (which was a class derived from BaseEntity) is now TerrainComponent and is derived from BaseComponent. This makes it easier to load Terrain through the new loading method (XML templates).
  • Constant movement component now allows for a constant direction movement, not just sine-wave type of movements.
  • The current render camera is now notified of any changes to graphics settings.
Bug fixes:
  • Light direction shader parameter now has a correct .W value of 1.0 rather than 0.0
  • Cameras will now automatically assume the aspect ratio of the viewport/window rather than defaulting to a specific preset value (unless you explicitly define one).

  • Entities and Components can now be loaded entirely from XML definition files. This is a large step towards supporting a level editor that can save out entire scenes in a compact format. In the mean time it means that designer types can create entities through XML rather than C#.
  • Multi-sampling anti-aliasing should work once again. Edit your settings.xml and set "IsMultiSampling" to true to use it, but be aware on PC it will generally cut the framerate in half.
  • Texturing and normal mapping now work properly. Demo has been setup with a couple of textured and normal mapped entities.
  • Ability to create physics box and sphere shapes based on the vertices in a model. This allows you take a model and wrap it in box or sphere physics. Previous this only worked with TriangleMesh shapes which are static so their uses are limited.
  • The full component list stored in BaseEntity is now a dictionary with a 'key' of ComponentType. This allows programmers to easily get a component from an Entity for direct access as an alternative to creating and sending game messages.
  • New physics class for Terrain, called TerrainPhysicsComponent. This allowed us to move all heightfield specific physics out of the PhysicsComponent and into its own class. This also makes it easier to load terrain.
Here's a sample screenshot showing texturing works. And every entity in this scene is now loaded almost entirely from XML files rather than code.

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