Archive for March, 2011

Face Hunt - Introduction

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

We are developing an Android game using Libgdx named Face Hunt. It is only a test to learn a bit about Libgdx and Android's world. Right now, the game will work best on 480x800 devices.

The game is about killing smilies by touching them :D, here is a video:

And here is the qr code for the link of the game if you want to download the game in your android and test it:


qrcode

Btw, if you want to download the apk, you can touch the image. Don't rely on that link, it could be down in any time, the idea is to put our games on android market directly.

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Animation4j - Interpolation Functions

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Interpolation Functions are a key concept in animation4j project, they define how to a variable should change from one value to another. To define interpolation functions in animation4j, InterpolatorFunction interface should be implemented, the API looks like this:

public interface InterpolatorFunction {

	/**
	 * @param t
	 *            A real number in the interval [0,1]
	 * @return The interpolated value.
	 */
	float interpolate(float t);

}

So basically, functions works for values of t between interval [0,1]. An example implementation of this function is a linear Bézier:

/**
 * Linear Bézier curve implementation of an InterpolatorFunction.
 * 
 */
public class LinearBezierInterpolatorFunction implements InterpolatorFunction {

	private final float p0, p1;

	public LinearBezierInterpolatorFunction(float p0, float p1) {
		this.p0 = p0;
		this.p1 = p1;
	}

	@Override
	public float interpolate(float t) {
		if (t < 0)
			return p0;
		if (t > 1)
			return p1;
		return (1 - t) * p0 + t * p1;
	}

}

The library already provides some implementations, you could instantiate them using InterpolatorFunctionFactory factory class. The API of the factory looks like this:

	// returns a cubic Bézier interpolation function based on the four specified points.
	InterpolatorFunction cubicBezier(float p0, float p1, float p2, float p3);

	// returns a quadratic Bézier interpolation function based on the four specified points.
	InterpolatorFunction quadratic(float p0, float p1, float p2);

	// returns a cubic Bézier interpolation function with presetted values.
	InterpolatorFunction ease();

	// returns a linear Bézier interpolation function.
	InterpolatorFunction linear();

	// returns a cubic Bézier interpolation function with presetted values.
	InterpolatorFunction easeIn();

	// returns a cubic Bézier interpolation function with presetted values.
	InterpolatorFunction easeOut();

	// returns a cubic Bézier interpolation function with presetted values.
	InterpolatorFunction easeInOut();

In the previous post we talked about transitions of variables from one value to another using Transition interface. When building a transition using the Transitions factory, you could specify the interpolation functions you want to use, if you don't, then linear Bézier functions are used by default. One example of how to create a Transition specifying the interpolation functions looks like this:

Transition<Vector2f> transition = Transitions.transition(
	new Vector2f(0f, 0f), 					// the starting value
	vector2fConverter, 						// the type converter (using two variables)
	InterpolatorFunctionFactory.easeOut(),	// the interpolation function for the first variable
	InterpolatorFunctionFactory.easeIn());	// the interpolation function for the second variable

One thing to mention is that Transitions factory methods use a varargs to specify interpolation functions parameters because we don't know beforehand how many variables you need. In case you specify less functions than variables, then linear Bézier functions will be used for the variables without functions specified.

As we said on the previous post, animation4j API could change since this blog post was written. API used for this post is the one of the current released version 0.0.8 (already uploaded to maven central).

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Animation4j - Transitions

Friday, March 25th, 2011

As we said on a previous post, we are going to talk a bit more about the current released version (0.0.8) of animation4j, remember that the API could change since we wrote this post.

