Terathon Software LLC
May 05, 2005
Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, PS3, Other
Languages Written In:
The C4 Engine is a comprehensive suite of robustly implemented game programming tools for the Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, PS4, and PS3 platforms.
|License Name||Price in $US||Source Code Included?|
|Subscription Edition, source included, updates for one year|
|Standard Edition, source included, updates forever|
|Professional Edition, source included, updates forever|
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Some great content is showing up both from the users and from the developer side.
The things that decided me to use C4 over any of the other engines i have checked out in the last year:
1. ease of use for me- the world editor is great and keeps getting better
2. forum posts- people are far more cooperative to each other then i had seen on many other boards and my own posts have always gotten answered within 24 hours if not within the first hour that i asked something.
3. active developer- not only is the over all editor great to use but the developer is still active with requested extra features.
4. i have tried many engines in the past year, demos and even purchased a few to explore further. IMO C4 is great itself the community of support is super. what more can you ask for?
If you are a knowledgeable programmer with C++ experience the C4 engine's architecture is marvelous to work with. Not only does the engine run smooth as silk while supporting all the modern visual effects, a consistent high polish can be seen in each and every component where it is clear that deep thought was put into how each relate to each other. Masterful use of design flow patterns, OO concepts, and optimizations can be seen through the entire code base that you even get access to in order to make engine level modifications. While diving in at first can be a bit daunting there is excellent documentation, wikis, and demos to guide you along your development path.
The in-game tools such as the level editor, shader designer, and model importing function just as you would expect. While you won't be able to create high detailed models within the engine, importing assets from external 3D applications such as Blender is effortless.
On top of that, the author Eric Lengyel is one of the most hard working, attentive developers I've ever seen. He not only pumps out patch after patch with awesome new features he is manning the forums and answering questions from everyone from the beginners through the veterans. He even takes future feature requests into consideration!
If you are in the market for an a professional engine that is superbly crafted, gives full control, and has an excellent community look no further.
Hi there, I've been a user of C4 for a couple of years now, and I must say that it was a worthwhile purchase. I know that a lot of people criticize it for its demo, but something people don't seem to realize is that what they are seeing is known as 'art', and unfortunately, just because the author decides to put his time and effort into developong the engine itself instead of the art being shown, his wonderful product gets criticized for it. Almost everyone I know who has bought the engine will agree that with me that it is a great engine. Eric is a very talented person that has a lot of professional experience in game programming. He has written several well known books, has written algorithms used by other engines such as Ogre, does his own reasearch that has led to features such as voxel terrain and a world's first seamless voxel-based geomip terrain LOD algorithm in the engine, etc.
Probably the greatest thing about C4 is its very clean and efficient object oriented design. Some people complain about C4 requiring C++ as the only way to develop games, but that is a preference, and some people actually like it. It allows for efficient and portable code, and C4's api makes it all the easier.
The nice thing about C4 is that it just works. Its physics, terrain, sound, rendering, etc will all work identically on different platforms as long as they meet the hardware requirements. Thats why Eric has put alot of effort into each of those components. Other engines frequently integrate some 3rd party tools that may not be neccesarily cross-platform. In addition, C4 is extremely stable and has very few bugs, and those are typically resolved by the next release. Eric puts a lot of effort into making sure everything works as expected, and he also listens to us and what we want and frequently integrates features for us last minute, and they work.
The simple fact of the matter is that C4's rendering is top notch. I know the demo doesn't make that obvious, but if you look closely at it and give it a fair chance you'll realize that it has some very nice features. Parallax, normal, specular, and horizon mapping for textures. Some people complain about the way Eric has the shaders setup to use the shader editor and not shader languages like glsl or hlsl, but if you look at the C4 wiki Eric has an article explaining "Combinatorial Shader Explosion". Long story short, once a shader or material is constructed in C4, it will work on all platforms and with all light types (present and future). C4 also has dynamic lighting, and has had it since 2001, long before it was commonplace. Some people complain about the stencil shadows and some of their limitations, but Eric has begun the process of replacing them with dynamic shadow maps.
I bought C4 for a couple of very important reasons. First and foremost was Eric. When I was reading through the forums it became clear that he was dedicated to his customers. He cares about us and what we want. His professional history served to assure me that he is professional and will continue to support the engine and implement new features (voxel terrain being a recent example). He is very active and helpful on the forums. The other members of the community are very professional and helpful as well. We are open-minded about other engines and recognize that each serves it purpose.
