[Haskell-cafe] 2D game graphics library for Haskell?

Ben Lippmeier Ben.Lippmeier at anu.edu.au
Fri Aug 24 09:02:17 EDT 2007


Hi Peter, 

The OpenGL/GLUT bindings support all the things you would want, but it's a
bit too much pain for first year students. 


For the last couple of years at the ANU (Australian National University,
Canberra) we've been using a front end library that I wrote which is similar
to SOE/HGL but with support for images, animation, alpha blending and some
other things. I think the real trick is hiding enough of the OpenGL/GLUT
internals to make it suitable for first year students, while at the same
time exposing enough functionality so they don't feel constrained by what
they can do with the library. Usually we think of the project we want the
students to do, then supply most of the infrastructure via the library -
leaving the students to fill in the 'fun' stuff.


There is the added benefit that the OpenGL/GLUT bindings (and hence our
library also) compiles out of the box on both Linux and Windows. We use
linux machines at uni for the student labs, but students have been able to
take their code home and get it running on their home Windows PC's without
much difficulty.


You can get our library (with examples) from my homepage at


I've also got a simple asteroids game which I wrote with an extended version
of it. There is a playable version, but unfortunately it's on my home
machine that is now packed in storage while I'm at MSR, Cambridge. I'm
getting back to Canberra late October so if you're still interested I can
dig it out and send you a copy then.







From: haskell-cafe-bounces at haskell.org
[mailto:haskell-cafe-bounces at haskell.org] On Behalf Of peterv
Sent: 24 August 2007 11:32
To: haskell-cafe at haskell.org
Subject: [Haskell-cafe] 2D game graphics library for Haskell?


I'm currently playing around with SOE to make some simple interactive math
exercises for students. This worked fine, although I could have done this
much faster using C# (which I know very well), but since I'm addicted to
Haskell now, I used the latter language ;) Furthermore, I hope that one day,
I will know enough Haskell to learn it to the students, because I feel that
functional programming should not be given in the last bachelor or master
years, since most software engineering students then know OO programming
extremely well and have a horrible time with FP (I currently did not meet
anyone in my sector of game development that liked FP, and many of those
people had a masters degree and some were PhDs)


Anyway, SOE is great for learning Haskell, but it lacks a couple of
fundamental functions to make it really attractive, like:


-          Support for images

-          Support for rendering to an "offscreen graphics surface" and
reading the pixels from that surface (for pixel-wise collision detection)

-          Support for detecting non-ASCII key presses (cursor keys, etc)

-          Support for joysticks


Concurrent Clean seems to have a nice 2D game library and PLT/DrScheme also
has nice support for basic 2D graphics, but somehow I feel Haskell is more
mature and more elegant. 


So before digging into "advanced" APIs (like GTK itself, which I know
nothing about, I'm a Win32 GDI/XNA/WPF expert), I should ask the question if
something similar exists? It has to be as simple as SOE.


Would it be possible to extend the GTK SOE with support for the features
mentioned above? Is this insanely difficult for someone like me who knows a
lot about Win32 but little Haskell?



Peter Verswyvelen



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