Working with physics

Working with physics


This tutorial will explain how to manipulate a mesh with the default physics plugin in Babylonjs : Oimo.js.
We will not see the global structure of a game, as it has already been detailed in a previous tutorial. Thus, I strongly recomend to look at the source code of the prototype while reading this article.
We will talk about:

  • Oimo js
  • Linear and angular velocity
  • Friction and restitution
As usual, if you have any questions, my Twitter is at the bottom of the page. Let's start !

The scene creation

The scene is created in the method GameState._initScene. The only interesting point is the ground creation:

var ground = BABYLON.Mesh.CreateGround("ground", 500, 500, 1, scene);
ground.setPhysicsState(BABYLON.PhysicsEngine.BoxImpostor, {mass:0, restitution:0.5, friction:0.1});

You can see a physics state has been assigned to the ground, with 2 parameters:

  • BABYLON.PhysicsEngine.BoxImpostor
  • {mass:0, restitution:0.5, friction:0.1}
The first parameter is the kind of impostor you will use for the ground, and the second one represents the impostor parameters.

Impostors ?

An impostor is a simple shape used to approximate heavy physics calculations, used primarly for perfomances reasons. All collisions detections will then be performed on the impostor, and not on the original mesh. Awesome, right ?
However, it won't be possible to have pixel perfect collisions.

Each impostor is set a physics material, with 3 attributes :

  • A mass
  • A friction coefficient
  • A restitution coefficient
The mass is self-explanatory: it's the object mass. If set to 0, the object won't be affected by the world gravity, and thus won't move at all. The default value is 0.
The friction coefficient represents the resistance when two objects are sliding against each other. 0 means no friction, and 1 means a lot of friction. The default value is 0.2.
The restitution coefficient represents the bouncyness of the material. It's a value between 0 and 1, with 0 no boucyness at all. The default value is 0.2.

Be careful ! If you use a value to 0 for friction and restitution, Oimo will set you the default value instead. You will have to use very small values, like 0.0001 for example.

In Oimo, there are only 3 kind of impostors:

  • BoxImpostor
  • PlaneImpostor
  • SphereImpostor

The player

The player will be represented by a box that can be moved on the ground with the ZQSD/WASD keys.
Each key press will generate an impulsion to move the box. = BABYLON.Mesh.CreateBox("player", 5, this.scene); = 2;
this.body =, {mass:1, friction:0.001, restitution:1.5});

The player box has no friction, and a big restitution factor. You can see I store the return of setPhysicsState in a variable. This variable is an instance of a OIMO.Body, and contains a link to a OIMO.RigidBody.This will be useful to update the body linear velocity and angular velocity.

handleKeyDown : function(keycode) {
    switch (keycode) {
    case Player.DIRECTIONS.ZQSD.TOP :
    case Player.DIRECTIONS.QWSD.TOP :
        this._chooseDirection(0, 1);
    case Player.DIRECTIONS.ZQSD.BOT :
    case Player.DIRECTIONS.QWSD.BOT :
        this._chooseDirection(1, 1);
    case Player.DIRECTIONS.QWSD.LEFT :
        this._chooseDirection(2, 1);
        this._chooseDirection(3, 1);

With the method handleKeyDown, a boolean is set to true if a key is pressed, and set to false is the key is released.
The method move will then use these values to move the box, by applying impulsions with a given force.

move : function() {
    var s = 5;

    if (this.mvtDirection[0] != 0) { BABYLON.Vector3(0,0,s),;
    if (this.mvtDirection[1] != 0) { BABYLON.Vector3(0,0,-s),;
    if (this.mvtDirection[2] != 0) { BABYLON.Vector3(-s,0,0),;
    if (this.mvtDirection[3] != 0) { BABYLON.Vector3(s,0,0),;

You can see the method box.applyImpulse is used each time we want the box to move. This method takes 2 parameters: the force to be applied, and the contact point.
But the last two lines are interesting:


linearVelocity is an attribute of the OIMO.RigidBody class from OIMO. This vector represents the current speed of the box, and is an instance of the class OIMO.Vec3. This class has one method called scaledEqual, that multiply each coordinate of the vector with the given scalar.
Here, we don't want the player to rotate, so we set the angular velocity to 0.
The linear velocity is then scaled by 0.92, to create a smooth movement of the player on the ground. Try different values for this, and see what happens :)


And you're done with a working prototype! Now, if you add a weapon that shoots bullets, a gamepad handler, several player on the same ground, you will have a nice game. Maybe the next big game of 2015 ! (If so, just mention my name in the credits, and I will love you forever;) )
Click here to run the physics demo, or click on the image below to get the final code source if you want to take a look at it.

If you have any questions about it, feel free to email me at temechon [at] pixelcodr [dot] com, or leave a comment below, I'll answer quickly.
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Cheers !