Simply put, C4 has a lot of great assets: excellent support from its creator, an excellent community, great features and stability, and a clean code base.
If you really want to see what C4 is capable of then look at the showcase section of the C4 forums. There you can see lots of great projects by C4's users that have access to good art and use it show off C4's true potential.
I'm currently a high school student. I started learning Java about a few months after getting a C4 license (I thought getting a license would get me obligated to learning). My learning pace right now is pretty slow, considering I'm still in AP Computer Science. I haven't made a huge game with C4 yet, but I'm confident that I will some day.
The price is great for anyone. Being able to learn with and becoming proficient with one engine (with a lifetime license) is perfect. I definitely know that I'm going to be working on C4 related projects even through college.
I have never used many of the features of C4, such as the shader editor and etc., but I am looking forward to seeing integrated physics in 2.0. That would make a lot of things very easy for a beginner like me.
A great feature of the engine isn't really a feature at all. The support that Terathon has is just unbelievable. Before purchasing a license, I sent an email regarding Vista support, and received an answer within an hour. These days, forum responses (for me) have taken a maximum of 10 minutes IIRC. The community is also very helpful.
This is an engine that boasts a pretty comprehensive and cohesive feature set for the price. All of the features included are also fully integrated and work out of the box, there is nothing half-@$$ed here.
The forum support is terrific and the community is outstanding in helping grasp the nuances of this engine. The code is very well architected and clean, and it is simply fantastic having the source code at one's fingertips when debugging. It is highly extensible, and supports a very workable content pipeline.
It definitely presents a fairly steep initial learning curve for the newbie game technology tinkerer, but any serious developer can get their game mechanics off the ground fairly quickly with this engine.
The engine itself is feature rich across the board, with integrated networking support, an outstanding renderer, a rapid iteration toolset, collision and object enumeration systems, visual scripting, properties, solid sound and music services, many built in scene graph node types, etc.
I have been very pleased thus far in working with this engine for my current game project. The only glaring negative I could possibly mention is that its hardware requirements are not modest -- but that would be true for just about any major 3D engine listed here except for TGE and perhaps Unity.
C4 is the best choice I've found so far for anyone looking for a game engine to develop with.
The support is second to none
Updates are released regularly
The community is friendly and knowledgeable
The art pipeline is very good
If you're looking for a game engine that is actually worth the money you'll pay, C4 is it. There is no better value anywhere in the industry.
Wow. That's all I can say. Wow. Until I bought C4, I never knew that an indie engine could be this good. If you've only used engines like Torque then you don't know what you're missing. C4 is really a top of the line pro engine with an indie price, and it makes the competition look very bad. All of the features work as advertised on both pc and mac, and the don't milk you for more money to upgrade to the next version.
Don't let the demo fool you, imo the levels provided serve as better examples of templates to help you wrap your brain around setting up your own games. Play them if you want, but make sure you import your own game assets and see how great they look. I think they may have been made by a programmer, throw in your own artistic touch before you judge too harshly =)
Waiting for 1.6 to be released to play with the new physics but what is currently available is more than enough to get started on a long term project and the features to be added in the future should ease the minds of any wondering about them not existing at the moment.
Eric patrols the forums regularly throughout the day and is often quite helpful, and the community is also there to potentially provide that instant gratification we know and love. The wiki has a lot of information, but that doesn't make it the most helpful. The available book on creating games with the C4 engine is worth purchasing, if nothing else it helps make the connections and set you on the path in the right direction. The way the game engine has changed has affected the book, and its annoying, but the new WIP book is set to contain information on currently unreleased features and is a free update to those who purchase the original anyway.
I'm currently working on solo projects and only deal with the aspects of the engine that I require, but will probably update my review after more experience in the engine and after much use of the 1.6 version when it is released.
I've been using the C4 Engine for a while now and found it to be a rather decent engine. Coming out of a 2 year game design course I was able to pick up the work flow with no problem.
Though the engine has many nice features, it lacks its native physics system that was announced a while back. Until it is released I give features 4/5.
I was able to learn the work flow with close to no problem. It does require C++ knowledge to use, however with me that wasn't a problem. I give ease of use 4/5 because even though I didn't really have a problem learning it doesn't mean others will.
