Monday, March 15, 2010

Game Logic III

A while back I posted about a new way of thinking about games logic and game entities. Now, I've been writing up a doc on how to make your game data-oriented using ideas from database engineering.

I feel like I've come full circle, right back to university, where I first learned about databases, about data-flow and about entity relationship diagrams.

So, onto the important. Data-oriented development: taking the old OO and throwing out the random access patterns, bringing in the structs of arrays. Graphics cards are very good stream processors, and so will all the big CPUs in our near future. Data-oriented development will let us stream through this era and give us a high possibility of utilising our machines to their fullest.

This article explains the basics better than I can, but it uses a lot of words...

Extending that, think about bools being replaced by existence in tables, using table rows for attributes but their existence to indicate that the attribute is somehow not default. We do it in many markup languages. Also think about entities as implicit through their behaviours, you can switch type as quick as you can delete a row from one table and insert it into another. This gives you runtime dynamic polymorphism without even the overhead of a normal virtual call.

If entities are implicit, then you also get what I call count-lodding, on the cheap. Count-lodding is where the LOD determines how many entities there are, such as a single "squadron" entity turning into individual planes once they're close enough, or passengers in a car, driver too, turning in their IDs to the car itself, which went from being a car-passive, to a car-driven, taking some attributes from a pedestrian that got into the driving seat, now merely a rendering task and a memento of their pedestrian selves.

This methodology leads us to a minimal amount of memory used for all tasks, keeps our allocations in regular sized pieces (because rows are regular), and gives us direction for optimisation, and provides a simple to parallelise code base, in fact, probably generically threadable. Serialising becomes a doddle, and networking should be quite a lot simpler too. Also, using this data-oriented tabled approach gives us access to years of development experience by database engineers. It finally gives us some really useful science to utilise in our day to day job.

Many times I've wanted there to be games-design-patterns, but never came across much more than the GameSessionLevel pattern, or the ObjectModelController pattern.
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