XNA Issues

Published 10/31/2010 by createdbyx in News | Programming | XNA

Some of the issues I have been having with XNA are starting to bug me the more I think about them. I started writing this back at xna 3.1 launch but have only gotten around to posting it now.

Lack of types

First there is no RectangleF structure! WTF?!? XNA ver 4.0 is out and it still does not have a RectangleF type. What is so special about a having a RectangleF type? It would cut down on the number of type casting that is involved especially when working with the SpriteBatch class. I am making a 2D tiled map component and for a 100x100 size map there are like over 40,000 float -> int casts that can occour per rendered frame! 100x100 map is a very small map size! Why I am casting to int is because if I don't there are half pixel issues that arrise and I get gaps between tiles if I don't perform the cast. Which is rediculous because the reason I even have these issues in the first place is because of the way the SpriteBatch class accepts input for drawing sprites.

Lets put it this way SpriteBatch accepts a Rectangle type for specifying a position to render the sprite on screen. This is one of the Draw methods on the SpriteBatch class ...

public void Draw(Texture2D texture, Rectangle destinationRectangle, Rectangle? sourceRectangle, Color color)
{
    Vector4 vector;
    vector.X = destinationRectangle.X;
    vector.Y = destinationRectangle.Y;
    vector.Z = destinationRectangle.Width;
    vector.W = destinationRectangle.Height;
    this.InternalDraw(texture, ref vector, false, ref sourceRectangle, color, 0f, ref vector2Zero, SpriteEffects.None, 0f);
}

As you can see the method stores the destinationRectangle parameter in a Vector4 type. So because my data is originally stored as floats if I use this draw method I have to cast my data to a Rectangle type that consists of integers. Then I call this method which will only turns around and stores that rectangle data back as a float! I am being forced to cast my data for no good reason simply because the xna team has not provided a RectangleF type. /facepalm /repeat  It's things like this that just drive me friggin nuts!

What in the hell kind of frackin logic would make the xna team think thay don't need RectangleF type in the xna framework is beyond me. But if it were up to me needless to say, that kind of BS would not be tolerated. A RectangleF structure should have been there since day one of XNA 1.0! Just the fact that I am having to make all these casts to int is making my code unnessesarily messy to read makes me frustrated. The only real reason I can think of to want to cast to int is if you are using DrawString and you want to enusure your text get rendered cleanly.

The ContentManager

The ContentManager.ReadAsset method is coded as protected so the only way to use it is to create a new class that inherits from the ContentManager class. Why do I want to call this method? Because It allows me to load game assest from disk again to get back a new instance of a object rather then using Content.Load<> which will cache the object after the first load call.  How hard is it to give users the option via  Load<T>(string assetName, bool doNotCache). In order for me to get around this I am using the fallowing code ...

public class ExtendedContentManager : ContentManager
{
    public ExtendedContentManager(IServiceProvider serviceProvider)
        : base(serviceProvider)
    {
    }

    public virtual T Load<T>(string assetName, bool doNotCache)
    {
        if (doNotCache)
        {
            return ReadAsset<T>(assetName, null);
        }

        return base.Load<T>(assetName);
    }
}

public static class ContentManagerExtenders
{
    public static T Load<T>(this ContentManager manager, string assetName, bool doNotCache)
    {
        if (manager is ExtendedContentManager)
        {
            return ((ExtendedContentManager)manager).Load<T>(assetName, doNotCache);
        }

        return manager.Load<T>(assetName);
    }
}

But I also have to remember to replace the content manager in my game constructor via this.Content = new ExtendedContentManager(this.Services); /shakeshead

Additionally the ContentManager does not allow you to unload individual resources. It only allows you to unload all the resources via the Unload method. This could be a very handy feature in terms of optimizing the speed when loading up a new game map. For example if the game was loading up a new map rather then unloading all the resources you could hold onto the currently loaded resources then track what resources are not required after loading the new map is complete. Then unload each individual resource that is not needed, so in terms of numbers if the next map and the previous map use 90% of the same resources that means that you could save 90% of the work required to re-read the resources off the disk. This scenario also makes sense in situations where you want the map to load dynamically as the player traverses that map.

3.1 & No Avatar support for windows

Here I am thinking wu hoo Avatars! Then 3.1 is released and I come to find out that avatars are only supported for the xbox360!  /ShakeFist /StartMakingCrudeShankFromBrokenGlass It's like come on, Really. Really? Srsly disappointing.

