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A minimal, complete, Pokémon battle simulation engine optimized for performance

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pkmn/engine

Test Status WIP License

Warning

This project is under heavy development and currently the main branch contains numerous breaking changes which may not work and which are not fully documented. Please wait for the forthcoming initial v0.1 release before depending on this project (code from the old tag can also be used to experiment with a more stable version of the codebase).


A minimal, complete, Pokémon battle simulation engine optimized for performance and designed for tooling, embedded systems, and artificial intelligence use cases. This engine aims to be a frame-accurate and bug-for-bug compatible implementation of both Pokémon battles as defined by the original game code and the Pokémon Showdown1 simulator which represents Pokémon battling as practically interpreted online.

The pkmn engine is more than 1000× faster than the patched Pokémon Showdown simulator code when playing out supported formats in compatibility mode and is extensively tested and documented. Note, however, that the engine is not a fully featured simulator but is instead a low-level library which can be used as a building block for more advanced use cases.

Installation

This repository hosts both the engine code (written in Zig) and the reference driver code (written in TypeScript).

libpkmn

Binaries of the engine code can be downloaded from the releases tab on GitHub, or you can download the source code directly and build it with the latest zig compiler, see zig build --help for build options:

$ curl https://github.com/pkmn/engine/archive/refs/heads/main.zip -o engine.zip
$ unzip engine.zip
$ cd engine
$ zig build --prefix /usr/local -Doptimize=ReleaseFast

The Zig website has installation instructions which walk through how to install Zig on each platform - the engine code should work on Zig v0.12.0 dev build 2036 or greater, though tracks Zig's master branch so this may change in the future if breaking language changes are introduced:

libpkmn can be built with -Dshowdown to instead produce the Pokémon Showdown compatible libpkmn-showdown library. Furthermore, protocol message logging can be enabled through -Dlog. The libpkmn and libpkmn-showdown objects available in the binary release are both compiled with the -Dlog flag by default.

@pkmn/engine

The driver code can be installed from npm:

$ npm install @pkmn/engine

The driver depends on being able to find compiled Node/WASM addons in node_modules/@pkmn/engine/build/lib to be useful. When you install the package a postinstall lifecycle script runs install-pkmn-engine which checks for a compatible zig compiler (see earlier regarding minimum version) and download one to node_module/@pkmn/engine/build/bin if it can't find one, as well as looking for (and downloading, if necessary) the required Node headers needed to successfully build the addons natively.

If you have configured npm to --ignore-scripts you must either run npx install-pkmn-engine directly or build the addons manually and place the artifacts in the expected paths.

pkmn

To include pkmn, add it as a dependency in your project's build.zig.zon:

.dependencies = .{
    .pkmn = .{
        .url = "https://github.com/pkmn/engine/archive/RELEASE.tar.gz",
    },
},

Replace RELEASE with the tag for the release you wish to use (e.g. 0.1.0 or nightly) or the specific hash of any commit. Next, run zig build and copy the expected hash from the error message into your build.zig.zon alongside the .url:

$ zig build
error: dependency is missing hash field
            .url = "https://github.com/pkmn/engine/archive/nightly.tar.gz",
                   ^~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
note: expected .hash = "122056b93b403033cb7d9bed96a02c2eb8cc1275515976167726ada6eb4207e8ef8a",

Note that this hash is not going to be the same as the commit hash. After adding the hash to your build.zig.zon you will be able to import the pkmn package's build helpers into your build.zig:

const std = @import("std");
const pkmn = @import("pkmn");

pub fn build(b: *std.Build) void {
    ...
    exe.addModule("pkmn", pkmn.module(b, .{ .showdown = true, .log = true }));
    ...
}

The pkmn package exposes a module function that takes an options structure to allow for configuring whether or not Pokémon Showdown compatibility mode or protocol message logging should be enabled. Alternatively, you may set options via a pkmn_options root source file declaration. There are several undocumented internal options that can be tweaked as well via build or root options, though these options aren't officially supported, affect correctness, and may change meaning or behavior without warning. Use at your own risk.

pub const pkmn_options = .{ .showdown = true, .log = true };

Usage

For each Pokémon generation, the engine provides a battle structure with two functions - a function to update the battle's state based on both players' choices and a function that defines which choices are valid at that decision point (at the beginning of a battle both player's must "pass" as their first choice to switch in the first member of their party). If -Dlog protocol logging is enabled each update produces logs which can be decoded into a buffer (LOGS_SIZE constants are provided to make it easy to allocate a buffer of the correct size). Each update returns a result to indicate either that the battle has terminated or which types of choices are available for each player.

