Extending states in Bevy

2022 - Jan 30 6 minute read

This was written for Bevy v0.6

In Bevy, we use States to organize our game's functionality. We can use them to order when and where systems run.

Understanding states

This following an example of a typical usage of states. First, we load assets, and then transition to the main game state when asset loading has completed.

use bevy::{asset::LoadState, prelude::*};

fn main() {
    App::new()
        .add_state(GameState::Load)
        .add_system_set(SystemSet::on_enter(GameState::Load).with_system(load_assets_system))
        .add_system_set(SystemSet::on_update(GameState::Load).with_system(check_loaded_system))
        .add_system_set(SystemSet::on_update(GameState::Game).with_system(do_game_stuff_system))
        .run();
}

#[derive(Hash, Debug, PartialEq, Eq, Clone)]
enum GameState {
    Load,
    Game,
}

#[derive(Default, Debug, Clone, PartialEq, Eq, Hash)]
pub struct PreloadingAssets(pub Vec<HandleUntyped>);

fn load_assets_system(mut loading: ResMut<PreloadingAssets>, assets: Res<AssetServer>) {
    loading.0.extend(assets.load_folder("my_folder").unwrap());
}

fn check_loaded_system(
    mut state: ResMut<State<GameState>>,
    loading: ResMut<PreloadingAssets>,
    assets: Res<AssetServer>,
) {
    let finished_loading = loading
        .0
        .iter()
        .any(|handle| assets.get_load_state(handle) == LoadState::Loading);

    if finished_loading {
        state.replace(GameState::Game).ok();
    }
}

fn do_game_stuff_system() {
    // ...
}

So, what's going on here? We define a GameState enum with two variants, Load, and Game. We load assets in our Load state (wow!) and then check for them to finish loading. When all assets are fully loaded, we change the state variant to Game and do_game_stuff_system where we can interact with those newly loaded assets.

There's a few important things to look out for in this setup. Notice the requirements of a Bevy state: it must be Default, Debug, Clone, PartialEq, Eq, Hash.

Secondly, note the way systems are added to our game. Instead of using add_system directly, we instead use add_system_set to define when the system should run in relation to our state. For example, SystemSet::on_enter(GameState::Load).with_system(load_assets_system) tells our game to run load_assets_system once when our state begins with (or has transitioned to) Load. SystemSet::on_update(GameState::Load).with_system(check_loaded_system) tells our game to run check_loaded_system on every update of the Load state, instead of just once. This continues until the state changes to Game.

The limitation

The above is excellent for getting started, but is limited due to our GameState being unable to contain variant data.

To understand this further, we need to add some more context. Let's assume a few things about our example game. Lets say it is a puzzle game with a Load, Game, and PostGame state.

We need to keep track of some game settings. We might store our settings as a Resource. So, a simplified timline of events our game executes might look like this:

Load assets ➡️ Initialize resources ➡️ Transition to main game state ➡️ Play game ➡️ Transition to post Game state ➡️ Click replay ➡️ Re-initialize resource ➡️ Transition back to game state to replay

The not-so-great part of this is that we must remember to manually initialize and reinitialize certain resources for a state. While not an issue for our contrived example with just a score, this will become much more difficult to track once your game becomes more complex. One option is to use on_exit SystemSets to reset certain resources. While useful, what if we could tie that data directly to our states?

Making states more powerful

We can use enum variants to solve this. Our new GameState and associated data will look like this:

#[derive(Hash, Debug, PartialEq, Eq, Clone)]
struct Settings {
    difficulty: Difficulty,
}

#[derive(Hash, Debug, PartialEq, Eq, Clone)]
enum Difficulty {
    Easy,
    Normal,
    Hard,
}

#[derive(Hash, Debug, PartialEq, Eq, Clone)]
enum GameState {
    Load,
    Game(Settings),
    PostGame(Settings),
}

You might notice this causes a few issues. Our SystemState declarations no longer make any sense. We don't want to run our system only when the score is a specific value, and rustc requires us to specify variant data.

// ...
.add_system_set(SystemSet::on_enter(GameState::Load(Score(1))).with_system(load_assets_system))
// ...

