Duktape to automate Ogre3D scenes

I have been playing around with the Ogre3D graphics engine. Ogre3D has been around for a while but only recently, after getting burnt out on OpenGL, have I started to learn more about how Ogre works. After making my way through their set of beginner tutorials (here) I was ready to start making my own scenes and start building a little prototype. I wanted an easy way to editor my scene without having to recompile everything every time I slightly move something within the scene. Typically this is where most people go out and learn 3Ds Max or Blender or even any of the custom Ogre scene editors. But after spending a day working through the Ogre tutorials I felt like I had experienced enough tutorials for one day.

So, if you are like me, you would like to have another option for manipulating a scene quickly without having to recompile. This is an excellent excuse to embed a scripting language within your C/C++ program! Here is an example of building Ogre scenes using a JSON file and Duktape. Duktape can do more than just parse JSON files, so it is a great addition to your codebase – especially if things like Google’s V8 Engine is overkill for what you are looking to do.

Let’s start by viewing a little test scene I’ve been playing around with.

ogre00

So this is a basic scene I built using the sample meshes which come with the Ogre SDK. Below is the JSON file which builds this particular scene.

Ogre doesn’t know how to parse this file at all. All the conventions here I define within my code using the Duktape API. Once Duktape parses the JSON file I retrieve the relevant information I need to build my scene using Ogre. First we read in the JSON file as a string so we can later hand it over to Duktape, which will then use it to create a Javascript object.

So now we have a string pointer,  char* fileStr; , which points to the contents of our JSON file. Here you could do any “pre-processing” work that may be needed. Next we need to send this string over to Duktape. It is very simple to get Duktape up and running.

Here we decode the JSON object and free our previously allocated string. From here you can literally do anything with the JSON object. Below is one example but there is really no limit to how complex these scenes could get!

The one line that probably deserves explaining here is  duk_to_boolean(mContextJS, -1) & 0x01; , which I did simply to avoid const warnings VC++ was giving about converting from  duk_bool_t to  bool .

As an added bonus, if we put this code within a  void createScene(void); function we can hotload the scene with a single button press (i.e. without having restarting the program). Just add the following to your  bool OIS::KeyListener::keyPressed(const OIS::KeyEvent& ke); function’s switch statement.

Here I’m using the “R”-key to reload my scene.

I much prefer this method to learning a bloated program like 3Ds Max, Blender, or any of the other programs out there. These programs can’t avoid the bloat because they need to be able to perform everything a user needs (and then some). But if you only need the basics they come with way too much overhead to warrant their use.

Hopefully I’ll have more 3D stuff in the future! I’ve never made a 3D game before so this is new territory for me – quite excited!