Tag Archives: slg

Why C2?

For the past many weeks, I’ve been focusing a lot on the development of the animation sheets. But because of this, I hadn’t touched the former aspects of the game for some time, and when I got back to it, there were some issues that were brought to the fore, such as the Beltway being broken. To be honest, I was utterly surprised at this, since I had no recollection, or notes, that say that it had been broken when I left it to develop the other parts. There were also other things that I noticed that needed changing as I tested the implementation of the animation sheets along with overall player movement.

I found myself a bit overwhelmed and a bit tired, as I sometimes do, from having to debug C2 events. For all the user-friendliness it has, it can still be be quite opaque especially if you’re trying anything abstractly complex. It’s not totally the fault of C2, but because of its lack of modularisation, or object-oriented framework within the event system, picking apart why something doesn’t work requires a bit of jumping around, trying to sort out which are workarounds to some weird behaviour, and which ones are meant to do something actually functional.

Anyway, for several minutes I stared at the monitor, and I was seriously debating why I’m developing this game in C2, and not in Unity, where I have some experience in, and the fact that I’m actually good at coding (at least good enough not to doubt my ability to see the project through). Not only do I code, but I’ve been in the CG industry as a 3D artist and TD for 15 years now; on that alone, Unity is more of a familiar programme than C2. But I had a discussion with my wife who takes these technical diatribes with calmness and puts out good arguments, and the result is my rethinking of my situation.

So the question is: why C2?

It began with the fact that C2 made things simple. But what I’m doing with CITIZEN is not so simple. And that reason seemed to be not good enough.

C2 is fun because of the event sheets. But though the event sheets are effective, they are effective as procedures. They are less fun, and less effective when you want some object-orientation or inheritance, which is so useful when when I started delving into certain gameplay concepts that I wanted to implement for the game.

But I think one of the strongest reasons is one of a balance between a simplistic framework, and the relatively blackbox type of plugin filtered into the C2 editor which results in less bugs during development. This is both a pro and con. Taking Rex’s GridMove/Board/SLG/InstGroup system. These are separate systems working together as one. But it has some learning curve to understand how it all of them work. In fact, some components actually need the other, so they’re really necessary modules in order to come up with something like an isometric grid framework. But once this framework is up, the input and output (eg On reach target, On move accept) is unambiguous, and can interact naturally with any other event/behaviour in C2. Why unambiguous? Well, first, the C2 editor registers the event, so it’s part of the choices. Unity, on the other hand, can be quite confusing in this respect; what event handler is being called?; a search through the documentation is necessary.

In Unity, it is possible to get a well-written framework, but you’re going to have to try it out first before you know what you’re going to get. Sure, that’s the same with C2 plugins, but the C2 plugin framework shields you from some the randomness of 3rd-party scripting. C2 plugins follow C2’s rules in order to play nicely with C2. You’ll spot a lemon faster.

But I think the most important aspect to plugin frameworks is simply that they can be added in without messing things up. I don’t have syntax errors in C2 compared to Unity, so if something doesn’t work, syntax doesn’t necessarily some into the picture. Even data types are managed.

I think the best example I can think of is trying to implement Unity’s 3rd-person controller setup to your own game. There’s so much going on in that package that if you try to fix it to behave how you want it, you’re going to mess it up so much that you might as well write your own to begin with. Unity is so flexible, but unless something is so well written, with open-ended framework development in mind (like, for example, PlayMaker), the Unity environment is pretty much like a sandbox.

C2, on the other hand, is more like a playground. You can’t move the playground that’s there, but you can add other stuff into it, transforming it into something new.

At the end of the day, this is just a hobby so it’s important to have fun. Fun is a major motivator. It’s obviously not fun when I have to deal with the awkwardness of C2, or when I have to refactor my events. It’s not fun when I accidentally change the image-point on one of my images and having no undo option for that. But nevertheless, it’s fun to figure out how implement features on an engine that offers a good starting framework.

