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Entity Component System framework aiming for syntax and usage simplicity with maximum performance for game development.
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README.md

DefaultEcs DefaultEcs is an Entity Component System framework which aims to be accessible with little constraints while retaining as much performance as possible for game development.

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Requirement

DefaultEcs heavily uses features from C#7.0 and Span from the System.Memory package, compatible from .NETStandard 1.1.

Overview

World

The World class act as a manager to create entity, get a selection of specific entities, get a family of component or publish and subscribe to messages that can be used to communicate in a decoupled way between the different elements.
Multiple World objects can be used in parallel, each instance being thread-safe from one an other but operations performed on a single instance and all of its created items should be thought as non thread-safe but depending on what is done, it is still possible to process operations concurrently to optimise performance.

Worlds are created as such

World world = new World();

It should be noted that the World class also implement the IDisposable interface.

Entity

Entities are simple struct wraping above two Int32, acting as a key to manage components.

Entities are created as such

Entity entity = world.CreateEntity();

To clear an entity, simply call its Dispose method

entity.Dispose();

It is possible to create a relationship between entities

Entity parentEntity = world.CreateEntity();
Entity childEntity = world.CreateEntity();

// both lines have the same outcome
parentEntity.SetAsParentOf(childEntity);
childEntity.SetAsChildOf(parentEntity);

// disposing the parent will also dispose the child
parentEntity.Dispose();

Component

Components are not restricted by any heritage hierarchy. It is recommanded that component objects only hold data and to be struct to generate as little as possible garbage and to have them contiguous in memory.

public struct Example
{
    public float Value;
}

To reduce memory, it is possible to set a maximum count for a given component type. If nothing is set, then the maximum entity count of the world will be used.

int maxComponentCount = 42;
world.SetMaximumComponentCount<Example>(maxComponentCount);

It is then possible to add the component to the entity

entity.Set(new Example { Value = 42 });

It is also possible to share a component between entities without creating a new object

entity.SetSameAs<Example>(referenceEntity);

If the component is removed from the entity used as reference, it will not remove the component from the other entities using the same component.

To get a component from an entity, simply do the following

entity.Get<Example>();

Note that the Get method return the component as a ref so you can directly update its value without using the Set method again (but it still need to be set at least once).

Resource

Not all components can easily be serialized to be loaded from data file (texture, sound, ...). To help with the handling of those cases, helper types are provided to give a way to load managed resources, shared across entities and even worlds, and automatically dispose them once no entity using them exist anymore.
To setup a managed resource on an entity, the type ManagedResource<TInfo, TResource> need to be set as a component where TInfo is a type used as a single identifier for a single resource and information needed to load it, and TResource is the type of the resource.
Should multiple resource of the same type be needed on a single entity, it is also possible to set the type ManagedResource<TInfo[], TResource> as component.
If the ManagedResource component is removed from the entity or the entity holding it disposed, the internal reference count on the resource will decrease and it will be disposed if zero is reached.
To actually load the resource, an implementation of the class AResourceManager<TInfo, TResource> is need as shown in the next exemple:

// TInfo is string, the name of the texture and TResource is Texture2D
public sealed class TextureResourceManager : AResourceManager<string, Texture2D>
{
    private readonly GraphicsDevice _device;
    private readonly ITextureLoader _loader;

    // ITextureLoader is the actual loader, not shown here
    public TextureResourceManager(GraphicsDevice device, ITextureLoader loader)
    {
        _device = device;
        _loader = loader;
    }

    // this will only be called if the texture with the key info has never been loaded yet or it has previously been disposed because it was not used anymore
    protected override Texture2D Load(string info) => _loader.Load(_device, info);

    // this is the callback method where the entity with the ManagedResource<string, Texture2D> component is set, the TInfo and the resource are given do act as needed
    protected override void OnResourceLoaded(in Entity entity, string info, Texture2D resource)
    {
        // here we just set the texture to a field of an other component of the entity which contains all the information needed to draw it (position, size, origin, rotation, texture, ...)
        entity.Get<DrawInfo>().Texture = resource;
    }
}

// we simply set the special component like any other one
entity.Set(new ManagedResource<string, Texture2D>("square.png"));

// this is how to set up a resource manager on a world, it will process all curently existing entities with the special component type, and react to all futur entities also
textureResourceManager.Manage(_world);

System

To perform operation, systems should get EntitySet from the World instance. EntitySet are updated as components are added/removed from entities and are used to get a subset of entities with the required component.
EntitySet are created from EntitySetBuilder and it is possible to apply rules for required components or excluded components

