Engine default


Nikolaus Gebhardt

Not specified


Supported Platforms:
Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Solaris, FreeBSD, Xbox

Languages Written In:
C/C++, C#, VB.NET

Languages Supported:
C/C++, C#, VB.NET

Graphics APIs:
OpenGL, DirectX, Software Renderer

  (61 reviews)

None (be one!)

The Irrlicht Engine is a cross-platform high performance real-time 3D engine written in C++. It is a powerful high-level API for creating complete 3D and 2D applications like games or scientific visualizations. It comes with documentation and integrates all the state-of-the-art features for visual representation like dynamic shadows, particle systems, character animation, indoor and outdoor technology, and collision detection. All this is accessible through a well designed C++ interface, which is easy to use.

Supported Features


  • Object-Oriented Design
  • Plug-in Architecture
  • Using C++ the engine is completely object-orientated yielding platform independence and graphics API abstraction
  • features a plugin-mechanism in that it supports external image and mesh loaders and provides a factory pattern support to enable automatic loading of those structures.
  • Integrated fast XML parser
  • Unicode support for easy localisation
  • Support for .ZIP files
  • Support for 64-bit
  • Joystick support included in Windows, Linux and OSX
  • Fixed-function
  • Render-to-Texture
  • Fonts
  • GUI
  • 2D drawing functions like alpha blending, color key based blitting, font drawing and mixing 3D with 2D graphics
  • Alpha blending for transparency
  • Transparent objects automatically managed
  • 2D GUI System with Buttons, Lists, Edit boxes, etc.
  • Environment Mapping
  • Billboarding
  • Particle System
  • Sky
  • Water
  • Fog
  • Sphere mapping
  • Realistic water surfaces
  • Customizeable Particle systems for snow, smoke, fire
  • Supports parallax mapping


  • Per-vertex
  • Per-pixel
  • Lightmapping
  • Supports dynamic lighting and light maps
  • Support bumpmapping / normalmaps
  • Supported through vertex and fragment programs as well as fixed function pipeline


  • Shadow Volume Dynamic shadows using the stencil buffer


  • Basic
  • Multi-texturing
  • Bumpmapping
  • Mipmapping
  • Basic texturing support with texture animation
  • Supported texture formats: BMP, JPG, PCX, PNG, PPM, PSD, TGA and WAL.
  • Save textures in BMP, JPG, PCX, PNG, PPM and TGA


  • Vertex
  • Pixel
  • High Level
  • Supports low level assembly vertex/pixel shaders and fragment/vertex programs as well as HLSL
  • Support for GLSL: ARB Vertex Programs, ARB Pixel Programs, HLSL, GLSL 100 & 110, VS1.1 - 3.0, PS1.1 - PS3.0


  • Mesh Loading
  • Supports 3DS, Milkshape, COLLADA, Maya, DeleD, DirectX .X, FSRad .oct, Cartography shop 4 .csm, Pulsar LMTools .lmts, My3DTools 3 .my3D, Quake 2 models
  • Supports native formats: Irrlicht Mesh (.irrMesh), Irrlicht Scene (.irr), Blitz Basic (.b3d), Alias Wavefront (.obj), Stereolithography (.stl), Lightwave (.lwo), Quake 3 (.md3, .bsp), Ogre (not animated)
  • Support mesh saving for Collada, IrrMesh, OBJ and STL formats
  • Exporters for common formats are available from third-party sources

Scene Management

  • General
  • BSP
  • Octrees
  • Easily extensible hierarchical scene graph
  • Mix indoor and outdoor scene seamlessly together
  • Supports picking,


  • Skeletal Animation
  • Morphing
  • Animation Blending
  • Meshes are linear interpolated from one frame to the next
  • Mesh is manipulated by animated joints
  • Load Quake 3 BSP Levels


  • Rendering
  • CLOD provides geo mipmapping with several LODs


  • Collision Detection Bounding box and triangle based collision detection and response

Tools & Editors

  • irrEdit: a free functional scene editor and lightmap generator
  • GUI Editor


License Name Price in $US Source Code Included?
ZLIB Free Yes

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Showing 26-50 of 61

0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

Best thing in 3D to exist

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 rohitchauhan802 Jan 21, 2007 at 22:33

I have tried and assessed many 3d libraries ,

OGRE / Torque - too hard to understand (Developers only , not for application Programmers) ,

CrystalSpace - too hard to setup ,

Blender - too Large Worlds lead to unacceptable drop in FPS ,

Panda , jME - too Unconventional due to Python/Java usage (C++ still a 3D standard),

TV3D SDK/RealityFactory - Sort of obsolete features (directX 8/directX 7).

