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Kinematic Character Controller (KCC)


A Kinematic Character Controller, KCC for short, is used to move a character within the world according to its own set of rules. Using a KCC rather than physics/force based movement allows for tighter control and snappy movement. Although those concepts are core to every game, they vary tremendously in their definition as they are related to the overall gameplay. Therefore the KCCs included in the Quantum SDK are to be considered a starting point; however, game developers will likely have to create their own in order to get the best possible results for their specific context.

Quantum comes with two pre-build KCCs, one for 2D (side-scrolling) and one for 3D movement. The API allows characters to move through terrains, climb steps, slide down slopes, and use moving platforms.

The KCCs take physics data of both static and dynamic objects into consideration when calculating the movement vectors. Objects will block and define the character's movement. Collision callbacks with the environment objects will be trigged as well.

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To use or add a KCC to an entity, the entity has to already have a Transform component. A PhysicsBody can be used but is not necessary; it is generally advised against using a PhysicsBody with a KCC as the physics system may affect it and result in unintended movement.

If you are not familiar with Quantum's Physics yet, please review the Physics documentation first.

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Raycasts & ShapeOverlap

The KCC only uses ShapeOverlaps - circle for 2D and sphere for 3D - to calculate its movement. Thus an entity with only a KKC component will be ignored by raycasts. Should the entity be subject to raycasting, it has to also carry a PhysicsCollider.

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This page covers both the 2D and 3D KCCs.

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The Character Controller Component

You can add the CharacterController component to your entity by either:

  • adding the "Character Controller" component to the Entity Prototype in Unity; or,
  • adding the "Character Controller" component via code.
KCC 2D and 2D Components in Unity
The Character Controller 2D and 3D components attached to an Entity Prototype in the Unity Editor.

To add the Character Controller via code, follow the examples below.

// 2D KCC
var kccConfig = FindAsset<CharacterController2DConfig>(KCC_CONFIG_PATH);
var kcc = new CharacterController2D();
kcc.Init(f, kccConfig)
f.Add(entity, kcc);

// 3D KCC
var kccConfig = FindAsset<CharacterController3DConfig>(KCC_CONFIG_PATH);
var kcc = new CharacterController3D();
kcc.Init(f, kccConfig)
f.Add(entity, kcc);

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The component has to be initiliazed after being created. The available initializing options are:

  • (code) the Init() method without parameter, it will load the DefaultCharacterController from Assets/Resources/DB/Configs.
  • (code) the Init() method with parameter, it will load the passed in CharacterControllerConfig.
  • (editor) add the CharacterControllerConfig to the Config slot in the Character Controller component.

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The Character Controller Config

Create your own KCC config asset via the context menu under Create > Quantum > Assets > Physics > CharacterController2D/3D.

Default Config Assets

The default 2D and 3D KCC Config assets are located inside the Assets/Resources/DB/Configs folder. Here is how the 3D KCC config looks like:

KCC 3D Default Config
The DefaultCharacterController3D Config Asset.

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A Brief Explanation Into The Config Fields

  • Offset is used to define the KCC local position based into the entity position. It is commonly used to position the center of the KCC at the feet of the character. Remember: the KCC is used to move the character, so it does not necessarily have to encapsulate the character's whole body.
  • Radius defines the boundaries of the character and should encompass the character horizontal size. This is used to know whether a character can move in a certain direction, a wall is blocking the movement, a step is to be climbed, or a slope to be slid on.
  • Max Penetration smoothens the movement when a character penetrates other physics objects. If the character passes the Max Penetration, a hard fix will be applied and snap it into the correct position. Reducing this value to zero will apply all corrections fully and instantly; this may result in jagged movement.
  • Extent defines a radius in which collisions are detected preemptively.
  • Max Contacts is used to select the amount of contact points computed by the KCC. 1 will usually work fine and is the most performant option. If you experience jerky movement, try setting this to 2; the additional overhead is negligible.
  • Layer Mask defines which collider layers should be taken into consideration by the physics query performed by the KCC.
  • Air Control toggle to True and the KCC is able to perform movement adjustments when it not touching the ground.
  • Acceleration defines how fast the character accelerates.
  • Base Jump Impulse defines the strength of the impulse when calling the KCC Jump() method. If no value is passed to the method, this value will be used.
  • Max Speed caps the character's maximal horizontal speed.
  • Gravity applies a gravity force to the KCC.
  • Max Slope defines the maximal angle, in degrees, the character can walk up and down.
  • Max Slope Speed limits the speed at which the character slides down a slope when the movement type is Slope Fall instead of Horizontal Fall.

