Guides/Scripting Guide/Tutorials/Move Presence

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Moving in the World

It would be a pretty boring world if all presences just stayed in one place. This tutorial explains how a scripter can move presences throughout the world.

There are two basic types of movement in the system: translational and rotational. In translational movement, every point of the presence's mesh moves the same distance; in rotational movement, a presence's mesh spins around a fixed axis. A useful way of understanding the difference between translational and rotational movement is to think about a wheeled office chair. A person wanting to translate his/her office chair would roll it from one point in a room to another. A person wanting to rotate his/her office chair would spin in place on the office chair.

Translational and rotational movement can be combined (ie, one can use Emerson to translate and rotate a presence simultaneously). For the simplicity of this tutorial, we instead focus on each separately.

Before we begin, a quick note on code in the following examples: the Emerson run-time keeps track of all of an entity's connected presences in an array available to the scripter as system.presences. For the example code used in this tutorial, we'll assume that the presence being moved is named by system.self.

Translational motion

Emerson allows a scripter to either instantly teleport a presence to a new position or to assign a velocity to the presence. A presence with an assigned velocity automatically moves through the world in the assigned direction and rate. For both position and velocity, Emerson uses standard Cartesian coordinates, and represents each using 3-dimensional vectors. We'll talk about position and velocity separately below, but it may be useful for the reader to refer to the Vec3 type described here<lkjs> before beginning.


Assume that you have a presence that you want to instantly translate from its current position to a position 100m away in the x direction.

We'll break such a script into 3 pieces:

* Getting the presence's current x, y, and z coordinates in the space.

  • Specifying a new 3-dimensional position based on the presence's current x, y, and z coordinates in the space.
  • Requesting the system to move your object to this new position.

Here's the entire script to perform the above.

   var pos = system.self.getPosition();
   pos.x = pos.x + 100;

The above is explained more methodically below.

Getting the presence's current coordinates in the space

To get a 3-dimensional vector representing the current position of a presence in space, simply use the getPosition() function. As an example, open a scripting window and enter:

   var pos = system.self.getPosition(); system.print(pos);

You should see the position of a presence printed in the following form: <x,y,z>. You can access the individual x, y, and z fields of this position with the accessors `.x`, `.y`, and `.z`, respectively. That is, if you wanted to just print the x position of a presence, you would replace the second line of the above function as shown below:

   var pos = system.self.getPosition(); system.print(pos.x);

Specifying a new 3-dimensional position based on pos

After the previous section, the variable pos stores the current position associated with system.self. We need to specify a new target position. Doing so is simple:

   pos.x = pos.x + 100;

It is important to note, the above line does not move the presence by itself. It instead changes the value stored in pos. pos now describes the position that we want to move our presence to.

Requesting the system to move your object to pos

To actually set the position of system.self to pos, one simply uses the setPosition function:


The setPosition function takes in a single argument, a 3-dimensional vector, and instantly moves the associated presence to that point in the space.


The above example instantly moved a presence from one point to another. While such an operation is possible in a virtual world, it certainly does not agree with (most of) the real world: one wouldn't see a train teleport from one station to another -- instead, the train acquires a velocity and moves from point to point non-instantaneously.

Emerson provides similar capabilities for presences by allowing a scripter to set a presence's velocity (both magnitude and direction). (Note: in Emerson, a scripter cannot set higher order movement properties for presences such as acceleration or jerk.)

Consider the simple task of moving a stationary presence 30m in the y direction. To do so, a scripter would use the setVelocity command. Like the setPosition command described in the previous section, setVelocity takes in a single argument: a 3-dimensional vector. The x, y, and z components of this argument 3-dimensional vector specifies the velocity that the presence should move in meters per second (in the x, y, and z directions respectively). You can experiment with the setPosition function pretty easily. For instance, at a scripting prompty, enter the following code:

   var zeroVelocity = new util.Vec3(0,0,0);
   var posYVelocity = new util.Vec3(0,1,0);
   var negYVelocity = new util.Vec3(0,-1,0);

Now, to get a presence to stop moving, just enter:


To get a presence to start moving in the positive y direction, enter:


And, to get a presence to start moving in the negative y direction, enter:


To complete the simple task of moving a stationary presence 30m in the y direction, enter into the command prompt:


and then 30 seconds later:


The first command should start the presence moving in the y direction at 1 m/s. The second command should stop the presence. Manually entering such commands obviously leaves something to be desired. For a more robust solution, read about timeouts in the tutorial.

Rotational motion

Ugh. I hate quaternions.