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Leadwerks is a powerful and easy-to-use game engine for building any kind of 3D game. With a rapid development pipeline, Lua script integration, plenty of learning materials, and a royalty-free license, Leadwerks is the perfect way to make 3D games that look and feel amazing. Get started today making your own 3D games for Steam.
Release Date: Jan 6, 2014
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Leadwerks Standard Edition Brings C++ Game Development to Steam

April 7th, 2014

Following the successful debut of Leadwerks Game Engine: Indie Edition on Steam, Leadwerks Software today announced the launch of Leadwerks Standard Edition. This DLC on Steam adds support for programming in modern C++11 with Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2013.

C++ is the game industry’s leading programming language, due in large part to its superior performance and flexibility. However, the language is sometimes considered to be too complicated for indie developers to take advantage of. Leadwerks solves this problem by focusing on a useful subset of the C++ language, and providing a simple command library that works the same in C++ and Lua. This makes C++ game development fast and easy to control.

Adding C++ support to Leadwerks Game Engine unlocks access to a massive amount of free third-party game libraries, which are typically written for C++. Indie game developers can include new libraries for physics, AI, and virtual reality into their Leadwerks projects without having to wait for the developers to add an official bridge. This lets indie developers take advantage of the newest technologies and provides a degree of control other languages can’t match.

Leadwerks is designed to make game development easy for Steam’s 75 million users. A new renderer built on OpenGL 4.0 provides advanced graphics at an affordable price. Built-in level design tools make map design easy for users who don’t happen to be expert artists. Game code can be written with Lua, an easy-to-learn script language, or modern C++11. Finally, the royalty-free license means game developers can publish commercial games and keep 100% of the profits, with no additional payments due, ever.

The Leadwerks Game Engine: Standard Edition DLC can be purchased on Steam for $99.

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Leadwerks Workshop on Steam launches beta

March 20th, 2014

Previously, I described the goals and philosophy that were guiding my design of our implementation of the Leadwerks Workshop on Steam. To review, the goals were:
1. Frictionless sharing of items within the community.
2. Protection of intellectual property rights.
3. Tracking of the chain-of-authorship and support for derivative works.

In this update I will talk more specifically about how our implementation meets these goals.

Our implementation of the Steam Workshop allows Leadwerks developers to publish game assets directly to Steam. A Workshop item is typically a pack of similar files, like a model or texture pack, rather than single files:

To add an item to Leadwerks, simply hit the "Subscribe" button in Steam and the item will become available in a new section of the asset browser:

You can drag Workshop files into your scene and use them, just like a regular file. However, the user never needs to worry about managing these files; All subscribed items are available in the editor, no matter what project you are working on. When a file is used in a map or applied to a model, a unique global ID for that file is saved, rather than a file path. This allows the item author to continue updating and improving the file without ever having to re-download files, extract zip archives, or any other mess. Effectively, we are bringing the convenience of Steam's updating system to our community, so that you can work together more effectively. Here's one of the tutorial maps using materials from a sci-fi texture pack from the Workshop. When the map is saved, the unique file IDs are stored so I can share the map with others.

Publishing your own Workshop packages is easy. A built-in dialog allows you to set a title, description, and a preview image. You can add additional images and even videos to your item in Steam:

Leadwerks even has support for derivative works. You can create a model, prefab, or map that uses another Workshop file and publish it to Steam. Since Leadwerks tracks the original ID of any Workshop items you used, they will always be pulled from the original source. This allows an entirely new level of content authors to add value to items downstream from their origin, in a way similar to how Linux distributions have grown and evolved. For example, maybe you don't have the artistic skill to make every single texture you need for a house, but you can put together a pretty nice house model and pant it with another user's textures. You can then upload that model right back to the Workshop, without "ripping off" the texture artist; their original package will still be needed to load the textures. It's perfectly fine to change the name of your Workshop package at any time, and you never need to worry about your file names conflicting with files in other packages. (If you decide you want to change a lot of file names, it's best to just create a new package so that you don't interrupt the work of users "downstream" from you,)

Uninstalling a Workshop package just requires you to hit the "unsubscribe" button on the item's page in the Steam Workshop. No more hunting around for stray zip files! You can easily check out other users' work, use whatever you like, and unsubscribe from the packages you don't like, with no mess at all.