ICloneable shiftyness

From .net Reflector found in C:\Program Files (x86)\Reference Assemblies\Microsoft\Framework\Silverlight\v4.0\Profile\WindowsPhone\mscorlib.dll  mscorlib.dll used by windows phone 7 apps

internal interface ICloneable
{
    // Methods
    object Clone();
}

For all that is sane in this world, can someone please tell me WHY ICloneable is declared as internal for xna Windows phone 7 apps?!?!?  It's an interface. With one one method. And the people in charge declared it a internal. WTF?

*raises arms in the air dumbfounded.*

Who at Microsoft made the retarted decision to declare it as internal o.O.  The decision is just so utterly friggin stupid. You went through all the effort to write the code and make use of it. But rather then declaring it as public and maintaining increased portability between frameworks you have gone to the effort of trying to hide it. You have used it in over 100 objects from System.Drawing.Font to System.Array to System.Xml.XmlNode etc.

Imagine you work for Microsoft and your sitting in your office and you are building the Silverlight framework. Your probably not writing the framework from scratch or maybe just parts of it, so there is a lot of cut and paste and porting going on from previous .net framework implementations. Low and behold you get to the ICloneable interface.

At what point and for what possible reason could you have to change ICloneable from public to internal. Do you not understand the implications your actions will have? Was it the lead dev that made the decision? .NET frameworks have been around for ten years now, in each release there has been a conscious effort when porting and updating the framework to keep as much of the framework in tacked as possible. ICloneable has been a staple of .net since the beginning, and to have it exist in the framework as well as making use of it internally, without making it public automatically breaks compatibility for absolutely so reason. The decision to make ICloneable internal is one based on coding philosophy. And by doing that you immediately come into conflict with other peoples philosophies. Also philosophies change over time. But code doesn't. Thus it needs to be re-factored making more work for end users.  :(

If your philosify excludes the use of ICloneable then don't use it. But that doesn't mean the Microsoft dev team should impose there own coding philosophy on the masses of people that will be using the api. Introducing breaking changes because of coding philosophy is just bad mojo.

Making it public maintains compatibility and minimal re-factoring for the countless developers that will be using the framework and porting all sorts of code over to the framework. The implications of going from public to internal is drastic in my opinion. It's a brain fart. It's like a cancer in my brain. As hard as I try to come up with excuses why they declared it as internal I can't think of a single reason. As developers we deal in logic and logical systems all the time and declaring it internal is highly illogical to me. There are unspoken rules even in programming and it's like a give in that you would NOT declare ICloneable as internal.

State types lacking property setters

The decision to make setters private for various state types (GamePadState for example) is one based on coding philosophy, specifically the philosophy of the xna team. The xna team decided for everyone that they had no need for property setters on the GamePadState and other types in the xna framework.

It's not about the xna team's philosophy, it's about providing functionality for usage scenarios that the xna team CAN'T think of. No property setters on state objects are a prime example. What would be a usage scenario, game pad emulation via other devices. For example writing code that uses DirectInput to get user input from devices and mapping that input over to a GamePadState object. Any existing code that uses the xna input types can continue to do so and be oblivious that the state data is actually coming from a DirectInput device behind the scenes.

Non boolean button states

Who decided that that using a enumerator to represent a button state was a good idea?

GamePadState lastState;
var state = GamePad.GetState(PlayerIndex.One);
if (state.Buttons.A == ButtonState.Pressed)
{
    // do something
}

if (state.Buttons.A) // boolean detection would look like this
{
    // do something -> does not compile
}

// detect click
if(lastState.Buttons.A == ButtonState.Pressed & state.Buttons.A == ButtonState.Released)
{
    // clicked
}

// detect click if booleans were used
if (lastState.Buttons.A & !state.Buttons.A)
{
    // clicked -> also does not compile because ButtonState enum is not mark with [Flags] attribute
}

In the code example above you can see that xna uses a ButtonState to represent if a button is Pressed or Released. Not to mention there is twice as much code to write. Button states should have been represented by a boolean not an enumerator.

Conclusion

Everything I have mentioned is easily fixable if only there were a more direct communications line to the microsoft dev team(s). Instead we are delegated to the black hole that is MS Connect. I have posts on there from 3 years ago, yes 3 years ago! Some of my entries still are not responded to and some only get a few words back saying well look into it.

As far as I know and weather things have changed in the last few years, ms connect is not a mandatory job function for ms dev teams and is not tied into Microsoft's back end bug/feature tracking systems. It's voluntary, so who knows how often a dev team actually spends any real time there.

I get frustrated at times as you can see. It's Microsoft, it's like worse then pulling teef. *Teeth :) Xna rocks the casba but there are times I tell ya. "You wanna go to the moon!" :D Someone posted the comment "man back then domestic violence´╗┐ was hilarious.´╗┐" ROFLMAO It's funny cause it's true. :P


Some was asking me about my XMLDocContentProcessor project and I decided to do up a quick demo video of how to use it.



