Terathon Software LLC
May 05, 2005
Windows, Mac OS X, Playstation
Languages Written In:
The C4 Engine is a comprehensive suite of robustly implemented game programming tools for the Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and PlayStation 4 platforms.
|License Name||Price in $US||Source Code Included?|
|Full source included, updates for one year.|
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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!
There may be engines out there with a bigger feature list but in the end I prefer quality over quantity.
C4's feature list is increasing but in a steady and controlled tempo. I also get the impression Eric doesn't like leaving something half done.
Ease of Use: 4
Might get a little "frightening" at first if you are new to c++ but once you get the hang of it you will realise how clean and well structured the engine code is.
Stability & Performance: 5
Not much to say here, rock solid stability and excellent performance.
The documentation can be a bit lacking sometimes but the community is extremly helpful and Eric is very active in the forums as well.
I just recently licensed this engine and can't say that I am not happy with my decision. C4 has been a breath of fresh air, even in the little time I've been able to experiment with it, due to time constraints.
I've looked at most open source engines and also own a license to TGE/TGEA, as well as the now "defunct" Reality Engine, but C4 has always interested me.
Eric has been great about helping people figure out issues and even keeps the users up to date on when new things were going to be in builds. I can't say the same for too many other companies or individuals who license their engines.
I can't wait to get more time to really try to make this engine shine!
4 for features, as there are some things that are in progress like Terrain rework and Foliage system. As well as changes to make Glow work like it should and other things here and there
5 for Ease of Use: It compiles almost out of the box, as long as you grab the DirectX sdk and maybe some oddities, but its all properly explained on the Wiki
4 for Stability & Performance: I haven't completely been convinced on the performance, but feel the stability is there. Time will tell!
5 for Support: No contest, that Eric is offering better/more support so far than I've gotten from other Engines I own
I have been using this engine for a couple years now, and I am continually impressed by it. Everything in the engine works right, works fast, and is designed well with the future in mind. New features are being added all the time, and they are very polished and powerful. The source code is amazingly clean.
But here's the really good thing...The support is just unheard-of great. You got a problem, you post on the forums, and you get an answer. Usually, you'll be pointed to some documentation that you didn't know about, or you'll get a source code snippet written for you to handle your problem. Just fantastic.
The only thing I wish I had in C4 was better physics built-in. What they have right now is pretty simple, but they are working on a new system that is supposed to be a complete physics solution. There is a free PhysX addon that you can get now though, so its really not a bad thing.
I have been using C4Engine since 2006.
Everything is there in stock version to make a game. There are some limitations for the terrain at this time but expect it to be fixed next month.
There are also some free user maintained plug-ins available, such as particle and effect editors and integrations with 3rd party physics libraries.
Ease of Use:
C4 has most of its functionality documented and really clean code which makes it easy to understand. Code of Demo Game and examples on Wiki are helpful too.
I give 1 star less for ease of because of 2 things:
1) As some reviewers have pointed out already there has to be at least 1 member in your team who is proficient with C++ to do complete game using this engine. (but it is possible to learn enough in 2 months if you are familiar with some other programming language beforehand);
2) documentation lags behind for some parts of the engine.
Support is great. Eric always tries his best at resolving various user problems. Also lots of existing Engine users are helpful too.
There is like 99.9% chance of getting helpful answer in 1 day, usually it is much sooner though.
Stability & Performance:
Performance is superb.
C4 Engine is stable as a rock. Rule is if there is a problem it is your code to blame or bad data.
Sure there are some bugs found and reported. Eric doesn't hesitate to fix them.
I never thought of switching to any rival. I have seen tons of improvements to this engine over these two years and more are soon to be released.
Do not let the current demo fool you about the true capability of C4 engine. If you are currently in the decision making process of purchasing a game engine, do seriously consider C4. I made a mistake by purchasing another engine even when I have stumbled into C4 first.
I do not want you to make the same mistake !
The list here are the main reasons why I go for C4.
Support is beyond excellent !
Free updates for life and the updates is coming very fast !
