Assets Hot Update Tutorial

Preface

In current Cocos Creator version, assets hot update workflow has not been fully integrated into the editor. But the engine itself has complete support for hot update system, so with some of the external script and tool the workflow is complete.

The sample project for this document is available from Github Repo.

Hot update

Usage scenarios and design ideas

Game developers are very familiar with the pattern that the game has been released in app market but each time user launch the game it will automatically look for updates from the server, to keep the client always updated. Of course, there are some other usage scenarios for hot update, but are not related to what we discuss here. We will mainly discuss how to implement hot update system in Cocos Creator.

Hot update in Cocos Creator comes mainly from the AssetsManager module in the Cocos engine. It has a very important feature:

Server and client both keep a full list of the game asset (manifest), during hot update process, by comparing server and client asset manifest, the client should know what to download to get the latest content. This can naturally support cross-version updates, such as when client version is A, remote version is C, then we can directly update the assets from A to C. We do not need to generate A to B and B to C update package. Therefore, when we push new asset version to server, we can save new version files discreately on server, and during update the client will download each file needed seprately.

Please be aware that hot update system is for native games only, since Web game would always request assets from web server. So AssetsManager class exists only in the jsb namespace, please check runtime environment before implement these API.

Manifest file

For different versions of file-level differences, AssetsManager uses a manifest file for version control. The client and server manifest files each contains an asset file list and version for each file. So that you can compare the version of each file to determine whether we should download a file.

The manifest file contains the following important information:

  1. The root path of remote assets
  2. Remote manifest file url
  3. Remote version file url (optionally)
  4. Major version number
  5. File list: index of file pathes, including file version information. We recommend using the file md5 as the version number
  6. List of search path.

The version file can be part of the contents of the manifest file and do not contain a list of files. But the manifest file may be large, each time client need to download the whole file for checking version update. So developer can provide a very small version file for version check only. AssetsManager will first check the version number provided by the version file to determine if you need to continue downloading the manifest file and update it.

Implement hot update in the Cocos Creator project

In this tutorial, we will provide a hot update workflow for Cocos Creator project. We have also opened Downloader JavaScript interface in cocos2d-x engine, so users are free to develop their own hot update solution.

Before starting to explain in detail, developers can take a look at the directory structure of published native version of any game in Cocos Creator. The Creator published directory structure and cocos2d-x JS project directory is exactly the same. Users who have not previously familiar with cocos2d-x can refer to Project Structure Document. For Cocos Creator, all JS scripts will be packaged into the src directory, and other assets will be exported to the res directory.

Based on this project structure, the hot update process in this tutorial is simple:

  1. Generate the local manifest file based on the res and src directories in the native published directory.
  2. Create a component script to be responsible for the hot update logic.
  3. After release of the game, if you need to update the version, you need to generate a set of remote asset versions, including the res directory, src directory and manifest file. Then deploy these files to your server.
  4. When the hot update script detects that the server manifest version does not match local version, the hot update starts

The example project used in the tutorial is based on the BlackJack example. To show the hot update process, delete the table scene in the project, set to version 1.0.0. And save the full version of project assets with the table scene in the remote-assets directory, set to version 1.1.0. At the beginning of the game it will check whether there is a version of the remote update, if you find a remote version the user is prompted to update. When update is complete, the user re-enter the game to launch the table scene.

! table

Note, the project contains remove-assets is for debug mode, the developer must use the debug mode when building the test project, otherwise the release mode jsc file priority will be higher than remove-assets in the assets and cause the script to fail.

Use the version generator to generate the manifest file

In the example project, we provided a version_generator.js script file, which is a Nodejs script for generating manfiest file. Use as follows:

> node version_generator.js -v 1.0.0 -u http://your-server-address/tutorial-hot-update/remote-assets/ -s native/package/ -d assets/

The following is a description of the parameters:

Hot update component script

In the example project, the implementation of the hot update component is located at assets/scripts/module/HotUpdate.js, the developer can refer to this implementation, but also free to modify according to their own needs.

In addition, the sample project is also equipped with a Canvas/update node for prompting to update and display the progress of the update.

component

Deploy to remote server

In order to allow the game to detect remote versions, you can simulate a remote server on the machine, there are a variety of server solutions (such as SimpleHTTPServer for Python). We will not discuss detail here, developers can use their own prefered way. Once your remote server is up, you need to modify the following places to allow the game to successfully find the remote package:

  1. assets/project.manifest: packageUrl, remoteManifestUrl and remoteVersionUrl in the client manifest file of the game
  2. remote-assets/project.manifest: packageUrl, remoteManifestUrl and remoteVersionUrl in the manifest file of the remote package
  3. remote-assets/version.manifest: packageUrl, remoteManifestUrl and remoteVersionUrl in the remote package's version file

Publish the original version

After downloading the sample project, you can use Cocos Creator to open the project directly. Open Build panel, build for native platform, you can choose Windows / Mac as target to test.

After building a successful native version, open the folder of the native published package, add the search path logic to main.js:

// Add the following code at the beginning of main.js
If (cc.sys.isNative) {
    Var hotUpdateSearchPaths = cc.sys.localStorage.getItem ('HotUpdateSearchPaths');
    If (hotUpdateSearchPaths) {
        Jsb.fileUtils.setSearchPaths (JSON.parse (hotUpdateSearchPaths));
    }
}

You can also directly copy the main.js in the root directory of the project repository to override the published main.js in the native package folder. Note that each time you use Cocos Creator to build, you need to re-modify main.js. To make sure your main.js is correctly overwrite after building, please check Custom Build Template.

This step must be done because the essence of the hot update is to replace the files in the original game package with a remotely downloaded file. Cocos2d-x search path just meet this demand, it can be used to specify the remote package download url as the default search path, so the game will run the process of downloading a good remote version. In addition, the search path is used in the last update process using cc.sys.localStorage (which conforms to the WEB standard Local Storage API ) to store on the user's machine. The HotUpdateSearchPaths key is specified in HotUpdate.js, and the name used for the save and read process must match.

In addition, if you encounter this warning during the opening of the project, you can ignore: loader for [.manifest] not exists!.

Run the example project

If everything is alright, you can run the native version of the sample project. You will encounter a new version detected, suggesting that the update will automatically restart the game after the game, then enter the table scene.

update

Conclusion

The above is a hot update solution, Cocos Creator in the future version to provide more mature hot update process, directly integrated into the editor. Of course, the underlying Downloader API will also be provided to allow users to freely implement their own hot update scheme and to build a complete visual workflow in the editor through the plug-in mechanism. This tutorial and sample project is for your reference and we encourage developers to customize their own workflows. If you have questions and communication also welcome feedback to Forum.

Next Step

  1. AssetManager Document