So, Coming to Irrlicht ,

1) C++ - Standard language usage , really fast .
2) Very Easy API - For Application Programmers .
3) Easy setup - Breeze to install and get going .
4) Rendering - No problem rendering large worlds , just run the 2 nd Tutorial .
5) Features - Latest directX9/OpenGL , Shaders 2.0 et al .
6) 2D/3D Sound - With the Integrated irrKlang sound library.


ISoundEngine* engine = createIrrKlangDevice();

engine->play2D("/home/rohit/mysong.ogg", true);


7) irrEdit - Gives you a WorldEditor and LightMapper .
8) Docs - Excellent bundled Tutorials , Documentation.
Huge Forums .
9) What else do you need ? :)

10) So , Irrlicht rules .

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Recommended for starter

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 Panzooka Nov 02, 2006 at 04:20

This engine is very easy to get started, with great uptodate tutorials.
the engine is completly and nicely written in OO fashion, the documentation is good.
however the engine have its limitation when you trying to implement more advanced feature.
for example you cannot apply more than 2 texture to 1 object, without extensive digging into the source code and modify to your needs.
there are many custom codes written for irrlicht engine, which adds more feature, but everyone works on different version of irrlicht engine, which makes the implementation to your own code much harder.
the community is large and friendly, most the time your questions are answerd by the community, not the developers
there are also many other project that works closely with irrlicht such as IrrKlang(new), which is a nice and easy sound library(by the same person wrote irrlicht), that can work standalone; IrrEdit, which is a scene editor, capable of generating lightmaps, particle editing, etc and save in .irr format. IrrEdit and IrrKlang are both written by same person who wrote Irrlicht, so i count them to be part of the irrlicht engine

overall, this engine is great for people learning how 3d game, and engine works. once you get hang of it, its better to move on to more advanced engine, such as crystalspace, ogre etc

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

best and easy

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 omar_shaaban Oct 31, 2006 at 14:13

Well I have searched for many engines to find a good and mainly an easy one the best answer was Irrlicht Because:
1-very easy for making good 3d games
2-it has all the functions u will need to make a 3d game
3-it is better than crystal3d and ogre
Because first ogre is made for rendering for some cases and crystal 3d is a bit complicated and so good as Irrlicht
So if u wants to make a 3d games with c++ make it with Irrlicht!!

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

great FREE engine

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 K_li Sep 25, 2006 at 07:10

ps : a Blitzmax wrapper exist, then update our plateform list please.

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  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 xteraco Aug 23, 2006 at 13:06

ok, first off, i love this engine coz i can use it with gcc, i absolutely hate VCpp, so this engine definately gets props for that. Secondly, the engine structure is kinda messy but not completely hopeless, its definately usable by the intermediate coder. third, software rendering rox! lol

this engine is feature rich, i mean, it has everything, and its not terribly difficult to implement it in your code, so i give it 5 star :)

ease of use:
i give it 4 stars coz its kinda messy, the engine structure has a slight learning curve. not that theres an engine that doesent, but this one is a lil steeper than i was used to.

stability & performance:
works great with gcc, and hasnt crashed my machine yet. performance wise, i've been meaning to test the software rendere on my old laptop, but as far as HW gfx goes, this engine is BLAZING FAST!

i've not needed any support, so i cant really say, i'll assume a 5.

note to dev's on irrilicht:
please please dont stop supporting gcc! and keep up the good work

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

back from Ogre.