Engine source code provided !
Well thought off framework design !
Evolving engine with defined roadmaps!
Built in In-Game GUI !
Built in World Editor !
Adopts mostly the recent graphics algorithm and specifications !
In short, C4 is an engine with the biggest potential .
Aptly named C4, it will explode soon and rocks the world !
One of the best engines I have worked with.
-Windows & MacOS support
-Programed in C++
-GREAT forum support
-Easy to use world editor
-Easy to follow tutorials
-Only $200 but hold it own against engines costing 10x the price.
I have been using this engine for the past, almost, two years now. It is very fun using it to develop. It has been a constant learning experience for me.
There are a few things to be said about this engine.
I put 4 because right now as the engine stands it is still not complete. It is lacking a few major features that make it less competitive against other engines in its price range. I will say however that the lack of these features is coming to an end. One of the greatest things about buying this engine is that you get free upgrades for life. Think about that. Every time this engine gets the newest and greatest features, you're not out any more money! The major features that are lacking are first on the to do list and I fully expect them to be completed within the next 4-6 months.
Ease of Use:
This engine can have a fairly steep learning curve for beginners. Both on the Programming side and on the art pipeline side. For the art pipeline, my team has had some trouble with before. After we became acclimated to the process though, everything works fine. As for the programming. The engine's API is Huge. It can be very hard for anyone to jump into a project like this and know which way is up. And to top that all off, there appears at first glance to be little documentation. If you stop and look around though you will see that there are plenty of sources for your information. There is first off a documentation page. This usually has some of the information that you are looking for, but many times there simply is not any additional documentation other than what is generated automatically. Included with the engine is the game called Mangler that is being developed by Terathon Software, LLC (the maker of the engine). This game has a lot of examples on how to implement the different aspects of the engine the right way. Whenever you can't find an example of how something works, check the Game project and see if it is implemented there. Then there is the Wiki. This has a good sized selection of tutorials from both Terathon itself and the community. You can learn a lot by reading some of the stuff on the wiki. Then, if all else fails, there are the support forums, which leads me to
The support for this engine is absolutely Phenomenal. If you have a problem that you can't figure out by checking the wiki, the game + engine source, or the documentation, then you can stop by the forums. There are a lot of people who are regulars there that help on ALL sorts of issues. There are usually people who respond to your questions within minutes of you posting it. Eric Lengyel (The Author of C4) himself reads and replies to the forums posts as well. That means that if you have a gripe about a feature, a suggestion to make the engine better, or a question that only he could know, then you have a direct line of communication with him. There have been numerous times when people have suggested features in the forums which Eric had squeezed into the next release. It is really helpful to know that the author of the engine is listening to your input in trying to make it a better product not just for him, but for you too.
Stability & Performance:
What can I say. I have never experienced a crash or strange behavior in the C4 engine (except when it was my code causing the problem.) The only exception to that was the switch to Vista which the drivers were causing trouble, but again, not the Engine's fault. The performance is really great. It runs decent on hardware down to like a Radeon 9300 and lower. That is just absurd. That is about 6 generations ago!
Overall, an absolute knockout engine with the power of a AAA engine at the cost of an Indie engine. You can't go wrong with this engine.
In terms of value for money, C4 almost makes you feel like a criminal every time you download the latest build.
It's not only the fact that new, high-quality features keep making their way into the core, but also that those features tend to be perfectly solid, sensible and ready to be put to productive use from the very first time they appear. No half-baked ad hoc stuff, in other words.
The rendering quality is nothing short of amazing. I'm not a huge fan of the term "next gen", but C4 certainly delivers the technology you need to let you slap that label on your product. Unfortunately, the demo levels that currently ship with the engine do not get anywhere near what C4 is actually capable of, but once you start throwing your own carefully crafted assets into the world editor, setting up your lights... you'll see what I mean.
Featurewise, the only major thing currently missing is a proper, generic physics implementation, but there is a fairly mature community-based PhysX integration available, and C4 itself will get a full physics system in the near future.
