# Best way for creating game items?

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Hey,

While developing a game in C++, one must create game item definitions, such as the name, description, etc. What would be the best way of constructing a whole list of these items and loading them?

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It depends on the nature of the items that the game requires. It could be as simple as a comma-seperated value file (each line an item, each comma separating an item's parameters) or as complex as a domain-specific language permitting inheritance and composition.

You could also use a markup language like JSON - there are C++ JSON libraries available for download. Here's the Wikipedia JSON syntax example.

If you post an example of what your items are requiring in terms of functionality, we could be more helpful.

How will they be used (logic-wise/gameplay-wise) in the game? What types of items? What attributes?

The C++ could be really simple, or more advanced, depending on the game's needs.

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You could also use a markup language like JSON - there are C++ JSON libraries available for download. Here's the Wikipedia JSON syntax example.

How about XML, it's have the same function right ??

hmm, which is the best ??

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XML is very popular, but has some shortcomings. People either love it or hate it.

XML's primary shortcomings is it's hard to parse for computers. The benefit of XML/JSON/YAML however, is that they are human-readable and editable in notepad.

XML, YAML, JSON all pretty much do the same thing. People will have their own preferences.

To choose for yourself, remember why you're using it (human-readable and editable in notepad) and then look at these examples, and decide which one appeals most to you visually: (that is, which is most 'human readable' to you, bearing in mind that any whitespace you'll have to manually enter yourself unless you use a XML/JSON/YAML editor).

JSON example 1JSON example 2 (side-by-side with XML)

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I've been meaning to ask this for awhile and this seems like as good a place as any.

Is there anything *wrong* with using plain text files if they do the job fine for you?  From what I gather, the reason you would use XML or JSON is because its human readable, and I believe there exist some fairly robust libraries for allowing you to do some cool stuff with your files (in terms of sorting and organizing and the like).

In my case I have a number of files all of the plain text variety, and I built a few little editors the output files in the correct format that my games uses.  Is there a compelling reason to change this in my current implementation?  Would it be a good idea to get a handle on how to work with more robust file types in the future?

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If it works for you, there's nothing wrong with using plain text files. The advantage of using pre-existing formats is that there is pre-existing code to work with these formats. That means less time spent writing code for basic I/O or error checking and more time spent on doing the stuff that is unique to your game i.e. the fun stuff.

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YAML and JSON are good ways to store data structures in. YAML, as by its acronym suggests, is a bit too "loosey goosey" for me when it comes to data grouping, as it comes very close to just creating your own simple formatting scheme.

External files with language parsing abilities have the advantage of testing new data without re-compiling source files. It gets better if it can be implemented in a way that it can save and load an edited file in run-time, so you don't have to restart your game session.

Edited by CC Ricers

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Is there anything *wrong* with using plain text files if they do the job fine for you?  From what I gather, the reason you would use XML or JSON is because its human readable

Not at all wrong - if it works, and works well, go for the simplest most straight-forward solution.

I use CSV files, and also some simple key-value files that look like this:

//--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
//Tile settings. These are the basic settings of tiles in the engine.
//--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

//The width and height of the tile.
TileSize	= "(48, 48)"

//The colorkey applied to tiles. This color in tiles will become invisible.
//(Note: Does not apply to masks - masks use the average of all color channels
//to calculate the resulting transparency)
ColorKey	= "(0, 255, 255)"

//The color used to fill tiles when something went wrong.
//Should *not* conflict with the color key.
ErrorColor	= "(255, 0, 0)"

//The image that is used to draw the background behind the tiles (when using the editor).
GridTile = "%SPECIAL-TILE-PATH%/GridTile.png"
BackgroundTile = "%SPECIAL-TILE-PATH%/Background.png"

//Default tile and mask images (relative to the tile directory).
DefaultTile = "DefaultTile.png"
DefaultMask = "DefaultMask.png"

But my simple key-value files can't define embedded structures like JSON and XML can. I could invest more time in them to let them support it, but at that point I might as well use JSON anyway and invest the time on the game instead of wasting it on a custom NIH file format.

Simple text files (CSV, newline-seperated, or my key-value format, for example) can fill containers or maps of variables easily.

XML and JSON can define more advanced structures.

Some people even want logic in their file formats, and use scripting languages for file formats.