How Do I Get It?
The Leadwerks Workshop beta begins today. You must be a member of the Leadwerks Developer group on Steam to access the Workshop. A limited number of beta invites are being sent out. Once the system is completely polished, we will make it available to the entire Leadwerks community.

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About the Software

Leadwerks is a powerful and easy-to-use game engine for building any kind of 3D game. With a rapid development pipeline, Lua script integration, plenty of learning materials, and a royalty-free license, Leadwerks is the perfect way to make 3D games that look and feel amazing. Get started today making your own 3D games for Steam.

Key Features

Learn to Make Your Own Royalty-Free Games
We provide tons of documentation and video tutorials walking you through the steps to build your own 3D games. Leadwerks is the perfect pathway to go from total noob to pro game developer. And when you do publish your commercial game, there's no royalties to pay, ever.

Advanced Graphics
Leadwerks brings AAA graphics to the masses, with hardware tessellation, geometry shaders, and a deferred renderer with up to 32x MSAA. Our renderer redefines realtime with image quality more like a cg render than real-time games of the past. The use of OpenGL 4.0 provides equivalent graphics to DirectX 11, with cross-platform support across operating systems, for future expansion.

Built-in Level Design Tools
Build game levels from scratch right in our editor with constructive solid geometry. Our tools make it easy to sketch out your design and bring your ideas to life. Anyone can build their own game worlds in Leadwerks, without having to be an expert artist.

Integrated Lua Script Editor
We integrated Lua right into Leadwerks because of its proven track records in hundreds of commercial games including Crysis, World of Warcraft, and Garry's Mod. Lua integrates seamlessly with native code for rapid prototyping and instant control. The built-in debugger lets you pause your game, step through code, and inspect every variable in the program in real-time. Lua is perfect for beginners, and the integrated Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler ensures your games will keep running fast as they grow.

Visual Flowgraph for Advanced Game Mechanics
Our unique visual flowgraph enables designers to set up game mechanics, build interactions, and design advanced scripted sequences, without touching a line of code. The flowgraph system integrates seamlessly with Lua script, allowing script programmers to expose their own functions and add new possibilities for gameplay.

Royalty-Free License
Your games you make are yours. Yours to play, yours to sell, yours to give away, and do as you please. You will never be charged royalties for any game you make in Leadwerks.


  • OpenGL 4.0 deferred renderer with uniform lighting model supports any number of lights, all casting soft dynamic shadows.
  • Up to 32x hardware MSAA makes rendered images incredibly sharp and detailed.
  • Full support for vertex, fragment, geometry, and tessellation shaders.
  • Dynamic megatexture terrain provides fast rendering of terrains with many layers.
  • Hierarchical hardware occlusion queries provides fast visibility testing.
  • Hardware tessellation for dynamic real surface displacement on the GPU.
  • Normal mapping with specular and cubemap reflections.
  • Instanced rendering allows fast drawing of large volumes of objects.
  • Hardware skinning provides fast skinned animation.
  • Deferred transparency with multiple overlapping layers of shading.
  • Real-time mesh modification.
  • Trilinear and up to 16x anisotropic filtering.
  • Blend and transition animation sequences.
  • Extract animation sequences in the editor.