Once you start looking at the code, you'll be blown away by the rigorous attention to consistency, performance and quality. It's clean to the point of being mildly insane (in a good way!), and even though I'm mainly an artist and only a casual coder, this is actually one of the reasons I'm so happy about having made the choice to go for a C4 license. Countless other engines I've looked at have given me the impression of having rather fragmented and messy codebases, by comparison.
The only general drawback is that you (or a member of your team) do need to know your way around C++ in order to implement certain things specific to your game project. C4 is a game engine, and a fully featured one at that, but it's not a complete authoring system - and while the built-in nodebased scripting works really well within the scope it was designed for, it is quite limited compared to what you could do with, say, full Python support or something like that - so, at the end of the day, you do have to crawl in under the hood and start coding actual C++. And, because the engine code is designed around a very hardcore approach to strict OOP, using the most advanced features C++ has to offer, this isn't necessarily easy to handle if you've just recently managed to run your first 'Hello World'.
The support you get from Terathon is flawless, beyond superb, and the community is very friendly and helpful, so you rarely see a question/problem go unanswered/unsolved for very long.
In summary, if you're serious about getting your own game rolling, and you're not afraid of getting your hands dirty coding C++, then look no further - C4 is just the ticket.
After working with several other engines (like Torque and Power Render) C4 is probably one of the best thought out game engines an Indie C++ game developer could wish for.
The engine is already worth working with, but the developers continue to add to it on a regular basis (around 6 to 10 updates a year).
Once you get a license, you get all the source code for the engine, the tools, and the examples.
Even before you buy a license, you can down the engine and several examples to see some of the features the engine supports.
One of the best things about this engine is the support. Not only does the developer monitor and answer questions on the forums, but so does the community. There is no such thing as a bad question. The community is friendly and helpful, as is the developer. This is well worth the price of the licence compared to the other forums I have sought answers at.
The graphics engine already supports a lot of the features a modern game engine requires. But the next phase of features will help set the engine in a class to itself.
If you are a C++ developer looking for a game engine to use for your next graphics project, C4 is worth doing more research and taking it for a test run.
To introduce myself, I have been developing a game with C4 Engine for almost two years, starting with code from a 2D casino game I developed about seven years ago. Once I had a new foundation of code developed with C4 Engine to build upon, I started recruiting additional members for our team in the last couple of months, to help out with level design, character animation, and music and sound effects. I have also licensed a number of professionally created animated character models and other models for our game environment. So, I can share some experience using C4 Engine to develop a game with a small team.
C4 Engine has been a true joy to use. With full source code, the engine, world editor, and model viewer tools have been easy to customize for our team's needs, and the engine itself has a well-balanced design that isn't over-engineered for its size.
The support for custom controllers (code that controls the behavior of objects in the game, such as characters and interactive panels) has dramatically improved in the last couple of releases, to the point where we now have a powerful, custom set of controllers built just for our game, that can be viewed and configured in the world editor without changing any source code. The latest version of C4 Engine has a plug-in mechanism that allows controllers to be dropped in as DLLs and loaded at run-time.
Eric Lengyel has been diligent about stability issues - he sometimes has a fix the same day. And although he hasn't endorsed every feature request, especially for features that are too specific to a particular game, he has often suggested how we could go about adding a custom feature on our own.
One of the artists on our team has had great fun creating demo levels using a combination of C4 Engine World Editor and Collada to bring in artwork from 3ds Max and other tools, and with the recent engine improvements, he is starting to make some nice progress on building custom levels for our game. We have also recently started importing animated characters, one that is scratch built, and others from a number of third-party vendors, via Collada, which is exciting given that the standard soldier character that ships with C4 Engine was getting kind of old :)
Music and sound effects have been easy to add to our game as well, with both streaming and one-shot playback options available.
For new licensees, I highly recommend checking out the C4 Engine Wiki:
A number of C4 Engine licensees enjoy adding to the wiki to help out both beginners and intermediate developers. There are a number of licensees who share bits and pieces of code for custom features, and a few others who have even shared how to integrate third-party physics engines. Overall, there is a very strong community spirit to help out fellow licensees.
