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Horde3D - the geek engine
Horde3D - the geek engine
By: Scarpelius on Sep, 09 2013
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Nicolas 'marciano' Schulz and

Volker Vogelhuber

Editor OS Windows
Publish on Windows, iOS
License Eclipse Public License

Sources Yes

Let it be known from start: Horde3D is not for the fainthest of hearth. You have to be an acomplhished programmer and also know your way on the game development art to be able to make a game with this engine. Also, Horde3D is a render and animation engine and to make a complete game you need to ad som critical components like sound, AI, networking, physics.

General Features

  • Powerful graphics engine designed to meet the requirements of next-generation games
  • Modern shader-based architecture with SM 2.0 compatible hardware as a minimum requirement
  • Cross-platform compatible by using OpenGL as rendering API
  • Elegant and lightweight overall design with very few dependencies, avoiding complexity where possible
  • Clean object-oriented C++ code written for performance
  • Strong modularity and high abstraction through flat C-style DLL API (also makes it possible to use Horde3D from virtually any programming language)
  • Easy integration with game engines and other middleware like physics engines due to non-intrusive API design
  • Suitable for Augmented Reality (AR) and stereo applications

Scene and Resource Management

  • Robust resource management with internal garbage collection
  • Interface for loading data from files, streams or any type of archives
  • Hot-reloading of resources for more increased productivity during development
  • Lightweight scene tree structure with hierarchical transformations and bounding volumes
  • Unified scene system where world, models and skeletons are just scene graph branches and no special objects
  • Loading of scene graph branches from XML files with complete orthogonality to API functions
  • Frustum culling based on spatial graph
  • Hardware occlusion culling
  • Level of detail support for model geometry and materials
  • Possibility to attach scene nodes to joints (e.g. for character props)
  • Access to vertex data for collision detection and interoperability with physics engines
  • Ray collision queries and node picking


  • Übershader-based effect/material system with automatic shader permutation generation (using GLSL shaders)
  • XML based customizable rendering pipeline with allocatable render targets and commands for rapid testing of different rendering techniques
  • Postprocessing framework for effects like bloom, DOF or motion blur
  • Support for forward rendering and different deferred shading techniques
  • Support for High Dynamic Range (HDR) textures and lighting
  • Support for almost all modern rendering techniques, including normal-mapped phong lighting and parallax mapping
  • Support for real-time reflections and other techniques that require several cameras for rendering
  • Realtime shadows using Parallel Split Shadow Maps (PSSM)
  • Software skinning and hardware skinning in vertex shader for rendering hundreds of animated characters
  • Fully integrated particle systems that can cast shadows and have effects like motion blur
  • Overlays for rendering GUI elements and font


  • Unified low-level animation system working directly on scene graph
  • Keyframe animation for joints and meshes
  • Skeletal animation with up to 4 weights per vertex for articulated models
  • Layered animation blending and mixing using masks and additive channels
  • Inter-frame interpolation for smooth animations
  • Access to joint data for dynamic animations and ragdoll physics
  • Morph targets for facial animation and lip synchronization

Content Pipeline

  • Custom optimized model and animation formats for maximum performance
  • Mixture of binary and XML formats for best tradeoff between performance and productivity
  • Support for DDS textures and other common image formats
  • Collada Converter for bringing assets from many common DCC tools to Horde3D
  • Collada Converter implemented as command line tool that can be integrated in automatic build process
  • Calculation of tangent space basis for normal mapping
  • Optimization of geometry for GPU post-transform vertex cache
  • Data-driven rendering pipelines for straight switching between different rendering techniques

  • Powerful editor for composing scenes and developing shaders and rendering techniques
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