After going over a few game design patterns, I have settle with Entity-Component-System (ES System) for my game engine. I've reading articles (mainly T=Machine) and review some source code and I think I got enough to get started.
There is just one basic idea I am struggling with. How do I deal with groups of entities that are dependent on each other?
Let me use an example:
Assume I am making a standard overhead shooter (think Jamestown) and I want to construct a "boss entity" with multiple distinct but connected parts. The break down might look like something like this:
- Ship body: Movement, Rendering
- Cannon: Position (locked relative to the Ship body), Tracking\Fire at hero, Taking Damage until disabled
- Core: Position (locked relative to the Ship body), Tracking\Fire at hero, Taking Damage until disabled, Disabling (er...destroying) all other entities in the ship group
My goal would be something that would be identified (and manipulated) as a distinct game element without having to rewrite subsystem form the ground up every time I want to build a new aggregate Element.
How do I implement this kind of design in ES System?
- Do I implement some kind of parent-child entity relationship (entities can have children)? This seems to contradict the methodology that Entities are just empty container and makes it feel more OOP.
- Do I implement them as separate entities, with some kind of connecting Component (BossComponent) and related system (BossSubSystem)? I can't help but think that this will be hard to implement since how components communicate seem to be a big bear trap.
- Do I implement them as one Entity, with a collection of components (ShipComponent, CannonComponents, CoreComponent)? This one seems to veer way of the ES System intent (components here seem too much like heavy weight entities), but I'm know to this so I figured I would put that out there.
- Do I implement them as something else I have mentioned?
I know that this can be implemented very easily in OOP, but my choosing ES over OOP is one that I will stick with. If I need to break with pure ES theory to implement this design I will (not like I haven't had to compromise pure design before), but I would prefer to do that for performance reason rather than start with bad design.
For extra credit, think of the same design but, each of the "boss entities" were actually connected to a larger "BigBoss entity" made of a main body, main core and 3 "Boss Entities". This would let me see a solution for at least 3 dimensions (grandparent-parent-child)...which should be more than enough for me.