It might be outside the domain of open source (as there isn't much in the way of open source games that would want/need to implement all these) but is there an existing open source game or rendering engine capable of things such as :

  • day/night cycles
  • dynamic weather wind/rain/clouds/etc
  • wet surfaces (surfaces look wet during rain)
  • realistic water
  • large terrains with the ability to define "roads"
  • seamless exterior and interior
  • forests (lots of trees, clutter, etc)
  • realistic lighting (ie. light from a fire/candle flickers)

if game engine :

  • integrated physics
  • support for vehicles
  • ai
  • multiplayer/network capable.. maybe mmo
  • voice recognition
  • etc

3 Answers 3


If you're looking for a rendering engine that does all of that first list right out of the box, I don't think you'll find a whole lot. Stuff like fancy lighting shaders and day/night stuff are very game/simulation specific, and most rendering engines either won't have that sort of thing built in, or the built in implementation won't meet your specific needs.

I use Ogre3D, which I wholeheartedly recommend:

open source

Ogre is open source, under the MIT license.

day/night cycles

Nothing built in, though there are a few extensions that do this sort of thing (Caelum comes to mind).

dynamic weather wind/rain/clouds/etc

Again, nothing out of the box, but there are a number of extensions that do something like this (again, Caelum, and also SkyX).

wet surfaces (surfaces look wet during rain)

You'll have to write a shader for it, but it is possible (I have achieved such an effect in the past with Ogre).

realistic water

There is a plugin or two for this (Hydrax is rather pretty), and the 'Fresnel' SDK sample shows off a simple refraction/reflection water shader (and there's another sample or two devoted to water effects).

large terrains with the ability to define "roads"

No roads, but Ogre recently got a new terrain system that is very nice.

seamless exterior and interior

Ogre has a few different plugins for portal connected zones, BSP's etc, so it should support whatever you need.

forests (lots of trees, clutter, etc)**

Ogre has some batching capabilities built in, and the Paged Geometry addon is supposedly quite nice.

realistic lighting (ie. light from a fire/candle flickers)**

Aside from some example shaders included with the samples there aren't any built-in lighting shaders, but the material/shader system makes it very easy to get a lighting shader up and running.

Overall, Ogre is capable of all of that, and has a very robust material/shader system, but you will have to write the shaders for a lot of the effects yourself (and this is true of most other rendering engines, you can't really make one-size-fits-all solutions for a lot of these effects).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I was looking at ogre thinking it seemed like a good option. I hadn't got as far as some of those plugins yet. Thanks for the links. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 4:24

DevMaster maintains a comprehensive list of engines and features:


Most engines will not offer day/night cycles as there is always a time in the cycle where the map is poorly lit and looks bad (just like real life) - usually an unnecessary feature for games.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I understand what your saying about the day/night cycles.. but I have a different take. I think that even first person shooters could add a day/night cycle element to add to the challenge, giving the chance for attempted stealth as well as your standard brightly lit environments as long as it has been well balanced. It is almost a 'must have' for role playing style games however. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 4:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The engine overview at devmaster should be used for seeing what engines are out there only. Don't trust the overall rating or the feature list. Mostly fanboys and fangirls and some very clueless people rate the engines. Balanced reviews by knowledgeable people are rare. And the feature list is hard to compare, mostly irrelevant buzzwords and features are listed only as there/absent. Even though there is a lot of gray in between. Take it with a pinch of salt. \$\endgroup\$
    – haffax
    Commented Aug 16, 2010 at 22:23

This may be slightly off topic, but I'd suggest thinking very carefully about whether you really need day/night cycles for your project.

By supporting that feature, you're essentially saying 'no baked-in lighting/shadows allowed', which will make it much more challenging to get pretty results, whichever engine you choose.

A lot of people were recently wowed by the Epic Citadel iPhone/iPad demo. Technically, it's not doing anything incredible - it's a combination of good art and nicely baked-in lighting.


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