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Opinions on free game engines invited

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I''ve been playing around with both OpenGL and DirectX 9 and would like to focus on pure game programming now without worrying about the underlying API. I actually prefer OpenGL to DX9 and I realise that OpenGL doesn''t offer full support for sound or input. So, a logical step, IMHO, would be to go in for a game engine. A free one at that, of course, since I can''t afford any of the commercial ones! So, what I would like to know is, which free game engines are really worth considering? I''d prefer an engine which is fairly full featured without being overtly complex. It should also be decently documented and well supported in terms of community and feedback from the creators. Now, I''ve had a look at Nebula and Irrlicht so far. I was disappointed with the poor documentation of Nebula though the engine looks good. In fact, just setting it up for compilation is a major task! Irrlicht seemed to be good with goodish features , open source, and decent documentation. Some nice tutorials to begin with too. So far so good. Hoever, I would like to know from others here about their own experiences with the free game engines. Do they stack up well with other commercial engines? "There is no dark side of the moon." - Pink Floyd

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Well, after several months of poking around in my free time this is what I determined. Note, this is just my opinion as a seasoned db / web programmer and project manager. But, also just a newb (oh look at my textured roating cube with a movable camera) 3d graphics guy. So YMMV.

Irrlicht

*Big community
*Pretty easy to use, but not exactly high performance or flexible
*I messed around with it a bit, but moved on pretty quick as I did not think features or performance where where I wanted them to be. However, if it does what you want, then it is the easiest engine to use IMHO

NeoEngine

*Small community yet
*Harder to use, but much faster / more powerful than Irrlicht
*Still quite some features left to finalize, although they just released an update, so I will have to check again ;-)
*As far as I know some small commercial games have been released with it

Ogre

*Very big community
*Middling difficult to get setup, but fairly easy to use
*Not a game engine but a very good graphics engine
*Some game frameworks are comming along using Ogre but are at fairly early stages - i.e. Yake which uses Ogre
*Pretty robust
*As far as I know some small commercial games have been released with it and more are pending

Axiom -- a ".NET version of Ogre" that is a game engine

*Trivially easy to set up and fairly easy to use
*Small but rapidly growing community, since Axiom uses most of Ogre's stuff, so tools are already in place for quite a bit
* Also approximately equally as fast in OGL at least
*Still semi-early development, so it has bugs to work out and features to add
*Too new for commercial game to be done yet

----

I will pretty much skip Torque and Cipher as they cost $100. But I will tell you that I think Cipher is a good clean engine. Works everywhere I have tried on any hardware I tried and can be really souped up - If you know GL well enough (I don't yet) and if you use the VectorC compiler.

I would say that Ogre and Axiom are surely more than the equal of the low end commerical engines I have seen in terms of speed. However, support, toolsets and robustness (with the exception of Ogre whih is robust) are simply not at the same levels.

Will Doom III and such beat them? Well, yeah duh. They are specialized engines and have a full time team on them, but they also cost real big bucks too. IMHO using my best guesses, if (always a big question with open source) the game platform(s) for Ogre finish, then they might be compettiive to anything short of LithTek's stuff, Crytek or Doom3 in performance. Still a world away on tools of course


[edited by - Gladius on March 25, 2004 2:11:00 AM]

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Thanks for the responses so far. I''ve checked out all the engines mentioned so far including Jet3D and MindEngine.

What I have gathered from the quick evaluation is that Irrlicht and NeoEngine are more full featured than most others out there. YAKE for Ogre sounds interesting. Unfortunately, it is still heavily under development. Jet3D and MindEngine have miles to go yet, honestly. So, I''m afraid I''m gonna stick with irrlicht just yet, until something better comes along.

Cheers!

"There is no dark side of the moon." - Pink Floyd

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quote:
I actually prefer OpenGL to DX9 and I realise that OpenGL doesn''t offer full support for sound or input.

Are you aware of the existance of SDL and/or OpenAL? Indeed, OpenGL doesn''t offer sound support, but SDL is extremely easy to use for sound AND it makes setting up OpenGL a lot easier too. OpenAL on the other hand has an API which is extremely similar to OpenGL, but then for sound...

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This post made me remember this question :
is it worthy to release my game engine to everybody ? (wich basically mean : do I have to code/comment it as it will be once used by another living creature and make a suitable website ..)
My first goal is to learn stuff but if this engine could help other people maybe it would be a other motivation...There is already like hundreds of (mostly unkown) game engine out there



--- At The Edge Of Time

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quote:
Original post by Gladius
Ogre

*Very big community
*Middling difficult to get setup, but fairly easy to use
*Not a game engine but a very good graphics engine
*Some game frameworks are comming along using Ogre but are at fairly early stages - i.e. Yake which uses Ogre
*Pretty robust
*As far as I know some small commercial games have been released with it and more are pending


I would say that Ogre and Axiom are surely more than the equal of the low end commerical engines I have seen in terms of speed. However, support, toolsets and robustness (with the exception of Ogre whih is robust) are simply not at the same levels.

Will Doom III and such beat them? Well, yeah duh. They are specialized engines and have a full time team on them, but they also cost real big bucks too. IMHO using my best guesses, if (always a big question with open source) the game platform(s) for Ogre finish, then they might be compettiive to anything short of LithTek''s stuff, Crytek or Doom3 in performance. Still a world away on tools of course




IMO, Ogres is one of the cleanest and best written pieces of code Ive seen (and Ive been doing this for about 5 years, so that saying a lot).

Will the Doom3 engine beat it? In terms of speed and power, probably. In terms of code quality, I dont think so. Carmack''s still in the dark ages, using C (at least for Quake 3) and asm (of course hes brilliant at it, but that doesnt help people using the engine).

Go OGRE!!

P.S. I will shamelessly promote Ogre till I find something better

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NaliXL: Funny you should mention SDL, because I''m currently evaluating it! Indeed, so far from what I have seen it seems to offer exactly the kind of things I want. Sounds very promising!

Ocalus: Not sure which engine you are referring to, but if it''s your own then I''m sure releasing it won''t hurt! Of course, you WILL have to comment the important parts of it. More importantly, you must provide documentation for it - something that seems to lack on most of the game engines out in the wild.

I''m rethinking about NeoEngine too. The documentation is the biggest hurdle so far. Does anyone know of any good tutorials to using the NeoEngine?

"There is no dark side of the moon." - Pink Floyd

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@psamty10

I won''t disagree. Either Ogre (or its offshoots) or Cipher will likely be choosen for what I want to do. I was just answering the post about differences between commercial engines and open source ones.

Ogre is very cleanly coded for sure. Probably a better design than most engines out there. No diasagreement from me.

Where the differnce comes in is support and toolsets. Maybe in a year or trhee Ogre will be there too. But I don''t think you can honestly say that the toolsets for Ogre are the equal of the toolsets for Crytek say... That is what I was trying to get accross. Similarly for support (in theory) I will get better support from a major engine firm - I had better! But that is why its'' open source, see a bug and you can fix it, if you don''t want to wait.

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quote:

Carmack's still in the dark ages, using C (at least for Quake 3) and asm




ID software and carmack recently switched to c++. Thats what i read in an interview at least. Dont know if that was after or before the doom 3 engine.

[edited by - wannabe 1337 on March 26, 2004 3:25:55 PM]

[edited by - wannabe 1337 on March 26, 2004 3:26:21 PM]

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And no one mentioned here Crystal Space??
Huh it''s one of the best free engine i think, any one played PlaneShift?? http://www.planeshift.it , A free MMORPG built with crystal space, it''s cool and very much completed. Look at this game as an example of crystal Space engine.

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