Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The world is... the world

(This is the third and final part of a three part series. Part 1. Part 2. )

We've established that a generic tree implementation is not a good choice for implementing the SceneTree data structure and algorithms. This begs the question: then why call this thing a tree?

A group of people I work with obsess over naming classes, systems, functions, member variables, etc. We view it as a very important part of programming -- the name should describe what it does. If I have trouble coming up with a good name for something, then maybe it isn't clear to me what it does, and if it is not clear to me, how is it going to be clear to others?

The best documentation of the code is always going to be the code itself. Obviously, you want to comment your code, but if you pick clear and concise names for things, there is less you need to communicate via comments. If a user comes across a function named DrawCircle, it is a pretty good bet that function will draw a circle. If it doesn't draw a circle, or it draws a circle and formats the hard drive, that would be quite a surprise.

The name SceneTree implies both an interface and an implementation that is based on trees. We've seen from the previous entries that we don't need or want either. So naming it SceneTree and delivering something else would be a case of bad naming.

I don't have an alternate suggestion off the top of my head. To be honest, I'm not absolutely sure we need a separate name for transform update. The important concept is that we separate transform update from the renderer. I've worked in frameworks where this transform update was part of the World system.

In summary, a generic tree design and implementation is not a good choice for world object transform update and hierarchy composition. This is due to many of the same reasons that make a scene graph a bad choice, and due to the way that gameplay code tends to access transforms and bones. Given that a generic tree is a bad choice, the name SceneTree is a bad name.

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