5 Open Source Game Engines That Developers Should Get Their Hands On

In recent years, gaming has become extremely popular. With new games and gaming leagues entering the industry, gaming connoisseurs (whether developers or players) are getting exposed to a whole new industry.

Open source innovations have evolved rapidly in recent time, and this has not only helped the corporates to move ahead but has also helped the gaming industry to rise. Talking about the developers, the rapid advancements, the skyrocketing popularity and the advent of open source game engines has put them in a win-win situation.

Why Are Open Source Game Engines Gaining Popularity?

Compared to proprietary software, open source software has got great advantages. And when it comes to game development, these benefits cannot be ignored.

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Here are three major advantages of using an open source platform:

  1. The major reason behind choosing an open source platform is the availability of the source code. Every developer looks for convenience and when you have the source code of a platform you can customize the features according to your needs. Also, you can add different plugins, which is a big-time benefit.
  2. Game development requires high-end hardware as well as software. However, when you opt for an open source platform, the expense of hardware drops down. Linux is a great example, it involves low hardware configurations which cuts down the cost compared to Windows. Also, it has easy portability and high compression.
  3. Another benefit is a free license. Licensing can be a headache with proprietary software sometimes. And open source can be a solution to that; completely open source platforms don’t require any kind of license.

Here Are Some Of The Best Open Source Game Engine

1. Godot: Released with a mission to offer a fully integrated game development environment, Godot is considered to be one of the most powerful 2D and 3D cross-platform game engine. It is also an open source platform under the MIT License.

Games created using the Godot engine are either programmed in C#, C++ or Godot’s own coding language called GDScript, which is similar to python. However, GDScript features strict typing of variables and is optimized for Godot’s scene-based architecture. Also, Godot has a very powerful renderer, which the engine can make every game look incredible, whether it is 2D or a 3D game.

Another best thing about this amazing open source game engine is that it gives you the privilege to deploy your games everywhere, whether it is mobile platforms like iOS or Android, or desktop platforms like Windows, macOS, Linux, Haiku. That is not all, one can also export games to the web using HTML and Web Assembly.

Furthermore, the platforms dev community is very active, which makes it even better because a building a platform and releasing it not the only thing, support from the community and team matters a lot.

2. Spring Engine: First released in June 2007, Spring Engine is an open source 3D real-time strategy (RTS) engine under the GNU General Public License. With some of the popular games like Spring:1994, Zero-K, Evolution RTS, Spring Engine is one of the best open source game engines that can be used if you are new to the field of game development.

With just 3 GHz dual-core CPU, 2 GB of RAM, 512 MB graphics card, and 5 GB of hard drive space one can easily kickstart its development experience. Talking about the language for writing games, using Lua, a lightweight, multi-paradigm programming language one can make nearly every aspect of the engine customizable, from GUI to unit AI to pathfinding.

So, if you are someone who is new to the space of game development, then you should definitely give try to Spring Engine.

3. Panda 3D: This is another top game engine that is incredibly popular among game developers. It is basically an open source framework used for developing 3D games, visualizations, simulations, experiments — you name it. The engine is free under the BSD license. Talking about the games developed using this engine, they are written on C++ and Python. This amazing game engine itself is written in C++. Also, it makes use of an automatic wrapper-generator to expose the complete functionality of the engine in a Python interface.

To build 3D attractions for Disney theme parks, The Disney VR studio created an engine and the same engine became Panda3D. Being a product of Disney, Panda 3D became a prior choice of every game developer looking for an open source platform.

4. Cocos2d-x: Written in C++, Cocos2d-x is another one of the best open source cross-platform game engines with a thin platform dependent layer and is under the MIT License. The engine can be used to build games, apps and other cross-platform GUI-based interactive programs.  Games developed using Cocos2d-x

One of the major reasons why developers opt for Cocos2d-x is that the engine enables them to make use of C++, Lua and JavaScript for cross-platform deployment, whether its iOS, Android, Windows Phone, OS X, Windows or Linux.

Talking about the engine’s renderer, Cocos2d-x is optimized for 2D graphics with OpenGL. From skeletal animation to sprite sheet animation to coordinate systems, effects to multi-resolution devices to many more animation, the engine can do it all.

5. id Tech 4 (Doom 3): Released on August 3, 2004, id Tech 4 is one of the oldest players in the game engine arena. Also known as Doom 3, id Tech 4 is an open source game engine developed by id software. Games like Doom 3 (2004), Doom 3: Resurrection of Evil (2005), Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, Wolfenstein etc. are all created using id Tech 4.

id Tech 4 uses a comprehensive scripting language to write mods and the language is similar to C++. apart from the main scripting language, the engine has another scripting language for GUIs. Also, despite the additional level of scripting in id Tech 4, one can also create mods using C++ to build native code.


As an advancement, id software also released another engine called id Tech 5. However, it is a proprietary game engine.

Harshajit Sarmah
Harshajit is a writer / blogger / vlogger. A passionate music lover whose talents range from dance to video making to cooking. Football runs in his blood. Like literally! He is also a self-proclaimed technician and likes repairing and fixing stuff. When he is not writing or making videos, you can find him reading books/blogs or watching videos that motivate him or teaches him new things.

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