Particles In Code

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Revision as of 18:04, 26 April 2010 by X6herbius (talk | contribs) (Added notes about including particle header files, as this caught me out.)

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This page details the management of "Orange Box" particles in C++ code. It does not cover the old, hard-coded particle tech.


Particle systems must be precached before they can be used. This is done by listing the PCF file containing them in particles_manifest.txt, then making this call:

PrecacheParticleSystem( "your_particle_effect_name" );



Particles are dispatched to clients as temporary entities. The dispatch functions are shared, so there's no need to #ifdef calls out on the client.

When dispatching particle effects, particle_parse.h must be included in your source file.

#include "particle_parse.h"

// Create at world co-ords
DispatchParticleEffect( "my_particle", vecOrigin, angAngles, pOwnerEntity )

// Create at model attachment
DispatchParticleEffect( "my_particle", ParticleAttachment_t, pOwner, iAttachment, bResetAllParticlesOnEntity )
  • See also ParticleAttachment_t, below.
  • vecStart, taken by some overloads of DispatchParticleEffect(), defines the location of control point 1. If you don't specify vecStart, the value of vecOrigin is used instead.
Bug: Valve's code for dispatching a particle on a model attachment is broken. Get the fix here.


StopParticleEffects( CBaseEntity* )
Stops all effects on the given entity.



Particle systems are automatically created on the client when a dispatch event is received, or can be created manually. Each system is a CNewParticleEffect object managed through the owning entity's ParticleProp() accessor:

#include "particles_new.h"

	// Create a new system
	CNewParticleEffect* pEffect = ParticleProp()->Create( "my_particles", PATTACH_ABSORIGIN );
	// System already exists
	CNewParticleEffect* pEffect = ParticleProp()->FindEffect( "my_particles" );

Particles_new.h must also be #included here.

Alternatively, you can hook into particle creation events:

void C_MyEntity::OnNewParticleEffect( const char* pszParticleName, CNewParticleEffect* pNewParticleEffect )
	if ( V_strcmp(pszParticleName, "target_effect_name") == 0 )
		// Do something

Warning: A dispatch message from the server configures both control point 0 AND 1. The values are applied after OnNewParticleEffect() is called, so don't bother trying to assign either of those CPs from it!

Control points

When dispatching an effect from the server you can define the location of control points 0 (with vecOrigin) and 1 (with vecStart).

On the client, you can configure the location, rotation and parent entity of any CP with these CNewParticleEffect functions:

SetControlPoint( Vector )
Arbitrary set the CP's value.
SetControlPointEntity( CBaseEntity* )
Follow the given entity's origin.
Confirm:Set to NULL to disable following.
SetControlPointOrientation( QAngle )
Set orientation with a QAngle or a series of Vectors.


StopParticleEffects( CBaseEntity* )
Stops all effects on the given entity.
ParticleProp()->StopParticlesInvolving( CBaseEntity* )
Stops all effects with a control point attached to the given entity. To do: Global or only on current entity?
ParticleProp()->StopParticlesNamed( const char* )
Stops all effects with the given system name. To do: Global or only on current entity?
CNewParticleEffect::StopEmission( bool bInfiniteOnly, bool bRemoveAllParticles, bool bWakeOnStop)
Stops the current particle system, without removing it. To do: Meaning of first and third arguments.


One of these values is passed when dispatching or creating an effect:

Spawn at (and optionally follow) the entity's origin.
Spawn at (and optionally follow) an attachment point on the entity's model.
Spawn at a given origin.
Don't associate with an entity at all. Use with caution - could easily cause memory leaks.