ShiVa Engine

Engine default



Not specified


Supported Platforms:
Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Nintendo Wii, iOS, Browser-based, Google Android, WebOS

Languages Written In:

Languages Supported:

Graphics APIs:
OpenGL, DirectX, Software Renderer

  (58 reviews)

None (be one!)

ShiVa Engine is dedicated to run games produced by the ShiVa Development platform. It can run on several devices (PC, Mac, PDA, Mobile Phone) in standalone engine or web browser plugin.

Supported Features


  • Object-Oriented Design
  • Plug-in Architecture
  • Save/Load System

  • Fixed-function
  • Render-to-Texture
  • Fonts
  • GUI

  • Environment Mapping
  • Lens Flares
  • Billboarding
  • Particle System
  • Motion Blur
  • Sky
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Explosion
  • Decals
  • Fog
  • Weather
  • Mirror
  • Bloom
  • Monochrome
  • Color correction
  • Contrast
  • Splines


  • Per-vertex
  • Per-pixel
  • Lightmapping
  • Gloss maps


  • Shadow Mapping Cascaded Shadow Mapping


  • Basic
  • Multi-texturing
  • Bumpmapping
  • Mipmapping
  • Projected


  • Vertex
  • Pixel
  • High Level


  • Mesh Loading
  • Skinning

Scene Management

  • General
  • BSP
  • Octrees
  • Occlusion Culling
  • LOD


  • Forward Kinematics
  • Keyframe Animation
  • Skeletal Animation
  • Animation Blending


  • Rendering Ocean


  • Basic Physics
  • Collision Detection
  • Rigid Body
  • Vehicle Physics


  • Client-Server

Artificial Intelligence

  • Pathfinding
  • Decision Making
  • Finite State Machines
  • Scripted


  • 2D Sound
  • 3D Sound
  • Streaming Sound
  • 3D Sound
  • Streaming Sound
  • Streaming Video

Tools & Editors

  • AI model for designer editor
  • Ambience editor
  • Animation editor
  • HUD editor
  • Terrain editor
  • Material editor
  • Navigation editor
  • Particle editor
  • Trail editor
  • Lightmap compiler with ambient occlusion


Using LUA to define autonomous objects behaviors.


License Name Price in $US Source Code Included?
Proprietary Free No
Standalone or web-browser plugin engine
Proprietary Free No
ShiVa PLE, for personal use only. Development of games for distribution is not permitted.
Proprietary $169.00 No
ShiVa Unlimited, for small teams. No advanced tools, royalty free
Proprietary $169.00 No
Full version. For students and staff for instructional, research, and other academic purposes, royalty free.
Proprietary $1,499.00 No
ShiVa Advanced, full version, royalty free.

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Showing 1-25 of 58

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful

A Good Tool in 2009. A Terrible Company Ever Since.

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 codinghero Apr 23, 2010 at 21:29

I'm coming from a year and a half as a paying Unity Indie and Unity iPhone user with several released titles using that tool. I can understand some of the negative marks for ease of use as it is definitely a different style than most. Where Unity is centered around attaching procedural scripts to and editing of "GameObjects," Shiva is more about object oriented and event-based design. If you're coming from Unity it might take a while to get your head around these differences as well as the choice of scripting language: Lua. I personally installed, tried, and uninstalled Shiva fourth times before finally deciding to committing to learn it. It was that fifth time that I finally had the "oh i get it" moment, which was promptly followed by, "that's works way better," and, "that's way easier." I now find that it takes quite a bit less coding and asset management than Unity.


UPDATE September 11, 2012
I've now been using Shiva 1.9 for over two years, having released two iOS apps to the AppStore with it. And after two years of waiting for Shiva 2.0 I have decided to move on. Taken only for what it was and what it was competing against in 2009, Shiva 1.9 is a strong tool. Unfortunately, while the competition has been moving forward, Stonetrip has been focusing on the past. Shiva 2.0 was originally slated for release in December 2009 and promised a host of significant architectural changes and fixes. In that time Stonetrip have released several bug fixes and additions to their UAT (app translator), yet nothing but missed promises and marketing missteps regarding their flagship product Shiva. Meanwhile companies like Unity have long since overcome the performance and aesthetics gaps.

In November of 2011 there was finally a glimmer of hope as Stonetrip promoted a Shiva 1.9.1 update packaged with a 2.0 pre-buy that was to be delivered in March 2012. That date has come and gone and Stonetrip have failed to produce anything at all. Not a tech demo. Not a screenshot of it in action. Not even a feature list. Rather they have shifted from saying "it will be released soon," to "we don't know when it will be ready." They have also stated publicly that previous users who purchased the pre-buy will not be refunded. It is for these reasons that I have turned my back on Shiva.