In this case, we are going to talk about making a transition from one value to another in some time. Animation4j provides you one interface to make transitions, the Transition interface, the API by now looks like this:

public interface Transition<T> {

	/**
	 * Returns the current value of the transition.
	 * 
	 */
	T get();

	/**
	 * Start an interpolation from a to b in the specified default time.
	 * 
	 * @param t
	 *            The wanted new value.
	 */
	void set(T t);

	/**
	 * Start an interpolation from a to b in the specified time.
	 * 
	 * @param t
	 *            The wanted new value.
	 * @param time
	 *            The time to set the new value. If time is zero, then value is applied directly.
	 */
	void set(T t, int time);
}

The library uses generics so you can create transitions of any type. To do this, you can use the Transitions factory class, where you can create transitions for your types. The API of the factory class looks like this:

<T> Transition<T> transition(T startValue, TypeConverter<T> typeConverter);

The current Transition generic implementation internally work with a float[] in order to optimize memory and to simplify internal work. To use it, you will have to create a converter from your type to float[] and vice versa by implementing the TypeConverter<T> interface. Current API of TypeConverter<T> looks like this:

/**
 * Provides a way to convert an object in a float[] array and vice versa, for interpolation purposes.
 * 
 * @param <T>
 *            The type to convert.
 * @author acoppes
 */
public interface TypeConverter<T> {

	/**
	 * Returns the quantity of variables are used to convert the object to the float[] and vice versa.
	 * 
	 * @return the quantity of variables used.
	 */
	int variables();

	/**
	 * Copy the values of the object to the specified float array, if null it will create a new float array.
	 * 
	 * @param object
	 *            The object from where to get the values to fulfill the float array.
	 * @param x
	 *            The float array to copy the values of the object. If null it will create a new float array.
	 * @return The float array with the values of the object.
	 */
	float[] copyFromObject(T object, float[] x);

	/**
	 * Copy the values of the float array to the specified object.
	 * 
	 * @param object
	 *            The object which the float array values will be copied to. If null or object immutable, it will create a new object.
	 * @param x
	 *            The float array to get the values to fulfill the object.
	 * @return An object with the values of the float array.
	 */
	T copyToObject(T object, float[] x);

}

Type converters should be stateless, so you can reuse a single type converter for all your transitions of the same type. For the next Vector2f class example:

public class Vector2f {

	public float x,y;

	public Vector2f(float x, float y) {
		set(x,y);
	}

	public void set(float x, float y) {
		this.x = x;
		this.y = y;
	}

}

We could create the next type converter:

public class Vector2fConverter implements TypeConverter<Vector2f> {

	@Override
	public float[] copyFromObject(Vector2f v, float[] x) {
		if (x == null) 
			x = new float[variables()];  // don't worry about garbage generation, the transition implementation will cache these values.
		x[0] = v.x;
		x[1] = v.y;
		return x;
	}

	@Override
	public Vector2f copyToObject(Vector2f v, float[] x) {
		if (v == null)
			v = new Vector2f(0, 0); // don't worry about garbage generation, the transition implementation will cache these values.
		v.x = x[0];
		v.y = x[1];
		return v;
	}

	@Override
	public int variables() {
		// we are only using two variables.
		return 2;
	}
}

So, to create a transition, your code would look like:

TypeConverter<Vector2f> converter = new Vector2fConverter(); // could be reused
Transition<Vector2f> transition = Transitions.transition(new Vector2f(100, 100), converter);

// now, set a transition to (500,500) in five seconds.
transition.set(new Vector2f(500, 500), 5000);

// wait some time, and get the value interpolated
Vector2f v = transition.get();

For more information, there is an transitions example in the examples module.

The idea is to provide different TypeConverter implementations for different libraries as project modules so you don't have to implement a TypeConverter for a Slick2D vector2f, or libgdx Vector2. However it is really easy to implement a type converter and you only have to do it once. Also, you will probably use transitions only for some types.

In one of the next posts, we want to talk about interpolation functions (and how are they used for transitions) as they are key concepts in animation4j project.

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Lighting Bolts Effect

Saturday, March 19th, 2011

Some time ago I made a lighting bolt effect in Java, using Slick2D library, following the tutorial of Drilian’s House of Game Development. My results:

If you are looking to make a nice lighting bolt effect for your game, I recommend you to follow the original tutorial.

