Konstruisto: Week #2 – Main menu and settings framework

Previous week I mentioned road implementation. I started with rendering and got stuck a bit while handling texture atlases (search for GL_TEXTURE_2D_ARRAY if you’re interested, I even may write an article about it). Roads are half-done then. I moved to easier stuff and made menu state and settings (in code so far). UI renders textures now; it took me quite a lot of time since I missed there is a function for loading images and wrote everything by hand at first ūüôā Use G to turn off the grid. This week I pushed 21 commits (total 91).

Previous week

Roads learn alphabet

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Quick Tip: Google Charts for your website

Recently I found out about great charting library¬†and I’m astonished to see how easy it was to integrate it into a project. Google Charts is a free, pure-JS library. You embed the script, write about ten lines of code and it works.

Hello charts!

Include link to library hosted by Google:

<script type="text/javascript" src="https://www.gstatic.com/charts/loader.js"></script>

We just add the data and it works:

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Introduction to geometry shaders

In this article, I will show basics of geometry shader – useful and easy to use an element of the rendering pipeline.

Geometry shaders in rendering pipeline

Here’s a simple diagram. I marked with orange the parts which we can modify using shaders (click to enlarge).

OpenGL rendering pipeline with marked shaders

Our geometry shader goes into action after vertex and tesselation shaders, and inside we can use data passed from these previous stages. Inside our program we will set out variables and emit vertices – all this data will be passed to the vertex shader as if geometry shader was not existent. Let’s see it in action. Continue reading

Konstruisto: Week #1 – World geometry

This week was a bit slower than previous (I pushed 24¬†commits, total 70) since I needed to introduce some graphical user interface. I went with¬†NanoVG library, which lets me draw basic shapes and text. There’s a new top bar with essential information about the city. You can place buildings now. I worked a bit with geometry to make a foundation for zoning (you assign a zone, e.g. residential, and people build if you provide media, low taxes, etc.).

Previous week

We were placed by hand!

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Quick Tip: C++ Variadic Templates

Newer standards of C++ (starting with C++11) let us enhance templates with variable-length lists of types. We can create simpler method declarations with less copy-pasting.

Simple example

We all know how to sum multiple numbers, huh? A possible approach:

The most interesting part is typename... Ts in the template definition. It says the compiler that Ts is a parameter pack (a list of types). In this function, we take the first argument and sum it with that of the rest. The only thing to remember is that operator+ must be defined for all the types we used as an argument.

It’s just templates

You may think: “Hey, it’s just a recursion!”. It’s not. All those methods are generated at compile time and will be different ones in the sense of memory address etc. Also, it’s not possible to modify this variadic template function to receive e.g. vector contents. Vector allocates memory for contents in runtime after all the methods are generated. For parameter packs, the number of elements has to be known during compilation.

Look at the example of moving average (of last three items) below:

The output would be:

Example 2: moving average
AVG(4, 16, 78) = 32.6667
AVG(16, 78, 0) = 31.3333
AVG(78, 0, 15) = 31
AVG(0, 15, -300) = -95
AVG(15, -300, 680) = 131.667

This approach won’t work for less than 3 elements, because there is no required template and compiler would not know what method to generate.

Size of

You can easily count contents of a parameter pack using sizeof...(ts). With parameter packs, it just says how many elements are there; you will get no information about memory size, etc.

Output is:

Example 3: Output
Message 1 (3 more messages)
Message 2 (2 more messages)
Message 3 (1 more messages)
Message 4

This one was pretty straightforward, I think.

Simple logger

That’s enough to make use of variadic templates. As an example, here’s a simple function working as a logger – it prepends message with current time. The declaration is the same as for printf (I copied it from the reference in the beginning):

Sample output:

[Sun Mar 05 14:27:29 2017] Example 4: Simple logger
[Sun Mar 05 14:27:29 2017] Test message 1
[Sun Mar 05 14:27:29 2017] Multiple elements 10, 152.398
[Sun Mar 05 14:27:29 2017] IO Error: Could not load file hello_variadic.txt

Further reading

Variadic templates work nicely with std::tuple and STL containers. There are also new features coming in C++17 like fold expressions. But that’s the topic for another article.¬†You can find more here:

Konstruisto: Week #0 – First buildings

Every Friday I will post updates of what I did. I started eight days ago (so it was longer than a week) and pushed 46 commits (changes) to the repository. The project went from a triangle to buildings.