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Character Controller API

The API shown below focuses on the 3D KCC. The 2D and 3D APIs are very similar though.

Properties And Fields

Each CharacterController component has these fields.

public FP MaxSpeed { get; set;}
public FPVector3 Velocity { get; set;} 
public bool Grounded { get; set;}
public FP CurrentSpeed { get;}
public AssetGUID ConfigId { get;}

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The MaxSpeed is a cached value after initialization. It can therefore be modified at runtime, e.g. when performing dashes.

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Each KCC components has the following methods:

// Initialization
public void Init(FrameBase frame, CharacterController3DConfig config = null);

// Jump
public void Jump(FrameBase frame, bool ignoreGrounded = false, FP? impulse = null);

// Move
public void Move(FrameBase frame, EntityRef entity, FPVector3 direction, IKCCCallbacks3D callback = null, int? layerMask = null, Boolean? useManifoldNormal = null, FP? deltaTime = null);

// Raw Information
public static CharacterController3DMovement ComputeRawMovement(Frame frame, EntityRef entity, Transform3D* transform, CharacterController3D* kcc, FPVector3 direction, IKCCCallbacks3D callback = null, int? layerMask = null, bool? useManifoldNormal = null);

The Jump and Move methods are convenient for prototyping, while ComputeRawMovement provides the key information for creating your own custom movement. In the example KCC's provided by Quantum, the information from ComputeRawMovement is used by the internal steering method ComputeRawSteer to compute the steering used in Move.

IMPORTANT: The implementations of Jump(), Move() and ComputeRawSteer() are presented below for fostering understanding and help create custom implementations specific to the game's requirements.

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ComputeRawMovement() computes the environmental data necessary for the steering by performing a ShapeOverlap and processing the data. The method returns a CharacterController3DMovement struct which can then be applied to the character movement. The movement data provided can also be used to create a custom steering implementation.

The CharacterController3DMovement struct holds the following information:

public enum CharacterMovementType
    None, // grounded with no desired direction passed
    FreeFall, // no contacts within the Radius
    SlopeFall, // there is at least 1 ground contact within the Radius, specifically a contact with a normal angle vs -gravity <= maxSlopeAngle). It is possible to be "grounded" without this type of contact (see Grounded property in the CharacterController3DMovement)
    Horizontal, // there is NO ground contact, but there is at least one lateral contact (normal angle vs -gravity > maxSlopeAngle)

public struct CharacterController3DMovement
  public CharacterMovementType Type;
  // the surface normal of the closest unique contact
  public FPVector3 NearestNormal;
  // the average normal from all contacts
  public FPVector3 AvgNormal;
  // the normal of the closest contact that qualifies as ground
  public FPVector3 GroundNormal;
  // the surface tangent (from GroundNormal and the derived direction) for Horizontal move, or the normalized desired direction when in CharacterMovementType.FreeFall
  public FPVector3 Tangent;
  // surface tangent computed from closest the contact normal vs -gravity (does not consider current velocity of CC itself).
  public FPVector3 SlopeTangent;
  // accumulated projected correction from all contacts within the Radius. It compensates with dot-products to NOT overshoot.
  public FPVector3 Correction;
  // max penetration of the closest contact within the Radius
  public FP Penetration;
  // uses the EXTENDED radius to assign this Boolean AND the GroundedNormalas to avoid oscilations of the grounded state when moving over slightly irregular terrain
  public Boolean Grounded;
  // number of contacts within Radius
  public int Contacts;

ComputeRawMovement() is used by the Move() method.

