Leadwerks is the easiest way to make 3D games. Learn everything you need with our comprehensive tutorials. Build games with the world's most intuitive game development system. Publish to Steam Workshop and show your game off to the world.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (142 reviews) - 72% of the 142 user reviews for this software are positive.
Release Date: Jan 6, 2014

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Buy Leadwerks Game Engine: Indie Edition

Buy Leadwerks Game Engine: Indie Edition - 4-Pack

Includes four copies of Leadwerks Game Engine - Send the extra copies to your friends!


Recent updates View all (39)

October 8

Halloween Game Tournament

Fall is in the air, which means evil spirits, good beer, and the annual Leadwerks Halloween Game Tournament.

WHEN: The tournament will start Thursday, October 8, and end Thursday, November 5th at 11:59 P.M. (Pacific Standard Time).

HOW TO PARTICIPATE: Publish your Halloween-or-other-themed game to Steam Workshop or upload it to the games database before the deadline. You can work as a team or individually. Use blogs to share your work and get feedback as you build your game. If you need models for your game, check out the Halloween Model Pack, and Graveyard Props, both available for free in the Leadwerks Workshop. And there's a Zombie Pack DLC available if you need it.

PRIZES: Rather than a competition, this tournamant is a "co-opetition". Everyone who participates gets a prize!

If this is your first game tournament entry, you will receive a cool Leadwerks sticker in the mail.

If this is your second game tournament entry, you'll receive a rockin' Leadwerks T-shirt in the mail.

If this is your third game tournament entry, you'll receive a collection of three limited-edition professionally printed postcards featuring beautiful Leadwerks screenshots. Send them to a friend or put them on the wall. (Pictures coming soon!)

Entries will be reviewed Friday, November 6th. See the official forum thread for more information and discussion.

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August 24

Leadwerks Game Launcher Released on Steam

Leadwerks Game Launcher lets you play a variety of creative, experimental, and just plain wacky mini-games made with Leadwerks Game Engine. Fly a spaceship through an asteroid field, play a round of miniature golf, or ride a lawn mower while dodging killer cows. It's free and there's a constant supply of new things to try.
With Steam Workshop integration, you can talk directly to the developers and give your feedback for new ideas to be incorporated into their games. Start a discussion and let the devs know what you liked about their game, what can be improved, and any new ideas you have to add to their game. Your feedback will help them design their game and create something new and unique for the Steam community to enjoy.

For developers, Leadwerks Game Launcher provides a much needed incubator for game ideas. Get feedback from players and start building a fanbase so you can rev up momentum for Kickstarter or Greenlight. Leadwerks Game Launcher allows anyone on Steam to play your game instantly, with no zip files, installers, or plugins.

Leadwerks Game Launcher is available now as an Early Access title free on Steam.


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About This Software

Leadwerks is the easiest way to make 3D games. Learn everything you need with our comprehensve tutorials. Build games with the world's most intuitive game development system. Publish to Steam Workshop and show your game off to the world with Leadwerks Game Launcher (now in beta).

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 makes AAA graphics achievable 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. (Please note that C++ programming support requires the Standard Edition DLC.)

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. And because we only rely on free open-source middleware libraries, you never have to worry about purchasing expensive licenses from third parties.

Free Self-Publishing to Steam Workshop (beta)
Leadwerks Game Launcher is a new way to distribute games. You can publish your Lua-based games from Leadwerks Editor, then send a link to your friends to play without installers, plugins, or zip files. Use this to get your game in front of players and build a following. (Does not support Workshop publishing of C++ games.)

Steam Features

  • Download and publish game content with Steam Workshop.
  • Publish your Lua game to the Workshop for other users to play.
  • Publish image renders and YouTube videos directly to Steam from the editor.
  • Built-in Steamworks support makes your game ready to publish to Steam.


  • 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.
  • 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.