Without a doubt (in my opinion, at any rate), it is primitive tool when you consider other production engines out there, open-source or otherwise. I think it is easy to outgrow the tools due to the ever-expanding ideas for a game. That’s partly why I had to limit the ideas that I was coming up with. Is that a bad thing? No, but I think I should like a separate post about that. 🙂

I think, however, in the future, after I complete CITIZEN in C2, I will more seriously consider using Unity for other projects that may require a more expansive toolset, especially one that may yield a better game by going 3D.

Workflow: Diagonal movement across edges

The basic problem is that when moving diagonally, the edges are ignored because edges only exist at the sides of the square, and not at the corners.

Moving across diagonally travels across the corner of the logical square, which do not have any edges.

The solution to this was to query both the start tile (slg.PreTileUID) and the target tile (slg.TileUID) and from there, determine the GridMove/Board direction index that the current path was taking.

Using the principal direction (let’s assume it was a diagonal value of 6 (as demonstrated in the above image), the two other directions flanking the main one was also queried.

In the above image, the movement from the start tile is at direction 6. Direction 2 and 3 were derived from this by a lookup that defined two flanking direction for any given direction.

Then the target tile was also queried, but this time, the principal direction was the reverse of the start tile (computing for the reverse tile was made simpler by using a lookup, although a simple modulus would have done it, too). In other words, 4 is the direction. Using the same lookup, 0 and 1 were looked up as the flanking reverse directions.

Then a check is made against existing edges: are there any edges on the 2 and 3 directions of the start tile? If so, movement cost is BLOCKING. If not, then check the target tile’s 0 and 1 direction edges if they exist. And if they do block the movement.

The method used in determining the principal direction was simply comparing the logical X and Y positions of the start and end tiles.


Workflow: Test project RnD 2017 03 25

I’ve been testing a lot of concepts (some old, some new) with a test project and this post is about what I’ve learned, and what else needs to be explored.

CSVToDictionary and AJAX

It’s easier to maintain a separate text file for populating lookup dicts. Use the AJAX object to read the text and then CSVToDictionary to populate the dict. Remove the double-quote marks when using a text file. This makes it easier to read.

Newlines in text files

When extracting text using AJAX, newlines might be necessary, but escape characters do not seem to be recognised. Therefore, I ended up using escape characters, but had to process it (using search-replace) during extraction.


Containers have been extremely useful especially in terms of debugging messages. For every object I need to debug, a debug Text object is created, and querying the instance of the object will always point to the same objects of the container. No additional picking is necessary. This is probably the most important aspect of my testing.


There are no real enumerations in C2, but simply assigning a constant number to a recognisable variable name is good enough. For example, in the case where the z-layer of a logical position needs to be identified by keyword, I use Z_TILE=0, Z_WALLS=1, etc.


Although a topic unto itself, the main takeaway from doing AI, is how triggers are setup in Tiled and how it’s set up in C2 to respond to triggers.

There are area triggers, which are set up in Tiled. These are positional, and in the test project, they included a ‘facing’ property, which meant that the trigger is fired only when the player is facing a certain direction. The trigger’s name is the string that will end up being called by C2. I opted to use the ‘name’ attribute in Tiled instead of the relegating it to a property because it’s clearer to see the object name in the Tiled viewport.

Some triggers are set up in C2, especially other kinds of interactions. For example, talking to an NPC will yield a trigger specific to the interaction.

The C2 trigger itself is tied to a particular entity, whether it is another NPC, or some other object. That object is responsible for keeping track of the global trigger calls, and what is relevant to itself. For example, if a certain trigger is called 3 times, the object must keep track that it has heard those 3 triggers, and act accordingly. As such, two variables are meant to store AI-specific data: scriptmem, scriptmem_float. The scriptmem variable is meant for strings, and the scriptmem_float is for float value. For example, scriptmem_float was used a generic timer (for waiting). On the other hand, scriptmem was used to store how many times the AI has heard a specific trigger by checking and appending keywords onto the string.

