Deeply-nested CoherenceSyncs

Creating complex hierarchies of CoherenceSyncs at runtime

While the basic case of direct parent-child relationships between CoherenceSync entities is handled automatically by coherence, more complex hierarchies (with multiple levels) need a specific component.

An example of such a hierarchy would be a synced Player Prefab with a hierarchical bone structure, where you want to place an item (e.g. a flashlight) in the hand:

Player > Shoulder > Arm > Hand


To prepare the child Prefab that you want to parent at runtime, add the CoherenceNode component to it (in addition to its CoherenceSync). In the example above, that would be the flashlight you want your player to be able to pick up. No additional changes are required.

This setup allows you to place instances of the flashlight Prefab anywhere in the hierarchy of the Player (you could even move it from one hand to the other, and it would work).

You don't need to input any value in the fields of the CoherenceNode. They are used at runtime, by coherence, automatically.

To recap, for deep-nesting network entities to work, you need two things:

  1. The parent: a Prefab with CoherenceSync that has some hierarchy of child transforms (these child transforms are not networked entities themselves).

  2. The child: another connected Prefab with CoherenceSync and CoherenceNode.

Ensure hierarchies are synced

One important constraint for using CoherenceNode is that the hierarchies have to be identical on all Clients.

Example: if on Client A an object is parented to Player > Shoulder > Arm > Hand, the hierarchy on Client B needs to be exactly: Player > Shoulder > Arm > Hand.

Removing or moving an intermediate child (such as Shoulder or Arm) would lead to undesirable results, and desynchronization.

Position and rotation

Similarly to the above, intermediate child objects need to have the same position and rotation on all Clients. If not, that would lead to desync because the parented entity doesn't track the position of its parent object(s).

If you plan to move these intermediate children, then we suggest to sync the position and/or rotation of those objects as part of the containing Prefab.

Following the previous example, if an object is parented to Player > Shoulder > Arm > Hand, you might want to mark the position and rotation of Shoulder, Arm and Hand as synced, as part of the prefab Player.

This way if any of them moves, the movement will be replicated correctly on all clients, and the object parented to Hand will also look correct.

Keep in mind that there is no penalty for syncing positions of objects that never or rarely move, because the position is not synced every frame if it hasn't changed.

Inner workings

This section is only useful to you if you want to understand deeply how CoherenceNode works under the hood.

CoherenceNode works using two public fields which are automatically set to sync using the [Sync] attribute.

[Sync] public string path;
[Sync] public int pathDirtyCounter;

The path variable describes where in the parent's hierarchy the child object should be located. It is a string consisting of comma-separated indexes. Every one of these indexes designates a specific child index in the hierarchy. The child object which has the CoherenceNode component will be placed in the resulting place in the hierarchy.

The pathDirtyCounter variable is a helper variable used to keep track of the applied hierarchy changes. In case the object's position in the parent's hierarchy changes, this variable will be used to help settle and properly sync those changes.

For an example of a CoherenceSync parenting and unparenting at runtime in a deep hierarchy, check out the First Steps sample project, lesson 5.

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