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The state pattern is very useful when you need an object to alter its behaviour when this object’s state changes. The purpose of this article is to give you an example of the State pattern in action. In that case, the State pattern has been applied to a small game framework.
During the last year, I have written some small DirectX games. One of the problems I’ve encountered was the transition between game states. For example, when the game starts, I was usually displaying an Introduction page on which you could see a menu showing my game options. Then, according to the user choice, I had to start the game, show the high scores or show something else. I’ve solved my problem by considering all those choices as states.
Below is a diagram showing my game logic built on the State pattern.
In the application class (
CStatePattern_GameApp), we have a function called
Run(), which provides a default message loop. Basically, this function updates the game and then processes all other messages. The Update function simply ask the view to render the current frame.
To avoid overhead, the
DoFrame function will check if it needs to redraw something, according to the frame rate, or not. I won’t give too much detail on the frame rate stuff since this is not the purpose of my article. But if you are interested, all the code related to the frame rate stuff is located in the
Let’s get back to the State pattern. In the next section, I will explain what happens when the
DoFrame function is called. There are two main parts in this function. The first thing that gets done is the game update. Usually, this is where you would update all game objects in the current state (ship position, collision detection, etc.):
The second part is the game rendering:
The game manager holds a pointer to a
CGameState object. Therefore, when we call the Update function of the
CGameManager object, this will simply redirect the call to the current state object:
This call represents a big part of the State pattern. As you can see, we are calling the
Update function of the current state object, but we are also giving a pointer to ourselves as a parameter. The reason is that after performing state-specific work, the Update function of the current state object will be able to change the current state of the game.
|An important thing to understand is that the |
CGameManager object doesn’t know a thing about the game. It is the
CGameState subclasses that will define the game logic and each state transition as the game goes by.
The declaration above is really important. For example, let’s say that in our game, when the user hits the space bar, the ship fires. Basically, the
CStatePattern_GameView will receive a key event. The view will simply redirect the event to the game manager. The game manager does not know anything about the game logic, so it redirects this event to the current state object. If
PlayState is the current state, the
KeyEvent function of that state will check which key was struck. In this case, it’s going to fire. If the current state would have been
IntroductionState, this event could have had a totally different effect.
State transitions are another important part of the pattern.
For example, the
Update function of the
CPlayState could check if the player has any ships left. If this is not the case, this function would call the
ChangeState function of the
CGameManager like so:
|The states are not changed by the game manager, but by the state itself.|
The declaration above might look strange, but when you think about it, it’s just logic. Let’s say that the player needs to press F1 to start a game while he is in the introduction page. The introduction page knows what to do when the user presses F1. In that case, it will tell the game manager to change the current state to
In my demo project, I simply demonstrate some state transitions. When the game starts, we are in Introduction state. This state will wait for the user to press a key. According to the key pressed, the Introduction state will change the
CGameManager’s state. F1 will switch to the
CPlayState, and F2 will switch to the
In my demo project, I have made some
TRACE calls to show you the details of each transition.