Lobster built-in engine functionality

Lobster comes with “batteries included”: a small (games/graphics) engine that allows you to start drawing straight away. This doc collects some notes on the the built-in functionality.


The basic list of builtin functions is worth browsing first, as well as the shooter tutorial for some basic explanation of how to render stuff. Most examples in the samples dir are graphical and provide further examples.

While it easy to render stuff with simple functions like gl_rect, gl_line and stuff, for anything more advanced some understanding of OpenGL style rendering is required.

Default rendering environment

After you call gl_window you are left with a default black background, a white drawing color, and the color shader set.


All basic shaders, including color, can be found in data/shaders/default.materials.

You can use one of the many useful shaders from there with gl_set_shader, but more fun is to use a custom shader. You can define these in-line in your Lobster program as well, an example of that can be found in samples/custom_shader_metaballs.lobster.

Lobster uses glsl shaders compatible with OpenGL 3+ and OpenGL ES 3+, and you’ll have to look elsewhere to learn the details of this language.

Lobster wraps these shaders in a custom declaration language, to cut down on some of the boilerplate of putting a vertex and pixel shader together.

Lets look at the textured shader as an example:

SHADER textured
        INPUTS apos:4 atc:2
        UNIFORMS mvp
        gl_Position = mvp * apos;
        itc = atc;
        INPUTS itc:2
        UNIFORMS tex0 col
        frag_color = texture(tex0, itc) * col;

In all caps we have keywords that help declare these shaders for you. We have a VERTEX and PIXEL part (alternatively, you could have only a COMPUTE part).

The inputs to the vertex shader must match your vertex attributes, specify the number of components you care about after :, and come from a fixed set of: * apos (position, 2 or 3 components in the vertex buffer, but usually 4 in the shader to work with matrix transforms). * anormal (3 components). * atc (texture coordinate, 2 components). * acolor (4 components) * aweights and aindices (used with character animation).

The outputs of the vertex shader are automatically the same as the pixel shader inputs, here itc (interpolated texture coordinate).

Using UNIFORMS you declare variables automatically provided by the engine: * mvp: the Model View Projection matrix composed of the various gl_scale, gl_translate and gl_rotate transforms (the mv part) and the gl_ortho or gl_perspective transforms (the p part). * col: set by gl_color. * camera: position of the camera relative to the primitive being rendered. * light1 and lightparams1: set by gl_light. * framebuffer_size: size in pixels. * bones: see character animation shaders. * pointscale: used with point rendering.

In addition you can add any custom uniforms with a UNIFORM declaration, for example by adding UNIFORM float time to the shader and gl_set_uniform("time", gl_time()) you can animate your shader to the current time.

Following these is the raw glsl implementing the shader. This is the body of the shader, if you want to add additional helper functions, write a VERTEXFUNCTIONS or PIXELFUNCTIONS block before the shader. The functions declared here will be available to all shaders following it.

Additionally DEFINE name val defines macros to be used in the shaders below.

For compute shaders, e.g. COMPUTE 8 8 at the end of the uniforms declares the dispatch size.

Any more details, see glshader.cpp ;)