  • Automatic asset management reloads models and textures when they are modified from another application.
  • Drag and drop import of FBX, DDS, BMP, JPG, PNG, TGA, and PSD files.
  • Visual interface controls every aspect of the art pipeline.
  • Constructive solid geometry modeling tools.
  • Brush primitives include box, wedge, cylinder, sphere, arch, tube, and torus.
  • Automatic UV mapping.
  • Brush smooth groups.
  • GPU-accelerated terrain editor makes sculpting silky smooth and fast.
  • Built-in shader editor with instant visualization and error highlighting.
  • Native user interface is used on each supported platform.


  • Built-in Lua script editor with debugger, code stepping, and syntax highlighting.
  • Visual flowgraph lets you connect objects to control game interactions and set up scripted sequences.
  • Launch your game and debug the Lua virtual machine as it runs.
  • API design with an object-oriented command set lets you code any type of game.
  • Entity scripts provide a per-object hook interface.
  • Direct programming gives you control over your game's loop and program structure.
  • Script variables are displayed in a visual interface and reloaded in real-time.


  • Navmesh pathfinding provides automatic AI navigation that works everywhere.
  • Navigation paths are displayed in the editor in real-time as you build your game level.
  • Character controller movement seamlessly integrated with physics and pathfinding systems.
  • Set entities to automatically chase another object or navigate to a position.


  • Fast and accurate rigid body physics.
  • Constraints including hinge, ball, and sliding joints.
  • Joint actuators provide fast and stable motorized constraints for doors, robotic arms, and other motion.
  • Automatic physics shape calculation.
  • Generate physics shapes in the editor from models or brushes.
  • Swept collision.
  • Raycasting with lines or spheres.


  • Real-time particle editor with instant visualization.
  • Emission volumes include box, sphere, cylinder, tube, and cone.
  • Adjustable curve graph for alpha and scale.
  • Particle animation sheets with adjustable frame counts and layout.
  • Velocity-based rotation for directional particles like sparks.


  • 3D sound spatialization.
  • Emit a sound from any entity.
  • Automatic channel management frees up unneeded channels.
  • Skip to any time in sound.

Enhanced for Steam

  • Automatically adds rendered images to your Steam screenshots library.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows Vista, 7, 8, or 8.1
    • Processor: 2.0 ghz dual core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 4.0 / DirectX 11 capable graphics card or integrated graphics chip
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
Helpful customer reviews
72 of 81 people (89%) found this review helpful
639 products in account
8 reviews
50.7 hrs on record
Ok here is what I think of the engine

- It is really easy to use once you get the hang of it
- Is a good start for newbies to mess around with
- Cheap royalty free engine (This is hard to come by now)
- Lua is a simple language to start out since it's a scripting language and the engine has a built-in IDE.
- Very easy to build basic maps without any modeling skills
- Come with a few simple scripts for doing simple tasks (Doors, Platforms, Character Controller, Etc)
- Easy to use lighting
- Supports OpenGL 4.0 (Same as Directx 11)
- Steam Controller Support
- Steam Workshop (In beta)
- Option to upgrade to C++ Version (Used C++11 and works with VS2013)

- No built-in protection for assets when compiling
- No native network support built-in (You can use Raknet)
- No vegetation painting system in Terrain Editor (Only Ground)
- Limited support and documentation (It's growing and has good starter videos)
- Doesn't support older version of OpenGL (Give it a few more years and it won't matter anyways)
- No Demo (They said they are working on this)
- No Real Roadmap (It's always nice to know what they are working on)
- Needs more announcements on whats going on with the development of the engine.
- No Mobile Support (I'm sure in time)

Like any engine starting out I'm sure it will have it's ups and downs. Some of you are asking, is this worth it? Well that depends on what you want to do with the engine. They give you a blank slate to work with and you start building. You can build any type of game you want but it will require some effort to do so.

Q: Can I sell the game I make?
A: That is a big Yes

Q: Is it fun to play around with even if I have never built a game before?
A: I'd say yes

Q: Can I build any game I want?
A: Sure

Q: This or Unity or Another Engine?
A: Well I'm sure some of the other engine has more features but they do come with a price and not royalty free. If you want to be cheap then this is a good engine. New features are being added every few months.

