Roguelike Tutorial in Rust: Part 1

This is Part 1 in a many part series on how to make a roguelike game in Rust. If you’re lost, check out the Table of Contents to figure out where you should go.

Setup and first pass #

Here I’m going to actually get started with some code and setup, but first I want to go over my rough plan. The GitHub tag for this part is 1.1.

Plan #

I’m going to try to condense each concrete topic I learn about into a single post. I’m also going to try and maintain a GitHub Repository for this project, and maintain a tag for every post. The goal there is that you should be able to checkout the repo and follow along by checking out different tags.

Setup #

You’ll need a few tools to get this working. I’m on Mac, so all my instructions will be Mac based. To my knowledge, all the libraries work on *nix and Windows. Here’s a list as of time of writing:

Rust #

Installing Rust is super easy. At the time of writing, their install instructions consist of:

curl -s | sudo sh

A note about nightlies. Rust is under rapid development. As of the time of writing they’re on 0.11, and the nightlies were 0.12-pre. This changes really frequently. I’ll try to remember to update code with version bumps, but if you run into something that doesn’t work, let me know.

You can verify it installed properly by running

$ which rustc
#=> /usr/local/bin/rustc

Cargo #

You get Cargo for free with the above command! Yippee!

You can verify it installed properly by running

$ which cargo
#=> /usr/local/bin/cargo

libtcod #

Installing libtcod on Mac is a little weird. It turns out Mac isn’t officially supported anymore… but it seems to work. I followed these instructions and everything was groovy. That link is broken as of 8/21/2014. Fortunately I was able to screen grab the Google Cache. Here’s Mac OS X specific install instructions (I believe other platforms have installers):

Install Homebrew then install the dependencies:

brew install sdl mercurial wget upx

Then clone the official repo (I put mine in ~/src/)

hg clone

Then make libtcod with the following

cd libtcod
hg checkout 1.5.x
wget -O makefiles/makefile-osx
tar -xzvf osx.tar.gz
make -f makefiles/makefile-osx
make -f makefiles/makefile-samples-linux

You can test that it’s all working by running


tcod-rs #

This took me a long time to figure out. There’s a project that has Rust bindings to libtcod by the name of tcod-rs. The install instructions aren’t very helpful.

We aren’t going to install tcod-rs directly. Instead we’ll let Cargo handle that for us, but there is some manual setup involved. We’ll address this below.

First pass #

The goal of this is just to get a window to open with the iconic @ symbol in it. Let’s see what we can do.

Boilerplate #

Let’s start a new project. I keep all my code in ~/code, and all my rust projects in ~/code/rust, so if you see references to that, you can replace them with where ever you keep your code. cd to where you want the project to live and run

cargo new dwemthys --bin

This creates a new directory in our current directory that has the boilerplate for a new Rust bin project.

├── Cargo.toml
└── src

1 directory, 2 files

Pretty simple. Cargo.toml is the file that Cargo reads for meta-data used to build your project. src/ contains the main() function which is run as our application.

Add tcod-rs dependency #

First thing we need to do is edit the Cargo.toml file to add our tcod-rs dependency. Open it up and add this to the bottom:

git = ""

This tells Cargo that our project has a dependency named tcod that it can find at that GitHub URL. Cargo does the rest of the magic to fetch it, build it and link to it when we build our project.

If you build our project now, it should pass:

$ cargo build
# Updating git repository ``
# Compiling tcod v0.1.0 (
# Compiling dwemthys v0.0.1 (file:///Users/jmcfarland/code/rust/dwemthys)

And it might even run:

$ cargo run
# Fresh tcod v0.1.0 (
# Fresh dwemthys v0.0.1 (file:///Users/jmcfarland/code/rust/dwemthys)
# Running `target/dwemthys`
# Hello, world!

But this is all a farce. If we try to actually use tcod we’ll get a failure. Let’s do that now. In src/ add the following to the top:

extern crate tcod;
use tcod::Console;

And then try running the project again:

$ cargo run

# note: ld: warning: directory not found for option '-L/Users/jmcfarland/code/rust/dwemthys/.rust'
# ld: library not found for -ltcod
# clang: error: linker command failed with exit code 1 (use -v to see invocation)

The compiler is complaining it can’t find ltcod. After a lot of digging, someone pointed me to this page on the Cargo site about native builds. It talks about adding a build directive to the Cargo.toml file that will run before the compile phase. It passes an env variable, $OUTPUT_DIR. That’s interesting I thought… but wtf do I do with it? Then I was linked to the glfw project which has to link against outside libraries. It has a script it runs to copy some files over. Let’s see if copying our tcod.dylib files from our source install directory to our $OUTPUT_DIR helps.

Create a new file in the root of your project named (remember to change the value of LIBTCOD_SRC_DIR at the top of this file!):


export LIBTCOD_SRC_DIR="/Users/jmcfarland/src/libtcod"

And now tell Cargo to run this script before every build by adding a build directive in the [package] section of our Cargo.toml file (right under authors =):

build = "sh"

Let’s try to get the project to run now:

$ cargo run
# Fresh tcod v0.1.0 (
# Fresh dwemthys v0.0.1 (file:///Users/jmcfarland/code/rust/dwemthys)
# Running `target/dwemthys`
# Hello, world!

Awesome! We’re can build a project that dynamically links to libtcod now. We practically have a game!

Make a window show up #

For this first part, I’m just going to rip some code straight from the tcod-rs example, just to see if we can make it work. Right inside your src/ file, inside the main() function, remove what’s there and put this:

fn main() {
    let mut con = Console::init_root(80, 50, "libtcod Rust tutorial", false);
    let mut exit = false;
    while !(Console::window_closed() || exit) {
        con.put_char(40, 25, '@', background_flag::Set);
        let keypress = Console::wait_for_keypress(true);
        match keypress.key {
            Special(key_code::Escape) => exit = true,
            _ => {}

At the top of the src/ file, we’ll need to make sure we’re useing the right namespaces:

use tcod::{Console, background_flag, key_code, Special};

Let’s see if this runs:

$ cargo run
# Fresh tcod v0.1.0 (
# Compiling dwemthys v0.0.1 (file:///Users/jmcfarland/code/rust/dwemthys)
# Running `target/dwemthys`
# libtcod 1.6.0
# SDL : cannot load terminal.png
# An unknown error occurred

Wtf? What is this terminal.png? Who’s calling it? Why are we trying to load it? It turns out that the libtcod library uses the the terminal.png file as a sprite based font and requires it by default. Fortunately I found this forum post and this documentation page that helped me sort it out. You need to include terminal.png from the root of the project directory. Let’s add a simple line to our script:

cp $LIBTCOD_SRC_DIR/terminal.png $OUT_DIR/../../../

And try to rerun…

$ cargo run
# Fresh tcod v0.1.0 (
# Compiling dwemthys v0.0.1 (file:///Users/jmcfarland/code/rust/dwemthys)
# Running `target/dwemthys`
# 24 bits font.
# key color : 0 0 0
# character for ascii code 255 is colored

libtcod Rust Tutorial

Woot! It works. You can get your program to exit by pressing the esc key.

That’s it! #

We now have a boilerplate project with all our dependencies setup to make an actual game. Next time we’ll actually dig into some of the business logic and explore some real Rust code.

Next #

Part 2: Bring Our Heroine To Life

Table of Contents #

Table of Contents

Previous #

Part 0: Why


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