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Dryak

Suggestions for a 3D Game Engine

18 posts in this topic

Hey all. I am starting to get my game going so I wanted your recommendations on a good game engine. I've been using DarkGDK/C++ to prototype and while DarkGDK is good, its not great. I would still like to stay with C++; I am willing to pay up to $200 dollars unless the engine has something REALLY awesome and then I'm willing to pay up to $300. Below are my wants and needs for the engine. Needs - Physics - Multiplayer capabilities (Mainly LAN) - Terrain/World Creation Tools - Object management (movement, placement, etc) - High quality graphics - Sound management Wants - AI - [Anything else beyond the needs] I've currently looked at Leadwerks which looks amazing and has all my needs. I've also looked at Abyssal which asks me to purchase a separate multiplayer engine for $1,500 (riiiight) What are your recommendations?
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Do you absolutely need the engine source code?

Many big name engines like CryEngine, Unreal, and Source expose all the gameplay code. Nothing is really stopping you from creating an entirely new game, even of a different genre... assuming you don't get too crazy.

All have strong modding communities.
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I looked into the CryEngine but they only license to large groups, not individuals and I'm a super indie game designer.

Also, I'm trying to publish the game that I'm making so I want to have full commercial licensing to do it.
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I highly recommend the C4 Engine. The current license model will give you unlimited updates forever.

I've used C4 for over a year now and it is absolutely brilliant. I won't go into details as a quick look around the website will give me you more information than I could. The official demo doesn't do the graphical capabilities of the engine justice so I recommend looking at screenshots of other projects using the engine.
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Why not go with Unity3d.
Quote:

Needs
- Physics
- Multiplayer capabilities (Mainly LAN)
- Terrain/World Creation Tools
- Object management (movement, placement, etc)
- High quality graphics
- Sound management

Wants
- AI
- [Anything else beyond the needs]

Its got physics, a terrain editor, and object editor (component based).
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This site covers the majority of engines in great detail, although when lokoing at the reviews make sure to take note of the date and the quality of the review to determine if whoever is posting the review knows what they're on about.
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I've looked at C4 demos and videos on Youtube and it just look right. Do you have videos or demos I could look at?

I've looked at Unity and it looks nice but most of the features like real-time shadows and such are only in the $1500 Pro Edition.


So far it seems like Leadwerks is the best for my needs.

Does anyone else have any suggestions?
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If you decide C4 doesn't suit your needs that's fine although given the requirements you've listed I do find that a bit difficult to believe.

Here are some screenshots, there are some more videos and screenshots in the showcase forum. C4 is without a doubt the cleanest engine I've ever come across in terms engine code and methodologies for building your own game using the engine.

Like I said earlier though, I don't recommend paying too much attention to demo screenshots. What graphical feature do you feel the engine is missing?

A company spending hundreds of thousands dollars into purchasing art for a demo rather than putting that money into resources and development of engine functionality doesn't benefit users of the engine. A common misconception about game engines is that if a demo has pretty graphics any game built with that engine will look good. This is simply not true, you can't use assets provided in the demo you have to use your own. It is the artistic cohesion of assets that make games look good and not the engine functionality itself. Graphical capabilities of an engine are only a theoretical limitation, unless you have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on assets you're not going to reach this limitation in any modern engine.

NewBreed's suggestions of the DevMaster engine database was a good one. You can look at reviews from user's of many different engines.
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Well the thing is that I've looked at Leadwerks tutorial videos and they show me how to do everything that their engine can do and this is how I know the graphical capabilities of it. I couldn't find anything for C4.

And of course I agree with you that the assets are really what matter but I'm talking more in terms of shaders, lighting, LOD, culling, post processing effects and such.

Plus it costs $350 which is quite a bit on a college students budget.
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I'm a university student myself, although I do work as a freelance game programmer as well.