Here is my code if you want to use it and/or modify it:

  
package com.gemserk.commons.tests;

import static org.lwjgl.opengl.GL11.*;

import java.util.ArrayList;
import java.util.Collection;
import java.util.Random;
import java.util.concurrent.Callable;

import org.newdawn.slick.AppGameContainer;
import org.newdawn.slick.BasicGame;
import org.newdawn.slick.GameContainer;
import org.newdawn.slick.Graphics;
import org.newdawn.slick.Input;
import org.newdawn.slick.SlickException;
import org.newdawn.slick.geom.Line;
import org.newdawn.slick.geom.Vector2f;
import org.newdawn.slick.opengl.SlickCallable;

public class LightingBoltTestTemporal extends BasicGame {

	public LightingBoltTestTemporal(String title) {
		super(title);
	}

	public static void main(String[] arguments) throws SlickException {
		AppGameContainer app = new AppGameContainer(new LightingBoltTestTemporal("Name");
		app.setDisplayMode(320, 240, false);
		app.setAlwaysRender(true);
		app.setMinimumLogicUpdateInterval(1);
		app.setShowFPS(true);
		app.start();
		return app;
	}

	public static class LightingBoltEffect {

		Collection segments;

		int totalTime;

		int currentTime;

		private float lineWidth;

		public LightingBoltEffect(int time, Collection segments, float lineWidth) {
			this.totalTime = time;
			this.segments = segments;
			this.currentTime = time;
			this.lineWidth = lineWidth;
		}

		public void update(int delta) {
			currentTime -= delta;
			if (currentTime <= 0)
				currentTime = 0;
		}

		public void render() {
			float alpha = (float) currentTime / (float) totalTime;
			glPushMatrix();
			glColor4f(alpha, alpha, alpha, alpha);
			glLineWidth(lineWidth);
			glBegin(GL_LINES);
			{
				for (Line segment : segments) {
					glVertex(segment.getStart());
					glVertex(segment.getEnd());
				}
			}
			glEnd();
			glPopMatrix();
		}

		public boolean isDone() {
			return currentTime <= 0;
		}
		

		public void glVertex(Vector2f v) {
			glVertex3f(v.x, v.y, 0);
		}
		
	}

	@Override
	public void init(GameContainer container) throws SlickException {
		generateLightingBolt(new Vector2f(50, 240), new Vector2f(290, 240), 100);
	}

	protected void generateLightingBolt(Vector2f p0, Vector2f p1, int duration) {
		Collection segments = new ArrayList();
		
		segments.add(new Line(p0, p1));
		
		float offset = 200f;
		double probability = 0.3; // probability to generate new partitions
		float height = 50.0f; 
		
		Random random = new Random();
		
		int partitions = 4;
		
		for (int i = 0; i < partitions; i++) {
		
			Collection newSegments = new ArrayList();
		
			for (Line segment : segments) {
		
				Vector2f midPoint = segment.getStart().copy().add(segment.getEnd()).scale(0.5f);
		
				Vector2f perpendicular = midPoint.copy().add(90);
				perpendicular.normalise().scale(random.nextFloat() * offset - (offset / 2));
				midPoint.add(perpendicular);
				
				if (random.nextFloat() < probability) {
					// generate new branch
					Vector2f direction = midPoint.copy().sub(segment.getStart());
					direction.add(random.nextFloat() * height);
					newSegments.add(new Line(midPoint.copy(), midPoint.copy().add(direction)));
				}
		
				newSegments.add(new Line(segment.getStart().copy(), midPoint.copy()));
				newSegments.add(new Line(midPoint.copy(), segment.getEnd().copy()));
			}
		
			segments = newSegments;
		
			offset /= 2;
		}
		lightingBoltEffect = new LightingBoltEffect(duration, segments, 2.0f);
	}

	private LightingBoltEffect lightingBoltEffect;

	@Override
	public void update(GameContainer container, int delta) throws SlickException {
		lightingBoltEffect.update(delta);
		if (!lightingBoltEffect.isDone())
			return;

		Input input = container.getInput();
		if (!input.isMouseButtonDown(Input.MOUSE_LEFT_BUTTON))
			return;

		int mouseX = input.getMouseX();
		int mouseY = input.getMouseY();

		Random random = new Random();
		int duration = random.nextInt() % 600 + 100;
		generateLightingBolt(new Vector2f(mouseX, mouseY), new Vector2f((mouseX + 300), mouseY), duration);
	}

	@Override
	public void render(GameContainer container, Graphics g) throws SlickException {
		SlickCallable.enterSafeBlock();
		lightingBoltEffect.render();
		SlickCallable.leaveSafeBlock();
	}
}
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Animation4j Project Introduction

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Some time ago I started an internal project to simplify working with animations and transitions when making games in Java.

