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In Depth: 8 Free 3D Game Engines and Free Language Learning Resources

In Depth: 8 Free 3D Game Engines and Free Language Learning Resources
Inspirations, Freebies, Tutorial, In Depth Jan 09, 2018 at 10:55 AM

If you’re thinking of getting into game design and development in 2018, a field that is going to be exploding with growth over the next 5 years, this is a great time to jump in. Most 3D software includes tools specifically for developing game assets and a lot of game engines are now free. Here are a few popular free 3D game engines with some details to help you decide.

Why these game engines?

A report came out this week, Global Game Engines Market analysis, innovations and future progress during 2018 – 2023, from HiTech Beacon, which takes a look at the next 5 years. In short, it's set for some fast and active growth. It's valued now at over $1.5 billion and is expected to reach over $3.06 billion by 2022. Some of the big players are Unity, Unreal, CryEngine, Lumberyard, Sony, Chukong tech, YoYo Games, Valve Corporation, and The Game Creators.

Learn more: Global Game Engines Market Size, Status and Forecast 2022

For more game engine information, have a look at What are the best 3D game engines? which was a very helpful reference for this artlce. 

Obtaining and Building Assets

Some game engine websites have asset stores or areas to download and share assets. You can also build your own assets for most or all of these 3D engines with tools you already own and know: 

Free 3D Game Engines

We focused on 3D game engines here. There are a variety of great 2D game engines out there, but you'll have to Google it yourself.

Some of these on the list are only free to people who earn under a certain amount from the product they create. Others are only free to students, so make sure you look into the details. They are not necessarily free to everyone, but should cover most people. 

1 Epic Games Unreal Engine

Unreal Engine has been around since 1998 and is insanely powerful. It's one of the most popular game engines out there and for good reason. The graphics and characters look absolutely incredible with the incredible material and shader system. If you're a designer this game engine is a great choice for you. Because of the Blueprints Visual Scripting, you don't need to know how to code C++. If you are a programmer, though, you have full access to the full C++ source code. You get a free development license which includes the source code. The latest release comes with some new lighting features, improved AR support, a major overhaul of the Physics Asset Editor, and more!

The downside is that it's not super easy to learn because the program is so big and there are so many options. It's also a bit slow to open projects or the program itself since it's so big. There are a lot of tutorials available on YouTube and other sources, as well as an active user base.

The Details

Developer Website: UnrealEngine.com

Current version: v4.18-stable. December 2017, Release notes

Development Platforms: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux

Deployment Platform Support:

  • Desktop: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, SteamOS, HTML5
  • VR: including but not limited to SteamVR/HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, Google VR/Daydream, OSVR and Samsung Gear VR
  • Mobile: iOS, Android
  • Consoles: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One

Languages: C++, Blueprints Visual Scripting

Download Unreal Engine

Download

License type: Proprietary

Pricing: Unreal Engine, including full access to the source code, is free to download, but licensed to developers for 5% royalty, paid to Unreal, on revenues of more than $3,000 per quarter from commercial products.

Related Articles

2 Unity Technologies Unity3D

Unity3D is a flexible, capable, and intuitive game engine with a powerful animation system and is easy to learn and use. It has a lot of resources to help new users learn to use the software, great support through Unity Answers and a busy forum. There's a huge assets store with free and paid assets for those who aren't artistically inclined, but the quality varies.

The ADAM Series by Neill Blomkamp that we've been featuring was created using the Unity engine and it's featured in the Unity 2017 highlights video below. 

The Details

Developer Website: Unity.com

Current Version: Unity 2017.3, December 2017,  Release notes

Development Platforms: Windows, Mac OSX

Deployment Platforms:

  • Desktop: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux
  • VR / 360° Video: Oculist Rift, Stream VR, PlayStation VR, GearVR, Microsoft Mixed Reality, Google Daydream
  • Consoles: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3 & 4, Vita; Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo 3DS
  • Mobile: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Fire OS, Tizen

Languages: C#, JS, and Boo

Download Unity3D

Download

License type: Proprietary

Pricing:

  • Free version for beginners, students and hobbyists for those who earn $100k or less annualy on your game/project.
  • Plus version at $35/mo and for game/project earns less than $200k annually. 
  • Pro version for $125/mo that has no limits on revenue.

Reviews

Related Articles


3 Crytek CryEngine

CryEngine is a very powerful and powerful game engine with realistic water effects, lifelike characters, and immersive VR options. Users can download the full engine source code with all the features. This comes without royalties or license fees, but they do have a membership option for more features. 

The Details

Developer Website: cryengine.com

Current Version: v5.4.x, September 2017, Release notes

Development Platforms: Windows 7, 8.1, 10 (32-bit or 64-bit)

Deployment Platforms:

  • Desktop: Windows and Linux PC
  • Console: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
  • VR: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Open-Source VR and PlayStation VR

Languages: C++, C#, Lua

Download Crytek CryEngine

Download

License type:

Price: Free (actually, pay what you want), but for more features there are membership options.

