Revisiting the Entity View

Work continued on the Vortex Editor this past week. One UI element that has always been somewhat of a functional placeholder and I’ve been meaning to revisit was the Entity View list.

Sitting on the left side of the UI, the Entity View shows all entities in a scene and provides a way to select them. As entities gained the ability to be parented to one another, however, it became apparent this view had to evolve to better express entity relationships.

The new Entity View in the Vortex Editor (shown on the left) displays parenting relationships between entities.

The new Entity View in the Vortex Editor (shown on the left) displays parenting relationships between entities.

A natural solution to this problem is to represent the entities in a hierarchical view (such as a tree). Not only does this convey which entities are parented to which, it allows better organizing the project, as empty entities can now be used to group together other entities that are related to a particular game/simulation mechanic.

The above screenshot shows the new view in action. This is a 3D model loaded from the Wavefront OBJ format, which allows for describing hierarchies of objects. The Vortex Engine’s OBJ loader recognizes these object groupings in the OBJ format and represents each as a separate entity. All of these are then parented to a single entity representing the 3D model in its entirety.

Overall I’m very satisfied with the results. There is still more work to be done, but I think that this is a valuable UX improvement that will go a long way.

Once this work is complete, the plan is to work in the ability to persist the entities and their configuration (including all attached components). I have some ideas on how to bring this idea about, but there are still some interesting problems that will have to be resolved.

Stay tuned for more!