It was used in some of our games, for example ZombieRockers to make different kind of effects like fade in/out of screens or the points messages when scoring, or in JSnakes to make camera effects like zoom in/out, camera movement, etc.

After using it on our games, it became more clear what kind of things are possible with it.

Now that we are using Github for our source code, we started a dedicated project named animation4j with all the stuff related with animations.

This video shows some working examples of the project:

You can download a runnable jar to test the features shown in the video.

The project is on development, so right now there are a lot of things to improve starting by making easy to understand examples.

I plan to add more posts explaining some design decisions and showing how to use the library.

Hope Java developers could find some use for it.

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JNLP Downloader Tool

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

Some time ago, Rubén wrote a Java based tool to download all JNLP resources and prepare executable files to run it based on the JNLP file values.

It downloads all the resources specified by the JNLP file and save them into /libs and /natives for jar resources and nativelib resources respectively, in the second case it creates sub folders for each platform (Windows, Mac and Linux). After that, it creates one executable script file to run the application for each platform, configuring classpath and java.library.path inside it.

For example, running the tool:

 
 java -jar jnlpdownloader.jar example http://www.example.com/application.jnlp

where the JNLP contents are:

 
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<jnlp spec="1.0+" codebase="http://www.example.com/" href="application.jnlp">
    <information>
            <title>Some Title</title>
            <vendor>Some Vendor</vendor>
            <description>Some Description</description>
    </information>
    <resources>
            <jar href="slf4j-api-1.5.8.jar" />
            <jar href="google-collections-1.0.jar" />
            <jar href="lwjgl-2.4.2.jar" />
    </resources>
    <resources os="Windows">
            <nativelib href="lwjgl-2.4.2-natives-win.jar" />
    </resources>
    <resources os="Linux">
            <nativelib href="lwjgl-2.4.2-natives-linux.jar" />
    </resources>
    <resources os="Mac">
            <nativelib href="lwjgl-2.4.2-natives-mac.jar" />
    </resources>  
    <application-desc main-class="Main" />
</jnlp>

will create the next file structure:

 
./example
./example/natives
./example/natives/Linux
./example/natives/Linux/liblwjgl.so
./example/natives/Windows
./example/natives/Windows/lwjgl.dll
./example/natives/Mac
./example/natives/Mac/liblwjgl.jnilib
./example/libs
./example/libs/google-collections-1.0.jar
./example/libs/slf4j-api-1.5.8.jar
./example/libs/lwjgl-2.4.2.jar
./example/run-windows.bat
./example/run-macosx.sh
./example/run-linux.sh

More info at the project's home page.

We used this tool mainly to take a snapshot of a deployed Java Web Start application to make it run offline, for demo purposes.

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Slick2D Contest

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

Some of the Slick2D folks are organizing a new game contest on slick forums, here is the contest poster:

Slick2d Contest Poster

We are thinking in joining the contest, mainly because we want to test some new frameworks and libraries, and to make some new games too. Well, we also want those Magicka keys to play it :D.

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SVG Path Traversal in Java

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Because some people asked, in this post we are going to explain in some detail how we do the balls movement in Zombie Rockers. All this work could be useful for other kind of games using paths like, for example, a tower defense.

For Zombie Rockers (we have to change that name), we defined a Path as an ordered collection of points. Simplifying our Path class, it could be something like this:

 
class Path {
    ArrayList<Vector2f> points;
}

note: we are using Vector2f provided by Slick2D

To easily traverse a path, we created the class PathTraversal, which let us move forward or backward through the path. For example, we could start in the beginning of a path built by three points: (100,100), (200, 100) and (300, 100). Then, if we advance 50 units, then we are going to be on the coordinate (150, 100), between first and second point.

note: when we say units, could be anything you need, pixels, meters, etc, it is not important for the example.

The idea of the PathTraversal in the future is to support any kind of paths, for example, one made using Bézier curves instead only a list of points.

