Submitted by , posted on 16 September 2003

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This image shows 4 shots of a relatively young but powerful 3D engine, which is called The Irrlicht Engine. It is a completely free, zlib licence based open source 3d engine, and exists now for about a year, being improved and extended constantly. It is hosted at sourceforge and its homepage can be reached at In September, the 6th release of the Irrlicht Engine SDK has been made, named version 0.4. Since this version, it is now possible to create high speed state-of-the-art 3d games and applications with it.

Irrlicht uses a quite different approach than most other 3d engines do. It tries to be fast, extensible and flexible, but the main aim is to be as easy to use as possible. In this context, it is for example possible to start up the engine, load a complete Quake 3 map, display it and let the user move within this map with only about 6 lines of code. But it is also very flexible, the programmer is able to change and influence almost everything in the engine although it is that easy to use. To see how this works, just take a look at the tutorials on the website.

To keep this text short, I'll list some main features of the engine for an overview:
  • Uses both OpenGL and/or Direct3D for rendering. In addition, there is a software renderer, and a null device.
  • It's platform independent. You'll only have to write your code once and it will run on all supported platforms, which currently are Windows and Linux.
  • It supports standard 3D special effects like stencil buffer shadows, particle systems, transparency, lightmaps, texture animation, realistic water, .
  • It does not need exporters. For increasing your development speed, the engine directy reads lots of common file formats like .bmp, .psd, .jpg, .tga, .3ds, .ms3d, .obj, .bsp, .zip, and .md2
  • Due to its flexible scene graph, complex things like mixed indoor and outdoor rendering is possible.
  • Detailed descriptions can be found on the engines homepage.

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