However, we only want to check the discriminant when it comes to running systems. To solve this, we can create a custom PartialEq implementation.

impl PartialEq for GameState {
    /// Set a custom equality method that only compares the enum variant,
    /// ignoring any attached data.
    fn eq(&self, other: &Self) -> bool {
        std::mem::discriminant(self) == std::mem::discriminant(other)
    }
}

That, combined with our state will now look like this:

use bevy::{asset::LoadState, prelude::*};

fn main() {
    App::new()
        .add_state(GameState::Load)
        .add_system_set(
            SystemSet::on_enter(GameState::load()).with_system(load_assets_system))
        .add_system_set(
            SystemSet::on_update(GameState::load()).with_system(check_loaded_system))
        .add_system_set(
            SystemSet::on_update(GameState::game()).with_system(do_game_stuff_system))
        .run();
}

#[derive(Hash, Debug, PartialEq, Eq, Clone)]
struct Settings {
    difficulty: Difficulty,
}

impl Default for Settings {
    fn default() -> Self {
        Self {
            difficulty: Difficulty::Normal,
        }
    }
}

// We have to derive these as well but there's probably a way
// to get out of that since we aren't actually comparing this data.
// Not sure! Someone let me know.
#[derive(Hash, Debug, PartialEq, Eq, Clone)]
enum Difficulty {
    Easy,
    Normal,
    Hard,
}

#[derive(Debug, Eq, Clone)]
enum GameState {
    Load,
    Game(Settings),
    PostGame(Settings),
}

impl PartialEq for GameState {
    /// Set a custom equality method that only compares the enum variant,
    /// ignoring any attached data.
    fn eq(&self, other: &Self) -> bool {
        std::mem::discriminant(self) == std::mem::discriminant(other)
    }
}

// We also need to manually implement Hash since we did for PartialEq
// Thanks to DJMcBonk on Discord for helping ensure this was impl'd correctly
// See: https://doc.rust-lang.org/std/hash/trait.Hash.html#hash-and-eq
impl Hash for GameState {
    fn hash<H: std::hash::Hasher>(&self, state: &mut H) {
        core::mem::discriminant(self).hash(state);
    }
}

impl GameState {
    #[inline(always)]
    fn load() -> Self {
        Self::Load
    }

    #[inline(always)]
    fn game() -> Self {
        // The value here isn't actually ever checked due to
        // our custom PartialEq, but we need to provide it nonetheless
        Self::Game(Settings::default())
    }

    #[inline(always)]
    fn post_game() -> Self {
        Self::PostGame(Settings::default())
    }
}

#[derive(Default, Debug, Clone, PartialEq, Eq, Hash)]
pub struct PreloadingAssets(pub Vec<HandleUntyped>);

fn load_assets_system(mut loading: ResMut<PreloadingAssets>, assets: Res<AssetServer>) {
    loading.0.extend(assets.load_folder("my_folder").unwrap());
}

fn check_loaded_system(
    mut state: ResMut<State<GameState>>,
    loading: ResMut<PreloadingAssets>,
    assets: Res<AssetServer>,
) {
    let finished_loading = loading
        .0
        .iter()
        .any(|handle| assets.get_load_state(handle) == LoadState::Loading);

    if finished_loading {
        // Start our game and initialize the difficulty as normal
        state.replace(GameState::Game(Default::default())).ok();
    }
}

fn do_game_stuff_system(state: Res<State<GameState>>) {
    // to access our state, we need to destructure it.
    // Note that because this system **only** runs on this state,
    // it should always succeed. If you wanted, you could match this
    // with the other arm being unreachable!().
    if let GameState::Game(settings) = state.current() {
        // We can now access settings freely!
    }
}

Limitations of this method

There's a few tradeoffs while using states like this. First, states aren't mutable. You can't do something like if let GameState::Game(mut settings) = state.current_mut() {}, as states can only be pushed, replaced, or removed using the State resource. This means that you would still need resources for tracking data that is mutable within a single state, such as a game score.

As with anything, it's just another tool.