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Dissecting idTech4

5 posts in this topic

Recently, I realized that even knough I understand many parts of game dev, a complete game and engine and how everything comes together is beyond me, so I looked into a few options and settled on diving into idTech4 to better my understanding of game dev.


The problem , however, is that information is very scant. There is no official documentation available and aside from these three sources :










I have found very little info, I have gotten the game to run from visual studio and stuff , so atleast that is taken care of, but I am unsure of how to proceed with trying to understand this massive codebase.


I kinda want to break stuff down and go into one component at a time, maybe starting with AI and character animation, but I cant even find the entry point into these subsystems, can anyone here give me some sage advice ?




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Generally I would search for WinMain as that will always be the starting point. You may want to look into the Unreal Engine source code, can be downloaded for $19, it's much cleaner code that idtech. For example in the doom 3 BFG source WinMain is in DOOM-3-BFG-master\neo\sys\win32\win_main.cpp, you can set some breakpoint there and work your way through it. You can see from the snippet below where the main game loop starts, this always runs as long as the game is running every other subsytem/call is run inside here.

int WINAPI WinMain( HINSTANCE hInstance, HINSTANCE hPrevInstance, LPSTR lpCmdLine, int nCmdShow ) {

	const HCURSOR hcurSave = ::SetCursor( LoadCursor( 0, IDC_WAIT ) );

	Sys_SetPhysicalWorkMemory( 192 << 20, 1024 << 20 );

	Sys_GetCurrentMemoryStatus( exeLaunchMemoryStats );

#if 0
    DWORD handler = (DWORD)_except_handler;
    {                           // Build EXCEPTION_REGISTRATION record:
        push    handler         // Address of handler function
        push    FS:[0]          // Address of previous handler
        mov     FS:[0],ESP      // Install new EXECEPTION_REGISTRATION

	win32.hInstance = hInstance;
	idStr::Copynz( sys_cmdline, lpCmdLine, sizeof( sys_cmdline ) );

	// done before Com/Sys_Init since we need this for error output

	// no abort/retry/fail errors

	for ( int i = 0; i < MAX_CRITICAL_SECTIONS; i++ ) {
		InitializeCriticalSection( &win32.criticalSections[i] );

	// make sure the timer is high precision, otherwise
	// NT gets 18ms resolution
	timeBeginPeriod( 1 );

	// get the initial time base

#ifdef DEBUG
	// disable the painfully slow MS heap check every 1024 allocs
	_CrtSetDbgFlag( 0 );

//	Sys_FPU_EnableExceptions( TEST_FPU_EXCEPTIONS );

	common->Init( 0, NULL, lpCmdLine );

	common->Printf( Sys_FPU_GetState() );

	if ( win32.win_notaskkeys.GetInteger() ) {
		DisableTaskKeys( TRUE, FALSE, /*( win32.win_notaskkeys.GetInteger() == 2 )*/ FALSE );

	// hide or show the early console as necessary
	if ( win32.win_viewlog.GetInteger() ) {
		Sys_ShowConsole( 1, true );
	} else {
		Sys_ShowConsole( 0, false );

	// give the main thread an affinity for the first cpu
	SetThreadAffinityMask( GetCurrentThread(), 1 );

	::SetCursor( hcurSave );

	::SetFocus( win32.hWnd );

    // main game loop
	while( 1 ) {


#ifdef DEBUG

		// set exceptions, even if some crappy syscall changes them!
		Sys_FPU_EnableExceptions( TEST_FPU_EXCEPTIONS );

		// run the game

	// never gets here
	return 0;

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If you do decide to dissect it, alone or with someone, will you make a blog or news posts about it to increase the net sum of documentation available?


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@rAm_y_  I actually did start there and went as deep as I could, however , after some point you just need someone who knows better to hold your hand for a bit :)


@uglybdavis I realize that, however , its those intricacies that I am trying to understand with this attempt, I could very well just mess with my own engine, but I feel like I have reached the limit of what I can learn from it.


@FRex I already did , havent gotten very far into it because I got busy with work, but here is the link to my blog :http://strangenessensues.blogspot.com/


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