Archives for: July 2010, 26

2010-07-26

Hierarchical pathfinding demo

Permalink 02:03:59 am, Categories: General  

I created a new demo application to test the HPF algorithm (it's the pathfindingtest app). In this application, there is a player controled actor (Cally), which can be moved around by the arrow keys. The map used in this demo is the Castle map, from CrystalSpace.

Here is a list of hotkeys for this application:

  • b: Build the navigation structure.
  • l: Load a previously built navigation structure.
  • s: Save the current navigation structure.
  • c: Clear the navigation structure, as well as the current path, if there is one.
  • 1: Toggle navigation structures debug rendering.
  • 2: Toggle destination point debug rendering.
  • 3: Toggle path debug rendering.

Once a navigation structure is either built or loaded, the mouse can be used to create paths. A left click will create a path between the actor's current position and the clicked position.

For the path following code, I used the pcmove.mover property, modified so the curves are sharp and precise instead of smooth. If the old smooth behaviour was used, there would be no guarantee that the actor would not walk out of the navigation meshes. The new behavior can be activated in any application that uses pcmove.mover, all that has to be done is set iPcMover::SetSmoothMovement() to false (the old behaviour is the default one).

I made a video of the actor moving around, being controled by the mouse, you can check it clicking here or in the image below (unfortunately, I was unnable to embed the video).

Path following
Path following

Hierarchical pathfinding

Permalink 01:55:38 am, Categories: Hierarchical Pathfinding  

The basics of hierarchical pathfinding were already discussed in the post about the API (link). In this post, I'm going to talk a little about the implementation of HPF.

First of all, in order to build the high level graph that connects all portals, we needed a way to find a point that represents a portal. In the current implementation, the central point of the portal polygon was chosen. While this heuristic will give good results most of the time, it won't result in optimal paths. The difference in length to the shortest path possible will be more noticeable in a map that has very large portals. One alternative to reduce the effects of this problem is to create a number of points per portal proportional to it's size, relative to the agent size. However, while using more points per portal will result in more accurate paths, it will also cause a decrease in performance, so the number of points has to be chosen with care.

To find a path in the high level graph, we first need to add both the source and destination points to it, and then connect them to other nodes that share their sectors. We then calculate the path using A*. After the path is calculated, we remove the source and destination nodes from the graph, as well as any edges connected to them.

With the high level path calculated, it's time to refine it. For each two consecutive nodes in the high level path, we calculate a low level path segment using the Detour pathfinding. This step is done on demand: each time a user asks for the next node, either a new low level path segment is calculated or the next position of the current low level path is returned (if there is one).

In case the destination point is not reachable, the path to it's closest point in the navigation structure will be calculated.

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