The great outdoors await

Published 8/23/2009 by createdbyx in Example | News | Programming | XNA

Well I'm off to go pick mushrooms. I should be back around mid october or so depending on how the season goes. I have turned comment moderation on while i'm away to try and help keep the riff raff from spamming comments while i'm away.

I have added a few Ohsai updates and provided a second download this time with source code. Keep in mind that it is still in the prototyping stages but there is an example project with a few demos that will give you an idea of where the project is heading.

Oh and I'd just like to express just how much I hate Blizzard. "Just when I thought I was out. They ... pull ... me ... back ... in!" Sigh, I just spent a few hours today reading about the new World of Warcraft expansion called Cataclysm, and all of the various changes that will be taking place. I don't know what it is about that game but I compare it to being on crack. I hate even the thought of spending endless hours playing the game just to aquire items and gear etc, but at the same time I have this strong desire to play it.

The problem comes in when I start loosing the ability to manage my time properly between fighting the urge to play the game, and just trying to stay focused on other priorities. I have basically lost a year of work with my programming projects already because of two  previous six month subscriptions. And when I think about it in those terms I think about how much work I could have gotten done on those projects. No other game has even come close the the level of adddiction I have towards this game.

I am not sure what I am trying to say at this point other then before I heard about the new expansion I had 99% garenteed myself that i was never going to renew my subscription to that game. I have always felt a sense of deep loss that I am missing out when I don't have a subscription. Now after reading about the expansion I have almost convinced myself that I am 90% garenteed to renew my subscription in november. It's a vicous cycle.

Also just as a side note, I gotta mention just how blind I am to spotting spelling mistakes on my website. For the longest time there have been glaring and obvious spelling errors and for some reason I just can't seem to spot them. O.o

And OMG Comment spam! I don't even advertise this site and I am getting hit by spammers. I think I may need to leave comment moderation on when I come back. :(


First off this last two weeks have been a nightmare with trying to get my site up and running again. Not that it was broken per say but that godaddy my hosting provider does not employ very educated people. I have been having a constant back and fourth with them trying to find out why I am getting compiler errors with the extensions I wrote for blogengine, as godaddy claim to support asp.net 3.5 and my code was using C# 3.0 code syntax and Linq.

Needless to say I had written one final email completley documenting all that had happened and why I think it was not working and pointing out to godaddy support just how wrong and how much they really don't understand what the .net framework is what it is for and how it works on it's own, as well as how asp.net fits into it.

It became very clear to me early on that godaddy support does not employ actual programmers. Programmers that write actual code and who actually have written code for the software that godaddy even offers in there Web Hosting connection etc. Had they had these programmers on call or working as support techs the problem would have been isolated and resolved within hours. Lets just say that the email I wrote and was going to send gave an untimatum at the end of it that said they had 72hrs to figure it out or I would be canceling my account and finding another hosting provider.

Yeah, it had gotten that bad. :(

I was patient up until those final few days when I pretty much snapped over what I considered an easy fix. But to be fair I was in part to blame for my own lact of knoledge, and godaddy was equally to blame for not spotting the problem right away, being as simple as it was to fix. It was a bad situation all around and I am just glad it is over with and I just want to put the whole thing behind me.

Anyhoo! Lets git down to bizzniss. Awwww yeah!  There are two new blog engine extensions availible in the projects page. SilverlightExt, and cbxChangeLogger.

The SilverlightExt extension for BlogEngine allows you to embed [ SILVERLIGHT xap:filenamewithoutext width:640px height:480px ] tags in your pages and posts so that you don't have to deal with writing html <object markup. All you have to do is upload your silverlight *.xap file into the ClientBin folder in the root of your site and type "[ SILVERLIGHT xap:filenamewithoutext width:640px height:480px ]" without spaces after [ and before ].

The cbxChangeLogger is a extension for Blogengine that will track changes that are made on a blogengine site. It will track if you created, deleted, or updated posts and pages. When you want to clear the change log and embed the data in a page or post all you have to do is type [ CHANGELOG ]  ( without a space after [ and before ] ) and the tag will be replaced with the changes that were recored since the last time you specified the [ CHANGELOG ] tag in a page or post.