C4 works like a charm. I had no problems at all with it proformance and stability wise. The engine is very clean that even a beginner like myself was able to modify and add changes with no problems and for that I give it a 5/5.
Finally, the support is unbelievable! Half the reason I was able to learn C4 was through the support forums. The community is very patient and will always help. No question goes unanswered, and if it isn't the community giving the answers it's Eric himself. 5/5 for sure!
Though it might not be for everyone, it is worth the effort in researching and testing for yourself.
I purchased a license to the C4 engine in March of 2006.
Compiling the engine is quick & easy. The engine compiles without warning or error. The project setup is clean and organized and the code base is meticulously arranged and well thought out. The engine runs on Windows, Mac and PS3 (a separate license is required for the PS3) and some members of the community have a server based version running on Linux.
The C4 Engine is being used by many universities, institutions and companies around the world (University of Kempten, McMaster University, Georgia Tech and Lockheed Martin to name a few) in conjunction with Eric Lengyel’s (lead programmer of the C4 Engine) book “Mathematics for 3D Game Programming and Computer Graphics”.
At the time of writing this review the independent license will cost you $350 US. This includes the entire source code to the engine, tools and sample modules, updates are free for life. New builds of the engine are typically released monthly and detailed release notes are published for each build. The community has a direct influence over the direction the engine takes.
Aside from being a complete game authoring package the C4 Engine features one of the best rendering engines available. Fully dynamic lights and shadows, extensive material settings and effects and a powerful zoning/portal system. In addition to this a comprehensive sound manager is included (featuring Doppler shift, sound travel delay, atmospheric absorption and reverb to name a few things) as well as a network manager, input manager and everything else that one might need. The engine also features many built in tools such as a full featured world editor, model viewer, texture, sound and movie previewing tools, a comprehensive material manager, an editor for constructing in-game interface panels and an exciting visual scripting system.
The Collada format is used to bring external geometries into the engine. This allows a significantly large range of digital content creation tools to be used in conjunction with C4. Full skeletal hierarchy support for skinned meshes and advanced animation blending is supported as well LOD, bump maps, parallax maps, horizon maps, specular maps, ambient occlusion and texture compression.
I encourage you to visit the C4 engine website, try the demo (don't be shallow, look past the programmer art) and visit the forum and Wiki pages. I highly recommend this engine.
i have been using C4 for about 3 years now, since i found it and insisted on using it as my engine for my final year in college. the key word for this engine is SOLID. every feature is well considered. no hack-jobs of integrating the latest fad features. if this engine does it, it does it well with consideration on how it affects the overall product.
rendering is beautiful and very efficient.
regards ease of use, this is a high-end engine aiming at people who know what they are doing, or who can at least learn to do things correctly. if you want an instant game maker, look elsewhere. the interfaces are a little quirky. not bad, just different to most other engines. but everything works, and works well once you figure it out.
support: the community around C4 is the most helpful and mature i have ever encountered. if you have a problem, there are a lot of experienced and helpful people, including Eric himself who you will find on the forums ready to provide considered advice. there is minimal fanboyism within the community also, which is a serious help. keeps the signal-to-noise ratio good.
if you are considering an engine, do your homework and ask questions. dont rely on stats. these are ALWAYS scued in someones favour, either through fanboyism or business interests. decide what suits your project and your abilities. whatever you choose, good luck and enjoy.
I have used this engine for a long time and I have only good words for C4.
Very clever design, good tools, good price, free updates, "state of the art" tech and a great community (forum, wiki, etc).
Of course it's not perfect, but until now, I can say without a doubt, that this engine is a very good choice.
If you are a programmer tired of poorly designed code, and you are able to see a good engine although the graphics of the demo, then C4 is for you.
My personal list of negative points:
Lack of HDR support (Will be in future updates).
Lack of GUI editor (There's a Panel editor for ingame interfaces, in future version it will be also the GUI editor).
QuickTime is not the best choice to support video playback (Maybe will change in future updates).
Ease of Use:
C++ knowledge needed (not exactly negative).
The high rate of updates makes the documentation sometimes be outdated but both the author and the community is constantly working on it.
You can always ask at the forums to know the current status of any area of the engine.
Stability & Performance:
Good but still needs more stability when importing collada models.
Superb: There's no other game engine on the market at this price tag who offers the source code, a next-gen tech and free updates.
Ease of Use:
Good: Clean & documented code, wiki & forum support.
