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Retro Grade

[Case] Breakout!

Posted by , in Case 30 November 2012 - - - - - - · 736 views

Wow, it's been a very long time since my last case study! Well now, I'm here to give you a great one: Breakout!

Let's start with the mechanics, as usual:
  • You control a single paddle that can move left and right.
  • There is a 2D array of blocks.
  • The Paddle is at the bottom of the screen, the blocks are at the top.
  • There is a ball that bounces off your paddle, the walls, and the blocks.
  • If the ball hits a block, it will destroy the block, making it disappear.
  • If the ball goes past the players paddle and hits the bottom of the screen, you lose the game.
It's pretty simple, however to help you, here's a picture:

Posted Image

So, this was extremely popular back in the day. What made it so popular?

Well, it was a single player game. At this time, Pong required two players and was very simple. This simply blew people away, and it didn't require someone else.

It also had interesting game-play. Pong was relatively simple compared to this, and this was far more addictive. Failing when you were only 1-3 blocks away was common, and kept people hooked. Newer versions of breakout (Such as Arkanoid, etc.) also had power-ups and more levels, making them even more addicting. Working your way up a steady stream of harder levels, and trying to get the next power-up, still remains fun and challenging. (If you want to try, I've attached DXBall, a newer version of breakout, for you to play :)!)


This game doesn't really need to be that "polished". The one "polish" aspect of it that I see being important is the GUI, however besides that, this game is fun even with bad sprites/collision detection (In this time period, of course. Back when it was an arcade game and it cost a quarter to play, having buggy collision detection would make no-one play it because you could randomly lose your quarter. Now, however, it's free and having slightly buggy collision detection isn't that big of a deal.)


Implementation is very important. If the ball is moving too fast, you can't survive long enough to get rid of all the blocks. If there is too many / too little blocks, your player will get bored / feel ripped off. Level design isn't that important, considering you can really do whatever you want for level design and it still is generally fun to play. The actual core values of the game is important (Like the Paddle Speed, Ball Speed, Amount of Blocks, etc.) however many of the extra things (Power-ups, special blocks, etc.) are nice extras that really help tie it together, yet aren't needed if you can make sure your player is having fun without them.


Well, I hope you enjoyed it! Keep calm and sneak on Posted Image!

Attached Files

[Structure] Stop The Catch All's!

Posted by , in Case 28 October 2012 - - - - - - · 720 views

How do you write your classes? Are they neatly divided into different member functions, each one handling a small responsibility that plays into the larger responsibility of the class? If they are, good for you! You're following one of the main Principles of clean code, the single responsibility principle. However you're taking it a step further. Instead of only applying it to your class, you're applying it to your functions too.

Wait, do you have the common Update() function? Or how about the Logic() function? You might have your classes neatly divided up, however this will ruin your whole class. The point of the single responsibility principle is to make your code easy to read and to make it easy to understand why you're doing what you're doing. Calling
Collision.Physics().CheckCollision(Collision.GetNextTile(), Collision.GetNextTile())
would be almost impossible to understand, that's why you divide you Tile Manager, Physics Manager, and Collision Manager into separate classes. So calling Collision.Logic() or Collision.Update() ruins the harmony. What does Logic() do, what does Update() do? Wouldn't it be far easier to read if your code was calling if it was structured like this:
for (int CurrentTile = 0; CurrentTile < Collision.NumberOfTiles(); ++CurrentTile)
if (Collision.ThereWasCollision())
It would be. That's why calling an Update() or Logic() function is bad. No-one will have any idea the sum of what that function does. Imagine going back to your code in a month (Wait, do I still have to give my Physics object the collision points, no Update() does that, what about testing Collision on slopes?....). You'll have no idea what functions you need to call, and it would probably result in you searching through your Physics and Collision classes trying to figure out what's doing what.

This often becomes and issue of coding the right way or going the lazy path. A lot of times you just want to write the "catch-all" Logic() or Update() function because you're lazy or don't want to write down the extra code. Now, if you're going to be doing what I did in the code above many times, then it would make sense to create a function that does it for you. You just need to give it a proper name (Collision.CheckCollisionandSendPoints(Physics)). Now, there is probably a better name for it, however I just couldn't think of one (Stupid Me Posted Image!).

Even if it's more code, coding the right way will pay out in the long run. Resulting in adding features extremely easy. For example, when I made breakout my code was filled with these functions, all kinds of extremely specific properties, and a code-base that resulted in needing fifty classes passing to each other, making adding power-ups a futile attempt. You often need to strike a balance. My code-base would have been more expansive and readable had I been more lenient on the principles I was using. You can never "always" apply a principle, however when it applies, it applies (When using it strictly makes sense, it really helps your code).

I hope you enjoyed this article, and please comment below with how you handle your functions. If you disagreed with it or have a correction, feel free to criticize me and mock how amateur I am Posted Image!