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This is only a reference implementation.

The Jump simply adds an impulse to the KCC's current Velocity and toggles the Jumped boolean which will be processed by the internal ComputeRawSteer Method.

public void Jump(FrameBase frame, bool ignoreGrounded = false, FP? impulse = null) {

  if (Grounded || ignoreGrounded) {
    if (impulse.HasValue)
      Velocity.Y.RawValue = impulse.Value.RawValue;
    else {
      var config = frame.FindAsset(Config);
      Velocity.Y.RawValue = config.BaseJumpImpulse.RawValue;
    Jumped = true;

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This is only a reference implementation.

Move() takes the following things by taking into consideration when calculating the character's new position:

  • the current position
  • the direction
  • the gravity
  • jumps
  • slopes
  • and more

All these aspects can be defined in the config asset passed to the Init() method. This is convenient for prototyping FPS/TPS/Action games which have terrains, mesh colliders and primitives.

NOTE: Since it calculates everything and returns a final FPVector3 result, it does not give you much control over the movement itself. For tighter control over the movement, you should use ComputeRawMovement() and create your own custom steering + movement.

public void Move(Frame frame, EntityRef entity, FPVector3 direction, IKCCCallbacks3D callback = null, int? layerMask = null, Boolean? useManifoldNormal = null, FP? deltaTime = null) {

  var transform = frame.GetPointer<Transform3D>(entity);
  var dt        = deltaTime ?? frame.DeltaTime;

  CharacterController3DMovement movementPack;
  fixed (CharacterController3D* thisKcc = &this) {
    movementPack = ComputeRawMovement(frame, entity, transform, thisKcc, direction, callback, layerMask, useManifoldNormal);

  ComputeRawSteer(frame, ref movementPack, dt);

  var movement = Velocity * dt;
  if (movementPack.Penetration > FP.EN3) {
    var config = frame.FindAsset<CharacterController3DConfig>(Config.Id);
    if (movementPack.Penetration > config.MaxPenetration) {
      movement += movementPack.Correction;
    } else {
      movement += movementPack.Correction * config.PenetrationCorrection;

  transform->Position += movement;

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Steering involves computing the movement based on the position, radius and velocity of the character, and corrects the movement if necessary.

This is only a reference implementation.

ComputeRawSteer is an internal method that does the bulk of the movement calculations based on the type of movement the character is currently performing. In the example KCCs, Move requests the movementPack values from ComputeRawMovement and passes them to ComputeRawSteer.

private void ComputeRawSteer(FrameThreadSafe f, ref CharacterController3DMovement movementPack, FP dt) {