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 holczhammer Jul 18, 2006 at 22:53

I had a problem with pre 1.0 releases in Irrlicht. I was able to fall thru terrain in the provided demo. It was pretty annoying. Due I was absolutely beginner (mostly copy-paste code) for cpp that time I found no way but abandon what I had created and find another way to have fun with Cpp.
Recently I started using Ogre. I would say it has many advanced features which seems amazing. All good things turned bad when I learnt that I won't be able to import ogre skelatal animations into blender due to lack of support (the importer is v0.5 and no updates for the last 4-5 months and we talking about a python script here bleeewwww).
Due Ogre have the misconception to have a format which can not be seamlessly turned to e.g. 3ds (which I guess handled by ALL of the modellers) I understood that an 3d engine is not only about buzzwords but a bunch of code which must have:
1, documentation :)
2, support for modells WITH animation without having anything extra to code (my own mesh format for my 3d engine? come on! you think you will have a better generic 3d mesh format than the professionalsalready have?)
3, open architecture for adding non scene rendering driven objects (ogre have a very bad concept on this imho) with examples (easy to find examples i would say). I mean timers, sound and physic call back. Basicaly a support for multithreaded environment. Those who think 3d engines are and will be single threaded You should keep the architecture of PS3 in mind...

So I HAD TO MOVE back from Ogre (due I understood that falling thru terrain happens with every 3d engine if MY code is bad ;) btw have a look what was done just by a week (only nights!) in ogre, but I still have to abandon it or write a decent importer in python (it a language like javascript - can't do any serious with it) :((((

If you have problems compiling the examples then you can solve all the problems within 10 minutes (add includes, add linraries, add /D "_CRT_SECURE_NO_DEPRECATE" to command line) by reading the net. have fun ;)

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

A great flexible 3d engine for Beginning Video Game Developers

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 fungames Jul 03, 2006 at 23:00

I'm new to video game creation and have moderate C++ skills. Some of the commercial engines seemed to rigid or expensive. I use one compiler, Micorsoft Visual C++ 6.0 (Standard Edition). The Irrlicht Engine compiled right away with no additional hassels with setup compared to CrystalSpace which seemed very difficult to setup with MS VC++ 6.0. I was running the demo games in no time. Ease of initial setup is a huge advantage to beginners such as myself. It's hard enough to learn all the other things it takes to create a video game (Character creation , maps and so on...). What's great about this engine is that it uses Quake 2 models which are extremely available all over the net with Quake 3 maps. The last thing you want to face is a huge learning curve with the 3d engine. While this engine lacks alot of features, but the user community is huge and they are constantly adding to it. The 3d engine is stable and very flexible. It's free. I was able to easily add video/cutscene capability as a moderate C++ developer. Not bad. The graphics and visuals effects are are very good for being a free engine. It's not bug-less but as you learn more about it, they are easy to resolve. Overall if you're new to 3D game programming, download this engine immediately and start learning. I've followed this engine for about 3 to 4 years now and only seen the support and community grow and grow. A word of advice: Once you've gotten comfortable with a certain version of this engine and its feature, stick with it and disregard any updates unless they offer a major improvement. Otherwise, you may have issues with 3rd party software that it used at the time. Another thing is that the documentation is not strong, however, searching through the user forums can answer most of your questions. But the main thing is to just stick with it and learn. I've already created my first game with it and is working on my second one. After you've downloaded it and set it up, try to compile and run the techdemo example until it works. Good luck!!!

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

a peace of cake

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 quark Jun 08, 2006 at 12:04

Irrilicht is so simple that it doesn't even need a huge or better explained documentationtion. Almost everything is allready explained in examples, which are ALL working very good for me on (shitty) Intel Graphics 2.

This engine doesn't need extensive previous experience, only base one. If you have diifilcuties to understand how things are working there, don't hestiate to ask on forums. This engine is free and open for everyone.