Eric Lengyel regularly adds new material to the "official" documentation as well, which is available in a handy archive that can be downloaded for offline reading. Eric is patient to make sure that everyone understands the reasoning behind his design decisions and how the engine works from the API level. (Although he has a few secrets that he keeps to himself. :)
Once you license the engine, you'll be given access to additional sections of the forum in which detailed discussions of the engine internals and other issues can be conducted. C4 Engine is not open source, but we still manage to share a lot of info with each other.
The one feature that isn't in yet, that we need for our game to ship, is large-scale terrain. (The lack of this feature is the reason I'm not awarding five stars for features.) I tried to make some large terrains with simple meshes built from height maps, but it used too much memory and the frame rate slowed down below acceptable levels, so C4 Engine really needs to dynamically support terrain detail in some manner. Luckily, the next major release of C4 Engine, code-named "Fireball" is slated to add a terrain and foliage system that will finally add the missing piece we need to ship our first title.
Bottom line - I've tried a few other engines, but made little progress. C4 Engine has finally made it possible for us to succeed at building our game as we envisioned it, which I believe is the real test of the worth of a game engine.
The C4 Engine is a cleanly constructed, feature-rich game engine offered at an extremely affordable price. I have been using C4 for over a year now and am quite pleased with the engine, its development, and its community. The wonderful thing about this engine is that software development in C4 does not have to be done completely in C++. The project’s programmer(s) can construct several functional components called Controllers, Properties, and Scripts that allow game designers and artists to easily drag, drop, and modify behaviors of the game Entities.
The engine consists of an executable that runs several dynamically linked libraries for the main application and the various plugin tools. This engine is not for novice C++ programmers. It is a good API to learn programming in C++, but the underlying architecture can occasionally be daunting to understand because the engine makes use of advanced programming concepts. It helps that the engine itself uses core software engineering concepts, excellent C++ programming practices and design patterns, and fortunately, the C4 community is more than helpful with providing solutions, alternatives, suggestions, and positive feedback.
The asset pipeline leaves a little to be desired, but is still functional enough to produce results with a reasonable workflow. The newly-revamped virtual file system introduces greater freedom in file organization and allows for packing on a per-project basis. Support for the COLLADA 3D format lends to the flexibility of using the asset creation package of choice. Importing is a little bit of a hassle in that there are multiple steps to get assets into the engine, including manually having to refresh the textures after importing the geometry, which is currently being addressed. However, importing geometry and animation is straightforward, logical, and supports LODs that can be dynamically viewed in the Model Viewer. The World Editor has a perspective camera that can have lighting turned on to see how the world looks in-game, as well as a quick Save and Play feature. C4 Engine has no ability to create low-level custom shader scripts, but a Shader Editor is planned for a future release.
As a licensee with full source code, a C4 application developer can create custom middle-ware and modifications to the functionality and usability of the various integrated tools that come with C4. There have been plenty of home-brewed solutions in the C4 community that allow increased productivity, such as an extensive Material Library, additional right-click context menus, dual-column panel layout, camera speed adjustment, a particle system generator plugin, third-party physics integrations, third-party scripting language integrations such as with lua, Python, and some GUI SDKs, and some of these solutions either eventually get officially absorbed into the engine, or promote feedback to the C4 author for alternative solutions.
C4 is an excellent engine for the modern game developer. The core framework exemplifies coherent software design structure that serves as a stable foundation for any real-time interactive application. Although the engine has several unfinished features, C4 is continually and actively being improved, and it is an all-in-one solution that's difficult to find in today's market of game engines.
[To give some credibility to my review, I'll summarize that I am a computer engineering graduate, and have been programming for about 7-8 years, modding for even since before then, currently working in the game industry as a software engineer, and also have used 3ds max for a few years and am currently a Maya user for 4 years running.]
My team has been using C4 for a few months now after an abortive experience with Torque products. Our ability to implement features and build a quality game experience has been boosted tremendously by the C4 engine. In addition, the support offered on its forums is unparalelled. I would highly recommend this product to anyone looking to develop an indie game title.
