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I've experimented a bit with the Ogre (http://www.ogre3d.org) and Irrlicht (http://irrlicht.sourceforge.net) engines, both of which are open source and are trying to fill similar niches. From what I've seen so far they're both well-written and easy to use.

I could use an informed compare-and-contrast of the strong and weak points of those two game engines and the engine-specific challenges related to going from start to released product. I'm interested in anything from asset management to configuration tools to audio/network/videoplayback framework integration to rendering/polygon constraints.

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3 Answers

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Ogre3D and Irrlicht are both rendering engines. As such they will not help you with audio, networking etc. There are other engines for sound and networking such as OpenAL, FMOD, Irrklang, RakNet that you will have to integrate (or use a framework that is already wraps up the engines).

As for the compare-contrast, this has been asked many many times and instead of repeating them I will refer you to the following links

  1. http://www.devmaster.net/forums/showthread.php?t=9561#10
  2. http://www.nuclex.org/blog/2-gamedev/24-seven-engines-you-should-know
  3. http://www.blitzbasic.co.nz/Community/posts.php?topic=73978
  4. http://www.ogre3d.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=33791

When I started I wasted quite a bit of time asking the same question and reached no conclusion. If engine A has a weak point discussed in one thread, in another, Engine B will have the same weak point. It is all based on opinion.

However, there are some differences that are repeated, such as Irrlicht running faster on older hardware as it does not utilize modern techniques whereas Ogre3D is optimized for the latest hardware.

I personally chose Ogre3D after spending a few days trying both engines through their shipped examples and trying out various tutorials of both the engines. I chose Ogre3D based on my constraints and personal preference, I highly suggest you do the same instead of relying on conclusions based on other people's opinion.

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Both engines are going to provide you with some challenges. Mainly, because learning/using a new engine is a challenge.

I have only used Ogre so far, so I might be biased. Since Ogre is purely a rendering engine, you'll have to look for third party libs to cover audio, video and networking. You won't have problems integrating these things though, since lots of other people have done so also.

When comparing similar engines like this, I'd pay attention to the following:

  • How good is the documentation?
  • Is there an active community where I can ask specific questions?
  • Does the coding-style and the philosophy of the engine match my preferences?
  • Is the engine open-source or at least easily extendable? If its a commercial product, can I get custom extensions for it (if yes, what are they going to cost?)
  • Has the engine/lib been used in commercial products or mature open source projects?
  • What's the update interval of the software? How many developers are actively involved in the project?

You might also consider comparing the metrics on a site like ohloh.net, eg. Irrlicht on ohloh and Ogre on ohloh

Some of the above points might be less or more relevant to the decision you have to make. Then stick to the engine that matches your needs as closely as possible. If both engines are a viable option, throw a coin :)

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Thank you for the ohloh links -- good way to get some project meta info. –  Jason Champion Nov 19 '10 at 17:30
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I have made a wrapper that lets me swap between both. Ogre: * runs a bit faster with large numbers of draw calls so I usually use Ogre. Irrlicht is: * far, far more portable (less dependencies) so great for multi-platform * has better debugging tools (menus and things); Ogre basically has no graphical debugging.

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Good info, thank you. –  Jason Champion Nov 19 '10 at 17:30
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