Also I have had a interest in kodu ever since I heard about it and thought it was awesome. After writing some preliminary AI code in a silverlight game I am working on I realized that I am going to need a better AI framework that I can build on top of rather then having to hobble together code for each project that needs some AI in it. So I started a new project called Ohsai. Ohsai is my attempt to create a AI framework that I can use across various platforms where .net is availible, Here is a screenshot of the class diagram for Ohsai as it stands right now View Screenshot

As you can see it is modled using similar concepts that kodu employs and with a little help from wikipedia to give me a starting place on how my interfaces and types should be structured. I already have a very simple prototype and test app up and running in XNA that uses GamePad <condition> -> <action> to move a actior around the screen. Even with this preliminary code I can see how much easier it is going to be having my own AI framework that I can build on top of. Also it may even allow me to use xml files to declare cirtian behaviors so I can use the XNA content pipeline to Content.Load<> from disk. Woot!

But that's pretty much sums up the last two weeks. I'll be heading up north to pick mushrooms around the 27 or 29 of august and probably won't be back until mid october or so. But I'll try to make another post before I leave.


Sigh it can be frustrating sometimes working on my various programming projects. My main solution I work with now consists of  94 projects. View Screenshot

Some of the projects could be considered "Done" but I have yet to upload them to this website and some are still only partially written or working. I have been wanting to create a series of video tutorials that walk through each project but I keep finding myself putting it off, partly because making videos can be very time consuming, and I tend to have too high of standards when making them, "Dam, I should not have said that", "I keep rambling on about off topic stuff", "Forgot to mention this or that feature", "Stupid lispy voice :P" etc etc

It will probably be a while (possible never) before I get around to making any of the videos.

Besides all that I have been doing more work with using xna and winforms and have created a simplfied version of the control then what microsoft has on the xna creators club web site. The reason I created a simplified version of the control is because I needed the control to integrate better with my level editing window. I have provided a preview image below of the control in use in my level editor. The source code can be downloaded here. SimplifiedWinformControl.zip (1.58 mb) (XNA 3.1)

Also something to keep in mind that VS.NET 2008 seems to have issues when the name of the control is the same as the namespace that it resides in. In the example project you may encounter a compile error in the TextForm.Designer.cs file on this line of code "this.xnaControl = new SimplifiedWinformControl.SimplifiedWinformControl();" just delete the namespace off the begining so that it reads like this "this.xnaControl = new SimplifiedWinformControl();". To avoid the error be sure to name your control something other then the namespace that it belongs to. Something else to remember is that if the control is resized larger then the main game windows backbuffer then the control will only display what it can.

public class SimplifiedWinformControl : Control
{
    private Game game;
    public Texture2D Texture { get; set; }
    private SpriteBatch spriteBatch;

    public Game Game
    {
        get { return this.game; }
        set
        {
            // hold onto the game reference
            this.game = value;
            if (this.game == null) return;
            // create the sprite batch
            this.spriteBatch = new SpriteBatch(this.game.GraphicsDevice);
        }
    }

    /// <summary>
    /// Ignores WinForms paint-background messages. The default implementation
    /// would clear the control to the current background color, causing
    /// flickering when our OnPaint implementation then immediately draws some
    /// other color over the top using the XNA Framework GraphicsDevice.
    /// </summary>
    protected override void OnPaintBackground(PaintEventArgs pevent)
    {
        // do nothing here. If this is not overridden the control may have drawing issues O.o 
    }

    protected override void OnPaint(PaintEventArgs e)
    {
        if (this.game == null)
        {
            // draw normal winform way
            e.Graphics.FillRectangle(System.Drawing.SystemBrushes.Control, this.ClientRectangle);
            e.Graphics.DrawString(this.GetType().FullName, this.Font,
                                    System.Drawing.SystemBrushes.ControlText, 0, 0);
        }
        else
        {
            // draw xna way 
            var gr = this.game.GraphicsDevice;
            var oldVP = gr.Viewport;

            // set the graphics viewport to the size the the controls client area
            var newVP = new Viewport()
            {
                Width = this.ClientSize.Width,
                Height = this.ClientSize.Height,
                MinDepth = 0,
                MaxDepth = 1
            };

            gr.Viewport = newVP;

            // clear then draw something onto the control
            gr.Clear(Color.CornflowerBlue);
            this.spriteBatch.Begin();
            this.spriteBatch.Draw(this.Texture, Vector2.Zero, Color.White);
            this.spriteBatch.End();

            // display it onto the control
            try
            {
                var rect = new Rectangle(0, 0, this.ClientSize.Width, this.ClientSize.Height);
                gr.Present(rect, null, this.Handle);
            }
            catch (Exception)
            {
                // Present might throw if the device became lost while we were
                // drawing so we just swallow the exception.
            }

