4 Hugues Ross - Blog: DFGame - The road to 1.0
Hugues Ross

3/18/17

DFGame - The road to 1.0

I haven't written much about DFGame in a while. At the end of last year, I gave the project two small paragraphs but didn't get into any specifics. In this post, I'll be getting you back up to speed on the project's status and where things will go from here.

The plan

When I started going back over DFGame, there were a few outstanding problems:

The build system

DFGame was started before I learned about Meson. As a result, the library was being compiled with a makefile. In order to make the project fall in line with others (and hopefully organize it better) I needed to ditch the makefiles and switch over to Meson.

Changing the way that your code compiles can be a bit drastic, especially if the two systems aren't very compatible. In order to simplify things, I decided to try and build each module of the framework as I got to it.

The modules

DFGame was started not long after I started breaking my code up into modules. For the uninitiated, modules are pieces of the codebase that are separated from the rest, and typically compile separately. This allows programmers to use their code in multiple projects, or have multiple applications in their project that share the same code in the backend. As you can imagine, this is a good thing.

The problem with DFGame was that I didn't make enough modules. I broke my code up into five parts, based on whether it was editor or game code and frontend vs backend (plus one for common code). The result is that the common module was a gigantic mess, with 46 code files spanning subjects from audio to rendering to error logging, and everything in-between.

At the tail-end of last year, I decided to try and separate things further. Now, I have 7 modules: Application (game frontend), Audio, Core (logging, memory, etc.), Editor, Graphics, Math, and Resource (asset loading/management). This keeps the different aspects of my framework separated in a more logical fashion, and makes it easier for me to find what I'm looking for.

Inexperience

I don't claim to be an expert, especially not at C. I spend a lot of time programming and practicing, but I still learn new things every day. As a result, there are many small lessons that I've learned since I started working on DFGame. As my knowledge of programming has improved, I've found better ways to do the things that I've already done, so the temptation to rewrite things follows.

With that said, I'm trying to preserve as much as possible. I'm keenly aware (from experience, of course) that rewrites can seriously slow things down, and I want to try and get things sorted out at a decent pace. To that end, I'm going over each file individually to try and improve what I have without scrapping it. I hope that this methodical approach will save some time over a simple redo.

Where are we now?

I've finished going through the core, math, and application modules, and now I'm working on the graphics module. Unfortunately, that means that I don't have much to show for my work yet. I do have this stylish hot-pink triangle though:

Thrilling, I know!
Now that things are showing up on-screen, I expect to have more to show in the coming weeks.

Coming up

Now that I've caught you up to speed, you might be wondering what I'm planning on in the long term. I'm not the best at keeping to my plans, but I do have a goal that I'm aiming for. In about 4 months, it will have been 3 years since I last participated in a Game Jam (aside from 7DRL, of course). That makes me sad, as I really enjoy doing them. Looking at the games page on my site, it seems like when I started DFEngine and AMAZE I mostly much stopped doing game jams altogether.

This year, I want to turn that around. To accomplish this, I'm setting myself a deadline now: I will have DFGame ready for an initial release by August, and I'll compete in Ludum Dare around that time. From my experience, the Ludum Dare game jam usually falls smack dab in the middle of something important and college-related, either the beginning of a semester, finals week, or the move back home. In other words, it wasn't really convenient for me to compete back in college. Now that I don't have a weird seasonal schedule to work around, it seems like a good way to get back into the rhythm of Game Jams. I think that the timeframe I have between then and now is pretty reasonable, and I expect to be finished well before my deadline. Any leftover time that I have can be spent trying things out and building tools.

Conclusion

So that's it! I'm hard at work fixing up DFGame for a release later this year, and hopefully once the dust settles I'll be able to make games again like I used to. I played around with DFGame last fall, and even though I didn't post the results were promising. Whether those results will be replicated with future projects has yet to be seen.

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