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Overview of the Sample Code
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The sample project, called Particles, started its life as a generic OpenGL project template from Apple. I have added a simple game harness around Apple s template code. Originally this code was written for the Beginning Game Development for iPhone, and the chapters I wrote in that book go into great detail about this code base. Most of the implementation details are not that important to the discussion of particle systems, but I will do a brief overview anyway. Let s take a look at the basic design: EAGLView: This is a modified version of the EAGLView you get when you start a new Xcode OpenGL iPhone project. It is responsible for OpenGL buffer swapping as well as most of the boilerplate OpenGL initialization stuff. This is the main view for the application. SceneObject: This is the base class for anything in the game. It has the basic instance vars that most everything that needs to be rendered needs. All rendered objects inherit from this class. SceneController: This is the main controller for the game. It handles the game loop. It has a single SceneObject that is the root of all objects in the current scene. It is a singleton. InputViewController: Since the input and the main view are basically the same thing, this view controller handles the EAGLView as well as wrangling the touch events. The input controller has its own list of scene objects that get rendered last, in a heads-up display style. RenderController: This object deals with rendering all the scene objects. It performs simple culling. The render controller uses a SceneObject s mesh to render that object. The mesh is basically the collection of all the vertex data for a particular model. MaterialController: This object handles the loading of textures into OpenGL. It can handle single textures or atlases when accompanied with a .plist file describing the atlas contents. GameTypes: This is just a big collection of structs and inline functions that come in handy. The two types I use the most in the sample code are BBPoint, an xyz point struct, and BBRange, a range of floats. The reason that I am not just showing how to build a stand-alone particles project is that I think it is important to think about how these things fit into the bigger picture. Although
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CHAPTER 1: Particle Systems: More Fun and Easier Than You Think
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the sample program does little more than show off some particle effects, it is important to think of these concepts in the context of a larger application. The Particles sample project is not a fully realized game engine by any stretch, but it is a good place to start, and it has much of what you would need to build a simple 3D application in OpenGL. This makes it a good platform for you to explore the concepts of particle systems.
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Basic Game Flow
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Figure 1-5 shows the flow for the game harness. It follows the basic game design pattern that you are probably familiar with.
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Figure 1-5. This is the basic flow for the game harness.
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CHAPTER 1: Particle Systems: More Fun and Easier Than You Think
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After the app starts up and everything is loaded from the xib files and you are ready to go, the SceneController is called upon to load the first scene. This scene is simply a SceneObject that is the parent of all the objects you want to have interact for this scene. After the scene is alloced, the method awake is called on it, and that is where the scene will call out to the other support objects, like the material controller, to make sure that all the resources for this scene are loaded. (In this case, this will generally just be textures, but in the broader case, this might include sound files or game data of some sort.) When everything is ready, the game loop is started. The game loop first checks for inputs, and then it calls update: on the scene. The scene object will update all of its children recursively until the entire scene model has had a chance to update its state. Finally, the game loop passes the root scene object to the renderer to be rendered. Then it starts all over again. At some point in the scene, the update portion of the loop will generate an end-of-scene notification. (Maybe your character died, you ran out of time, or you hit a button to move on to the next scene...whatever) The current scene is unloaded, and the next scene is loaded. This is a fairly standard game engine design. The big component that s missing here is a collision detection system. You will do some simple collision stuff with the particle systems but nothing too complicated.
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