Another important thing about AI is the switch between scripted AI and ‘nominal’ AI. Nominal AI is one that is already pre-programmed in C2 where if there are no scripts directing the AI, it will follow a certain logic (which also depends on the type of AI it is). Two things needed to happen. First the AI needed to know which AI it was allowed to switch to, and this was put in a C2 variable called ai. For example, one agent was assigned ai=script,see. This allowed the agent to switch to ‘script’ mode, but also allow state changes to occur when the C2 ‘see player’ trigger was fired. There was a ‘hear player’ trigger that existed, but because this was not included in the variable, the agent did not respond to hearing, only seeing, and only triggers involving scripts. This ai variable assignment is first done in Tiled, and then propagated to the agent during TMX load.

In addition to the ai variable, the agent had to be put into an FSM state called “script” when it is in scripted AI mode, which allows the system to distinguish which part of the AI sequence it is in. The C2 events which constitute the AI for that agent must consider other FSM states, like “idle”, which is often the ending state after a move.

AI is a bigger topic and I will delve into it more when needed.


I find, more and more, that groups are quite useful not only in organising and commenting, but allows simpler conditional actions to be done in-game. The only example I have is the deactivation of user input if a particular state is on-going. This makes it trivial to block input rather than having check conditions of state all through the user input event.

SLG movement cost

SLG movement cost functions can actually be quite simple. At first I thought it needed to accommodate many aspects, but in the end, despite the relatively complex requirement of the test AI, pathfinding, at most, needed only to query the LOS status of a tile. Impassability was bypassed by excluding impassable tiles from the MBoard, making pathfinding simpler and, I think, faster.

It’s also probably best to name SLG movement cost functions with the following convention: <char> <purpose> path. Eg: “npc evade path”, or “npc attack path”, whereby in the “npc evade path” the NPC avoids LOS, and “npc attack path” does not avoid LOS at all.

Orthogonal and Isometric measurements

I’ve researched and learned a lot of about how to transfer orthogonal measurements to isometric values. The positional values were simple enough, but the real progress was in computing angles.

Here is a list of important considerations when dealing with isometric stuff:

  • Converting a C2 object angle (orthogonal space) to an isometric angle (OrthoAngle2IsoAngle). This is used to draw a line in isometric view if that line’s angle was the same as in orthogonal view.
  • Converting an angle depicted in isometric view to orthogonal space (IsoAngle2OrthoAngle). This is used to determine what an angle would like when viewed from top-down. So when you measure the angle between two points, it’s not truly the angle when viewed in orthogonal space because the isometric view is skewing things. IsoAngle2OrthoAngle allows the reverse computation so that, for example, LOS could be determined for a particular point.
  • Converting orthogonal XY positions to logical XY (OXY2LXY). There is no Board function that allows this mainly because this is a peculiarity of the way Tiled positions objects of the Board. The positioning of objects is written in orthgonal space, but when Rex’s SquareTx projection is set to isometric, then all measurements become isometric. Thus this function is needed for this lack.
  • Movement Board and Graphics Board versions of OXY2LXY. This is required because SquareTx for each Board is different, and thus the logical positions will yield a different location.
  • Computing isometric distance to orthogonal distance. This measures two points in isometric space and gives out the distance as though you were looking from above. This is useful in determining the distance between foreground and background objects. This uses a SquareTx as a point of reference for the width/height ratio, but can use the MBoard or GBoard, because they are assumed to have the same ratio.
  • Computing snap angle (Angle2SnapeAngle). Looks at the object’s angle, and finds the nearest angle to snap to (assuming 8 directions). This is required so that the proper animation is set.
  • Converting MBoard logical positions to GBoard logical positions and vice-versa (MLXY2GLXY, GLXY2MLXY). This is very important as it is able to relate the MBoard to the GBoard. Because the MBoard has smaller cell sizes, querying the logical positions of the MBoard using bigger GBoard logical positions will always yield the top-left cell of the MBoard.
  • Convert GridMove direction to C2 angle (GetGridMoveDirection). The GridMove values are quite different. This function converts it for use with other things, like animation, or other function related to facing, which use the C2 angle, or snap angle.


