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Patrick O'Dacre
Patrick O'Dacre

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Space Shooter Game with SDL2 and Odin - Part 5 - Firing MANY Lasers

Part 5 :: Firing Many Lasers

We left Part 4 with a challenge to discover a way to fire more than one laser. If you haven't yet attempted this update, please do so before going through Part 5.

In this part we'll cover how to fire many lasers.

  1. Some Simple Upkeep
  2. Store a finite number of lasers in a fixed array.
  3. Reload our laser cannon once a laser goes offscreen.
  4. Balance laser speed with the number of lasers so we always have plenty of ammo.

Some Basic Upkeep

Before we get started I want to highlight some minor fixes made to the code.

Fixing Our Frame Rate

Previously we calculated our TARGET_DELTA_TIME like so:

TARGET_DELTA_TIME :: 1000 / 60

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This constant defaulted to a int type, and so our target frame rate was truncated to 16 milliseconds. That resulted in an FPS of 62 frames per second. That was a mistake.

Rather, the code to calculate our target delta time should have been:

TARGET_DELTA_TIME :: f64(1000) / f64(60)

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This would give us an f64 and an accurate frame time of 16.667 milliseconds, which would give us our desired 60 FPS.

Our new get_delta_motion() procedure would then have to be updated:

get_delta_motion :: proc(speed: f64) -> f64
    return speed * (TARGET_DELTA_TIME / 1000)

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A Fixed Array of Lasers

To keep tight control over the number of lasers we have to keep track of, we'll start with using a fixed array.


Game :: struct
    // ...

    lasers: [NUM_OF_LASERS]Entity,

    // ...

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Adjusting the laser limit and the laser speed will take some trial and error to ensure the player never feels like they don't have enough lasers. In other words, we want to make sure lasers reach the end of the screen and replenish quickly enough so we rarely meet the end of our laser supply.

We'll create our lasers at game startup, filling in our array with our now-simplified entities.

laser_texture := SDL_Image.LoadTexture(game.renderer, "assets/bullet_red_2.png")
assert(laser_texture != nil, SDL.GetErrorString())
laser_w : i32
laser_h :i32
SDL.QueryTexture(laser_texture, nil, nil, &laser_w, &laser_h)

game.laser_tex = laser_texture

for index in 0..=(NUM_OF_LASERS-1)
    destination := SDL.Rect{
        x = WINDOW_WIDTH + 20, // offscreen means available to fire
        w = laser_w / 3,
        h = laser_h / 3,

    game.lasers[index] = Entity{
        dest = destination,

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Notice the changes to the Game struct and the Entity struct:

Game :: struct
    perf_frequency: f64,
    renderer: ^SDL.Renderer,

    // player
    player: Entity,
    player_tex: ^SDL.Texture, // NEW
    left: bool,
    right: bool,
    up: bool,
    down: bool,

    laser_tex: ^SDL.Texture, // NEW
    lasers: [NUM_OF_LASERS]Entity, // NEW
    fire: bool,
    laser_cooldown : f64, // NEW

Entity :: struct
    dest: SDL.Rect,

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laser_tex and player_tex are added to the Game struct and the tex fields are removed from the Entity struct.


We're creating 100 lasers, and there is no need to create 100 textures -- only one texture is needed.

We also removed our health field from the Entity struct. We can track laser lifetimes by checking their x position. (NOTE :: I went back to using Health later on. It was better.)

Reloading our Laser Cannon

Each time a player "fires" a laser we need to iterate through our array of lasers and find the first one whose x position is greater than the width of the window, i.e.: is offscreen. That one laser that is offscreen is then "reloaded" by having its x and y position reset.


We have 100 lasers available to us, and our laser cooldown timer counts down each frame by an amount relative to the frame rate and the LASER_SPEED. With the timer set to 50, a laser will move approximately 50 pixels before another can be fired.

if && !(game.laser_cooldown > 0)
    // find a laser:
    reload : for l in &game.lasers
        // find the first one available
        if l.dest.x > WINDOW_WIDTH

            l.dest.x = game.player.dest.x + 20
            l.dest.y = game.player.dest.y
            // reset the cooldown to prevent firing too rapidly
            game.laser_cooldown = LASER_COOLDOWN_TIMER

            break reload

for l in &game.lasers
    if l.dest.x < WINDOW_WIDTH
        l.dest.x += i32(get_delta_motion(LASER_SPEED))
        SDL.RenderCopy(game.renderer, game.laser_tex, nil, &l.dest)

// decrement our cooldown
game.laser_cooldown -= LASER_SPEED * (TARGET_DELTA_TIME / 1000)

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Our cooldown timer is reset each time we fire a laser. We cannot fire a laser until our cooldown timer goes below ZERO.

With the settings we have right now I don't feel like we run out of ammunition too quickly, but you should feel free to change these settings to match your tastes.

Suggested Challenges

In the next part we'll cover adding enemies to the window. By now you should understand how to render images to the screen, so you should try adding a few enemies that our player must battle.

Good luck!

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