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Finalspace

Entity component system and physics

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Hi there,

 

i am in the phase to adding my 2d physics engine over to my freshly created entity component system and have some design headaches.

 

It is a simple entity component system, which has "Components" which are just containers and "Systems" which may require n-components and can update or draw a list of entities. There is a component registration which register new component classes (to support unlimited components) who creates new handles and cache this by the class name. Then we have the mighty manager which handles the initialization / update / draw of the systems, keeps a entity list + a list for each system and gets notified when components are added or removed from an entity. An entity is just an component container which do have only the methods for adding/removing and retrieving components. Thats basically it - nothing too fancy and works so far.

 

But, i have a problem - my current physics engine uses a rigidbody class, which contains all the required properties (like position, velocity, mass, shape etc.) to work with and my entities on the other hand do just contains the "containers" of this properties - some cannot be used (simple types, like numbers, floats) as references which are no references/pointers at all - because its implemented in javascript (numbers are no references).

 

Is there a good way to integrate a rigidbody/physics engine in a entity component "system"?

 

 

 

My current naiive approach is:

 

Splitting the rigidbody into multiple components:

 

- PositionComponent (position vector only)

- VelocityComponent (velocity, angular velocity and both damping factors)

- TransformComponent (rotation angle and transformation matrix)

- MassComponent (mass, inertia and both invert parts of it + density factor)

- ShapeComponent (contains just a reference to actual shape class - like CircleShape which just contains the radius and the massCompute stuff)

- PhysicsComponent (contains all the rest properties from the rigidbody like force, torque, tmp acceleration, next position, friction and restitution coeffs)

 

Copying code over from my physics engine into the new physics system and change this to use the entity and components like this (seems to be ugly):

        PhysicsSystem.prototype.update = function(entities, dt){
            var i, entity, posComp, velComp, massComp, phyComp, transComp, gravityComp;

            Profiler.begin("Physics step");

            // Add forces to dynamic bodies
            Profiler.begin("Integrate forces");
            var gravityForce = Vec2Pool.get();
            for (i = 0; i < entities.size(); i++) {
                entity = entities.item(i);
                velComp = entity.getComponent(this.velHandle);
                massComp = entity.getComponent(this.massHandle);
                phyComp = entity.getComponent(this.physicsHandle);
                gravityComp = entity.getComponent(this.gravityHandle);
                if (!massComp.isStatic() && gravityComp != null) {
                    math.vec2MultScalar(gravityForce, gravityComp.gravity, massComp.mass);
                    math.vec2Add(phyComp.force, phyComp.force, gravityForce);
                }
            }
            Profiler.end();

            // Integrate velocities
            Profiler.begin("Integrate velocity");
            for (i = 0; i < entities.size(); i++) {
                entity = entities.item(i);
                posComp = entity.getComponent(this.posHandle);
                velComp = entity.getComponent(this.velHandle);
                massComp = entity.getComponent(this.massHandle);
                phyComp = entity.getComponent(this.physicsHandle);
                if (!massComp.isStatic()) {
                    this.integrateVelocity(phyComp, massComp, posComp, velComp, dt);
                } else {
                    math.vec2Clone(phyComp.nextPosition, posComp.position);
                }
            }
            Profiler.end();
        };

which is orginally this:

        PhysicsEngine.prototype.step = function (dt) {
            var i, body;

            Profiler.begin("Physics step");

            // Add gravity force to dynamic bodies
            Profiler.begin("Integrate forces");
            var gravityForce = Vec2Pool.get();
            for (i = 0; i < this.world.size(); i++) {
                body = this.world.item(i);
                if (!body.isStatic()) {
                    math.vec2MultScalar(gravityForce, this.world.gravity, body.mass);
                    body.addForce(gravityForce);
                }
            }
            Profiler.end();

            // Integrate velocities
            Profiler.begin("Integrate velocity");
            for (i = 0; i < this.world.size(); i++) {
                body = this.world.item(i);
                if (!body.isStatic() && body.awake) {
                    body.integrateVelocity(dt);
                } else {
                    math.vec2Clone(body.nextPosition, body.position);
                }
            }
            Profiler.end();
            
            ...

The only thing which comes to my mind, is to create all the bodies for each entity which references all the properties from the components directly (i could do that because i have an notification system already) - which would force me to change my rigidbody class to use only property types which can be used as references. Other idea is to create a rigidbody component - which justs includes all the properties from all required components (of courses needs also be references as well)

 

Another things which bugs me is the number of components - is it a good idea to separate the rigidbody properties like this or is it better to use a single component (RigidbodyComponent) which just have all the properties from the original one, but would require that the position component uses the rigidbody position to not need to syncronize positions..... ahhh too much pain ... i have an headache now...

Edited by Finalspace

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I just have a Transform (position, etc...) and Physics component (mass, shape, collision category etc..). Communication with the physics engine I currently use (Farseer) is completely encapsulated in the physics system. The physics system is responsible for creating the Farseer-specific constructs, stepping the physics simulation and then sync'ing the results of the physics simulation back to the Transform component.

Edited by phil_t

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I've also experienced that fine-grained components aren't all that good. I'm using a similar approach as phil_t, and also I'm not writing the physics-code in the component-system at all, each component will just register a rigid-body with my encapsulated "world"-class, which handles all the physics. So components are merely used as "Put it together", which IMHO is where they are best at.

 

Also, if you want a more "professional" proof for working with "larger" components instead of fine-grained onces, e.g. Unity does this too. I hardly know any practical, half-decent project that uses such broken-down components, though I've seen many people post this kind of design around here. Would really advice against it (I can write why in more detail tomorrow, if wanted).

Edited by Juliean

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I'll add my voice to the chorus and say that I find it much more practical to simply have a PhysicsComponent and a TransformComponent, similar to what phil_t and Juliean suggest. That's about the level of component granularity that I've seen In my professional experience with component based game engines. It's far simpler to manage and lets you have your physics stuff live in its own world, while the physics component basically just communicates stuff from the physics simulation (which is run by either your own home brew physics engine or Bullet/Havok/box2d/whatever physics library you choose to use) to the rest of the game.

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Ah ok - then i will use 3 components (ShapeComponent, PhysicsComponent, TransformComponent) and just instantiate the physics engine in the physics system and syncronize the entities with the bodies and call the step() method - The physics component will just have a "body" property which is a reference of the full rigidbody class - but the shape in the rigidbody class will be the reference from the shape component. Of course i need to also syncronize the transform properties like position and orientation, but should´t be too hard. Thanks for the great answers.

Edited by Finalspace

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