Open source games engines

Posted on 2008-10-01
Last Modified: 2013-11-05
I am looking for some background information and hoping someone on here can help. I am trying to decide whether to hire my own team to build a game or to outsource to a games development company. I am on a tight budget and timelines so it comes down to whether a games development company will be able to offer accelerated development times as a result of using their own proprietary games engine or if there are numerous open source engines out there or if indeed a games engine is even required.

The game is basically a racing simulation (but with a twist, obviously). It is for PC or perhaps Linux with fairly tight limitations on the hardware. Ideally it should use an integrated graphics card but if the performance and look of the game is massively affected by this then we could include an independant graphics card.

Is this enough information to help me understand whether i should recruit or outsource? I have a lot of experience in running software development teams, so would just be looking at getting in developers and designers if i were to build internally.

Any thoughts, pointers or information about the advantages/disadvantages of running my own team would be gratefully received. In terms of game quality think PS2++ as a mimimum.

Question by:lz7cjc
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 22617808
Your first paragraph has many questions...

1) Most teams that have a proprietary engine also know that engine very well. They should certainly be able to get up and running quicker than a team that's picking up an engine for the first time.

2) There are numerous 3d graphics engines that are open source.

3) A game engine is an all encompassing term.   It differs from a straight 3d graphics engine in that it usually is more of an application framework.  It offers support not only for rendering polygons, but also for content management, sound, music, collision detection, collision response, user input, network traffic, etc.

Most integrated graphics cards are minimal rendering devices, with about the graphics performance of a PS2.
Their biggest drawback is that you share the 3D raster memory with the video being used by the windows frame buffer.  Generally, they're not acceptable for any "modern" game, but the look and feel of your art will determine if it's acceptable to you or not.

But, generally, the biggest issue you'll run into with your own team, really isn't the "game engine".  It's the content creation pipeline.   This is the portion of the project that, if you have a non-optimal process, will cost you money and time.

Hope this helps,


Author Comment

ID: 22622400
Hi Jon
hmmmm that is v interesting but I still have one overriding question which you might not be able to answer but you might possibly be able to give me some insight into?

I have already created a prototype which was done through a games development company. I now want to build the production version. As far as I know there is a requirement for a complete rebuild so if I am going to build up my own development team now is the time to do it; but i am wary of biting off more than i can chew. I have project managed web development teams for over a decade and in my world i would never go to a digital agency to build a website; i'd recruit the relevant individuals and do the work for half the price.

I guess my question is, can i do the same in games development or is there an X Factor attached to game development which means I am better off going through a dedicated company?

LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 22628992
There's not a hidden 'X-factor' to game developers... other than they need to be skilled in the tools you're asking them to use.

Why do you have a requirement for a complete rebuild?  Is that a contractural requirement?

And, you haven't discussed art, music, sound effects... do you have all that handled?

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Author Comment

ID: 22632174
i see it all as part of the same team - so recruit designers, programmers, musicians etc on a need to build basis.

Complete rebuild? Just an assumption as the prototype is not stable enough and there are a number of features that need changing or to be introduced. I have a license for the compiled code but not the source so I assumed that a rebuild was the best starting point.

So it sounds like my risk is getting the right team together but if I were to identify a good team lead/project manager then that risk is mitigated and we could feasibly go with the cheaper option? Is it fair to say there are no major barriers along the lines of a need for proprietary games engines/development environments that would wipe out any savings?

LVL 11

Accepted Solution

jgordos earned 500 total points
ID: 22638915
if you don't have the source code or a license to the source code, then yes, it sounds like you need a rebuild.

A good lead/PM is only going to get you so far... I think you'll need at least 3... a good lead engineer, a good lead artist and a good lead project manager

I don't think you need proprietary, per se, but you do need complete.  Ideally, one that has all the mundane stuff like collision detection and response, animation systems, IK, etc.

That's more than a 3d renderer... but it doesn't have to be proprietary.


Author Comment

ID: 22667608
thanks John
Sorry i didn't see that you had replied - hence the delay. I guess I don't have too many more questions for now - but it gives me food for thought.

Thanks for your help.


Author Comment

ID: 22719659
i am sorry - i was sure i had accepted an answer on this
will do it now

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