Though the demo code shows an FPS, I've had no trouble at all making a an overhead freeform camera or 2D GUI components which behave exactly as I want them to.
The rendering is superb and the engine is chock full of high performance, high-powered graphics capabilities. The tools and art pipeline are good.
Code interface is through C++ using very well designed, easy to use interfaces. You will have to be a programmer or have a programmer to make things work but if you have any coding experience this method works out much better in the long run than using script based engines works out - it's also possible to add in a scripting system for certain tasks on your own, as well, like some members have chosen to do, but I have found it very easy to just use C++ in spite of the fact that previous to the last six months I had not used it at all since the 90s.
Support and documentation is beyond what I would expect from any game engine's indy license. Too many communities for game engines are just not as helpful as they could be for one reason or another, but the community for C4 is large enough that help is never more than a step away and at the same time not so large that the signal to noise ratio makes it difficult to cut through the cruft.
I have evaluated every engine out there that's remotely in the price range of an indy developer, and C4 outstrips them all pretty handily. Everyone's needs are different and some might want an authoring tool instead of an engine, but if you have a coder on your team at all and can't afford to pay 20-100k just for an engine then I believe this is probably the right choice for you.
High powered graphics, excellent support (the creator answers any questions amazingly promptly, if the rest of the community does not get to them before he has the chance), as yet rock solid stability (and bug fixes are often applied within hours of being reported). It's also future-proof, as the indy license gives free updates for life. Even if you decide on another route, picking up a license at 200 dollars just in case is a steal as it's bound to go up in cost.
That's originally how I purchased my license in fact - I bought C4 and Torque but after struggling with the annoyances and lack of documentation for Torque for a few months and not getting anywhere I decided to delve into C4 more thoroughly and am glad I did - I have no doubt that not only will I be able to get better graphical quality than I'd ever hoped for, but that this engine is likely saving me a solid year of work or more over trying to use the other solutions out there that I've delved into.
Oh, and there are not many negative reviews for C4 but a few of them really lambast it. I'd suggest taking them with a grain of salt, though. One is from the one person banned from the forums to date who had a bone to pick because his pet feature requests were not addressed in favor of other features the author deemed more important (which have now long sicne been addressed), and another from someone who tried the engine for one day and then started a forum flame war and decided to take it out on the engine's rating.
After reviewing over a dozen sub-$1K game engines, I chose the C4 Engine and have been very pleased. The code's extremely well laid-out and easy to read, making it very easy to insert my code modules. Documentation isn't overly vebose and has just the right amount of detail. The couple times I've emailed questions, they were answered w/in hours, including my licensing which supposedly was going to take over a day. Demo performance and stability were better than expected, even after upgrading it with a lot of my code. I haven't tested the networking components, yet, however.
The best 3 points that I can't stress enough are:
1. The code is VERY easy to work with; it's organized very well and has well-placed optimizations. I was able to read it like a book and start inserting code in key locations immediately.
2. There are many modern eye-candy graphics features, maybe not everything, but certainly more than enough to add a high level of realism to my MMORPG.
3. The included tools (e.g. world editor) are very intuitive and are a great help for a noob content creator like myself. (I'm 90% coder, 10% artist.)
The only negative aspect of this engine is that it's not supported on Linux or other 'nix platforms. However, given Eric's reputation, it wouldn't surprise me to see him add it in the future. The lack of 'nix support is the only reason I rated the Features as 4- instead of 5-star.
PS The render-to-texture feature is wonderful, allowing you to have visually animated objects within the game world: computer screens, TVs, reactive keypads, animated dials on doors (e.g. a safe), realtime mugshots on character screens, etc. Lots of things you can do with this simple feature.
I looked at C4 after trying 4 other engines and theres really no comparison. While the code for the other engines was a giant mess, the code in C4 is beautifully clean and logically structured. Its obvious that a lot of care went into it. The engine is still in a developmental stage, but everything thats done is done extremly well. Updates come often and bug fixes are always addressed really fast. Theres already a huge amount of features in the engine , but when all the announced future features are done this engine is really going to be a major force. You can't go wrong for the price and the support on the forums is unbelievable.