            // restore previous viewport
            gr.Viewport = oldVP;
        }
    }

    protected override void OnCreateControl()
    {
        // check if we are not in design mode and if not hook into the application idle event
        if (!this.DesignMode)
        {
            // just invalidate the control so that it will be redrawn
            // you could also put in some logic to restrict how often the control get invalidated
            Application.Idle += ((sender, e) => { this.Invalidate(); });
        }
        base.OnCreateControl();
    }

    // not really nessary in this simple example to have a dispose here but i put it in anyway
    protected override void Dispose(bool disposing)
    {
        // perform some cleanup
        if (this.spriteBatch != null) this.spriteBatch.Dispose();
        this.spriteBatch = null;
        // we dont need to dispose of the texture here but I did anyway it will be
        // disposed by the content manager. :P But if you have texture(s) you created 
        // your self then this is where they would get disposed
        if (this.Texture != null) this.Texture.Dispose();
        this.Texture = null;
        base.Dispose(disposing);
    }
}

XNA WinForms Reduex!

Published 6/15/2009 by createdbyx in News | Programming | XNA

First start a new xna window game project. Then add a new "MDI Parent Form" to the project. After that change the code in the Program.cs file to look like this ...

static void Main(string[] args)
{
    Application.EnableVisualStyles();
    Application.SetCompatibleTextRenderingDefault(false);

    using (Game1 game = new Game1())
    {
        MDIParent1 mainMDIForm = new MDIParent1();
        var gameWindow = Control.FromHandle(game.Window.Handle) as Form;
        if (gameWindow != null)
        {
            gameWindow.MdiParent = mainMDIForm;
        }

        mainMDIForm.Show();
        gameWindow.Show();
        game.Run();
    }
}

Now press F5 to run the application. Voila! You can now proceed to add game editing or other win form controls to the MDI window for what ever you need. But some initial testing raised a few minor issues.

The first one is that once in a while the viewport does not get updated if the game window is resized. There is also a issue where keyboard keys don't work properly if the game window is the active window. To over come this just make sure that after you are finished interacting with the game window to just deactivate the window again. Then you will be able to press Alt-F to bring up the file menu for example.


Winforms in XNA

Published 6/1/2009 by createdbyx in Example | News | Programming | XNA

I have created a example project on the XNA page that demonstrates how to add winform controls to your game window in just a few lines of code. I created this project because I recently downloaded the winforms example project found at the XNA creators club website and found it to be rather overkill for what it does.  View Screenshot

Download the example project here. AddingWinformControlsTest.zip (38.58 kb) (XNA 3.0)


A few more updates

Published 5/16/2009 by createdbyx in Gallery | News | XNA

I have uploaded a few more images to the gallery. I took some pictures of Rocks, Green Algie, and Grey Sand, the pictures can be found under the "Game Art and 3D Modeling Textures" of the gallery.

There is also some pictures of the Old Skeena bridge that connects Terrace to Thornhill. They can be found under the "Places" section of the gallery called "Old Bridge Graphiti May 15, 2009" and "Terrace Mountian and Old Bridge May 15, 2009"

The gallery is running a little slow at the moment and I'm not sure why. It may still be generating thumbnails of the images. There is about 3 or more gigs of images in the gallery and about 3000+ images. If the slow download time persists then I am going to have to take another look at the code. Also you'll notivce that I didn't link directly to the new images in the gallery and that is a feature I have yet to code into the gallery.

I also added a few more project pages.

  • SLPathfindaz utility library - The SLPathfindaz library is intended to provide a easy to use A* pathfinding implementation for xna.
  • XNAVisies debug visualizers - The XNAVisies project is intended to provide debug visualizers for various xna types.
  • xCollectiveXNA library has been updated and Release 2 is now availible. The events are now similar to the standard .NET (sender, eventargs) style. Also the code is now fully commented with xml comments.

There is still alot of work to do getting the site finished, a few theme tweaks here and there, some xna pages are not fiished being written, and a few other things I am going to try to get done in the next couple of weeks.


New example added

Published 11/20/2008 by createdbyx in Example | News | Programming | XNA
I have added a new xna 3.0 example project that demonstrates stenciling. You can download the example here. View Screenshot

Finnally!

Published 7/7/2008 by createdbyx in News | Programming | XNA
Stupid asp.net password system got messed up some how and could not log in to this site. Grrr.

Anyhoo, just making a post cause I have not made any recently. I am still working on my zider project and am making progress but as usual progress is very slow going. I have not felt like programming this last week and have only wrote about a dozen lines of code.

I have also been working on moving the content from this site to a new site I am setting up. The new site will use Blogengine.net to power it.

Created by: X

Just another personal website in this crazy online world

Name of author Dean Lunz (aka Created by: X)
Computer programming nerd, and tech geek.
About Me -- Resume