Unlike Pokémon Showdown's SIM-PROTOCOL which provides a rich request object at each decision point, the pkmn engine computes the possible choices on demand based on the result of the previous update and the battle state (CHOICES_SIZE is a good size to initialize the buffer passed to choices). Attempting to update the battle with a choice not present in the options returned by choices is undefined behavior and may corrupt state or cause the engine to crash.

Battles may be played out from any point but to freshly initialize a battle which is yet to start the turn count and active Pokémon should be zeroed out (driver code should handle this for you). Most driver code should also provide helpers to make initializing battle convenient - check the respective documentation and examples for the bindings being used. The engine's protocol documentation goes into greater detail on the specifics of updates and the potential logs that may result.

The snippets below are meant to merely illustrate in broad strokes how the pkmn engine can be used - the examples directory contains fully commented and runnable code.

C

pkmn.h exports the C API for libpkmn. Symbols are all prefixed with pkmn_ to avoid name collisions. If -Dlog is enabled and logging throws an error then the error is encoded in the pkmn_result and can be checked with pkmn_error.

#include <pkmn.h>

pkmn_battle_options options;
pkmn_gen1_battle_options_set(&options, ...);
pkmn_battle battle = ...;

pkmn_result result;
pkmn_choice c1 = 0, c2 = 0;
while (!pkmn_result_type(result = pkmn_battle_update(&battle, c1, c2, &options))) {
  c1 = choose(PKMN_PLAYER_P1, pkmn_result_p1(result));
  c2 = choose(PKMN_PLAYER_P2, pkmn_result_p2(result));
  pkmn_gen1_battle_options_set(&options, ...);
}
if (pkmn_error(result)) exit(1);

(full code)

The C API doesn't export any helpers for creating or accessing the opaque battle objects - it's instead intended to be used as the foundation for more ergonomic bindings in other languages (the lack of namespaces and bit fields having an implementation-defined layout in C are the main contributing factors to the sparseness of what libpkmn chooses to expose).

JavaScript / TypeScript

@pkmn/engine depends on the @pkmn/data package which requires a Dex implementation to be provided as well. The Battle.create function can be used to initialize a Battle from the beginning, or Battle.restore can be used to re-instantiate a battle which is already in progress. If logging is enabled the output can be turned into Pokémon Showdown protocol via Log.parse.

import {Dex} from '@pkmn/dex';
import {Generations} from '@pkmn/data';
import {Battle} from '@pkmn/engine';

const gens = new Generations(Dex);
const battle = Battle.create(...);

const choose = (n: number) => Math.random() * n;

let result: Result;
let c1: Choice, c2: Choice;
while (!(result = battle.update(c1, c2)).type) {
  c1 = battle.choose('p1', result, choose);
  c2 = battle.choose('p2', result, choose);
}

console.log(result);

(full code)

By default, the @pkmn/engine package compiles the engine with -Dshowdown, though by running install-pkmn-engine directly and passing in --options you can override this default and build different configurations of the extension for the driver to use. The driver can support configurations both with and without Pokémon Showdown compatibility simultaneously if present. On update, the post-install script attempts to rebuild whichever extensions it finds with the same configuration parameters that were originally used meaning updating to the newest version of the library should be seamless.

Despite relying on the native engine code, the @pkmn/engine code is designed to also work in browsers which support WebAssembly. Running npm run start:web from the examples directory starts a server that can be used to demonstrate the engine running in the browser.

