I have started to work on the 2d platformer game I mentioned in the previous article. As the first step I am developing the engine. It is in C++, using Box2D for physics, SFML for window handling, input and audio, OpenGL for rendering (currently just old style OpenGL, later I plan to use shaders), and Lua for scripting. Box2D, OpenGL and the C++ glue code will do the heavy lifting, while the game logic and events will be scripted in Lua.
I use my own entity-component framework which is based on this article to organize the 'things' in the game. This is my first experiment with an EC system, so far it seems to work really well. It is quite different from object oriented design, it modified the way I think about structuring the code.
Building a basic platformer with Box2D is not really hard. I chose boxes as the physical representation of entities. It might not be too accurate, but I think it will be sufficient for the game I plan. But later I can extend it anyway. Platforms that do not move have a static Box2D body, other things that should be able to move and react to forces have a dynamic body.
As a platformer game, jumping has an important role in gameplay. The player should be able to jump, also enemies, but only when there is something they can jump from, that is, they are standing on something. My first approach to detect if an entity can jump was to check the forces effecting the body, and if the y component is greater than zero, then there is surely something pushing the body upwards and jumping should be allowed. I implemented this method, at first seemed to work, but then I noticed that when the player was standing on another dynamic body then sometimes it could not jump. After some examination it turned out that when two dynamic bodies are resting on each other then the value of y component varies inconsistently (at least as far as I can tell...), so this is not a good method.
My next idea was to attach sensors to the lower parts of the bodies, and use them to detect if there is something under the body. Sensors are like ghost bodies, they go through other bodies (they do not generate collisions), but they detect if they are touching something. I implemented this method too, and it works like a charm. So from now on every living thing in the game will have a thin 'foot sensor' to decide whether it can jump.
The 'living things' (the player, enemies...) have 0.0 friction to move easily, and fixed rotation because that's how they should behave in a platformer :) To move a body I just set it's velocity (e.g. v.y=30 to jump, v.x=20 to move right), and Box2D will take care of everything. Here is an image showing the simple sandbox environment I used for testing. It has 2 static platforms, 3 dynamic boxes and the player.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but since this is a game a video might be worth a thousand pictures, so here is a short one:
There is much work to do... implementing animation, particle systems, sound effects, camera... lot's of tangential stuff like menu system, starting a game, loading, saving... then programming the gameplay, creating content. So I will not be bored :)