Published on 20 April 2023 in Agile Game Development with Python and Pygame.
In this episode we reflect on our current design. I see something that bothers me. We talk about it and how to fix it.
Right now our game is split up into two main classes: the game and the game loop. The game contains the logic of our game, while the game loop is responsible for setting up pygame and calling our game on every frame.
Almost all references to pygame are contained in the game loop class. Our game knows almost nothing about pygame. Almost. And that bothers me.
Let’s have a look at the test for our game:
""" I draw an animated circle until the user closes the window. >>> loop = GameLoop.create_null( ... events=[ ... , ... , ... [pygame.event.Event(pygame.QUIT)], ... ] ... ) >>> events = loop.track_events() >>> Game(loop).run() >>> events PYGAME_INIT => CLEAR_SCREEN => DRAW_CIRCLE => x: 50 CLEAR_SCREEN => DRAW_CIRCLE => x: 51 PYGAME_QUIT => """
We can see references to pygame in two places. First when we create the quit event. We create an instance of a pygame event and pass that to the null version of the game loop. Later in the events that we assert on, there are event names mentioning pygame (
Why does this bother me?
One purpose of introducing the game loop class was to separate pygame code from our game. One reason to do that is that our game becomes easier to test. And if it’s easier to test, it suggests that the design is also better. (People claim at least. So let’s go with that here.)
But some details of pygame are leaking out.
GameLoop were instead called
PygameGameLoop, I would be more fine with this. But I think the design would be more clear if the game didn’t know anything at all about pygame.
Our game loop uses the infrastructure wrapper pattern. One purpose of that pattern is to isolate and contain infrastructure code so that the user of it can be provided an interface that is optimal for its consumption. In our case we want to design our game loop to fit exactly what our game needs. And the loop should encapsulate all the details of how to make that happen (using pygame).
Our game now needs to know that the pygame quit event is fired when the user closes the window. But wouldn’t it be more clear if that could be expressed in the code something like this instead?
if event.is_user_closed_window(): self.loop.quit()
Above, the game does not need to know about pygame and can directly express the idea that if the user closes the window, the game loop should be quit.
Enough talking, let’s see if we can fix this.
The tick method of our game now looks like this:
def tick(self, dt, events): for event in events: if event.type == pygame.QUIT: self.loop.quit() ...
The interface is that events is a list of pygame event instances.
Let’s change that to instead be instances of a new event class that we control. Here is a first version:
class Event: def __init__(self, pygame_event): self.pygame_event = pygame_event def is_user_closed_window(self): return self.pygame_event.type == pygame.QUIT def __repr__(self): return repr(self.pygame_event)
Now we can change how the game loop calls the game from this
game.tick(dt, [Event(x) for x in self.pygame.event.get()])
This breaks our tests saying that
AttributeError: 'Event' object has no attribute 'type'
We modify our game to use our new method instead:
def tick(self, dt, events): for event in events: if event.is_user_closed_window(): self.loop.quit()
All tests are passing again.
We can rely on our tests for this refactoring.
Our test for the game still creates pygame events:
""" >>> loop = GameLoop.create_null( ... events=[ ... , ... , ... [pygame.event.Event(pygame.QUIT)], ... ] ... ) """
Here we would like to instead express the idea that we want to simulate a user closes the window event without mentioning any more details.
Here is one attempt:
""" >>> loop = GameLoop.create_null( ... events=[ ... , ... , ... [GameLoop.create_event_user_closed_window()], ... ] ... ) """
And in game loop, we add this:
@staticmethod def create_event_user_closed_window(): return pygame.event.Event(pygame.QUIT)
Now the game loop knows the details of how to create pygame events. I think this is better. But there is one thing that still bothers me.
The tick method expects a list of events with the interface that we make up, but
create_event_user_closed_window creates a pygame event. So right now, there is no way for us to test the tick method in isolation, because there is no way to create events. If we expose the
Event class we could do something like this in a test:
""" >>> game.tick(dt=1, events=[Event(GameLoop.create_user_close_window())]) """
I’m not sure I like that. I think I would feel better if
create_event_user_closed_window returned an event with our interface. Let’s try that.
We modify it:
@staticmethod def create_event_user_closed_window(): return Event(pygame.event.Event(pygame.QUIT))
AttributeError: 'Event' object has no attribute 'type'
I think we are now wrapping events in events. Let’s unpack the pygame event when creating the null version, going from this
class NullEvent: def get(self): if events: return events.pop(0) return 
class NullEvent: def get(self): if events: return [x.pygame_event for x in events.pop(0)] return 
Now another test fails:
>>> GameLoop.create_null(events=[["some event"]]).run(game)
We just changed the interface of
create_null to expect
Event instances. Here we are passing a string. It should really be a pygame event. But we ignore that for now and just change to this:
>>> GameLoop.create_null(events=[[Event("some event")]]).run(game)
All tests are passing. Success!
We add a test to illustrate the usage of the factory method:
@staticmethod def create_event_user_closed_window(): """ >>> GameLoop.create_event_user_closed_window().is_user_closed_window() True """ return Event(pygame.event.Event(pygame.QUIT))
At this point our game no longer depends on pygame. It only depends on the game loop which provides the infrastructure needed for writing a game (graphics, user input, music, etc). We can remove the import of pygame so the top of the file now looks like this:
#!/usr/bin/env python3 from gameloop import GameLoop class Game: ...
There is still one place left where our game test refers to pygame:
""" ... >>> events PYGAME_INIT => CLEAR_SCREEN => DRAW_CIRCLE => x: 50 CLEAR_SCREEN => DRAW_CIRCLE => x: 51 PYGAME_QUIT => """
Some events that the game loop emits have pygame in their name.
Imagine that we could plug any game loop implementation into our game and from the game’s perspective, they all worked the same. Then it doesn’t make sense for it to emit events that talk about the underlying technology to realize the game loop.
GAMELOOP_QUIT. And while we are improving events, let’s also add the resolution and fps to the init event so that we can observe them.
Here is how the test reads then:
""" ... >>> events GAMELOOP_INIT => resolution: (1280, 720) fps: 60 CLEAR_SCREEN => DRAW_CIRCLE => x: 50 CLEAR_SCREEN => DRAW_CIRCLE => x: 51 GAMELOOP_QUIT => """
At this point, our game knows nothing about pygame. It only relies on the interface of the game loop. That is something that we control and can design specifically for what our game needs. And should we want to switch out pygame for another graphics library, we only need to modify the game loop, not our game.
You might object that this seems like too much speculative design. What is the likelyhood that we want to switch graphics package? And can’t we deal with those problems when they arise?
On the one hand, I think that objection is valid. But I would like to see this from another angle. The purpose of this change was not to make pygame easily replaceable. The purpose of the change was to design a clean interface for our game where the different classes had different responsibilities. Only as a side effect pygame became more replaceable.
Had we designed a base class
GameLoop and then derived a
PygameGameLoop from it, then I think we would have designed speculatively. There is only one implementation of the game loop right now. We don’t even anticipate any more implementations, so why make a “placeholder” in our design where a second implementation could be plugged in?
Making design changes in the beginning is generally easier. The further you go in the wrong direction, the harder it is to undo. (But with careful refactoring, it is always possible.) One problem is that it might be harder to see problems with the design early on. How are a few references to pygame problematic? I think thinking in terms of code smells instead of in terms of speculative design is useful here.
By the way, I’m not sure the design I choose here is the “correct” one. I’m just trying to learn and practice here and explain my thinking. But I think if I give attention to design early on, the future will be easier.
See you in the next episode!
Site proudly generated by Hakyll.