Stability & performance:
Good: memory leak detection, none of my prototypes crashed because of the engine during development or testing.
Strong point. C4 support is top noch for an indie engine.
I recently bought C4 after reviewing several other engines. I also own Unity and the majority of the Torque range. I just want to say that it's been a great buy. Unlike other engines one can name, it doesn't flatter to deceive - yes, the demo textures aren't great, but that's where it stops - just add your own. The dynamic lighting is fantastic, the ability to get COLLADA models into C4 is very straight forward and to top this, it also runs on my 6800GT !! The downside is that you need a grasp of C++ to develop a game, but what engine doesn't require this. But the C++ is very easy to read and although there isn't a huge amount, the documentation is pretty good - I do own engines by GarageGames don't forget.
Oh yes, and best mention free updates for life, how is this not a bargain.
As you could see from a lot of reviews, the code quality is more than excellent. You need good C++ knowledge to understand it and to use it right but then you will see how well it is thought till to the tiniest detail.
You will not find better support especially in the area of indie technology.
The indoor scene management with zones and portals and lots of optimizations for shadows, lights and sounds is probably the best you will find ever. The outdoor scene management is in a heavy development currently and will probably be of best quality as well.
Shaders are generated automatically and they render fast and reliable even on different systems.
lights and shadows:
The lighting is very good. There are lots of lights, everything is dynamic and you can use different kind of shadows (cubemaps, projected, stencil, shadow maps, ambient occlusion). Some more optimizations (e.g. multi resolution shadow mapping for outdoors) are already announced.
The current voxel terrain is an impressive technology. It allows caves, bridges, steep rocks and much more.
New features for LOD and streaming are currently in the making.
The skinning and animation process renders very fast via multi-threading. I saw a video with 100 smoothly animated characters.
If you are working in a team then C4 is a good choice, because you can organize the work fine. Programmers can expose so-called controllers to the editor. Artists/designers can use them to bring life into their worlds.
I can compare the editors best to Unreal3. I find them more easy, clean though they are very similar. The script editor is almost like the Unreal (Kismet) editor. The shader editor is also very similar (although not channel oriented). The additional material editor (creating shaders automatically) is even much more simple.
The world editor offers everything you need and delivers real-time feedback.
Currently it is hard to say anything bad about this technology. Actually I can only mention things that are missing but are already announced at the roadmap and are in the making (new shadow options, more and flexible post-processing, a better ambient occlusion solution).
And personally I would like to program it in a language without pointer- and memory trouble (C# as an example). But to be honest: Learning C++ takes just a few days when you already know any other object oriented language.
comparison to other engines:
As already mentioned you will not find better indoor scene management and no better code. The lighting is impressive and the editors are complete. The workflow for importing assets is not as fast as in Unity but faster than in Unreal3.
The C4 Engine is one of the most logically constructed, easy to work with, yet sophisticated pieces of software I've ever seen. The code architecture is clear and well defined. The engine is not just great for programmers though. Here is a quick run down of the great points of this engine.
Powerful forward rendering pipeline.
Lots of platforms supported out of the box.
Powerful world editor.
Extremely elegant visual scripting system.
Voxel based terrain support.
Excellent shader creation and management.
Efficient scene graph, visibility determination, and portal system.
Full source code.
Asset packing and protection.
Support for Collada format.
Excellent performance on skinned meshes utilizing multi-core animation.
Performance and Stability is absolutely ROCK SOLID. C4 versions are tested thoroughly and rigorously.
Very good API documentation.
Absolutely top notch community of developers.
Very low price point with a package that is flexible and powerful at the same time.
A very competitive licensing agreement.
Upcoming 1.6 version physics looks to be very robust and accurate*
Limited control of post processing effects.
The world editor is a work in progress(It is excellent but still needs a few things added, mostly related to usability.)
At the moment some GUI enhancements are needed. (They are planned in version 1.7)
Limited support for very large streaming worlds(At the moment)
Overall, I can't say enough about this engine. It is without a doubt the most excellent piece of software I've had the pleasure of working with. This engine will make you look great and like a professional. It lets you focus on building your game and not the engine. (Although you have full source code so you can if you want!) I will update this review as the engine grows but there is no better time then now to get a license of this engine. It will only get better!