C4 whilst still in development boasts an impressive feature set that makes some of the more mature engines roll over and die. The engine is extremely powerful, very modern in features and design
The engine is extremely easy to get into, the code base is so clean, well structured and well documented that if you know C++ you can get to work with this engine within no time at all.
C4 still has some bugs to iron out but they're certainly being ironed out fast enough.
Support is as high quality as the rest of the engine, the documentation is great, the community is full of very clever people that can deal with even the most advanced questions and they respond extremely quickly.
This engine is all round fantastic, definetely one of the best I've used and seen.
This is the greatest engine I've ever had the pleasure of owning. If you are serious about game development and require a top notch product that just works, this is the engine for you. This engine delivers, has more features than advertised and will reward you for your efforts. I can't say enough kind words about the C4 Engine, a remarkable product.
Finally, an engine which caters to the professional developer with a more than reasonable price tag.
The structure of the source code is the best I've ever seen. Clean, well presented and clearly very well thought out.
This engine is a pure pleasure to use. Stable, feature packed with excellent support from the author.
Do yourself a favour and give this engine a serious look, it deserves your consideration. You will not be disappointed I assure you.
- superb rendering features
- MacOS support!!!
- Good performance!
- Easy to use with the world editor and the visual script editor
- you can't get better support!
We now have decided to go with C4, it was very close (Sylphis3D) but C4 made it. Top notch!
C4 is still in development, but its moving along quite nicely.
It has some of the graphical features of higher priced engines, like dynamic stencil shadows, dynamic lighting, ambient occlusion, dynamic soft-shadows, parallax (offset mapping/vitual displacement mapping) mapping, glow, normal bump mapping, and even cinematic motion blur!
The engine's support is second to none, if you find a bug, post it in the bug report forum, and Eric (the maintainer of the engine) is sure to respond. Questions about a certain piece of code in the engine? Ask and Eric will respond quickly.
The community is quickly growing, and is slowly becoming a nice little community for the engine, and is always growing!
The planned features is whats going to make this engine worth while.
With physics coming this summer, and many terrain enhancements, theres no reason to complain about X feature missing, you're covered! Just see for you self whats planned: http://www.terathon.com/c4engine/forums/viewtopic.php?t=51
Overall, get this engine, and you'll be happy, your artists will be happy thanks to a nice artistic pipeline, and your coders will be happy thanks to nice clean and well organized source code.
The engine is great with alot of great features and alot more coming. It's relatively easy to use if you know C++ and both the skeleton project and the sample game code included are clean and easily understood.
The performance of the engine is great but you're going to need a higher-end computer.
The support is very good, the author of the engine will actually help you fix problems you're having and will go out of his way to help you.
Major updates usually come out with something brand new and awesome, such as a new fire effect and the coming customizable water, which looks great. The author really puts alot of effort into updates.
This engine is great which will only get better.
I am thoroughly impressed with this engine! Eric Lengyel has done an excellent job on it. I have researched various game engines and I have found C4 to be the best value for its price. I would highly recommend this engine over all others-especially Torque. The support Eric gives his licensees is superior. Furthermore, he is an innovative person who is dedicated to his engine and to his customers.
This is an excellent package, especially when considering the stellar cost/value ratio.
The engine is very carefully designed, and it's very evident. The source is quite easy for a coder to grasp, even by a programmer picking it up for the first time. One result of this is that customizing the package is much easier than most other engines (i.e., adding Novodex support, or scripting, etc).
The engine graphics quality is quite nice - don't let the demo fool you: it's all Programmer Art! But even with the "PA" there should be enough cues to the watchful eye indicating that the engine is a capable one.
Support is beyond excellent. The author is very accessable and interested in the future of the engine. Issues are typically tackled ASAP and suggestions are always welcomed.
Highly recommended to all.