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5/22/2008: A property-driven Entity System

No new images today as I just finished the integration of a new template-based resource manager into the engine to reduce redundancy. Instead, I am going to outline the main aspects of the engine's entity system in this entry, which might be interesting for the ones among you working on similar projects.

The lack of a solid entity system last time was one of the major points leading to the decision to rewrite the whole engine from scratch. Therefore, the entity system had to meet several requirements this time: It had to be easily extensible, offering base classes (CEntity being the very base who would have guessed...) to carry out all the boring work, it had to be hierarchical (node-based), allowing for grouping as well as the composition of assets (more on that later) and it had to provide an interface for the generic treatment of properties.

Most of these key features is implemented by now, and they are already paying off. Each entity offers a specific set of properties, which may be enumerated and modified through the CPropertyDriven base class at any time, for example allowing applications to expose the availabe properties to designers, who may then tweak the entities' appearance and behavior through a comfortable user interface, instead of fiddling around with code. The property system fully supports the hierarchical composition of entity classes, meaning that there is no need for any class to redefine any properties of the entity types it is derived from. The property system also simplifies the process of saving and loading as it allows for most of the data to be serialized and deserialize in an entirely generic way.

Moreover, the entity system offers a property listener interface, enabling external objects to react to the property changes of specific entities. Thus, modules such as the scene management module are able to keep themselves up-to-date without any need for explicitly invoked update routines. All in all, I am very pleased with the whole system, time will show whether it suits the project's needs.

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