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game developers?

Brandon Van Every
I'm aware from the Lua projects pages that several game developers, both
hobbyist and professional, have used Lua as the game engine's embedded scripting
language.  I am wondering what drove your decision to use Lua instead of other
embeddable scripting languages?  Most notably Python, as in my brief survey of
what's available that seems like a good candidate.  Anyways, tell me what your
overriding concerns were, and also what they are now, having gained experience
with Lua.


Cheers,                              3d graphics optimization jock
Brandon Van Every                    Seattle, WA

Experts eliminate the simpler mistakes in favor of the more
complex ones, thereby achieving a higher degree of stupidity.  :-)


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Re: game developers?

Peter Wang
Brandon Van Every <[hidden email]> wrote:
> I'm aware from the Lua projects pages that several game developers,
> both hobbyist and professional, have used Lua as the game engine's
> embedded scripting language.  I am wondering what drove your
> decision to use Lua instead of other embeddable scripting
> languages?  Most notably Python, as in my brief survey of what's
> available that seems like a good candidate.  Anyways, tell me what
> your overriding concerns were, and also what they are now, having
> gained experience with Lua.

First, let me just say that although I've been playing around with
Lua for about two years now, I still haven't got anything to show
for it (hence, I haven't submitted anything to the projects page).

The two best reasons I can think of for using Lua are: (1) it is
very fast, which is incredibly important for games (as I'm sure you
are aware) and (2) it is very small, which may or may not be
important to you.  It also has a flexible and easy to use API.

You mention Python, which is interesting because, for me, it fails
in the above two aspects.  Although I like the language more than
the Lua language, the implemention is (1) extremely slow (possibly
due to the nature of the language) and (2) extremely big (most of
the modules are unnecessary for games).  Python is great as a
stand-alone language for quick'n'dirty scripts or full-size
applications, but I wouldn't use it as an extension language.

If you need more speed, I'd suggest you look around at a few Forth
or Lisp/Scheme interpreters (e.g. QScheme).  Unfortunately, most
end-users are used to infix notation, which may limit your choice.

(This is my first post after lurking for a *long* time.  No flames
please :-)

-- 
[hidden email] - http://www.psynet.net/tjaden/
The steady state of disks is full. -- Ken Thompson

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Re: game developers?

David Jeske-3
In reply to this post by Brandon Van Every
On Tue, Jul 18, 2000 at 04:26:08AM -0300, Brandon Van Every wrote:
> I'm aware from the Lua projects pages that several game developers,
> both hobbyist and professional, have used Lua as the game engine's
> embedded scripting language.  I am wondering what drove your
> decision to use Lua instead of other embeddable scripting languages?

1) Speed
2) Portablility
3) easy of integration
4) "smallness" of the overall kit. (which is related to #3)

> Most notably Python, as in my brief survey of what's available that
> seems like a good candidate.

Python would be a good candidate. It provides a bit more object/class
machinery which could be useful if you know how to make it work for
you. Lua is definetly faster than Python. Depending on what you're
doing, I've found lua3.1 as much as 50% faster than Python. Python is
particularly slow at loops (because of the list-iterator style), and
it's also slow at function/method invocations.

-- 
David Jeske (N9LCA) + http://www.chat.net/~jeske/ + [hidden email]

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Re: game developers?

Aleš Mlakar
In reply to this post by Brandon Van Every
For me It was becouse it's really fast, small, and virtually OO. That means
that I can export all my class into Lua and everything will work the same
there as In my C++ code. This brings great things to designers (script
programmers that is, under designer supervision). In our current game the
designers will be able to change virtually anything from within the script.
Sure some things will be hidden (and not exported into Lua) but that's
obvious. Oh plus Lua can pre-compile or compile at run-time too, that's a
really big plus. I don't know much about phyton except that It did looked
non-flexibile, too big, for me to acctaully use it, a total opposite to Lua.
Another great language is EiC, similar to Lua, though in C language, where
Lua is a bit like pascal.

Ales Mlakar
Programmer
Night Interactive, Inc.

----- Original Message -----
From: Brandon Van Every <[hidden email]>
To: Multiple recipients of list <[hidden email]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2000 9:26 AM
Subject: game developers?


