Entity Component System

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An entity component system is a way to implement your game objects so that you can build their functionality through composition instead of object-oriented inheritance. The prevailing wisdom in current game development seems to be that complex games should have one of those instead of an inheritance-based object system that is likely to lead to unmaintainable blobs of a class. A roguelike is probably a complex enough game that you should use an entity component system in one.

The basic idea is that game objects at their core are just unique identifiers (UIDs), plain strings or integers, instead of complex objects. The complex data and functionality is moved into multiple components, which are stored in their own containers and associated with the object UIDs.

This makes it easy to have data-driven object construction and allows very diverse combinations of component loadouts in objects that still coexist in the same game world as the same fundamental type of program object.

Minimal Implementation

This is Python example showing a minimal ECS implementation. This uses Python's dictionary types to store components in a structure similar to a sparse set.[1] This example is missing several features needed to more easily write a game with, but it does meet the definition of a vanilla ECS implementation.[2]

"""Worlds smallest ECS implementation. An example to help demystify ECS. Is missing features needed for serious projects."""
from __future__ import annotations

__author__ = "https://github.com/HexDecimal"
__license__ = "http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0"

from collections import defaultdict
from typing import Any, Iterable, TypeAlias, TypeVar

T = TypeVar("T")

EntityID: TypeAlias = object
"""Entity unique ID can be any hashable object. Use ``object()`` to create a new entity."""
ComponentType: TypeAlias = type[T]
"""The type-hint for a component type. Can be any runtime type-hint such as a custom class."""

class Registry:
    """A minimal unoptimized spare-set ECS registry tracking which components are held by which entities.


        >>> registry = Registry()
        >>> entity = object()  # new unique id
        >>> registry.has_component(entity, int)
        >>> registry.set_component(entity, int, 10)
        >>> registry.has_component(entity, int)
        >>> registry.get_component(entity, int)
        >>> registry.set_component(entity, str, "foo")
        >>> for e in registry.query([str]):
        ...     str_value = registry.get_component(e, str)
        ...     registry.set_component(e, str, str_value + "bar")
        >>> registry.get_component(entity, str)

    def __init__(self) -> None:
        """Initialize a new registry with no components or entities."""
        self._components_by_entity_by_type: defaultdict[ComponentType[Any], dict[EntityID, Any]] = defaultdict(dict)
        """Used for the storage and random access of entity component values.

        Keys of inner dict are used to track which entities have which components, this is used for queries.

        Internal syntax is: ``_components_by_entity_by_type[ComponentType][EntityID] = component_value``

    def set_component(self, entity: EntityID, component_type: ComponentType[T], value: T) -> None:
        """Assign `value` to the `component_type` held by `entity`."""
        self._components_by_entity_by_type[component_type][entity] = value

    def remove_component(self, entity: EntityID, component_type: ComponentType[Any]) -> None:
        """Delete the `component_type` from `entity`.

        Raises `KeyError` if `component_type` does not exist.
        del self._components_by_entity_by_type[component_type][entity]

    def get_component(self, entity: EntityID, component_type: ComponentType[T]) -> T:
        """Return the value of the `component_type` held by `entity`.

        Raises `KeyError` if `component_type` is missing.
        return self._components_by_entity_by_type[component_type][entity]  # type: ignore[no-any-return]

    def has_component(self, entity: EntityID, component_type: ComponentType[Any]) -> bool:
        """Return True if an `entity` has a `component_type`."""
        return entity in self._components_by_entity_by_type[component_type]

    def query(self, component_types: Iterable[ComponentType[Any]]) -> set[EntityID]:
        """Return a set of entities which have all `component_types`."""
        # Collect the keys of the inner dict which act like a set of entities, grouped for each component type
        entities_grouped_by_type = [
            self._components_by_entity_by_type[component_type].keys() for component_type in component_types
        if not entities_grouped_by_type:
            raise ValueError("'components' must have at least one item.")
        # The matching entities are the intersection of all sets held by entities_for_components
        # Note that typical ECS implementations will cache this result until relevant components are added or removed
        matching_entities = set(entities_grouped_by_type.pop())
        return matching_entities

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