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jack_1313

Interest in a (TR)A* Navigation mesh / Pathfinding Library?

4 posts in this topic

Hi Gamedev.net!

Years ago, I was an active member here and a very enthusiastic game programmer. For the better or worse, life took me in a different direction. I turned away from game programming and have spent the last so-many years studying history and foreign language.

It occurred to me that I have, sitting idle on my hard disc, a fast and robust navigation mesh / path finding implementation based loosely on the Douglas Demyen Triangle-Reduced A* thesis (of which seems to have disappeared from the internet – only the shorter journal article is now available). It was part of a game I was working on years ago, was rewritten from scratch on at least one occasion. Rather than let that work go to waste, I thought I might turn it into a stand-alone C++ library that would be free for non-commercial use.

Features:
* Automated construction of navigation mesh (uses Triangle triangulation library).
* Speed. The implementation is fast, primarily, because only triangles with three neighbours (“keynodes”) are included in the A* search. All other triangles are collapsed into “corridors” and skipped over. In most environments, keynodes account for 1/4 to 1/3 of all triangles in the navigation mesh.
* A single navigation mesh is used to find paths for agents of any size – no need for duplicate navigation meshes.
* It’s paired with a kd-tree system that has some bonus features that could be useful (very fast visibility + swept circle checks against navigation mesh etc).

Shortcomings:
* It’s simple-2D only – does not support overlapping areas or varying-cost terrain types, though the former could probably be implemented without a huge effort.
* The navigation mesh cannot be dynamically updated.
* I doubt I would be able to spend a lot of time developing it further.

Here’s a few screenshots of the implementation finding some very long paths. Time estimates were recorded on my laptop – an Intel i5-2450 2.50GHz processor – in a standard Windows 7 environment, and are the average of 10 000 queries.

 

pathfind1.png

Search time: 0.041ms and 0.036ms. Navmesh: 772 triangles, 255 of which are keynodes (pink).

 

pathfind2.png
Search time: 0.039ms and 0.025ms. Navmesh: 820 triangles, 251 of which are keynodes.

 

pathfind3.png
Search time: 0.069ms and 0.056ms. Navmesh: 1213 triangles, 366 of which are keynodes.

 

pathfind4.png
Varying agent sizes pose no problem. Search time for each path: in the range of 0.006ms.

It looks like the need for such a library has lessened due to the appearance of Detour, which didn’t exist when I developed it. In short, I’m just wondering if there would be any interest in this project? I can only really justify putting time into it if it looks like there might be some interest/communal benefit.

 

Thanks for reading!

Edited by jack_1313
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In my opinion it's always better when you can pick from more softwares, Detour has also it's disadvantages (and there is a lot of people that won't use it).

 

I think it's definitely worth it to release it, go for it. And as you probably have wide knowledge in navmesh construction & path-finding, it might be worthy to explain these a little in an article (even though there is a lot of info how to perform path-finding through navmesh, there isn't too much info on construction (+ how to store navmesh data, and how to use it during path-finding)).

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Very cool, I would be interested! I had have a path-finding system set up in my game engine, but level designers have to add the waypoints manually. This would definitely be useful to me biggrin.png

Edited by DrSuperSocks
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Btw, to answer your original question I think there is definitely a spot for this library in the mix, specifically because of the entity size agnostic functionality.

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