Breakout is unfortunately not just about a single happy green face, but contains complete levels with a lot of playfully colored bricks. We want these levels to be flexible such that they can support any number of rows and/or columns, we want the levels to have solid bricks (that cannot be destroyed), we want the levels to support multiple brick colors and we want them to be stored externally in (text) files.

In this tutorial we'll briefly walk through the code of a game level object that is used to manage a large amount of bricks. We first have to define what an actual brick is though.

We create a component called a game object that acts as the base representation of an object inside the game. Such a game object holds state data like its position, size and velocity. It holds a color, a rotation component, whether it is solid and/or destroyed and it also stores a Texture2D variable as its sprite.

Each object in the game is represented as a GameObject or a derivative of this class. You can find the code of the GameObject class below:

A level in Breakout basically consists entirely of bricks so we can represent a level by exactly that: a collection of bricks. Because a brick requires almost all of the same state as a game object we're going to represent each brick of the level as a GameObject. The layout of the GameLevel class then looks as follows:

class GameLevel
    std::vector<GameObject> Bricks;

    GameLevel() { }
    // Loads level from file
    void Load(const GLchar *file, GLuint levelWidth, GLuint levelHeight);
    // Render level
    void Draw(SpriteRenderer &renderer);
    // Check if the level is completed (all non-solid tiles are destroyed)
    GLboolean IsCompleted();
    // Initialize level from tile data
    void init(std::vector<std::vector<GLuint>> tileData, GLuint levelWidth, GLuint levelHeight);

Since a level is loaded from an external (text) file we need to propose some kind of level structure. Below is an example of what a game level might look like in a text file:

1 1 1 1 1 1 
2 2 0 0 2 2
3 3 4 4 3 3

Here a level is stored in a matrix-like structure where each number represents a type of brick, each one separated by a space. Within the level code we could assign what each number represents. We have chosen the following representation:

The example level listed above would, after being processed by GameLevel, look like this:

Example of a level using the Breakout GameLevel class

The GameLevel class uses two functions to generate a level from file. It first loads all the numbers in a two-dimensional vector within its Load function that then processes these numbers (to create all game objects) in its init function.

void GameLevel::Load(const GLchar *file, GLuint levelWidth, GLuint levelHeight)
    // Clear old data
    // Load from file
    GLuint tileCode;
    GameLevel level;
    std::string line;
    std::ifstream fstream(file);
    std::vector<std::vector<GLuint>> tileData;
    if (fstream)
        while (std::getline(fstream, line)) // Read each line from level file
            std::istringstream sstream(line);
            std::vector<GLuint> row;
            while (sstream >> tileCode) // Read each word seperated by spaces
        if (tileData.size() > 0)
            this->init(tileData, levelWidth, levelHeight);

The loaded tileData is then passed to the game level's init function:

void GameLevel::init(std::vector<std::vector<GLuint>> tileData, GLuint lvlWidth, GLuint lvlHeight)
    // Calculate dimensions
    GLuint height = tileData.size();
    GLuint width = tileData[0].size();
    GLfloat unit_width = lvlWidth / static_cast<GLfloat>(width);
    GLfloat unit_height = lvlHeight / height;
    // Initialize level tiles based on tileData		
    for (GLuint y = 0; y < height; ++y)
        for (GLuint x = 0; x < width; ++x)
            // Check block type from level data (2D level array)
            if (tileData[y][x] == 1) // Solid
                glm::vec2 pos(unit_width * x, unit_height * y);
                glm::vec2 size(unit_width, unit_height);
                GameObject obj(pos, size, 
                    glm::vec3(0.8f, 0.8f, 0.7f)
                obj.IsSolid = GL_TRUE;
            else if (tileData[y][x] > 1)	
                glm::vec3 color = glm::vec3(1.0f); // original: white
                if (tileData[y][x] == 2)
                    color = glm::vec3(0.2f, 0.6f, 1.0f);
                else if (tileData[y][x] == 3)
                    color = glm::vec3(0.0f, 0.7f, 0.0f);
                else if (tileData[y][x] == 4)
                    color = glm::vec3(0.8f, 0.8f, 0.4f);
                else if (tileData[y][x] == 5)
                    color = glm::vec3(1.0f, 0.5f, 0.0f);

                glm::vec2 pos(unit_width * x, unit_height * y);
                glm::vec2 size(unit_width, unit_height);
                    GameObject(pos, size, ResourceManager::GetTexture("block"), color)

The init function iterates through each of the loaded numbers and adds a GameObject to the level's Bricks vector based on the processed number. The size of each brick is automatically calculated (unit_width and unit_height) based on the total number of bricks so that each brick perfectly fits within the screen bounds.

Here we load the game objects with two new textures, namely a block texture and a solid block texture.