> I'm aware from the Lua projects pages that several game developers, both
> hobbyist and professional, have used Lua as the game engine's embedded
scripting
> language.  I am wondering what drove your decision to use Lua instead of
other
> embeddable scripting languages?  Most notably Python, as in my brief
survey of
> what's available that seems like a good candidate.  Anyways, tell me what
your
> overriding concerns were, and also what they are now, having gained
experience
> with Lua.
>
>
> Cheers,                              3d graphics optimization jock
> Brandon Van Every                    Seattle, WA
>
> Experts eliminate the simpler mistakes in favor of the more
> complex ones, thereby achieving a higher degree of stupidity.  :-)
>
>

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Re: game developers?

John Passaniti-3
In reply to this post by Brandon Van Every
I'd like to make a minor comment about benchmarking of languages.  Adolf
Mathias wrote:

> All Schemes/Lisps I know as well as Perl (including Emacs-Lisp
> which is reputedly very fast) are behind by a factor of at least
> 3 to 4. Worst is Tcl. I haven't checked any Forths, but most
> Forths don't have the notion of an object with dynamic (run-time)
> type description, which Lua as well as Ghostscript (the most
> Forth-like of all) has. Instead, you have to mess around with
> machine words in Forth and decide whether you want to interpret
> that DWORD as an integer, a float, or a pointer.  So I would
> expect that there is not much around that might beat Lua.

It seems strange to benchmark Ghostscript which is an application-specific
language against more general-purpose languages.  A lot of Ghostscript is
geared towards image description-- and it is optimized for that task.  And
while Ghostscript resembles elements of Forth, most Forth fans see
Ghostscript (and Postscript) as an entirely separate thing.

If anyone does attempt to benchmark Forth for this discussion, it is
necessary to state explicitly *which* Forth is being benchmarked.  That's
because there is no standard implementation model for Forth.  There are
Forth implementations that use a variety of threaded code, other Forths
that compile to native code, Forths that compile to opcodes in a virtual
machine, and so on.  The sheer variety of implementation models for Forth
is what has led to the joke, "if you've seen one Forth, then... well...
you've seen one Forth."

although Forth's stack is untyped, it is possible to extend the Forth
language to deal with types.  Additionally, there are several different
object models one can add to Forth, depending on need.  The nice thing
about Forth is that the primitives are exposed, and they can be changed,
allowing for great extensibility.

Although the underlying mechanisms are different, it wouldn't surprise me
if the Lua folk weren't (in part) influenced by Forth's extensibility in
the design of their language.

There are many reasons why Lua is a great scripting and extension
language-- not just for game developers, but other domains too.  Sorry to
derail this discussion with one of Forth, but I thought it was important to
make these statements before people use them to justify the use of Lua over
other languages.  Every language has its place (or else it wouldn't exist).
You'll note for example that Lua isn't implemented in Lua...  8-)

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Re: game developers?

Adolf Mathias
In reply to this post by Peter Wang
Hi all

Peter Wang wrote:
 
> Brandon Van Every <[hidden email]> wrote:
...
> The two best reasons I can think of for using Lua are: (1) it is
> very fast, which is incredibly important for games (as I'm sure you
> are aware) and (2) it is very small, which may or may not be
> important to you.  It also has a flexible and easy to use API.
> 
> You mention Python, which is interesting because, for me, it fails
> in the above two aspects.  Although I like the language more than
> the Lua language, the implemention is (1) extremely slow (possibly
> due to the nature of the language) and (2) extremely big (most of
> the modules are unnecessary for games).  Python is great as a
> stand-alone language for quick'n'dirty scripts or full-size
> applications, but I wouldn't use it as an extension language.

I've benchmarked the function invocation speed and found that Lua beats
Ghostscript by a factor of 1.5 and Python by a factor of 2.

> If you need more speed, I'd suggest you look around at a few Forth
> or Lisp/Scheme interpreters (e.g. QScheme).  Unfortunately, most
> end-users are used to infix notation, which may limit your choice.

All Schemes/Lisps I know as well as Perl (including Emacs-Lisp which is
reputedly very fast) are behind by a factor of at least 3 to 4. Worst is
Tcl. I haven't checked any Forths, but most Forths don't have the notion
of an object with dynamic (run-time) type description, which Lua as well
as Ghostscript (the most Forth-like of all) has. Instead, you have to
mess around with machine words in Forth and decide whether you want to
interpret that DWORD as an integer, a float, or a pointer.
So I would expect that there is not much around that might beat Lua.

Dolfi

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Re: game developers?

David Jeske-3
In reply to this post by Peter Wang
On Tue, Jul 18, 2000 at 05:53:22AM -0300, Peter Wang wrote:
> If you need more speed, I'd suggest you look around at a few Forth
> or Lisp/Scheme interpreters (e.g. QScheme).  Unfortunately, most
> end-users are used to infix notation, which may limit your choice.

When I originally found Lua, I tested some common operations (loops,
math, etc) against a few Scheme interpreters and found Lua much faster
(although I didn't test QScheme). Exporting external C functions to
the Scheme interpreters was much harder than exporting functions to
Lua.

On Tue, Jul 18, 2000 at 11:20:09AM -0300, Ales Mlakar wrote:
> Another great language is EiC, similar to Lua, though in C language, where
> Lua is a bit like pascal.

In the realm of "C-interpreters" there is also seeR.

http://home.elka.pw.edu.pl/~ppodsiad/seer/

One big win of using a Lua-like scripting language is to get garbage
collection, pointer safety, and complex datatypes. (i.e. hash tables).

The nice thing about C-ish scripting languages such as SeeR, are that
they directly support exporting C structures into the script language,
and the script code accesses the elements directly. In Lua, the best
you can do is make a structure "look" like a table, but you (a) don't
get any typechecking, and (b) are still doing some kind of element
lookup to map the table key into a structure offset at runtime.

-- 
David Jeske (N9LCA) + http://www.chat.net/~jeske/ + [hidden email]

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RE: game developers?

Falko Poiker
In reply to this post by Brandon Van Every
We chose Lua (over Python mainly, but also others) because it's fast and
has a small footprint.  The other team in our company is using Python,
so we can easily compare the two languages.

Having gained some experience (about 2 months of implementation work so 
far) I'm glad we chose lua: it's still fast and small, and I really 
like how clean it is (especially when it comes to embedding it into
an existing application).  But there are a few downsides:  lack of 
text documentation (Python has a bunch of O'Reilly books), almost 
non-existant documentation within the code itself (again, compared 
to Python - which has at least 1 comment per function, plus a really 
long comment per file describing the purpose of the file) and lack of 
examples (especially examples of how to embed the code in an application).

Knowing all the above, I would still choose lua over Python for our
game.

Falko Poiker
Programmer/Designer
Homeworld Team
Relic Entertainment Inc.



-----Original Message-----
From: Brandon Van Every [[hidden email]]
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2000 12:23 AM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: game developers?


I'm aware from the Lua projects pages that several game developers, both
hobbyist and professional, have used Lua as the game engine's embedded
scripting
language.  I am wondering what drove your decision to use Lua instead of
other
embeddable scripting languages?  Most notably Python, as in my brief survey
of
what's available that seems like a good candidate.  Anyways, tell me what
your
overriding concerns were, and also what they are now, having gained
experience
with Lua.


Cheers,                              3d graphics optimization jock
Brandon Van Every                    Seattle, WA

Experts eliminate the simpler mistakes in favor of the more
complex ones, thereby achieving a higher degree of stupidity.  :-)

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Re: game developers?

Sean Thomas Middleditch
OK, I have a question: what 'ups' are there to using Python over Lua?  I've
rather come to like the language and a normal application tool, and know of a
few projects that use Python as their embedded scripting language (such as
CrystalSpace and Blender).  Besides the speed and size advantage of Lua (not
something I'm concerned about on my target platforms), what does Lua do
better/easier than Python as a language?

Sean Middleditch

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RE: game developers?

Ignacio Castano
Sean Middleditch wrote:
> OK, I have a question: what 'ups' are there to using Python over Lua?  I've
> rather come to like the language and a normal application tool, and know of a
> few projects that use Python as their embedded scripting language (such as
> CrystalSpace and Blender).  Besides the speed and size advantage of Lua (not
> something I'm concerned about on my target platforms), what does Lua do
> better/easier than Python as a language?

in my experience, lua has been much easier to learn for non-programmers (in my case game designers)


Ignacio Castano
[hidden email]


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Re: game developers?