Related

Game engine CryEngine V launches with 'pay what you want' model - Wired Magazine


4 Amazon Lumberyard

Lumberyard is a new contender in the game engine market, and like some others, is open source and contains the full source. It was developed with technology from CryEngine, AWS, Twitch, EMotion FX, and Double Helix.

The Details

Developer Website: aws.amazon.com/lumberyard/

Current Version: Beta v1.12, December 2017, Release notes

Development Platforms: Windows 7 or later

Deployment Platforms:

  • Desktop: Windows
  • Console: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
  • Mobile: iOS (iPhone 5S+ and iOS 7.0+), and Android (Nexus 5 and equivalents with support for OpenGL 3.0+)
  • VR: Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, OSVR, and PlayStation VR

Languages: C++

Download Amazon Lumberyard

Download

License type: Open Source

Price: Free - No seat fees, subscription fee, no revenue share requirements.

Related


5 Godot Engine

This is a free open-source, community developed game engine for 2D and 3D games that comes with all of the features you'd expect. The design is innovative and efficient, with a clean, friendly user interface, sophisticated tools, and the ability to import 3D models with full animation from 3ds Max, Maya, Blender, and more. Read more about Godot Engine features.

The video below is for v3 which is coming soon. 

The Details

Developer Website: godotengine.org

Current version: v.2.1.4-stable, August 2016, Release notes

Development Platforms: Windows, MacOS X and Linux 

Deployment Platforms:

  • Desktop: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
  • Mobile: iOS, Android
  • Web: HTML5

Language: C++

Download Godot Engine

Download

License: Open source under the very permissive MIT license

Price: Completely free


6 OGRE3D

OGRE3D, or (Object-Oriented Graphics Rendering Engine), has been around since 2001 and is a powerful scene-oriented, flexible 3D game engine , has a clean UI and well-written documentation. Full list of features

The video below is not a demo but a game created with OGRE3D, X-Morph: Defense (PC, PS4, Xbox One). See full showcase.

The Details

Developer Website: ogre3d.org

Current Version: 1.10.10-stable, April 2017, Release Notes

Development Platforms: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux

Deployment Platforms: 

  • Desktop: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, WinRT
  • Console: PS3 and Xbox360
  • Mobile: iOS, Android, Javascript, Windows Phone
  • VR: #

Languages: C++

Download OGRE 3D

Download

License type: Open Source, MIT License

Price: Free


7 Blender Game Engine

Blender is a 3D creation suite and includes tools for VFX, rendering, modeling, animation, video creation, of course, a game engine for the desktop platform, which allows users to create a fully functional 3D game right in Blender. Blender uses OpenGL and has full integration of Bullet Physics, a real-time physics simulator, but it also allows for porting your models to any third-party game engine. Blender has a very large user base and there is a multitude of tutorials on YouTube. Users can download the source code. 

The Details

Developer Website: Blender.org

Current Version: v2.78c (stable), October 2016, Release notes

Development Platforms: Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Steam

Deployment Platforms:

  • Desktop: Windows; Macintosh; Linux; FreeBSD

Languages: C, C++, and Python

Download Blender

Download

License type: GNU General Public License, Open source

Price: Free

Related links


Autodesk Stingray

Stingray is 3D game engine and real-time rendering software that connects directly with Autodesk software like Maya, Maya LT, and 3ds Max. I hesitated to add this one because, as of December 2017, Stingray is no longer under active development and Autodesk bestowed the Autodesk SDK access to Unity. I'm leaving it in the list because you can still download it, and who knows, it may come back or somehow evolve.

Autodesk Stingray 1.6 New Features

The Details

Developer Website: autodesk.com/products/stingray/overview

Current Version: v1.9 (Release notes

Development Platforms: Windows 64-bit

Deployment Platforms:

  • Desktop: Windows 7, 8.1, 10 (32-bit or 64-bit)
  • Mobile: Apple® iOS, Google® Android®
  • Console: Sony® PlayStation® 4, and Microsoft Xbox One®.

Languages: Lua

Download Autodesk Stingray

Download

License type: Proprietary

Price: Students can get it free for 3 years. Or, download a free 30-day trial.

Related


Resources for learning programming languages for Free

Getting a quality education doesn't have to break the bank with tuition fees. Here are a few options to help you learn to program computer langes, options that are free or very inexpensive. 

  • Khan Academy - Computer programming - I don't know how advanced they get but I've gone through some Khan Academy math lessons and theyr'e very good. 
     
  • Lynda.com - Lynda has quite a few programming languages tutorial. Well, this isn't free, you might say. Well, here's a hot tip. My public library has access to Lynda.com training for free with my library card. Check your local library to see if they also offer this perk. 
     
  • Code Academy - Learn to code interactively, for free. It doesn't look like they're teaching C++ or Lua, but you can learn HTML & CSS, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, and more.
     
  • Coursera - I keep getting emails from Coursera and apparently courses are taught by college professors. Classes are free but if you need proof with a certificate that you took the course, then you have to pay. It's still a lot cheaper than actual college!
     
  • MIT OpenCourseware - Learn from MIT directly (and tell people you took classes at MIT!) They have a free online library of each and every class that they teach at the college.
     
  • See Learn to Code with Me for more (and there are a lot!)

Posted by Michele Yamazaki

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