Pro's - Absolutely no crashes, robust. Low cost. Brilliant community. Excellent License (you won't find a better license and cost, free updates). Very professional development and regular updates that are always pushing the boundaries (voxel terrains)
Con's - Simply have to code in C++ but there is the visual scripting which coders can create functions for artists. Documentation is lacking but this is generally normal for indie licenses in my experience.
Conclusion - Absolutely brilliant engine. Unless you have money to burn you won't find a better engine or cost. It is only going to get better too. Highly recommended.
Having used most of Garage Games engines previous to trying C4, I was amazed at the difference between the code quality. C4's codebase is unbelievably clean and well thought-out.
Eric Lengyel, the main programmer, is fantastic about supporting users on his forums. You will not be disappointed in C4.
Cheap. Powerful. Next-gen. What's not to like? I've worked with plenty of other engines, but C4 takes the cake in terms of features for price. And it's only getting better - physics, the world's first geomip terrain system, and much more - are all on the engine's roadmap. Seriously, if you have $350, now's the time to pick this thing up.
In visual terms the C4 engine is the only one that can come close to the high end games.Now with the specular bloom and the glow you can make more artistic games : D
I am the creator of the C4 Engine and the person primarily responsible for its continuing development and support. You may know me as the author of Mathematics for 3D Game Programming & Computer Graphics and The OpenGL Extensions Guide, but the project that I have spent most of my time working on is the C4 Engine.
The C4 Engine has been in development since 1999, and we have maintained a strict adherence to high standards of robustness, stability, and clean code. The engine's carefully designed architecture has provided a strong foundation upon which a powerful and flexible set of features has been built over the years.
To make a game with C4 does require some knowledge of C++ and 3D mathematics. Those who are comfortable with these subjects will find a refreshingly elegant interface to a complete set of game programming tools.
When evaluating engines, most people concentrate on graphics, but it's important to look at a lot of other things like audio, networking, physics, multi-core support, input devices, GUI tools, scripting, and the import pipeline that you will need to make a complete game. C4 has all of these, and they're all as rock-solid as the graphics system.
There are over 1500 pages of API documentation, an extensive wiki maintained by both the engine's creators and the community, and an 800-page book to help you get started with C4. Additionally, all licensees have direct access to the engine's creators on the support forms where they can get quick and detailed answers to their questions.
The C4 Engine continues to evolve, and new features are being added all the time. Licensees get free code updates forever! A demo can be downloaded on the C4 Engine website (http://www.terathon.com/c4engine/).
As a professional developer and Maya animator, C4 has everything I could want in a game development environment. Without a doubt, the value I received is unmatched by any competitor. The product is excellent, the support is excellent from both the developer and his community, and I would most definitely recommend C4 Engine to anyone with the skill to take advantage of it!
This engine is simply superb. The code is well documented, extremely clean, easy to understand, and very very fast. It has some very advanced features only found in multi-million dollar game engines and some features that those multi-million have yet to do themselves! Having worked with many of those (Unreal, idTech, etc) personally, I would say this engine should have a much larger price tag for the quality and feature set you get. Definitely highly recommend.
C4 is definitely becoming one of the best engines out there and it's still one of the cheapest by far. I think the main thing people are so impressed with is the developers knowledge and how he stays active on the forums providing the highest quality of support possible.
Not only is the developer constantly adding in new features, but the community is one of the most helpful I've ever seen.
Day 1 downloaded the demo.
Day 2 I bought a license.
It was as simple as that!
The engine isnt yet finished but if it is a reflection of the finished product it is money well spent, and from $100 US he is practically giving it away the engine price has increased to $350 which is still very affordable to an indie.
The engine designer is well qualified and will almost surely answer any questions you have. One thing that I do like is that he will fix bugs in the engine before implementing anything new.
The level editor is easy to use with many features and growing. The new terrain is a nice new addition.
Things I like about the engine:
Support from Eric and other users when needed
Very easy to import geometry.
Clean source code.
Shadows, shaders are second to none.
C4 is a work of art. The code is clean and easy to understand (self-documenting code). The engine has obviously been well thought out in its core design.
The engine has many of the latest and greatest features (with more in the works). The development cycle is quite aggressive.
The art pipeline is very easy. It doesn't take a genius to get a model in the engine and to behave correctly.
What can I say about Eric (the C4 developer)? First off, he is VERY active in the forums. He is always answering questions personally and NOT in a condescending way that other engines do.
The ONLY option for the independent developer!