System Requirements

SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, or 10
    • Processor: 2.0 ghz dual core
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia, AMD, or Intel OpenGL 4.0 / DirectX 11 graphics.
    • DirectX: Version 11
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Non-English characters including Cyrillic in the user path are not supported.
    • OS: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS 64-bit
    • Processor: 2.0 ghz dual core 64-bit
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia or AMD OpenGL 4.0 graphics card with proprietary drivers
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Intel graphics drivers do not presently support OpenGL 4.0 on Linux. Non-English characters including Cyrillic in the user path are not supported.
    • Graphics: Nvidia graphics card is recommended on Linux.
Helpful customer reviews
32 of 41 people (78%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
55.8 hrs on record
Posted: April 17
This is a pretty good package overall, but I'm going to say it's not for everyone. I'm a professional programmer with 20+ years, about 4 in the games industry. This is from a single programmer's perspective.

* Streamlined. For a programmer who wants to work on gameplay design and development, most of the nitty gritty boring stuff is handled. Map format (level editor), resource loading/handling, 3d animation, robust OpenGL renderer, sound, integrated scripting are all here. You can really just focus on your designs. These boring, but core, features probably murder most upstarts.
* Not a game maker. This isn't generic, confining, game maker software forcing you to work within the boundaries it provides. It's literally a toolbox/API full of the basic necessities you'll need to upstart a game project.
* C++ add-on (Standard Edition DLC). Having this allows you to integrate anything into your project. It's mandatory in my opinion, but even so, it's a bargain at $99 (Indie Edition)+$99 (Standard DLC). I got both my packages on sale I think, so I basically paid $100 for the whole engine, which is asinine for the time it saves me for projects.
* Solid Level Editor. Remember, this is not game making software. The editor works more like a level-editor for popular game engines, and it's pretty sleek. There's a few quirks with it, but it's production quality overall.

Meh (not a pro, not a con):
* Small Developer. This is a mixed bag. On one hand, the guy is pretty active and pretty responsive, and quite professional (in my experience). However, for features and bugs, it can take a while for things to get addressed. The software is pretty solid overall, but there's a few issues that have hung around without fixing yet and are kind of annoying.
* Documentation. This could be better, but it works. I've found a few instances where somethings are missing/not explained, but overall, it's not too bad. The API docs are actually really good, I think. Examples are sparse, though, which is why I bring it up, and why I put it here. Can say pro just because of the API docs, can't say con just because examples are not very present. Which brings me to...
* Community. Again, mixed feelings here. I love there's lots of writeups and youtube videos showing examples (that aren't present in the official docs). So it's kind of a community-based learning scenario. There's some really cool regulars that are very knowledgable and helpful. On the other hand, there's a handful of dimwits on the boards that seem to just troll/bash. I don't know if the developer just has enemies but there oft times seems to be a lynch squad out to prove how bad the engine is, and they want you to know it. It's distracting, and shouldn't be tolerated, yet in the limited time I've spent interacting on the boards, it's fairly persistant. Community would be a pro if there was a more established administration of the official boards. Otherwise, the community is just quite small and getting answers to questions can be very hit or miss (where the aforementioned docs are lacking).

* Bugs and/or the "LE" way. This is not glitchy software by any means. My main gripes presently are the physics act weird out of the box (can be replaced with C++ edition or tweaking). Also, the model importer for complex texturing and animation key framing is rather particular. You will need to fuss with things outside the editor and implement a lot of 3rd party utilities, like FBX exporter, add-ons for blender, etc. Not very many "free" or testing models you download online will simply work, you'll have to tinker. There's kind of an "LE" way of doing modelling (to a minor degree). Once you learn this stuff it's not a big deal, but it sure can lead to hair pulling sessions.
* Features. Some basic features that should be present aren't yet (decals, for example). These are on the horizon, but sometimes I fear version 4 (more $$$) will come before we see things like decals, which honestly, should have existed at release.

Bottomline: If you or someone on your team is experienced in programming, this is a really good deal for a startup project. Most everything you need is here, and anything else you can add-on with a little bit of work. It's not a game maker, so if you are not a programmer (in any fashion), do not expect to drag and drop your way to a feature title. That's just not what this product is. It's more like an advanced programmer's toolbox. It is what I'd say "frontier" software, meaning, not everything is obvious and you will need to think on your feet for some things.

For some reviewers who say the engine doesn't "look" good, please keep in mind, it only looks as good as your art. It's otherwise a really solid rendering/toolbox/API that takes out gritty, boring details game projects require, allowing you to focus on content creation. You will need to adapt to some of it's quirks, but so far, those only seem to be with a few subsystems. Once learned though, most of that is an afterthought.