This shows the API of the PathTraversal:

 
class PathTraversal {
    // the path we are traversing
    Path path; 
    // the distance to the origin we are right now
    float getCurrentDistance();
    // go back the specified distance
    void backward(float distance);
    // go forward the specified distance
    void forward(float distance);
    // returns a point based on the current distance
    Vector2f getPoint();
}

You can create the Path in the way you want, for Zombie Rockers we are using SVG files to store the paths for each level and we are loading it using SVG Salamander project. First we create a AWT Shape using the Path class provided by the SVG Salamander, then we use a PathIterator to build the points we need to create our Path.

 
public List<Vector2f> loadPointsFromSVG(URI fileUri) {
	ArrayList<Vector2f> points = new ArrayList<Vector2f>();
	SVGDiagram diagram = SVGCache.getSVGUniverse().getDiagram(fileUri);
	SVGElement element = diagram.getElement(pathName);
	List vector = element.getPath(null);
	com.kitfox.svg.Path pathSVG = (com.kitfox.svg.Path) vector.get(1); 
	// get the AWT Shape
	Shape shape = pathSVG.getShape();	 
	// iterate over the shape using a path iterator discretizing with distance 0.001 units	 
	PathIterator pathIterator = shape.getPathIterator(null, 0.001d);
	float[] coords = new float[2];
	while (!pathIterator.isDone()) {
	pathIterator.currentSegment(coords);
	points.add(new Vector2f(coords[0], coords[1]));
	pathIterator.next();
	}
}

To create the SVG path, you can use any program you want, in our case we are using mainly Gimp, we tried using Inkscape too but as we are creating the levels using Gimp it was easy to do all the work using the same application. So, open Gimp, create a path and then export it to a SVG file. Then, it should be ready to be loaded by SVG salamander inside your code.

A working example of this technique is shown in the next video of Zombie Rockers:

Conclusion

This solution works well while you avoid making the angle of two consecutive segments too sharp. For example, right now when balls traverse between two segments where the angle is too sharp, they will change the render direction too quickly and doesn't looks so good.

The problem of SVG Path when the angle of two consecutive segments is too sharp.
Figure 1: The problem of SVG Path when the angle of two consecutive segments is too sharp.

One solution to reduce this, is to increment the points of the path when making a discrete version of the path, so you will have more intermediate points, then less angle brusque changes.

Another solution is to use a smooth change for the rendering direction, so when you change the value of the render direction, it will change smoothly over time.

Hope it could be of help.

Update: Added figure for the problem of the angles between segments.

Update2: Added links to the current implementation of Path and PathTraversal classes.

Update3: Fixed the path example.

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Maven Natives Dependencies Project

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Mavennatives project is composed by a Maven plug-in and an Eclipse plug-in we developed in order to simplify working with natives dependencies.

The Maven plug-in unpacks every dependency with a classifier beginning with "natives-". By default its executed in the package phase, and unpacks in the target/natives directory.

The Eclipse plug-in automatically executes the Maven plug-in and configures the java.library.path for Eclipse projects with natives dependencies. This makes working with natives dependencies transparent and you can use the Run menu without having to set java.library.path manually for each run configuration. Right now this Eclipse plug-in only works with an outdated version of m2eclipse but a new version is in the works.

To work with LWJGL natives, we made custom releases of LWJGL jars with classifiers "natives-win", "natives-linux" and "natives-mac" with corresponding OS natives each one. As the Eclipse plug-in is not working with current m2eclipse version, we added the goal nativedependencies:copy to Maven -> Life Cycle from Eclipse project properties, so each time you clean the project the maven plug-in executes and the natives are copied to target/natives folder, after that, we configure by hand the java.library.path to point to that folder.

Mavennatives plug-in is already on Maven central and we are trying to get LWJGL and Jinput into Maven central too, using the natives format natives-${os} we defined for this plug-in.

If you want to take a look at the project, visit googlecode at mavennatives.

UPDATE: maven natives eclipse plug-in is updated so it should be working for latest version of m2eclipse

UPDATE2: maven natives eclipse plug-in is not working with the latest version of m2eclipse hosted in eclipse.org.

UPDATE3: LWJGL is already on maven central.

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