The last part of this post is about LOS. I’ve already wrote about some aspects of this. But the main path of the research lay in the following:

  • A Line-of-sight behaviour is applied to the player.
  • The player’s facing angle is taken as orthogonal.
  • An LOS field-of-view is defined (eg 90 degrees) for the player.
  • At a given angle (facing_direction), left-side and right-side fov lines are drawn based on the defined fov (90 degrees). Note that these lines are virtually drawn orthogonally.
  • The left and right lines are then converted to isometric angles.
  • Because the left and right lines have been transformed, the difference between these two angles have changed. This new difference is the new LOS field-of-view.
  • The center between these two lines is the LOS center line. The player’s LOS is rotated towards the center.
  • With the new LOS field-of-view, and a new center, this corresponds to an isometric LOS based off a 90-degree LOS when viewed orthogonally.
  • The facing_direction mentioned above bears special mention. When a player clicks on tile in-game, he is actually picking with a view that he is viewing it in isometric view. Therefore, the facing_direction is an isometric angle, which must be converted to an orthogonal angle. It is only then that the left and right fov lines can be properly oriented, because they, in their turn, will be converted back to isometric after the computation is done.

What needs to be explored

ZSorting seems to take a lot of cpu time (~50%), and I’m wondering whether there is a way I can optimise this. So far, the best solution I’ve come up with is to use On GridMove as a condition for sorting. But I think the most ideal way is to localise the sorting around the areas where movement is taking place.


Workflow: InstGroup group names must be unique

The SLG, the one responsible for pathfinding on a Board, is set up by specifying the Board it’s pathfinding with, and the InstGroup that stores the results.

What this means is that all movement paths or movable area results are to be stored in only one InstGroup object. This means that all group names in the InstGroup must be unique.

Note the use of mover’s UID as a string to uniquely identify the group name where its path is stored (eg “path &mover.uid). This applies to the movable area, too.

EDIT: Rex has advised to use the InstGroup.PrivateGroup() expression as a convenience function, which escaped my notice. Definitely cleaner, and easier to type. Thanks, Rex. 🙂

2017-03-10 15_47_19-Parameters for slg_ Get moving path

Workflow: Filtering SLG Movement results

Researching on another tack, I came upon to need to filter the results of ‘Get movable area’ call in SLG movement.

In SLG movement, you can direct it to get a path, or get a movable area. I needed a movable area. Getting a movable area also has a ‘cost’ function. The issue I initially faced was that when you assign slg.BLOCKING as cost value, you are blocking that line of search.


The image above shows a case situation (though this is depicting the problem solved). The yellow circle is trying to find a movable area beyond the LOS of the blue circle. The green circles denote valid movable areas, which, again, are the result of having the issue solved. The tiles with LOS is depicted as the squares with the white outlines. Originally, I had put a blocking cost to tiles that are LOS’d, and the result was that I wasn’t getting any green circles.

When the ‘Get movable area’ cost function is run, it seems to spread out to tiles that are movable. However, if a blocking cost was assigned, then it can never branch out past that, unless it finds another route. In the image, the yellow circle is completely surrounded by LOS’d tiles, and therefore, even though tile # 427 and tile # 475 might be out of LOS, the ‘Get movable area’ function can’t get past those tiles that have been blocked.

To make this work, it had to be a 2-step process. First, make a simple ‘Get movable area’ cost function in which impass=1 is blocked, but everything else is nominal.

Next, filter the result of the cost function further.

The call to the filter function from the ‘Get movable area’ action.
The filter function ‘remove LOS tiles’ goes through the tiles that were gathered by SLG.

So now, in the filter function (‘remove LOS tiles’), the resulting tiles gathered by SLG needs to be appended back to a list (before it’s actually passed into the InstanceGroup).

All tiles that are not appended to this filter result will not be put in the InstanceGroup. So this is a matter of the explicit inclusion of tiles to this result.

In the above image, those tiles that are not LOS’d, are put into the InstanceGroup.