To be honest I don't know much about Leadwerks so I can't do a comparison for you. However according to wikipedia:
"The base license for the Leadwerks Engine is a commercial license allowing the creation of any type of game/simulation with the exception of a game engine or overly modifiable game that will allow the end user to 'create something outside of the intended scope of the original product'. Leadwerks includes a full EULA and hosts the same file on their website[7].

The base license costs $150. A full source code license is available for an undisclosed price."

If this information is up-to-date it looks as though you don't get access to the engine source-code.

In regards to shaders, C4 has an in-built graphical shader editor, the purpose of which is to ensure that shaders look the same on all hardware. However at present you can't make your own post-processing effects although there are some built in. There is full support for LOD with planned support for automatically generated impostors/billboards. Here is a link to C4's wiki article on lights and shadows.

In regards to culling, C4 obviously uses frustum culling but it also makes use of a portal-based culling system. I don't know if you're interested in terrain however terrain uses a voxels instead of heightmaps so you can create overhangs, you can still import heightmaps though as a starting point. Version 2.0 (due to be released this month) adds the first ever geomip voxel terrain LOD system as well as native rigid-body physics support.

The community itself is great, there is a community contributed tools section available to licensees. There are free particle system creation tools, third-party physics implementations (PhysX and Bullet), exporters etc.

In regards to learning about the C4 Engine the two best things you can do are look at the wiki and look at the developer documentation, both of which are freely available.
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Get Torque. It really improved since its latest version, has great editors and graphics and is specially aimed for the indie developer. But I'm not sure if it's within your budget range: http://www.garagegames.com It's got everything you need and want, and more! :)
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As amazing as the Unreal Engine is, I don't know how to link it to Visual Studio Express nor do I know the language (of course, I could learn the language if I could figure out the linking deal)
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Quote:
Original post by Dryak
As amazing as the Unreal Engine is, I don't know how to link it to Visual Studio Express nor do I know the language (of course, I could learn the language if I could figure out the linking deal)

Not related to game engines but I thought I'd let you know that given you're a student you probably have free access to Visual Studio 2008 Professional via Microsoft's Dreamspark Program.
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Correct and I do, but I would like to publish my games for a profit and they won't let me do that on a student license.
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Quote:
Original post by Dryak
Correct and I do, but I would like to publish my games for a profit and they won't let me do that on a student license.


Where did you read that? It is the exact professional copy, same license. There are conditions listed on the Dreamspark website but they're not part of the official license nor do the forbid the using the software for-profit.
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I recently went through myself looking for game engines, I put a list on my site at

Game Engines

But I also would recommend Unity3D or the unreal engine

Both are free and you can use them to make commercial games.

Unreal engine you have to pay 25% royalty on any sales after you earn more than $5000. But this is still very reasonable. You can only use their scripting language though I think, so you won't be able to add to it using C++. But I could be wrong about this so best to investigate a bit yourself.

If your interested in some other ways of developing games you could also check out a small article I wrote that might have some information in it you could find useful... selecting a game engine

[Edited by - kbar on November 7, 2009 4:46:13 AM]
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Quote:
Original post by kbar
I recently went through myself looking for game engines, I put a list on my site at

Game Engines

That's a rather unusual list, how were they ranked? I haven't heard of quite a few on the list but XNA itself is not a game engine, it is a bunch of frameworks/libraries so I find it difficult to believe it could rank higher than any real game engine, including those that didn't even make the list.

In regards to the new Unreal Engine Indie license it sounds very interesting. It doesn't come with source and 25% royalties will probably hit hard for some but I can't blame anyone for giving it a shot. Having access to a professional AAA-quality engine is quite exciting for indie devs. I know I'll be trying it out sometime in the next couple of months.
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The list is not ordered, its just a list of engines I was investigating.

Yes you are right, XNA is a framework, just needed a place to put it since its worth new developers taking a look at if they are interested in making games for the Xbox360.

For a better searchable, rated and ranked list check out devmaster. (Already mentioned in another link further up as well).
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