Q: Can you model inside the engine?
A: We it's not a modeling tool but you can place primitive shapes and texture them. (like a wall or floor)

Q: Do I have to code?
A: Well yes, if you want to do anything besides walk around then you'll need to know Lua or C++ if you have the upgrade version.

Q: What type of models can I import?
A: FBX file type

Q: Does the engine come with some Assets?
A: A few but you'll need to provide most of the stuff for your game.

Q: Can I run this if my video card doesn't support OpenGL 4.0?
A: No, Check your support OpenGL version with this http://www.ozone3d.net/gpu_caps_viewer/
Posted: January 8th, 2014
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98 of 126 people (78%) found this review helpful
252 products in account
1 review
19.5 hrs on record
As a previous user of Leadwerks 2 I have to say that it was the easiest 3D game engine I came across and the community is awesome. I have long awaited Leadwerks 3.1 and find myself right at home in no time at all!

The ability to make entire games with Lua alone is incredible, I have done this with a 2d engine in the past and scripting with Lua is the way to go in my humble opinion.
Posted: January 6th, 2014
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77 of 105 people (73%) found this review helpful
26 products in account
1 review
8.3 hrs on record
Should have done my due diligence, expected there would at least be a simple water function. There is not, among other things but that's one of the biggies. As the indie edition currently stands, you're not going to be making much of a game that you couldn't make with Unity's free version. Perhaps it's something that's coming, but all the documentation I see says additional features will be charged for. I hope I'm just misunderstanding and impatient.

Edit* Having spoken with Josh, the current release was brought out in time to meet deadline, minus the mentioned items. However they are being worked on to be updated. I've liked everything else about the engine, so I'll wait for the update top see what else I can get into. Until said update, I will be changing my recommend to a yes pending further review. And my thanks to Josh for a quick reply to my concerns (that gets an "A")
Posted: January 7th, 2014
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33 of 42 people (79%) found this review helpful
78 products in account
1 review
0.3 hrs on record
Update after full 3.1 release.
This is one man shop. There is absoulte no roadmap and no guarantee that platforms will be suported in next release. For example the mobile was discontinued just 2 days before the kickstarter rewards have been offered, while one of the rewards was suposed to be android.

If you want some toy to try game development go for it, it have an easy API.
If you have serious plans with years of heaving your game in the market go with something profesional - Unity or UE4. Yes you will have to pay more but you will have vendor suport. This is one of the cases where you get what you pay for.
Posted: January 9th, 2014
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22 of 31 people (71%) found this review helpful
30 products in account
1 review
20.7 hrs on record
Leadwerks advertising caught me at the right time, I was seeking an alternative to Unity that included features that shouldn't be excluded in this day and age, and I wasn't about to pay $1500 for the them.

As an individual hobbyist, the price was right, the advert promised to turn players into to gamers! And I have absolutely no doubt it could... that is if you've created games in LUA before. This is definitely not an engine for beginners, it's an advanced engine for individuals who are well versed in LUA game development.
The severe lack of progressive tutorials for new users is unacceptable and even though the community maybe helpful most times, they expect you as a newcomer to know exactly what they're speaking of... And even though most are right when they state you should learn LUA, the implementation of the language isn't 1:1 with Leadwerks, which led me to frustration and confusion. As an artist first, the lack of LUA/Leadwerks tutorials working together becomes very very demotivating to someone such as myself.

Aside from that, the features aren't there yet (for example an integrated HUD creator) and if you're not making another FPS then you may become quickly frustrated as I have.

At this point, I don't have buyers remorse, but I am really upset at myself because I was unfortunately swept away by the advertising which led me to not doing full due diligence as I usually do on any product I buy.

I will hold onto the engine as I really have hopes for it maturing, but at this point it's off my list until the next update and some time has passed to allow for documentation to be created.
Posted: January 25th, 2014
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