Irrlicht Engine – A free, open-source and lighting fast realtime 3D engine

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To learn 3D game development with limited pockets, I guess you’ve tried many classic, free, open-source game development engines like TV3D (Truevision3D), OGRE and Irrlicht Engine. By contrast, the pros of TV3D are easy to learn and get started with; its cons are that it was built based on the ActiveX control and requires the RunTime DLL to be registered before running; OGRE is better than Irrlicht in that it has a capable and vigorous engine framework, and supports for extending new functionality in the form of plug-ins (this is better than Irrlicht); but its downside is that it’s not easy to get started with.

Irrlicht Engine (AKA: Irrlicht 3D Engine) is a free and open-source 3D game engine from Germany. It has a clear structure and very high execution efficiency (because it was written in C++), and is easy to get started with. As a lightweight, high-powered and real-time 3D engine that is easy-to-learn and easy-to-use for both C++ game programming beginners and C++ game programmers with certain programming experience, Irrlicht Engine makes itself completely cross-platform by using D3D (Direct3D is for Windows platform), OpenGL and its own software renderers.

Irrlicht Engine were designed to be very coherent, is very compact and efficient on coding, uses u32, f32 these extremely simplified data types, supports binding with Java, Perl, Ruby, BASIC, Python, Lua and so on programming languages, supports adjusting the parameters and algorithm mechanisms of the rendering module according to the hardware acceleration, and is very user friendly for developers, especially beginners. It offers many advanced features that only commercial 3D engines have, such as dynamic shading, particle system, character animation, indoor and outdoor techniques, collision detection, and more. In addition, Irrlicht’s enhancements such as terrain generator, portal generator, outlier, world level generator, as well as related tutorials and editors are easy to find on the Internet.

// Key Features //

  • High performance realtime 3D rendering using Direct3D and OpenGL [more]
  • Platform independent. Runs on Windows, Linux, OSX, Solaris, and others.[more]
  • Huge built-in and extensible material library with vertex, pixel, and geometry shader support [more].
  • Seamless indoor and outdoor mixing through highly customizeable scene management. [more]
  • Character animation system with skeletal and morph target animation. [more]
  • Particle effects, billboards, light maps, environment mapping, stencil buffer shadows, and lots of other special effects. [more]
  • Several language bindings which make the engine available to other languages such as C#, VisualBasic, Delphi, Java …
  • Two platform and driver independent fast software renderers included. They have different properties (speed vs. quality) and feature everything needed: perspective correct texture mapping, bilinear filtering, sub pixel correctness, z-buffer, gouraud shading, alpha-blending and transparency, fast 2D drawing, and more.
  • Powerful, customizeable, and easy to use 2D GUI System with Buttons, Lists, Edit boxes, …
  • 2D drawing functions like alpha blending, color key based blitting, font drawing, and mixing 3D with 2D graphics.
  • Clean, easy to understand, and well documented API with lots of examples and tutorials.
  • Written in pure C++ and totally object oriented.
  • Direct import of common mesh file formats: Maya (.obj), 3DStudio (.3ds), COLLADA (.dae), Blitz3D (.b3d), Milkshape (.ms3d), Quake 3 levels (.bsp), Quake2 models (.md2), Microsoft DirectX (.X)… [more]
  • Direct import of Textures: Windows Bitmap (.bmp), Portable Network Graphics (.png), Adobe Photoshop (.psd), JPEG File Interchange Format (.jpg), Truevision Targa (.tga), ZSoft Painbrush (.pcx)… [more]
  • Fast and easy collision detection and response.
  • Optimized fast 3D math and container template libraries.
  • Directly reading from (compressed) archives. (.zip, .pak, .pk3, .npk)
  • Integrated fast XML parser.
  • Unicode support for easy localisation.
  • Works with Microsoft VisualStudio, Metrowerks Codewarrior, Bloodshed Dev-C++, Code::Blocks, XCode, and gcc 3.x-4.x.
  • The engine is open source and totally free. You can debug it, fix bugs and even change things you do not like. And you do not have to publish your changes: The engine is licensed under the zlib licence, not the GPL or the LGPL.

// Supported File Formats //

Currently supported textures file formats
  • JPEG File Interchange Format (.jpg, r/w)
  • Portable Network Graphics (.png, r/w)
  • Truevision Targa (.tga, r/w)
  • Windows Bitmap (.bmp, r/w)
  • Zsoft Paintbrush (.pcx, r/w)
  • Portable Pixmaps (.ppm, r/w)
  • Adobe Photoshop (.psd, r)
  • Quake 2 textures (.wal, r)
  • SGI truecolor textures (.rgb, r)
Currently supported mesh file formats
Animated objects Static objects
  • B3D files (.b3d, r, skeleton)
  • Microsoft DirectX (.x, r) (binary & text, skeleton)
  • Milkshape (.ms3d, r, skeleton)
  • Quake 3 models (.md3, r, morph)
  • Quake 2 models (.md2, r, morph)
  • Irrlicht scenes (.irr, r/w)
  • Irrlicht static meshes (.irrmesh, r/w)
  • 3D Studio meshes (.3ds, r)
  • Alias Wavefront Maya (.obj, r/w)
  • Lightwave Objects (.lwo, r)
  • COLLADA 1.4 (.xml, .dae, r/w)
  • OGRE meshes (.mesh, r)
  • My3DTools 3 (.my3D, r)
  • Pulsar LMTools (.lmts, r)
  • Quake 3 levels (.bsp, r)
  • DeleD (.dmf, r)
  • FSRad oct (.oct, r)
  • Cartography shop 4 (.csm, r)
  • STL 3D files (.stl, r/w)
  • PLY 3D files (.ply, r/w)

// Related Links //

// Download URLs //

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