David Jeske-3
In reply to this post by Sean Thomas Middleditch
On Tue, Jul 18, 2000 at 11:32:35PM -0300, Sean Middleditch wrote:
> OK, I have a question: what 'ups' are there to using Python over Lua? 

I love them both, but here is my "benefits of Python" list:

There is a huge system library of Python modules which do useful
things. If you need this, then you really should use Python because
reproducing it in Lua would not be fun. :)

SWIG is a tool for automatically generating bindings from C/C++ code
to scripting languages. It supports Python, and might be more complete
than toLua.

Python has a standard and well understood class machinery, with a
dedicated syntax. It may be easier for others to understand what
you've done and come up to speed. Lua has meta-mechanisms which allow
you to implement any class based system, but nobody will understand
your quasi-syntax, and they certianly won't be able to read an O'Reily
book about Lua or your weird class system. (ex: my game has a weird
traits based multiple-inheritence scheme in Lua)

Exceptions!

I prefer the Python language and syntax to lua, mostly because it's
centered around a list-iterator-style for loop, instead of Lua's while
or C-style for(;;). I find Python code very easy to read
(i.e. concise) and very easy to write bug free the first time because
of this. 

In closing, most of my Lua-wish-list features are pulled right out of
Python:
 - simultaneous support for integer and floating point types
 - linked-list datatype 
 - next tag-method (so you could truly implement a new type of table
     or list datastructure. Although I assume Lua does not
     have it because it's more complicated than it seems.)
 - Python style "for x in [a, b, c]" loop
 - exceptions

That said, the simplicity, portability, and speed of Lua keeps me
happy using it for embedded scripting. :)


Aside: There is a beautiful programming language which is conceptually
  derived from Python called Ruby. ( http://www.ruby-lang.org/en/ )
  The biggest major difference between Ruby and Python (IMO) is that
  Ruby has a unified type system and it uses garbage collection, not
  reference counting.

-- 
David Jeske (N9LCA) + http://www.chat.net/~jeske/ + [hidden email]

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Re: game developers?

Peter Wang
In reply to this post by David Jeske-3
David Jeske <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On Tue, Jul 18, 2000 at 05:53:22AM -0300, Peter Wang wrote:
> > If you need more speed, I'd suggest you look around at a few Forth
> > or Lisp/Scheme interpreters (e.g. QScheme). 
> 
> When I originally found Lua, I tested some common operations (loops,
> math, etc) against a few Scheme interpreters and found Lua much faster
> (although I didn't test QScheme).

Lua *is* faster than most Lisp and Scheme interpreters I've tried.
I just got a little biased because QScheme is so bloody fast :-)

and Adolf Mathias <[hidden email]> wrote:
> 
> All Schemes/Lisps I know as well as Perl (including Emacs-Lisp which is
> reputedly very fast) are behind by a factor of at least 3 to 4. 

I felt compelled to test out a few of my arguments from yesterday,
so I ran a couple of simple tests on my Pentium 133, using the Unix
`time' command (user + system).  Times are given in seconds.

		wloop	      fib
		-----	    -------
      QScheme	 2.05	       7.53
      Lua	 4.74	      20.46
      Python	16.56	    1:13.17

Please note that QScheme uses a few GCC extensions (meaning it is
not ANSI C), which may explain the speed difference.  I don't
currently have a Forth on my machine to test with, and I didn't feel
like writing Perl code (it would probably be somewhere between Lua
and Python).

Here are source listings (scheme code came with QScheme, direct Lua
and Python translations by me).

wloop.scm:

    (define (loop i l) (while (< i l) (set! i (+ i 1))))
    (loop 0 3000000)

wloop.lua:

    function loop (i, l) while i < l do i = i + 1 end end
    loop (0, 3000000)

wloop.py:

    def loop (i, l):
        while i < l: i = i + 1
    loop (0, 3000000)

fib.scm:

    (define (fib n) (if (<= n 2) 1 (+ (fib (- n 1)) (fib (- n 2)))))
    (fib 30)
    (fib 30)
    (fib 30)

fib.lua:

    function fib (n)
        if n <= 2 then
            return 1
        else
            return fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2)
        end
    end

    fib (30)
    fib (30)
    fib (30)

fib.py:

    def fib (n):
        if n <= 2:
            return 1
        else:
            return fib (n - 1) + fib (n - 2)

    fib (30)
    fib (30)
    fib (30)


That's enough crap from me.

