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What render engine/framework to use for development and extension?

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What render engine/framework would you recommend for developing your own rendering components?


My focus is on participating media rendering, like clouds and smoke. I would like to include my rendering modules in a general OpenGL rendering framework which ideally, but not necessarily provides simple terrain, ocean and vegetation rendering. I'm intending to you use it primarily for testing and development and not for developing a commercial product.


What rendering frameworks are there?


Which do provide easy ways to include own rendering modules/plugins?


I came about Houdini and Blender? Any experiences with those?


Thanks in advance!


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You could grab an SDK from Unreal Engine or CryEngine (the free ones, under an indie license) and as an added bonus you would have a lot of very AAA art assets to test it on.


I'm not sure, though , if it is a good idea to skip the basics of the rendering and jump right into the lighting equation of the participating media - those are some pretty hardcore papers.

Perhaps you already have that low-level experience - just not in the form of the engine you wrote for yourself (e.g. at work) ?


I'm sure you will find lots of plugins and info on Blender - that gets mentioned every other day or so over the forums. Houdini - way less, though.


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If you are fixed on OpenGL, you can safely disregard this option :)


Hieroglyph 3 is an open source engine that makes it possible to add new effects / rendering techniques relatively easily - but it uses Direct3D 11.  There is a number of different effects already available (deferred rendering, light prepass, tessellated terrain surface, water rendering, voxel texture rendering, etc...), which can be used as a guide for implementing something totally new.  There is a small community and moderately active discussions, so if you have questions there is help not too far away.


In full disclosure, it is my library... but I still think it may be able to help you with your testing.


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I have to stick to Linux, therefore I would prefer OpenGL.


Any more recommendations on render engines?

Anyone has experience with extending an open source rendering engine?


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