Leadwerks Game Engine is the easiest way to make 3D games and VR experiences. Learn everything you need with our comprehensive tutorials. Build games with the world's most intuitive game development system. Publish to Steam Workshop or as a standalone and share your game with the world.
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Mostly Positive (250) - 72% of the 250 user reviews for this software are positive.
Release Date:
Jan 6, 2014
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Recent updates View all (91)

December 1

Leadwerks Game Engine 4.6 Beta Now Available

A new build is available on the beta branch. This changes the model picking system to use a different raycasting implementation under-the-hood. Sphere picking (using a radius) will also now correctly return the first hit triangle. You will also notice much faster loading times when you load up a detailed model in the editor!

Additional parameters have been added to the Joint::SetSpring command:
void Joint::SetSpring(const float spring, const float relaxation = 1.0f, const float damper = 0.1f)

The classes for P2P networking, lobbies, and voice communication have been added but are not yet documented and may still change.

You can opt into the beta by selecting the "Beta" branch in the application properties in Steam.
4 comments Read more

September 6

Leadwerks Software to Provide VR Services to NASA



Leadwerks 3.0 was released during GDC 2013. I gave a talk on graphics optimization and also had a booth at the expo. Something else significant happened that week.  After the expo closed I walked over to the Oculus booth and they let me try out the first Rift prototype.

This was a pivotal time both for us and for the entire game industry. Mobile was on the downswing but there were new technologies emerging that I wanted to take advantage of. Our Kickstarter campaign for Linux support was very successful, reaching over 200% of its goal. This coincided with a successful Greenlight campaign to bring Leadwerks Game Engine to Steam in the newly-launched software section. The following month Valve announced the development of SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system for the Steam Machine game consoles. Because of our work in Linux and our placement in Steam, I was fortunate enough to be in close contact with much of the staff at Valve Software.

The Early Days of VR
It was during one of my visits to Valve HQ that I was able to try out a prototype of the technology that would go on to become the HTC Vive. In September of 2014 I bought an Oculus Rift DK2 and first started working with VR in Leadwerks. So VR has been something I have worked on in the background for a long time, but I was looking for the right opportunity to really put it to work. In 2016 I felt it was time for a technology refresh, so I wrote a blog about the general direction I wanted to take Leadwerks in. A lot of it centered around VR and performance. I didn't really know exactly how things would work out, but I knew I wanted to do a lot of work with VR.

A month later I received a message on this forum inquiring about use of Leadwerks Game Engine for virtual reality applications for NASA projects. Now, Leadwerks Software has a long history of use in the defense and simulation industries, with orders for software from Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, the British Royal Navy, and probably some others I don't know about. So NASA making an inquiry about software isn't too strange. What was strange was that they were very interested in meeting in person.

Trip to Goddard Space Center
I took my first trip to Goddard Space Center in January 2017 where I got a tour of the facility. I saw robots, giant satellites, rockets, and some crazy laser rooms that looked like a Half-Life level. It was my eleven year old self's dream come true. I was also shown some of the virtual reality work they are using Leadwerks Game Engine for. Basically, they were taking high-poly engineering models from CAD software and putting them into a real-time visualization in VR. There are some good reasons for this. VR gives you a stereoscopic view of objects that is far superior to a flat 2D screen. This makes a huge difference when you are viewing complex mechanical objects and planning robotic movements. You just can't see things on a flat screen the same way you can see them in VR. It's like the difference between looking at a photograph of an object versus holding it in your hands.



CAD models are procedural, meaning they have a precise mathematical formula that describes their shape. In order to render them in real-time, they have to be converted to polygonal models, but these objects can be tens of millions of polygons, with details down to threading on individual screws, and they were trying to view them in VR at 90 frames per second! Now with virtual reality, if there is a discrepancy between what your visual system and your vestibular system perceives, you will get sick to your stomach. That's why it's critical to maintain a steady 90 Hz frame rate. The engineers at NASA told me they first tried to use Unity3D but it was too slow, which is why they came to me. Leadwerks was giving them better performance, but it still was not fast enough for what they wanted to do next. I thought "these guys are crazy, it cannot be done".

Then I remembered something else people said could never be done.



So I started to think "if it were possible, how would I do it?" They had also expressed interest in an inverse kinematics simulation, so I put together this robotic arm control demo in a few days, just to show what could be easily be done with our physics system.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4gZpiXquzM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMLApThAcpo
With the extreme performance demands of VR and my experience writing optimized rendering systems, I saw an opportunity to focus our development on something people can't live without: speed. I started building a new renderer designed specifically around the way modern PC hardware works. At first I expected to see performance increases of 2-3x. Instead what we are seeing are 10-40x performance increases under heavy loads. During this time I stayed in contact with people at NASA and kept them up to date on the capabilities of the new technology.

At this point there was still nothing concrete to show for my efforts. NASA purchased some licenses for the Enterprise edition of Leadwerks Game Engine, but the demos I made were free of charge and I was paying my own travel expenses. The cost of plane tickets and hotels adds up quickly, and there was no guarantee any of this would work out. I did not want to talk about what I was doing on this site because it would be embarrassing if I made a lot of big plans and nothing came of it. But I saw a need for the technology I created and I figured something would work out, so I kept working away at it.

Call to Duty
Today I am pleased to announce I have signed a contract to put our virtual reality expertise to work for NASA. As we speak, I am preparing to travel to Washington D.C. to begin the project. In the future I plan to provide services for aerospace, defense, manufacturing, and serious games, using our new technology to deliver VR simulations with performance and realism beyond anything that has been possible until now.

My software company and relationship with my customers (you) is unaffected. Development of the new engine will continue, with a strong emphasis on hyper-realism and performance. I think this is a direction everyone here will be happy with. I am going to continue to invest in the development of groundbreaking new features that will help in the aerospace and defense industries (now you understand why I have been talking about 64-bit worlds) and I think a great many people will be happy to come along for the ride in this direction.

Leadwerks is still a game company, but our core focus is on enabling and creating hyper-realistic VR simulations. Thank you for your support and all the suggestions and ideas you have provided over the years that have helped me create great software for you. Things are about to get very interesting. I can't wait to see what you all create with Leadwerks Game Engine and future technologies we develop.
8 comments Read more

About This Software

Leadwerks Game Engine is the easiest way to make 3D games and VR experiences. 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 available in early access).

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.

New Global Illumination and Volumetric Effects
Leadwerks Game Engine 4.1 introduces environment probes for global illumination and reflections, along with volumetric lighting effects, all in an easy-to-control and intuitive interface. This makes it easier than ever to create games with amazing graphics.

New Vegetation Painting System
Leadwerks Game Engine 4 introduces a one-of-a-kind vegetation system for handling massive amounts of foliage. Instead of storing each instance in memory, our new system uses a distribution algorithm to dynamically calculate all relevant instances each frame for rendering and physics. This allows enormous densely packed scenes with minimal overhead. The results are blazingly fast, efficient, and easy to use. In fact, our new system is so advanced it's featured in the book Game Engine Gems 3.

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
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. Games can be played on the desktop with a PC or in the living room with a Steam Machine. (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.

Graphics

  • 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.

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.

Programming

  • 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.

AI

  • 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.

Physics

  • 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.

Particles

  • 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.

Sound

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

System Requirements

Windows
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • 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
    • Storage: 2 GB available space
    • Additional Notes: Non-English characters including Cyrillic in the user path are not supported.
    Minimum:
    • OS: Ubuntu 16.04 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
    • Storage: 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.
    Recommended:
    • Graphics: Nvidia graphics card is recommended on Linux.

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