Zig

The pkmn Zig package exposes helper methods to simplify state instantiation and any Writer can be used when logging is enabled to allow for easily printing e.g. to standard out or a buffer.

const std = @import("std");
const pkmn = @import("pkmn");

var random = std.rand.DefaultPrng.init(seed).random();
var choices: [pkmn.CHOICES_SIZE]pkmn.Choice = undefined;

var battle = ...
var options = pkmn.battle.options(...);

var c1 = pkmn.Choice{};
var c2 = pkmn.Choice{};

var result = try battle.update(c1, c2, &options);
while (result.type == .None) : (result = try battle.update(c1, c2, &options)) {
    c1 = choices[random.uintLessThan(u8, battle.choices(.P1, result.p1, &choices))];
    c2 = choices[random.uintLessThan(u8, battle.choices(.P2, result.p2, &choices))];
}

std.debug.print("{}\n", .{result.type});

(full code)

The Zig package also supports some APIs which are difficult to expose elsewhere such as the FixedRNG which allows you to fully specify the exact RNG frames (which can be useful for ensuring certain outcomes/effects always occur) for a battle, though doing so changes the size of the Battle object.

Other

Developers who wish to use the engine in other languages should find writing bindings against libpkmn relatively straightforward based on the existing documentation, though to simplify the process even further src/data contains JSON dumps of all of the Pokémon data, structure sizes and offsets, and protocol information used by the reference driver code. The following is a list of known libpkmn bindings written by developers outside of the pkmn organization that may be helpful (though note that these projects may not necessarily be up-to-date/complete/correct - inclusion in this list doesn't imply endorsement):

Language License URL
C++ BSL-1.0 https://github.com/pasyg/wrapsire
Python MIT https://github.com/AnnikaCodes/PyKMN

pkmn-debug

The @pkmn/engine package ships with a pkmn-debug tool which exists to decode the binary data structures and protocols used by the engine and to output a standalone webpage that can be used for debugging. To use this tool in a folder that has the @pkmn/engine package installed locally you can use npx pkmn-debug, though you may also wish to install the package globally to be able to use this tool anywhere without npx:

$ npm install --global @pkmn/engine

By default, pkmn-debug expects to read binary debug protocol from standard input and output HTML to standard output:

$ <cmd> | pkmn-debug > index.html

Alternatively, if a single filename argument is passed to the pkmn-debug it reads from that instead:

$ pkmn-debug <file> > index.html

Status

The engine is currently expected to be developed over multiple stages:

Stage Deliverables
0 documentation, integration, benchmark, protocol
1 RBY & GSC
2 ADV & DPP
3 modern generations

Currently, most of the foundational work from stage 0 is done:

Stage 1 is currently in progress and involves the implementation of the actual Generation I & II battle engines, followed by Generation III & IV in stage 2. The implementation of further Pokémon generations is in scope for the project but shouldn't be considered part of the immediate roadmap (i.e. exploring the options for broadening support for old generation APIs is given higher priority than implementing more modern generations). Furthermore, implementation of modern generations is soft-blocked on the availability of high quality decompilations of the original games in question.

Certain features will always be deemed out of scope:

  • team/set validation or custom rule ("format") enforcement
  • first-class support for "mods" to core Pokémon data and mechanics
  • battle variants other than single (full) or double battles
  • code for exposing the engine to users (input validation, game socket server, etc)

License

The pkmn engine is distributed under the terms of the MIT License.

Footnotes

  1. In the case of Pokémon Showdown, only bugs which stem from a misimplementation of specific effects are reproduced in the engine, bugs which are the result of a misunderstanding of the fundamental mechanics of Pokémon or which simply arise due to specific Pokémon Showdown implementation details that aren't replicable without making the same (incorrect) architectural choices aren't. Furthermore, the "Pokémon Showdown" code referenced by this project includes several patches to improve accuracy and smooth over some of the more egregious implementation issues. In practical terms, the vast majority of games played out in the pkmn engine's compatibility mode and on this patched Pokémon Showdown simulator are the same, it's only in a well defined and documented set of circumstances where the two implementations diverge.