Case Studies

A collection of case studies that inspired the design choices made in Mun.

Abbey Games

Abbey Games uses Lua as its main gameplay programming language because of Lua's ability to hot reload code. This allows for rapid iteration of game code, enabling gameplay programmers and designers to quickly test and tweak systems and content. Lua is a dynamically typed, JIT compiled language. Although this has some definite advantages, it also introduces a lot of problems with bigger codebases.

Changes in Lua code can have large implications throughout the entire codebase and since we cannot oversee the entire codebase at all times runtime errors are bound to occur. Runtime errors are nasty beasts because they can pop up after a long period of time and after work on the offending piece of code has already finished. They are also often detected by someone different from the person who worked on the code. This causes great frustration and delay, let alone when the runtime error is detected by a user of the software.

Lua amplifies this issue due to its dynamic and flexible nature. It would be great if we could turn some of these runtime errors into compile time errors. That way programmers are notified of errors way before someone else runs into them. The risk of causing implicit runtime errors causes programmers to distrust their refactoring tools. This in turn reduces the likelihood of programmers refactoring their code.

Even though Lua offers immense flexibility, we noticed that certain opinionated patterns recur a lot and as such have become standard practice. Introducing these practices assists us in daily development a lot, but requires more code and complexity than desirable. Having syntactic sugar would greatly help reduce complexity in our code base, but would also introduce magic or custom keywords that are foreign to both new developers and IDE's.

Rapid iteration is key to prototyping game concepts and features. Proper IDE-integration of a scripting language gives a huge boost to productivity.