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Great 3D Engine

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 ElvenRoth Jan 11, 2006 at 13:14

I tried many 3D Graphics Engines out there, trying to find one to suit my needs. Irrlicht was the first to do just that. It's extremely easy to use, and has a lot of features that just make it one of the best Open Source 3D Engines.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

irrlicht needs its own mesh format

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 horace3d Dec 30, 2005 at 16:40

i agree with panoramix!

irrlicht desperately needs its own mesh format!

i like that irrlicht isn't very bloated compared to other engines. that's one of its strenghs. so it would be nicer in my opinion if the rest of the supported model formats (except maybe collada) were put outside of the engine into an external conversion tool.

i think stencil shadows have no future. irrlicht should support depth map shadows. is a very nice addition! with .net languages irrlicht is even easier to use. it's a pitty though that it doesn't support mono since it's done with managed c++.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

Ease of use is up, asset creation down. (v0.14)

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 panoramix Dec 30, 2005 at 05:12

Irrlicht is probably the most easy to use 3d engine out there. It also packs a lot of power and very nice features, but I would warn people from using it unless they're up to the challenge of doing major rewrites to accomodate missing features. One of the features I missed the most is probably the one no-one complains about: Irrlicht does support a lot of file formats, but most of them are only partially supported. Depending on the model format you work with you either have to choose between no lightmaps, no shaders, no animation, or no bones. On this I would also like to note the pipeline from 3d modelling packages to Irrlicht (at the moment) is terrible... a custom model format (with support for the materials and features the engine packs) and exporters for it would be really nice.

Having said that, Irrlicht is in itself a nice engine, support forum is indeed very helpfull, and it's ease of use will get you going in no-time... just keep in mind you'll have to hack it appart unless one of the already supported file formats fits your needs. It was fun working with irrlicht and I'm sure I'll check it out again at some point in the future.

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That engine's 'purty

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 haxorphreak Oct 13, 2005 at 02:09

Really easy to use, and pretty user-friendly. Nice set of features, all of which can be implemented rather quickly.
Good selection of model formats (although I'm waiting for .md3) as well as BSP, which can have an octree applied with one like of code.
I gave support a 2 because of the forum. It usually starts with the poster not searching, or asking the wrong questions, but there are a few (not mentioning names) members who 9/10 posts I see from them are really terrible, blind, flames.
Other than that, very nice engine. And open source to boot.

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Great engine

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 eye776 Sep 26, 2005 at 08:57

If you want to develop games fast, this is the way! The best engine to start with. Irrlicht is also good as a base for your own engine, since the source code is smaller than the one of other engines. It's also very small (around 3-4 mb without data) and it comes with all the libraries (except DirectX headers) included, so you can recompile it anytime. It does have a few problems with speed, and sometimes it performs differently on different machines but it's ok. A must try!

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nice good engine for the start

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 Sagor Aug 02, 2005 at 10:57

Pretty nice engine.
Very easy to use, very nice architecture of the engine.

But if you wish to use this engine, you have to understand that you have to complete it on your own or wait for official releases.
Engine had a good ground and basis for adding new features, but its need a lof of work to optimise it.

Another one plus, is that licence is really nice. You can use it where you want. And you can modify it without any restrictions.

So, this engine is good if you want to write something on your own, but don't want to start everything from the scratch.

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Great engine, but it has it's flaws...

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 toopz Jul 29, 2005 at 05:52

First off, it's a great engine. Supports animated meshes, bsp's, per-pixel lighting, bump and parallax mapping, is extremely easy to use, and a number of other features that you can simply scroll up on this page to see. however, rather than walk you through this, I'll tel you about it's *missing* features.

For starters, there's no IK bones animation. This doesn't sound bad at first, unless you want certain real time animations to happen. For example, in my game, I'm planning on having it so when not jumping, the player's feet are always on the ground. This would mean like on a hill side, his right leg would be bent so that the foot would stay on the ground properly, while his left leg might be extended to reach the lower ground. However, IrrLicht has no support for this. No IK also means that ragdoll animations are impossible. Not to mention only two of the mesh formats (.x and .ms3d) support animations. Due to this I would have to entirely rewrite the mesh and animation system, which would make other engines, such as Ogre, much more appealing.

The parallax mapping also tends to have quite a few artifacts show up, such as in this screenshot (, but overall it's pretty nice. Those artifacts may just be with parallax mapping in general though, so disregard that if so.