// this set when enumerated will give all the entities with an Example component
EntitySet set = world.GetEntities().With<Example>().Build();

// this set when enumerated will give all the entities without an Example component
EntitySet set = world.GetEntities().Without<Example>().Build();

// this set when enumerated will give all the entities with both an Example and an int component
EntitySet set = world.GetEntities().With<Example>().With<int>().Build();

// this set when enumerated will give all the entities with either an Example or an int component
EntitySet set = world.GetEntities().WithEither<Example, int>().Build();

// this gives all the component of type Example currently used in the world
Span<Example> components = world.GetAllComponents<Example>();

There is also some special rules which will make the EntitySet react to some events

// this set when enumerated will give all the entities on which an Example component has been added for the first time
EntitySet set = world.GetEntities().WhenAdded<Example>().Build();

// this set when enumerated will give all the entities on which the Example component has been explicitly changed with Entity.Set<Example> method
EntitySet set = world.GetEntities().WhenChanged<Example>().Build();

// this set when enumerated will give all the entities on which the Example component has been removed
EntitySet set = world.GetEntities().WhenRemoved<Example>().Build();

// this set when enumerated will give all the entities on which the Example component has been added or changed
EntitySet set = world.GetEntities().WhenAdded<Example>().WhenChanged<Example>().Build();

// this set when enumerated will give all the entities with an int component on which the Example component has been changed, the order is important
EntitySet set = world.GetEntities().With<int>().WhenChanged<Example>().Build();

Note that if such a rule is used, the method Complete of the EntitySet needs to be called once every Entity has been processed to clear the EntitySet of its content.
Calling this method on an EntitySet created with only static filtering will do nothing.

Although there is no obligation, a set of base classes are provided to help the creation of systems:

ISystem

This is a base interface for all the systems. it exposes an Update method and an IsEnabled property. In all derived types provided in DefaultEcs, the responsability to check this property is handled by the callee, not the caller. It is set to true by default.

ActionSystem

This class is used to quickly make a system with a given custom action to be called on every update.

private void Exit(float elaspedTime)
{
    if (EscapedIsPressed)
    {
        // escape code
    }
}

...

ISystem<float> system = new ActionSystem<float>(Exit);

...

// this will call the Exit method as a system
system.Update(elapsedTime);

SequentialSystem

This class is used to easily create a list of system to be updated in a sequential order.

ISystem<float> system = new SequentialSystem<float>(
        new InputSystem(),
        new AISystem(),
        new PositionSystem(),
        new DrawSystem()
    );
...

// this will call in order InputSystem, AISystem, PositionSystem and DrawSystem
system.Update(elaspedTime);

AEntitySystem

This is a base class to create system to update a given EntitySet.

public sealed class VelocitySystem : AEntitySystem<float>
{
    public VelocitySystem(World world, SystemRunner<float> runner)
        : base(world.GetEntities().With<Velocity>().With<Position>().Build(), runner)
    {
    }

    protected override void Update(float elaspedTime, in Entity entity)
    {
        ref Velocity velocity = ref entity.Get<Velocity>();
        ref Position position = ref entity.Get<Position>();

        Vector2 offset = velocity.Value * elaspedTime;

        position.Value.X += offset.X;
        position.Value.Y += offset.Y;
    }
}

It is also possible to declare the needed component by using the WithAttribute and WithoutAttribute on the system type.

[With(typeof(Velocity)]
[With(typeof(Position)]
public sealed class VelocitySystem : AEntitySystem<float>
{
    public VelocitySystem(World world, SystemRunner<float> runner)
        : base(world, runner)
    {
    }

    protected override void Update(float elaspedTime, in Entity entity)
    {
        ref Velocity velocity = ref entity.Get<Velocity>();
        ref Position position = ref entity.Get<Position>();

        Vector2 offset = velocity.Value * elaspedTime;

        position.Value.X += offset.X;
        position.Value.Y += offset.Y;
    }
}

AComponentSystem<TState, TComponent>

This is a base class to create system to update a specific component type from a given World.

public class DrawSystem : AComponentSystem<float, DrawInfo>
{
    private readonly SpriteBatch _batch;
    private readonly Texture2D _square;

    public DrawSystem(SpriteBatch batch, Texture2D square, World world)
        : base(world)
    {
        _batch = batch;
        _square = square;
    }

    protected override void PreUpdate()
    {
        _batch.Begin();
    }

    protected override void Update(float elaspedTime, ref DrawInfo component)
    {
        _batch.Draw(_square, component.Destination, component.Color);
    }

    protected override void PostUpdate()
    {
        _batch.End();
    }
}

SystemRunner

While not directly a system, an instance of this class can be given to base constructor of AEntitySystem and AComponentSystem to provide multithreading processing of system.

