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nyan - yet another notation

just make it meta-meta-meta.

nyan is a data description language, It is a mixture of python, json, patch, wml, yaml and some new ideas.

It stores hierarchical objects with key-value pairs in a database with the key idea that changes in a parent affect all children.

We created nyan because there existed no suitable language to properly represent the enormous complexity of storing the data for openage.

The main focus is readability and moddability.

github stars #sfttech on Freenode

The foundation of nyan:

Technology Component
C++20 nyan core
Flex Tokenizer generator
CMake Build "system"
Humans Doing it wrong all the time


Let's assume we have a fun λ half-life strategy game.

The game engine provides some functionality which is exposed by nyan.

# This is the content and mod API of the Engine:

    hp : int
    animation : file

    hp : int
    creates : set(Unit)
    model : file

Using this, the base game pack provides actual game content:

# base_game_data.nyan

    hp = 50
    animation = "./assets/soldier.ani"

    hp = 2100
    animation = "./assets/strider.ani"

    hp = 9001
    creates = {OverwatchSoldier, Strider}
    model = "./assets/lambda_hq.mdl"

    hp = 60
    animation = "./assets/male09.ani"

# gordon is a citizen with more hp
    hp += 40
    animation = "./assets/gordon.ani"

    hp = 5000
    creates = {Citizen, Gordon}
    model = "./assets/lambda_hq.mdl"

Now, let's create a mod that adds the overwatch elite and gives the striders even more hp.

# elite_strider_mod.nyan

# create a new unit:
    hp = 70
    animation = "./assets/coolersoldier.ani"

# change the strider:
    hp += 1000

# change the citadel to build the elite:
    creates += {OverwatchElite}

# create a mod that informs the engine about its patches
    name = "Add the elite and make striders stronger"
    patches = {AddElite, ChangeStrider}

When the engine activates the mod ("applies the patches"), the combine citadel can create the new unit and the strider is stronger.

The fun begins if you now create a mod that mods the mod. Which is totally possible with nyan.


Read the specification.

Current State of the Project

nyan is fully functional and can be used in your project.

There's some features left to implement, but those only cover special use cases:

  • Inverse patch generation
  • Subobject set specializations
  • Callback trigger when a value changes
  • Member name qualifications for name conflict resolving

Dependencies, Building and Running

  • How do I get this to install on my box?

  • Waaaaaah! It

    • crashes
    • spams all kinds of shit on the screen
    • my girlfriend dumped me because I debugged for nights

All of those observations are intended, not bugs.

To get rid of them, recompile with --dont-segfault --shut-up --new-girlfriend.

Operating System Build status
Debian Sid Todo: Kevin #11
MacOSX 10.14 Build Status
Windows 10 - x64 Build status

If this still does not help, try the contact section or the bug tracker.

Development Process

How does contributing work here?

The documentation is also in this repo:

  • Code documentation is embedded in the sources for Doxygen (see doc readme).
  • Have a look at the doc directory. This folder tends to outdate when code changes.


If you have the desire to perform semi-human interaction, join our Matrix or IRC chatroom!

For ideas, problems, ..., use the issue tracker!

If it's a problem with the usage of nyan in openage, head over there.


GNU LGPLv3 or later; see and legal/LGPLv3.

We know that probably nobody is ever gonna look at the file, but if you want to contribute code to nyan, please take the time to skim through it and add yourself to the authors list.