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I got 2 questions, the 2nd is more some kind of opinion question.

1st question:

Everybody heard of panda3d, OGRE and IrrLicht: they are great engines, with a lot of features. With OGRE you can do almost anything imaginable if you just learn the engine, with Irrlicht you can do a lot, but the engine is a little more beginner-friendly and lightweight. Panda3D is also great, python eases things, but a lot of things are also doable.

Before the new age of programming brought by the evolution of C++, 3D games that needed to be run on slow machines were programmed in C, but since then, we everyday push the transistors to further limits, forgetting how horrible it was to program games in the "old time". Okay maybe it was not horrible, but since 3D programming is complicated doing 2D, and since most engines support shiny stuff like shaders, scene manager, scene nodes, NURBS, shadows, animations etc, isn't out there some simple 3D engine or renderer that would just fit to people who has enough with plain simple 3D, without textures or just really simple textures ?

Since I heard "don't reinvent the wheel", I'm sure it's a little too much to learn how to make a complete engine using D3D or opengl, and since I'll learn D3D this next in a 3D programming school, I thought that with all the free engines out there, there must be one that is fitting my need.

2nd question:

Since the good old days of the PlayStation, I still view the upcoming of hi definition graphics (like the 360, PS3) like a plague: It is always harder to learn how to program more sophisticated software, it is challenging and gives a satisfying result, but in the end, it is still a stupid program that renders pixels !

I feel the fun in games has either not evolved at all or just really dropped compared to the old days where the guys making the game were not needed to just feed the eye of the player, but were meant to give an experience and fun.

I feel that nowadays games are just software that shows the available technology, but except some pearls, games are not ideas anymore, they are just some kind of demonstration of how invested dollars can shine in beauty on the CEO who doesn't know shit about how a game is made and what is really possible to do.

Well except independents games of course which will shine one day or another thanks to the XBox Live and Steam, but it is far from allowing programmers and designers do what they want. I'm not saying "evil corporations" etc, but I sense that photo realism is just a bummer: even if we have thousands more computer power, what is the point to try: we can't really "simulate reality", since it contradicts the laws of physics... We could compute a alternative reality, but still it would very complicated to design...

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5  
There really should only be one question per, um, question. –  Tetrad Sep 22 '10 at 16:34
    
Try to make the question shorter and simpler. Also, I can't seem to find the question part of question 2, I just see a lot of opinions and statements. –  AttackingHobo Sep 22 '10 at 17:22
1  
question 1 tl;dr -> Looking for barebones, easy to use 3D engine without all the gimmicks thrown in. question 2 tl;dr (i think?) -> New games sacrifice fun for technology, don't you think? –  Deleter Sep 22 '10 at 21:37
    
I think your opinions would be fun to discuss in the gamedev chatroom. chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/rooms/73/game-development - it's not your traditional real-time chatroom; if nobody is there, leave a message and then come back later and read the replies. –  Ricket Sep 23 '10 at 12:47
    
duh. need 20 rep, but in meta.stackoverflow –  jokoon Sep 24 '10 at 21:43

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

On the OpenGL side, I think Horde3D is worth mentioning. It's maybe not so beginner-friendly since it doesn't offer many GUI tools like Unreal SDK does, but that makes it very lightweight. Most of all, I think it's great for learning.

Horde teaches you to be very organized with your code. It uses XML for data (meshes, shaders, scene graphs, etc) and C++ for control.

I like the fact that it's not a "game engine". It's a 3D rendering engine which handles culling, levels of detail, lightning, animation, etc, but leaves all program logic to you.

Like bummzack said, every engine out there will allow you to do basic polygon stuff. But since you're on a learning path, you might want to learn an engine that will also allow you to tackle more complex subjects in the future.

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To hell with UIs tools, I forgot to mention these are really not necessary, and often they either don't do their job as I would need or either eats engine's features to allows better editor features. Horde3d is still in beta but it seems to be what I'm looking for... –  jokoon Sep 23 '10 at 10:56

Well, I'll give this a shot.