SystemRunner runner = new SystemRunner(Environment.ProcessorCount);

ISystem<float> system = new VelocitySystem(world, runner);

// this will process the update on Environment.ProcessorCount threads
system.Update(elaspedTime);

It is safe to run a system with multithreading when:

  • for an AEntitySystem
    • each entity can be safely updated separately with no dependency to an other entity
    • there is no new Set, Remove or Dispose action on entity (only read or update)
  • for an AComponentSystem
    • each component can be safely updated separately with no dependency to an other component

Command

Since it is not possible to make structural modification on an Entity in a multithreading context, the EntityCommandRecorder type is provided to adress this short-coming.
It is possible de record command on entities in a thread-safe way to later execute them when those structural modifications are safe to do.

// This creates an expandable recorder with a default capacity of 1Ko
EntityCommandRecorder recorder = new EntityCommandRecorder();

// This creates a fixed capacity recorder of .5Ko
EntityCommandRecorder recorder = new EntityCommandRecorder(512);

// This creates an expandable recorder with a default capacity of .5Ko which can have a maximum capacity of 2Ko
EntityCommandRecorder recorder = new EntityCommandRecorder(512, 2048);

Note that a fixed capacity EntityCommandRecorder (or one which has expanded to its max capacity) has better performance.
When needed, an expandable EntityCommandRecorder will double its capacity so it is prefered to use a power of 2 as default capacity.

// Create a new Entity defered and give an EntityRecord to record commands on it
EntityRecord newRecord = recorder.CreateEntity();

// Register an Entity and give an EntityRecord to record commands on it
EntityRecord record = recorder.Record(entity);

// EntityRecord has the same API as Entity so all action expected are available to record as command this way
newRecord.Set<bool>(true);
record.SetAsParentOf(newRecord);

// To execute all recorded commands
recorder.Execute(world);

Message

It is possible to send and receive message transiting in a World.

void On(in bool message) { }

// the method On will be called back every time a bool object is published
// it is possible to use any type
world.Subscribe<bool>(On);

world.Publish(true);

It is also possible to subscribe to multiple method of an instance by using the SubscribeAttribute:

public class Dummy
{
    [Subscribe]
    void On(in bool message) { }
	
    [Subscribe]
    void On(in int message) { }
	
    void On(in string message) { }
}

Dummy dummy = new Dummy();

// this will subscribe the decorated methods only
world.Subscribe(dummy);

// the dummy bool method will be called
world.Publish(true);

// but not the string one as it dit not have the SubscribeAttribute
world.Publish(string.Empty);

Note that the Subscribe method return an IDisposable object acting as a subscription. To unsubscribe, simply dispose this object.

Serialization

DefaultEcs support serialization to save and load a World state. Two implementations are provided which are equals in feature and it is possible to create a custom serialization engine using the framework of your choice by implementing a set of interfaces.

  • ISerializer is the base interface
  • IComponentTypeReader is used to get the settings of the serialized World in case a maxComponentCount has been set for a specific type different from the maxEntityCount
  • IComponentReader is used to get all the components of an Entity

The provided implementation TextSerializer and BinarySerializer are highly permissive and will serialize every fields and properties even if the are private or readonly and do not require any attribute decoration to work.
This was a target from the get go as graphic and framework libraries do not always have well decorated type which would be used as component.
Although the lowest target is netstandard1.1, please be aware that the capability of both implementation to handle type with no default constructor maybe not work if the version of your .NET plateform is too low.

ISerializer serializer = new TextSerializer();

using (Stream stream = File.Create(filePath))
{
    serializer.Serialize(stream, world);
}

using (Stream stream = File.OpenRead(filePath))
{
    World worldCopy = serializer.Deserialize(stream);
}

TextSerializer

The purpose of this serializer is to provide a readable save format which can be edited by hand.

