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greencrayon

Theres a particle party and Im not invited.

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Hi., folks. I have been looking at some particle systems on the web and would like to incorporate one into my game. But while everything I have seen has looked awesome the code looks way too advanced for me to be able to understand. I don’t really want to incorporate something into one of my game unless I understand how it works. I was wondering if anyone could explain to me what a particle effect is at its most basic. This way I can try building my own or at least get an insight into the ones I have seen available for use on the web.

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tried checking out the nehe tutorial on it?

a general (and pretty basic) explanation is that particle systems are simply lists/arrays of sometimes billboarded (and usually textured) quads. These quads are projected from a start point in a semi-random direction with a semi-random velocity (often the random variables are only a hard number).

Check out the nehe tutorial, it's not too shabby:

http://nehe.gamedev.net/data/lessons/lesson.asp?lesson=19

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At it's core, it's a system that manages a (often large) number of particles (which are usually images, sprites, but you can take the term as broad as you want). Whether there's physics involved or not, whether it's simple or complex doesn't matter. That's essentially it's purpose: giving you an easy-to-use, configurable system, that manages the particles for you, so you don't have to do that by hand anymore.

It's a matter of abstraction, so after you've built your particle system, you can work with it on a higher level: do you want to create a fire effect? Create a particle emitter and configure it accordingly, no need to write a custom fire emitter anymore. A smoke trail? Same story. Of course, it depends on what you want to use such a system for. A bare-bone particle system may not offer enough options for you, but a fully-fledged system may easily be overkill for what you need.

So, I'd ask myself, why do I need a particle system? For what kind of effects? What requirements can I write down for the system I want? Once you know what you want, I'm sure things will be much more clear to you.

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