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13 of 14 people (93%) found this review helpful
310.4 hrs on record
Posted: August 15
Leadwerks is a very intuitive and unique mid-scale game engine. With a certain investment of effort, I made things I had no idea how to do with other engines.

What's even better, I discovered and learned so many things related to computer graphics by simply using the LE (Leadwerks). That said, the main strength of LE lies probably in its use of industry standard technologies: OpenGL + GLSL for CG, and c++ and Lua for programming.

A nice thing about Leadwerks is that you can use it as a regular API and totally ignore the editor, which is, btw. quite decent and has a great CSG brushes support. A big plus (and a necessity for me) is a complete transparency of a program flow: in LE, you start from the main function (in the case of C++ - a standard edition) or from Main.lua file that gets invoked from the main c++ function (an indie edition).

Now, despite its claims, it's not meant for utter beginners. Nevertheless, it's easier to use and has a less steep learning curve than other engines, such as Unity, Unreal, etc. However, you'll have to invest some time in learning programming and a minimum of linear algebra (matrices, vectors and similar) to be able to develop any 3D game. Also, you won't find an asset store (there is a very basic user workshop sharing space). And while the engine does the heavy lifting (OpenGL, input, physics etc.), you will have to implement most of the things related to game logic yourself (there are some prepackaged useful script for FPS character, for example).

The downside of the engine lies in the fact that it's developed and maintained by a single developer. He works very hard and responds regularly to LE users, which is quite nice and respectful. However, I have an impression that a mid-scale engine, such as LE, demands a lot more work than a single person can deliver.
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23 of 37 people (62%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
377.7 hrs on record
Posted: April 22
What can I say about Leadworks other than it's probably the best engine to get started using games with...

Firstly, the price, I got it myself for around 30€ and it was the best 30€ I've ever spent. Really, you can't go wrong with such a good engine for that amount of money...

The documentations is really good as well. It's missing some command documentations, like the recently implomented cars and such, but other than that, it's really good.

Even if you can't find a command of what you want to do, the community is always really helpful and nice with coming up with a solution on how to do things.

AMD also recently released an update to fix all issues with AMD cards! So now you don't need to downgrade drivers or worry about your users having the wrong driver versions...

Also really nice to have an editor on Linux.

The only real problem is that it both uses Lua and C++, which makes it kinda annoying to look for tutorials when there are 2 programming languages, they should have just sticked to one imo...
The Steamworks SDK is also only for C++... Steamworks works in Lua though.

Not really a problem, but all music files need to be in .WAV format, which makes it sound really nice, but uses up so much space! I would be very happy if they added .OGG support or something like that.

I would just say, if you want to learn how to make games, get it! It's really nice to work with, just expect to do a whole lot of coding, since you are really only using the GUI stuff for making levels... It's not so bad though, since I didn't know anything about lua when I started using it, but now I know a whole lot about it.
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
631.3 hrs on record
Posted: August 27
I have 'finally' choosed this software for a number of reasons.

Its the most easy way to actually get something done and still have full control of the details. The editor is leightweighted and quite capable with easy 'drag and drop' import of models, sounds and images. You can add behaviour to any object using LUA scripts which is a very fast way to write code and almost instantly see the result. If you need even more power you can mix LUA and C++.

The API is one of the most easy to understand and control I have ever seen. You can even design code parts using a visuak Flowgraph editor. The visuals are great and getting better and better each month, much because the shader system. Another thing that's absolutely great is the Workshop system where you can import models from the Steam Workshop directly inside the editor. The support for publishing games are there also and works together with the new GameLauncher here on steam.

I higly recommend this engine, no matter if you are a newbie or a more experienced developer
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35 of 64 people (55%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 12
This doesn't even launch with videocards that do not support OpenGL 4.0. For what reason do this need a GL4 if all examples look like games from 2004 ? I can run and develop games using free engines like Unreal Engine 4 or Unity 5 on my nVidia GeForce 8800 GT but I can't run this engine's editor.
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A developer has responded on Jun 13 @ 8:41am
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