  Grounded = movementPack.Grounded;
  var config = f.FindAsset(Config);
  var minYSpeed = -FP._100;
  var maxYSpeed = FP._100;
  switch (movementPack.Type) {
    // FreeFall
    case CharacterMovementType.FreeFall:
      Velocity.Y -= config._gravityStrength * dt;
      if (!config.AirControl || movementPack.Tangent == default(FPVector3)) {
        Velocity.X = FPMath.Lerp(Velocity.X, FP._0, dt * config.Braking);
        Velocity.Z = FPMath.Lerp(Velocity.Z, FP._0, dt * config.Braking);
      } else {
        Velocity += movementPack.Tangent * config.Acceleration * dt;
    // Grounded movement
    case CharacterMovementType.Horizontal:
      // apply tangent velocity
      Velocity += movementPack.Tangent * config.Acceleration * dt;
      var tangentSpeed = FPVector3.Dot(Velocity, movementPack.Tangent);
      // lerp current velocity to tangent
      var tangentVel = tangentSpeed * movementPack.Tangent;
      var lerp = config.Braking * dt;
      Velocity.X = FPMath.Lerp(Velocity.X, tangentVel.X, lerp);
      Velocity.Z = FPMath.Lerp(Velocity.Z, tangentVel.Z, lerp);
      // we only lerp the vertical velocity if the character is not jumping in this exact frame,
      // otherwise it will jump with a lower impulse
      if (Jumped == false) {
        Velocity.Y = FPMath.Lerp(Velocity.Y, tangentVel.Y, lerp);
      // clamp tangent velocity with max speed
      var tangentSpeedAbs = FPMath.Abs(tangentSpeed);
      if (tangentSpeedAbs > MaxSpeed) {
        Velocity -= FPMath.Sign(tangentSpeed) * movementPack.Tangent * (tangentSpeedAbs - MaxSpeed);
    // Sliding due to excessively steep slope
    case CharacterMovementType.SlopeFall:
      Velocity += movementPack.SlopeTangent * config.Acceleration * dt;
      minYSpeed = -config.MaxSlopeSpeed;
    // No movement, only deceleration
    case CharacterMovementType.None:
      var lerpFactor = dt * config.Braking;
      if (Velocity.X.RawValue != 0) {
        Velocity.X = FPMath.Lerp(Velocity.X, default, lerpFactor);
        if (FPMath.Abs(Velocity.X) < FP.EN1) {
          Velocity.X.RawValue = 0;
      if (Velocity.Z.RawValue != 0) {
        Velocity.Z = FPMath.Lerp(Velocity.Z, default, lerpFactor);
        if (FPMath.Abs(Velocity.Z) < FP.EN1) {
          Velocity.Z.RawValue = 0;
      // we only lerp the vertical velocity back to 0 if the character is not jumping in this exact frame,
      // otherwise it will jump with a lower impulse
      if (Velocity.Y.RawValue != 0 && Jumped == false) {
        Velocity.Y = FPMath.Lerp(Velocity.Y, default, lerpFactor);
        if (FPMath.Abs(Velocity.Y) < FP.EN1) {
          Velocity.Y.RawValue = 0;
      minYSpeed = 0;
  // horizontal is clamped elsewhere
  if (movementPack.Type != CharacterMovementType.Horizontal) {
    var h = Velocity.XZ;
    if (h.SqrMagnitude > MaxSpeed * MaxSpeed) {
      h = h.Normalized * MaxSpeed;
    Velocity.X = h.X;
    Velocity.Y = FPMath.Clamp(Velocity.Y, minYSpeed, maxYSpeed);
    Velocity.Z = h.Y;
  // reset jump state
  Jumped = false;

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Collision Callbacks

Whenever the KCC detects intersections with colliders a callback is triggered.

public interface IKCCCallbacks2D
    bool OnCharacterCollision2D(FrameBase f, EntityRef character, Physics2D.Hit hit);
    void OnCharacterTrigger2D(FrameBase f, EntityRef character, Physics2D.Hit hit);

public interface IKCCCallbacks3D
    bool OnCharacterCollision3D(FrameBase f, EntityRef character, Physics3D.Hit3D hit);
    void OnCharacterTrigger3D(FrameBase f, EntityRef character, Physics3D.Hit3D hit);

To receive the callbacks and use its information implement the corresponding IKCCCallbacks interface in a system.

Important Note that the collision callbacks return a Boolean value. This is allows you decide whether a collision should be ignored. Returning false makes the character pass through physics object it collided with.

Besides implementing the callbacks the movement methods should also pass the IKCCCallbacks object; below is a code snippet using the collision callbacks.

public unsafe class SampleSystem : SystemMainThread, IKCCCallbacks3D
  public bool OnCharacterCollision3D(FrameBase f, EntityRef character, Physics3D.Hit3D hit) {
    // read the collision information to decide if this should or not be ignored
    return true;

  public void OnCharacterTrigger3D(FrameBase f, EntityRef character, Physics3D.Hit3D hit) {
  public override void Update(Frame f) {
    // [...]
    // adding the IKCCCallbacks3D as the last parameter (this system, in this case)
    var movement = CharacterController3D.Move((Entity*)character, input->Direction, this);
    // [...]

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