Image of two types of block textures

A nice little trick here is that these textures are completely in gray-scale. The effect is that we can neatly manipulate their colors within the game-code by multiplying their grayscale colors with a defined color vector; exactly as we did within the SpriteRenderer. This way, customizing the appearance of their colors doesn't look too weird or unbalanced.

The GameLevel class also houses a few other functions like rendering all non-destroyed bricks or validating if all non-solid bricks are destroyed. You can find the source code of the GameLevel class below:

The game level class gives us a lot of flexibility since any amount of rows and columns are supported and a user could easily create his/her own levels by modifying the level files.

Within the game

We would like to support multiple levels in the Breakout game so we'll have to extend the game class a little by adding a vector that holds variables of type GameLevel. We'll also store the currently active level while we're at it:

class Game
    std::vector<GameLevel> Levels;
    GLuint                 Level;

This tutorial version of the Breakout game features a total of 4 levels:

Each of the textures and levels are then initialized within the game class's Init function:

void Game::Init()
    // Load textures
    ResourceManager::LoadTexture("textures/background.jpg", GL_FALSE, "background");
    ResourceManager::LoadTexture("textures/awesomeface.png", GL_TRUE, "face");
    ResourceManager::LoadTexture("textures/block.png", GL_FALSE, "block");
    ResourceManager::LoadTexture("textures/block_solid.png", GL_FALSE, "block_solid");
    // Load levels
    GameLevel one; one.Load("levels/one.lvl", this->Width, this->Height * 0.5);
    GameLevel two; two.Load("levels/two.lvl", this->Width, this->Height * 0.5);
    GameLevel three; three.Load("levels/three.lvl", this->Width, this->Height * 0.5);
    GameLevel four; four.Load("levels/four.lvl", this->Width, this->Height * 0.5);
    this->Level = 1;

Now all that is left to do is actually render the level which we accomplish by calling the currently active level's Draw function that in turn calls each GameObject's Draw function using the given sprite renderer. Aside from the level, we'll also render the scene with a nice background image (courtesy of Tenha):

void Game::Render()
    if(this->State == GAME_ACTIVE)
        // Draw background
            glm::vec2(0, 0), glm::vec2(this->Width, this->Height), 0.0f
        // Draw level

The result is then a nicely rendered level that really starts to make the game feel more alive:

Level in OpenGL breakout

The player paddle

While we're at it, we might just as well introduce a paddle at the bottom of the scene that is controlled by the player. The paddle only allows for horizontal movement and whenever it touches any of the scene's edges, its movement should halt. For the player paddle we're going to use the following texture:

Texture image if a paddle in OpenGL breakout

A paddle object will have a position, a size and a sprite texture, so it makes sense to define the paddle as a GameObject as well.

// Initial size of the player paddle
const glm::vec2 PLAYER_SIZE(100, 20);
// Initial velocity of the player paddle
const GLfloat PLAYER_VELOCITY(500.0f);

GameObject      *Player;
void Game::Init()
    ResourceManager::LoadTexture("textures/paddle.png", true, "paddle");
    glm::vec2 playerPos = glm::vec2(
        this->Width / 2 - PLAYER_SIZE.x / 2, 
        this->Height - PLAYER_SIZE.y
    Player = new GameObject(playerPos, PLAYER_SIZE, ResourceManager::GetTexture("paddle"));

Here we defined several constant values that define the paddle's size and speed. Within the Game's Init functions we calculate the starting position of the paddle within the scene. We make sure the player paddle's center is aligned to the horizontal center of the scene.

With the player paddle initialized, we also need to add a statement to the Game's Render function:


If you'd start the game now you would not only see the level, but also a fancy player paddle aligned to the bottom edge of the scene. As of now, it doesn't really do anything besides just statically sitting there so we're also going to delve into the Game's ProcessInput function to horizontally move the paddle whenever the user pressed the A or D key.

void Game::ProcessInput(GLfloat dt)
    if (this->State == GAME_ACTIVE)
        GLfloat velocity = PLAYER_VELOCITY * dt;
        // Move playerboard
        if (this->Keys[GLFW_KEY_A])
            if (Player->Position.x >= 0)
                Player->Position.x -= velocity;
        if (this->Keys[GLFW_KEY_D])
            if (Player->Position.x <= this->Width - Player->Size.x)
                Player->Position.x += velocity;

Here we move the player paddle either in the left or right direction based on which key the user pressed (note how we multiply the velocity with the deltatime variable). If the paddle's x value would be less than 0 it would've moved outside the left edge so we only move the paddle to the left if the paddle's x value is higher than the left edge's x position (0.0). We do the same for when the paddle breaches the right edge, but we have to compare the right edge's position with the right edge of the paddle (subtract the paddle's width from the right edge's x position).

Now running the game gives us a player paddle that we can move all across the bottom edge.

Image of OpenGL breakout now with player paddle

You can find the updated code of the Game class below: