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I am studying computer graphics since 3 semesters and we just started with OpenGL. I really enjoy it and want to create my own little engine for learning purposes.

I already read tons of different forum posts and saw the following engines. Panda3d, Ogre3d, NeoAxis, Irrlicht and Horde3d(graphics only).

Now I don't want to use something like Unity or CryEngine because I want to start more low level.

Which of those engines is suited for real-time rendering? Something that CryEngine offers -> no baked lightmaps.

Or at least gives me the option to add a real-time renderer?

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This is a "which technology to use" question. Please read the FAQ to learn what kinds of questions to ask here. This question is better suited for a individual discussion oriented site, like or, where you can discuss your personal requirements for the project you're working on. – Byte56 Dec 9 '12 at 16:01

All of the engines you've listed are or already contain real-time renderers, because that is what a game engine must contain, by definition. A game must run at a framerate of at least 24 frames per second (for the perception of smooth motion), and for more intense, action filled games, that framerate requirement goes up to 60. Those framerates are synonymous with real-time.

The alternative to real-time is offline rendering, in which frames may take anywhere from one second to hours to render, and are recorded and then played back at a real-time rate. This is not suitable for games because of the need for interactivity.

If you are really interested in starting low-level and creating a small engine, then you would want to start with OpenGL. Trying to add features to already hefty engines like Panda3D can be difficult without a solid background in game engine architecture. That said, though, I would still recommend starting higher-level, with something like Unity, simply to familiarize yourself with already existing engines, and to help formulate ideas for the architecture and functionality of your own engine you'd like to create.

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Well.. there are types of games which commonly use pre-rendered graphics, with their "real-time rendering" consisting solely of drawing those pre-rendered graphics to the screen. And if you want to get into the really interesting rendering techniques, the original version of The Sentinel performed a single panoramic 3D render after each move, and the real-time "looking around" portion of gameplay was actually just panning around on that render. But yeah, modern game engines will all provide real-time rendering. – Trevor Powell Dec 9 '12 at 6:55
I meat more something like realtime global illumination, realtime reflections , dynamic lightning -> no need of baking lightmaps. – Maik Klein Dec 9 '12 at 13:01
@MaikKlein There is a reason why global illumination is done via offline rendering... If you decide to embark on making it real-time, I can say with certainty that your project will be much more complex than a "little engine." Game engines take shortcuts like baked lightmaps for specific reasons. – ktodisco Dec 9 '12 at 19:01

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