Tag: pointers

More on pointers in C. The use of typedef

More on pointers in C. The use of typedef

Asteroid about to be destroyedThis bit is slightly controversial. I find all the * makes it harder to read code so I use typedefs to hide them. Here’s an example from the game. Try replacing every pbte with byte * and see if reading it is harder for you.

typedef byte * pbyte;

// mask arrays
byte bulletmask[1][3][3];
byte plmask[24][64][64];
byte a1mask[24][280][280];
byte a2mask[24][140][140];
byte a3mask[24][70][70];
byte a4mask[24][35][35];
byte alienmask[64][64];

pbyte GetMask(int type, int rotation, int size) {
  switch (type) {
    case tAsteroid: // asteroid
        switch (size)
            case 280:
              return (pbyte)&a1mask[rotation];
            case 140:
              return (pbyte)&a2mask[rotation];
            case 70:
              return (pbyte)&a3mask[rotation];
            case 35:
              return (pbyte)&a4mask[rotation];
    case tBullet: // bullet
      return (pbyte)&bulletmask;
    case tPlayer: // player
      return (pbyte)&plmask[rotation];
    case tAlien:
      return (pbyte)&alienmask;
  return 0; // null - should never get here!

In my post about collision detection I mentioned getting mask bytes. This function GetMask returns a pointer to a byte (i.e. the first byte in a particular mask for a particular type of object (asteroid, bullet, player, alien) and for asteroids and the player a particular rotation. The many (pbyte) are needed because the arrays have different sizes. There are 24 player and asteroid masks.

A look at pointers.

A look at pointers.

You cannot be a C programmer without using pointers. It’s the one feature of the language that makes possible much of what you can do in C. Pointers seem to scare novice programmers and it’s true that you can crash a program if you make a mistake, but otherwise they’re not that bad. Pointers as parameters in functions let you change the value of an external variable.

A pointer is just a variable that holds the address of another variable. So here’s my take on pointers.

You define a pointer as a pointer to a variable type like a pointer to an int or a char. There is also a “wildcard” where you define a pointer to a void. That has its uses when passing general pointers into functions. With types, the C compiler can verify assignments.

[perl]int * pInt; // pInt is a pointer to an int
char * pChar; // pChar is a pointer to a char
int a;

void ZeroInt(int * pInt) {
if (pInt) // Check pointer does not have a null value
*pInt = 0;

ZeroInt(&a); // Sets a to 0.[/perl]

That ZeroInt() function is a long-winded way of setting whatever int variable it is called with to zero. Yes you can just do a = 0; but that misses the point. What if a was a struct and the ZeroInt was a function to initialise all the fields of the struct?