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I would like to build 3d applications that are targeted at old PCs for education. Which 3d engine do you recommend to use? What technology should I use or approach? I would like to avoid Unity3d or any other non-free frameworks, as this work I'm doing is voluntarily.

It's main idea is to make learning fun, using 3d simple gaming. The target PCs are old single cpu Pentium4, or maybe even p3 (:

Thank allot for helping.

updated the question ..

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closed as off-topic by Byte56 May 29 at 13:46

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I think that in order for this question to be remotely useful, you need to edit it with more detailed information on the specs of the machines you are thinking of, the kind of game you are thinking of, et cetera. –  Josh Petrie Oct 17 '11 at 16:02
    
"Budget" would be the top of my list of additional details needed, but yes. –  Tetrad Oct 17 '11 at 16:17
    
Some kind of info about the video cards on your target hardware would be useful here too. The key question is: is 3D acceleration going to be available, and - if so - to what extent? –  Darth Satan Oct 17 '11 at 17:21
    
As someone who's developed educational software before, this is a good question. It's hard to pinpoint just what the specs are, but in a general sense, one has to envision users who are running a 5 year old PC - and it was the cheap one at the time, not the high end one. –  Tim Holt Oct 17 '11 at 22:01

3 Answers 3

Check out the Unity engine. They've done a lot of work on making their tech work with a very wide range of hardware, and have nice tools like graphics emulation so you can see what an older machine would be drawing while on a newer machine. It's relatively cheap and has a really good workflow, so as long as you're not trying to squeeze all the performance you can out of an older machine it's hard to beat it's price/value ratio.

Fundamentally, though, if you're dealing with old PCs, you're going to be limiting yourself to something probably DX7 level or so. OpenGL drivers are notoriously bad, so I'd suggest going the DirectX route. You're probably not going to have pixel shaders (those came out with DX8/9 cards I think), so you need to do everything fixed function. Unity handles all of this for you.

Edit: You can download an use Unity free of charge, with certain restrictions. It doesn't play well with team development, but if you're doing small things by yourself then it's more than capable.

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There are many solutions. You have to make sure you know the following

  • What are your skills with programming languages?
  • What license is acceptable?
  • Which OS(s) do you target? (Unix, Linux, Windows, Mac OS...)
  • What 3D software will you use to create the assets?
  • How will you manage your assets?
  • What kind of interaction and environment do you want to create

You can answer a few of these questions while looking for an engine, but the more specific you are the more efficient you will be at choosing a 3D engine.

The SDL engine is a great fit usually if you keep a low polycount. http://www.libsdl.org/

If you need a first person perspective maybe a game engine will do? id Tech 3 Is well known and has support in its own community. I can attest it is good at running on "old hardware". ftp://ftp.idsoftware.com/idstuff/source/quake3-1.32b-source.zip

In the meantime Google and Wikipedia lists might be helpful.

Good luck.

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Thanks allot for answering , well c++ is my language . i know sdl but for its 2d engine and it is great! . i heard it can host opengl. but i dont understand way i need opengl with sdl. why not using opengl. but then again im looking for engine. to save me work. and what is this id tech 3? –  user3689 Oct 17 '11 at 19:50

You might check out Ogre3D (http://www.ogre3d.org/) as a starting point. Ogre3D isn't necessarily a full game development engine, but it is a solid 3D rendering system. There are various demos you can down

Also, check out http://www.ogre3d.org/tikiwiki/Projects+Using+OGRE where a number of game engines listed that use Ogre3D.

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its slow for old computers –  user3689 Oct 18 '11 at 5:01

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