// declare the maximum number of entity in the World, this must be before any Entity or MaxComponentCount line
MaxEntityCount 42

// this line is used to define an alias for a type used as component inside the world and must be declared before being used
ComponentType Int32 System.Int32, System.Private.CoreLib

// this line is used to set the maxComponentCount for the given type, in case it is different from the maxEntityCount
MaxComponentCount Int32 13

// this line create an entity with the id "MyEntity", this must be before any Component, ComponentSameAs or ParentChild line
Entity MyEntity

// this line set the component of the type with the alias Int32 on the previously created Entity to the value 13
Component Int32 13

// let's say we have the type defined as such already declared with the alias Test
// struct Test
// {
//     int Hello
//     int World
// }
// composite objects are setted like this
Component Test {
	Hello 666
	// this line is ignored since the type does not have a member with the name Wow
	// also the World member will have its default value since not present
	Wow 42
}

// this create a new entity with no id
Entity
Component Int32 1337

// this create a new entity with the id "Foo"
Entity Foo

// this sets the component of the type with the alias Test of the previously created Entity as the same as the one of the Entity with the id MyEntity
ComponentSameAs Test MyEntity

// this sets the entity with the id MyEntity as the parent of the entity with the id Foo
ParentChild MyEntity Foo

BinarySerializer

This serializer is optimized for speed and file space.

Sample

Some sample projects are available to give a better picture on how to use DefaultEcs. Those exemples were done relatively fast so they are probably not the best representation of the Entity Component System framework application.

DefaultBrick win10-x64

Basic breakout clone. The collision is buggy! As said not much time was spent debuging those. Ball moves faster as the more bricks you destroy and reset to default speed if lost. The stage reload once completed.

DefaultSlap win10-x64

Basic fly swatter clone. Every five seconds, flies (blue square) will damage the player (up to 3 times until the "game" resets) and new ones will spawn.

Performance

Feel free to correct my use of the compared ecs libraries as I looked only for basic uses which may not be the most performant way.

BenchmarkDotNet=v0.11.0, OS=Windows 10.0.17134.165 (1803/April2018Update/Redstone4)
Intel Core i5-3570K CPU 3.40GHz (Ivy Bridge), 1 CPU, 4 logical and 4 physical cores
Frequency=3320337 Hz, Resolution=301.1742 ns, Timer=TSC
  [Host]     : .NET Framework 4.7.2 (CLR 4.0.30319.42000), 64bit RyuJIT-v4.7.3131.0
  Job-UJZYDN : .NET Framework 4.7.2 (CLR 4.0.30319.42000), 64bit RyuJIT-v4.7.3131.0

InvocationCount=10  IterationCount=10  LaunchCount=1
RunStrategy=Monitoring  UnrollFactor=1  WarmupCount=10

SingleComponentEntityEnumeration: add one to the basic component (containing one int) of 100000 entities

Method Mean Error StdDev
DefaultEcs_EntitySet 292.30 us 0.6382 us 0.4221 us
DefaultEcs_System 365.22 us 7.6181 us 5.0389 us
*DefaultEcs_System 293.36 us 0.5569 us 0.3684 us
DefaultEcs_MultiSystem 105.90 us 18.5030 us 12.2386 us
*DefaultEcs_MultiSystem 84.15 us 6.8169 us 4.5090 us
DefaultEcs_Component 110.81 us 7.0749 us 4.6796 us
DefaultEcs_ComponentSystem 250.65 us 0.3340 us 0.2210 us
*DefaultEcs_ComponentSystem 84.49 us 0.2756 us 0.1823 us
DefaultEcs_ComponentMultiSystem 68.72 us 4.8234 us 3.1904 us
*DefaultEcs_ComponentMultiSystem 29.02 us 5.3375 us 3.5304 us
Entitas-CSharp
Entitas_System 3,404.56 us 101.3847 us 67.0597 us
Entitas_MultiSystem 2,107.79 us 79.0974 us 52.3180 us

DoubleComponentEntityEnumeration: do basic movement with two component (position, speed) on 100000 entities

Method Mean Error StdDev
DefaultEcs_EntitySet 600.6 us 0.8557 us 0.5660 us
DefaultEcs_System 657.9 us 0.6519 us 0.4312 us
*DefaultEcs_System 598.2 us 7.0261 us 4.6473 us
DefaultEcs_MultiSystem 185.4 us 13.9892 us 9.2530 us
*DefaultEcs_MultiSystem 169.8 us 21.8569 us 14.4570 us
Entitas-CSharp
Entitas_System 3,087.1 us 25.3565 us 16.7718 us
Entitas_MultiSystem 2,239.0 us 36.4984 us 24.1415 us
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