-- 
[hidden email] - http://www.psynet.net/tjaden/
"Money is the root of all money." -- the moving finger

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Re: game developers?

David Jeske-3
On Wed, Jul 19, 2000 at 02:31:07AM -0300, Peter Wang wrote:
> I felt compelled to test out a few of my arguments from yesterday,
> so I ran a couple of simple tests on my Pentium 133, using the Unix
> `time' command (user + system).  Times are given in seconds.
> 
> 		wloop	      fib
> 		-----	    -------
>       QScheme	 2.05	       7.53
>       Lua	 4.74	      20.46
>       Python	16.56	    1:13.17

Wow, I'm impressed by those QScheme numbers. I'll have to write my
ScriptPerf benchmark for QScheme.

http://www.chat.net/~jeske/Projects/ScriptPerf/

-- 
David Jeske (N9LCA) + http://www.chat.net/~jeske/ + [hidden email]

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RE: game developers?

Vincent Penquerc'h-2
David Jeske wrote:
> Wow, I'm impressed by those QScheme numbers. I'll have to write my
> ScriptPerf benchmark for QScheme.
> 
> http://www.chat.net/~jeske/Projects/ScriptPerf/

I've had a look at this: you might want to add scripts for two things
that are important for an embedded language: calling C routines from
the script, and calling script functions from C.

For my use of Lua, this is the main bottleneck, as I use Lua scripts
in a event handling way, calling Lua functions that react back on the
game by calling its exposed functions.

-- 
Vincent Penquerc'h

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Re: game developers?

Sean Thomas Middleditch
In reply to this post by Ignacio Castano
Ignacio Castano wrote:

> in my experience, lua has been much easier to learn for non-programmers (in my case game designers)
>

Really?  I thought the Python syntax was a bit nicer, especially for classes... IMHO.

Sean

>
> Ignacio Castano
> [hidden email]

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Re: game developers?

Sean Thomas Middleditch
In reply to this post by David Jeske-3
David Jeske wrote:

> On Tue, Jul 18, 2000 at 11:32:35PM -0300, Sean Middleditch wrote:
> > OK, I have a question: what 'ups' are there to using Python over Lua?
>
> I love them both, but here is my "benefits of Python" list:
>
> There is a huge system library of Python modules which do useful
> things. If you need this, then you really should use Python because
> reproducing it in Lua would not be fun. :)

Not really something I need... In fact, I'd want to limit access to all
this (no big deal, you can easily do with Python as I understand).  All
the functions needed, besides stuff like basic string handling (which will
be incorporated into the string class in Python 2.0, soon to be released),
will be those generated for interaction with my game.  File saving/IO will
be handled in a special way (to save info for each saved game, etc.).

> SWIG is a tool for automatically generating bindings from C/C++ code
> to scripting languages. It supports Python, and might be more complete
> than toLua.

SWIG has no Lua support?  Would this be possible to add?

> Python has a standard and well understood class machinery, with a
> dedicated syntax. It may be easier for others to understand what
> you've done and come up to speed. Lua has meta-mechanisms which allow
> you to implement any class based system, but nobody will understand
> your quasi-syntax, and they certianly won't be able to read an O'Reily
> book about Lua or your weird class system. (ex: my game has a weird
> traits based multiple-inheritence scheme in Lua)

Agreed there.

> Exceptions!

I didn't know Lua was missing those...

> I prefer the Python language and syntax to lua, mostly because it's
> centered around a list-iterator-style for loop, instead of Lua's while
> or C-style for(;;). I find Python code very easy to read
> (i.e. concise) and very easy to write bug free the first time because
> of this.

Personally, the Python syntax is very clean and easy, but can be somewhat
a pain to embed in other document (because of the tab issue).  Lua doesn't
seem to have that problem.