The first brick occurred to be a triangle, not cuboid ūüôā

Looks like a playable thing

Video preview


  • Project and dependencies setup
  • State manager – currently not used, but will come in handy for main menu, settings, and other screens
  • Logger
  • Camera and input handling
  • Basic renderer for chunked terrain (first textures ever) and buildings in flat shading manner (will have to add SSAO)
  • Selecting fields¬†with mouse, rendering selection on terrain
  • Normals preview for debugging
  • Linked UI library

Code repository

It is an open source project; you can find Github repo here: https://github.com/kantoniak/konstruisto. Feel free to build and try, comment on the commits or participate in any other way. I write a game for the first time, so any tips are welcome.


If you don’t know how/don’t want to build, there are x64 binaries for Windows and Linux. I hope everything works fine, please let me know of any problems.

Windows x64: Konstruisto v0.0.0-6386289 DEBUG WIN
Linux x64: Konstruisto v0.0.0-6386289 DEBUG LINUX


Q, E - rotate view
Left click - select
Right click and drag - move view
Mouse scroll - zoom
1 - toggle normals

Next week

I would like to think of simulation part, starting with time speed. I need a little framework behind this. Another thing is geometry Рbuildings of different sizes, checking for collisions. Also, I wrote a lot of bad code; I would like to refactor it a bit.

Get Noticed 2017: Project description

I already mentioned I take part in Get Noticed 2017 (PL). I like the idea; it may let me finally finish the project I was taking up about three times in the past four years.

I was on a two-week trip to London to brace myself for coding. It let me do quite many valuable observations about the city and how it works. I made a logo for the game (yay!). Here we are:

Konstruisto logo

As you can see I decided to go with plain colors and so-called¬†flat design what should¬†match low poly world nicely. After a thought, there is not much design in this picture ūüôā

The project

Every project needs a plan. This one below is a loose one, but it will do for some time.

I use some libraries, but the majority of things are built from the ground up. Particularly challenging (or time-consuming) are the renderer (basically everything from data to an image on screen), and the simulation (that’s where the city grows). Regarding the latter, I will keep things simple and try to decouple code as much as possible so that I can create proper engine later.

I want to make a playable game in this short timespan (by the end of May), so the list of functionalities to implement got shorter:

  • Infinite terrain in chunks
  • Zoning, generating buildings inside the zones, randomizing some parameters to differ buildings visually
  • Roads: placing roads, generating road network graph
  • Electricity: plants,¬†power lines, power consumption, power shortages
  • Park tiles
  • Simulation: passing the time, land value, zone demand
  • Budget: calculating budget summary, different tax levels (fixed)
  • Data views: zones, energy grid, land value

Not in this list are game saves. I’m not sure if it will make sense to develop bigger cities having quite simple mechanics of simulation. I don’t have time nor knowledge how to create a plausible model of computations. This¬†thought leads me to the conclusion that saves are not needed yet.

I consider some other features, with no specifics so far. I may add them to my roadmap, we will see.

Taking in mind that I need to write a 3D engine, the whole of UI, handle input, etc. that’s quite a¬†challenge. I plan to revisit those ideas after a month or so.

The schedule

I’m going to post three times a week:

  • Friday is for week summary; it will be a short note with changelog and screenshots. I hope to release x64 builds starting from next week.
  • On Sunday: technical article about anything that caught my thoughts recently.
  • Every Wednesday I explain a feature I wrote the previous week.

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git init

I stumbled upon an interesting initiative on the Internet. “Get Noticed!” (PL, dajsiepoznac.pl) makes people develop project and write at least two posts about it every week. I think it’s way too much :), but I liked the challenge. Why not try?

I find this design appealing.

I¬†start this blog to finish a project I take up every year with no results: a city-builder game like Sim City 4, Cities: Skylines, etc. With¬†no professional experience in¬†C++, desktop apps, OpenGL, multithreading and nothing¬†you need to write a game. My principal aim is to learn, but I’d like to finish a very very very simple working prototype by the end of May for that action finals. You can follow Konstruisto (Esperanto for the builder) development on konstruisto.com, and the posts for “Get Noticed!” under the #DSP2017 tag. More details shortly.

The blog itself needs a bit of grooming I hope to do in the following weeks. Maybe I will create my WordPress theme?

This is the very first post I’ve written. I already did something new!