In regards your first question, I wholeheartedly recommend SDL to you. It is not a scene graph engine, and all your graphics will be done with OpenGL, but it handles the essentials for you, such as creating a window, setting up the OpenGL context, receiving input and playing audio. I absolutely feel your pain when it comes to 3D engines, and I've found my study of OpenGL to be pretty interesting and challenging. I have personally moved to Java, using LWJGL (or JOGL if you prefer), because I enjoy the higher-level language and the use of applets, and Java similarly handles window creation, input, sound, etc. for you.

However, the fact that you will soon be learning DirectX might mean that you should focus on that. I don't know of any equivalent to SDL for DirectX, but I do believe DirectX nowadays has some helper functions which get you up and running pretty quickly. Unfortunately I really don't know much at all about DirectX so I can't talk about any specifics. But I do recommend you give it a try.

I'm sure it's a little too much to learn how to make a complete engine using D3D or opengl

Yes, it is too much. And I see it all the time. Don't make an engine; make a game. Don't get caught up in creating loads of classes with untested and unused code in them and call it a "library" or an "engine" because it's more likely just a "theoretical mess". Just do what you need to do to make a game.


Your second "question" is only an observation, and a depressing and (in my opinion) very wrong one at that. There are certainly bad games out there, graphics-heavy games with little gameplay. Movie games come to mind, since they're often the ones that aren't so great. But graphics and gameplay are not mutually exclusive. From reading your rant I almost wonder if you have played any games lately; there is a huge variety of choices out there and I'm sure there is something for you. But I don't see at all why nice graphics implies bad gameplay. And if you are completely against fancy graphics, there are still games out there for you. You could even go to eBay and purchase an old system and old games for dirt cheap.

The funny thing is, I would be willing to bet this opinion has existed for a really long time now, through the last several generations of consoles. I'm sure people looked at the Nintendo 64 when it came out and thought the same thing: great graphics (for its time) = bad gameplay. And there were good and bad N64 games. And then I know for a fact people were worrying about this sort of thing during the era of Gamecube and PS2 and Xbox. Heck, I sat back and watched as games for the Xbox did this exact thing. So there are always good games and bad games, and you need to just calm down, take a deep breath, and go find some games that appeal to you. There will always be games on either end of the spectrum; low-res games that you can't stop playing years later (CounterStrike 1.6 anyone?), and high-res games that are total flops.

And yes, there will always be more of the latter, because graphics are easier to crank out than good gameplay ideas. Their existence doesn't take away from the existence of the good games, or reduce their numbers. They just give designers more evidence of what not to do when designing their next game. Is that such a bad thing?

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Good answer and a great reply to the OPs second question/statement. –  bummzack Sep 22 '10 at 21:45
    
It's a good answer, but SDL is no more a 3D engine than the Win32 API is. –  Kylotan Sep 23 '10 at 10:14

If you don't want all the benefits (and bloat?) of a 3D Engine, why not use GLUT?

I think SceneManagers and the like actually add to the user-friendliness of a 3D Engine as opposed to making things more complicated.

You can do very basic rendering (no textures, no shaders) with all of the 3D Engines you mentioned. Some of them even have a modular (Plugin) architecture so that you can actually strip out all things you (currently) don't need.

IMHO there's no such thing as a beginner friendly 3D Engine or even a beginner-friendly framework/library. You'll always have to learn and get used to a software-package first. It seems to me like you're trying to skip that step :)

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(This is intented as a comment to bummzack's answer) Instead of using GLUT directly, I think GLFW might be more suited to games, since it also handles input and timing. –  jSepia Sep 22 '10 at 21:55
  1. a. SDL (Simple Direct Layer) Has a fairly simple and extensible 3D rendering engine which is open-source. However C++ is efficient it's a steep learning curve.

    b. sdlbasic is a small, efficient and multiplatform BASIC interpreter for creating games using the power of SDL library. It was inspired by the old and glorious AMOS. - it is in the Ubuntu repository and probably others as well.

    c. ?

  2. a. i agree with your sentiments although "casual gaming" like 2d puzzles, and easy going amusement games online and as collector packs seem to have acquired more real-estate in the gaming market than the hardware intensive kind simply due to the practical nature of a game with low system requirements. it would be good to see some more creativity in the lower substrates of the inventive 3d creations hemisphere of games world inc.

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