Lastly, I'm somewhat dissappointed by the shadow system. It works, but I think it could possibly be handled better. Overall, I applaud niko for including the possibilty for self-shadowing.

It's a good engine, and a great one to start with (I can understand it and I still don't have a decent knowledge of c++) but if you want to work on your game and not spend time rewriting the engine's black sheep parts, use something else. However, if you don't require all of the advanced features for today's games, it's perfect.

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  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 HeToC Jul 28, 2005 at 12:08

Thus Engine have a lot of features, but there is an incomplete set of those that are MustHave , such as DetailedTexturing support(but mb will be implemented in future versions)
Very easy to use but there is no Scene mangment support
As what about stability, i have seen no problems with it =)
Performance is nice, except .Net sources, afaik Net platform is not for gamedev =)
Superb support meke this engine to be on top, cause a lot of people are writing additional modules, model loaders, and other stuff

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commercial C++ grade engine for free!!

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 afecelis Jul 16, 2005 at 03:15

Irrlicht is one of the greatest free engines I've ran into.

Specialized on the graphics part, it's the one I've found to be easier to work with. It supports all major 3d model formats, as well as image formats, and the engine itself includes a complete set of functions and instructions that let your project grow in any direction you want it to.

It's very moddable and external engines like physics or audio are easily added.

It's got one of the most active communities I've seen on the net and everyone is very supportive.

If you're a programmer you'll squeeze it to its limits and add all the things you need in no time.

ps. It already has a CVS version.
ps1. Irrlicht kicks butt!

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Just the best free 3D Engine

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 CryXor Jul 11, 2005 at 15:16

This is by far the best free 3D Engine I've seen around. I'm currently working on an Game Engine that uses specialized engines already out there.
For the renderwork, I've choosen Irrlicht after trying to get OGRE and Crystalspace3D to work.
Features are nearly the same (Irrlicht supports all the popular 3D formats, that's the point OGRE and Crystalspace just lose) and Irrlicht ist astounding fast (don't trust the people saying Irrlicht would be slow! That is not true!). Plus it is easy to use, you got tutorials and help from the forums.
The licence is perfect!
Give Irrlicht a try, you won't be dissapointed!

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one of good engine for beginner

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 minho_ha Jul 07, 2005 at 22:01


This is one of good engine to make simple result.
In my summer holiday, I spend lots of days to reading documnets and compiling 3d engines.

I'm looking for a job to make online game.
I'm 36 years old and useful Project Manager.
Call me if you are CEO of game company in Korea.

Min Ho Ha

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Excellent 3d engine

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 Pheel May 05, 2005 at 07:38

An extremely comprehensive, easy to use engine, nearly no bugs, continous updates/patches, a must-have for games-programmer, Irrlicht is one of the cleanest designed libraries I ever used. Well done, go ahead Niko!

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it's really easy for use

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 yjlchina Apr 02, 2005 at 12:09

I start learning 3d program six month ago. luckly I found irrlicht. It's really nice, easy and popular. The most impotant thing is that irrlicht is progressing every week, as you can see.

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Very Good

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 finalfantasyfanatic Mar 06, 2005 at 21:20

This engine is very good. Surpasses many capabilities of commercial engines, and seems to be easy to use. It has cool features like shaders and goes extremely fast. It also has a large community with many tutorials out there to aid this engine

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Greate engine, cool & easy effects

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 katahari Feb 11, 2005 at 08:40

Never used an engine with that nice learning curve. The effects are great, and now it looks like the next version will get some decent shader effects like per pixel lighting and normal maps. Can't wait for that version!

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Great engine!

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 Ed_Mack Jan 01, 2005 at 11:58

Whether you are just reading other's code for ideas or setting out to build your own game on top of this engine, it's a very well designed place to start. It's a very fast engine with a great community and nice feature turnover (i.e. new things added often).

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Best free engine

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 uhuru Dec 13, 2004 at 06:15

I checked out several engines now, and Irrlicht is the best engine so far. It has the best documentation you can get with its tutorials and the compiled html help file. In addition, the API is so well designed, you'll never want to switch to another engine.

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Last edited Oct 23, 2013 at 02:48

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