> In closing, most of my Lua-wish-list features are pulled right out of
> Python:
>  - simultaneous support for integer and floating point types
>  - linked-list datatype
>  - next tag-method (so you could truly implement a new type of table
>      or list datastructure. Although I assume Lua does not
>      have it because it's more complicated than it seems.)
>  - Python style "for x in [a, b, c]" loop
>  - exceptions
>
> That said, the simplicity, portability, and speed of Lua keeps me
> happy using it for embedded scripting. :)
>
> Aside: There is a beautiful programming language which is conceptually
>   derived from Python called Ruby. ( http://www.ruby-lang.org/en/ )
>   The biggest major difference between Ruby and Python (IMO) is that
>   Ruby has a unified type system and it uses garbage collection, not
>   reference counting.
>

OK, I'll look into it!

I'm still torn between Lua and Python (if a size limitation is placed on
me, as it may be soon, I know which to go with, at least: Lua).

Thanks,
Sean Middleditch

>
> --
> David Jeske (N9LCA) + http://www.chat.net/~jeske/ + [hidden email]

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Re: game developers?

Alex Sandro Queiroz e Silva
On Wed, 19 Jul 2000, Sean Middleditch wrote:

> David Jeske wrote:
> 
> > SWIG is a tool for automatically generating bindings from C/C++ code
> > to scripting languages. It supports Python, and might be more complete
> > than toLua.
> 
> SWIG has no Lua support?  Would this be possible to add?
> 

	If I remember correctly, someone posted to this list about a
Lua-SWIG module he was writing.

  --Alex	[hidden email]		Lab. de Computacao Grafica/UFC
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
|"Minha força vem da solidão. Não tenho medo das chuvas tempestuosas nem das |
| grandes ventanias soltas, pois eu também sou o escuro da noite."	     |
|	- Clarice Lispector						     |
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+

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RE: game developers?

Ignacio Castano
In reply to this post by Sean Thomas Middleditch
Sean Middleditch:
> > in my experience, lua has been much easier to learn for non-programmers (in my case game
designers)
>
> Really?  I thought the Python syntax was a bit nicer, especially for classes... IMHO.

well, that's what they have said. Take in mind that they don't have any programming background and
that the classes they use have been previously designed by programmers, they only deal with the
objects... in our case entities.


Ignacio Castano
[hidden email]



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Re: game developers?

Sean Thomas Middleditch
Ignacio Castano wrote:

> Sean Middleditch:
> > > in my experience, lua has been much easier to learn for non-programmers (in my case game
> designers)
> >
> > Really?  I thought the Python syntax was a bit nicer, especially for classes... IMHO.
>
> well, that's what they have said. Take in mind that they don't have any programming background and
> that the classes they use have been previously designed by programmers, they only deal with the
> objects... in our case entities.
>

Hmm?  I meant that I thought the Python syntax was nicer, from experience in both Lua and Python
I have (I admit, I've a hell of a lot more Python experience, but I was using Lua for about 6 months
before even touching Python, mind you).

Sean Middleditch

>
> Ignacio Castano
> [hidden email]

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RE: game developers?

Andy Tai
In reply to this post by Brandon Van Every
Maybe the Lua developers want to add a standard way of doing classes?  That
would encourage a set of standard object-oriented modules to be developed.
The current way it is difficult for different types of "classes" to work
together and to be built on each other.  

It should be possible to make this class mechanism optional so users can
compile Lua without it if they don't want it.

-----Original Message-----
From: David Jeske [[hidden email]]
Sent: Tuesday, July 18, 2000 8:06 PM
To: Multiple recipients of list
Subject: Re: game developers?


On Tue, Jul 18, 2000 at 11:32:35PM -0300, Sean Middleditch wrote:

Python has a standard and well understood class machinery, with a
dedicated syntax. It may be easier for others to understand what
you've done and come up to speed. Lua has meta-mechanisms which allow
you to implement any class based system, but nobody will understand
your quasi-syntax, and they certianly won't be able to read an O'Reily
book about Lua or your weird class system. (ex: my game has a weird
traits based multiple-inheritence scheme in Lua)
-- 
David Jeske (N9LCA) + http://www.chat.net/~jeske/ + [hidden email]

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