I can deal with delays, and I can deal with bugs. What I will not deal with is a company with no regard for it's customers. Up to now I was still recommending Shiva to my peers, but as of this writing I warn anyone and everyone to steer clear of this snake oil. Time to have another look at Unity 4.0.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful

Gets the job done

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 Doctor_Pepper May 27, 2012 at 16:42

v1.9.1 Ive been using shiva for about a year and a half now. Being an engineering student with intermediate knowledge of Object Oriented Programmed, learning lua was a matter of syntax. Adjusting to the engine, however, took me several month of blood and sweat.
1. No matter what modeling tool i use, the only way to import what ive actually build, was through a 3rd party program (ultimate unwrap pro).
2. There is almost no documentation and the 3-4 active forum members are mostly new users searching for some answers.
3. A lot of issues with dynamic and static shadow on a custom textured models.
4. Plugins can only be used in the advanced version, so no1 writes or signs one.
5. Updates and bugfixes are painfully slow. It can literally take from a few month to a year.
6. Impossible to create fast pasted multiplayer games.
7. Physics engine is very limited

That being said, i still love it. Why you say?
1. Unlike unity, the preview window actually gives you almost identical representation of the mobile rendering.
2. Compared to costly unity or 10-25% royalties of UDK, Shiva feels almost free to target both android and iOs
3. Lightmapping is very decent. Even on low settings, i was able to achieve gorgeous lighting that performs very well on mobile devices.
4. It's a breeze to compile webOs, android, iOs or windows project with the same project file.
5. It gives you all the basics. Movement, animation transition, physics, HUD, texture swap, colliders, lighting etc It's all there

If you are making a somewhat traditional singleplayer 3D game for mobiles devices, while sitting on a small budget and developing with windows, it's an outstanding engine. Otherwise, unity might be a better alternative.

Recently, kickstarter has funded 170k USD to a shiva Necro project, while non flying soldiers was published by chillingo and featured by apple. So there are some big projects out there, but sadly, not nearly enough to drive the community

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful

An Engine That Refuses to Evolve

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 DoGokin Apr 23, 2012 at 06:17

I've been trying to use Shiva3D for over a year now and today I've finally decided to call it quits. It's a shame because it has a lot of potential and in some points it bests similar middleware like Unity (like HUD creation, export project in C++, and better lighting). However, the cons outweigh the pros and in 2012 Shiva3D has no place in the middleware space.

-The editor is very poorly designed having to switch between layouts (or workspaces as they call it) creates a terrible workflow.

-Don't like the built in IDE for scripting? Well too bad as the engine only supports its own built in IDE and there's no way to use your own since the AIModels making it very hard to impossible to work with scripts outside of Shiva.

-The Prefab system is poorly implemented as in the only way to make prefabs are to create models.

-Error messages are very vague ("Cannot create empty object model" without any reason why or how that's the only message you'll get)

-Documentation is sparse, examples are almost non-existent relying on its users to flesh out the documentation (Although you could pay thousands of dollars for what equates to a glorified manual).

-Forums are very slow which is understandable if the userbase is so small but unfortunately problems that people have can be left unanswered for days if not weeks.

-The wiki has so many broken links it's hard to find what you need because someone will reference a link that's on the wiki that has been down for months.

-Supported import formats especially for models is horrible, it only supports DAE which in itself is not a very common format compared to something like FBX, The developers refuse to implement anything else causing people to create long winded guides that (along with being outdated) could be solved by just supporting more formats (especially since Shiva converts them into their own proprietary format anyways).

There's a reason Shiva is on sale for %50 off, it's a very cumbersome engine to use and for what you get you might as well use something like Unity or support open source middleware engines like Maratis. Too many hoops to jump through and the developers have no idea where to take this thing so they're going to just drive it right into the ground. It's a shame too because Shiva3D could've been so much more but the support just isn't there and it looks like no one cares if it fails.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful

Very hard to use

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 Squid7 Apr 20, 2010 at 15:11

This is one of the worst engines. It is hard to use, and is NOT WORTH THE MONEY. You can get a much better engine for the same amount. I can't get around very well, very confusing set up, and doesn't meet the needs of a well done game.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful


  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 middle Feb 28, 2010 at 17:02

Very slow, not optimized, crashes very often, linux port doesn't work on my machine. I didn't find any serious project made with this engine. Unity is much more better on my taste.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful

worst support ever

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 dib Sep 09, 2008 at 19:39

"hi,NiCox remember me?"

stay away!
don´t loose your precious time with this SLOW toy.
the developers think that you are IDIOT
don´t be one more unhappy user begging for
best docs and samples for the rest of your life.

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful

Another useless RAD tool

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 Makumba666 Feb 01, 2008 at 06:59

Any gamer sometime dreams to create own game. And of course - it would be a great game. :) Fortunately, most of them very soon understand, that game programming is not an easy task - it is very hard, much time and money consuming; and they give up. But there still remains people that dreams to create great games with a mouse click. :) They have no programming skills, most of them never used even 3dmax or maya, but still they consider game creation a breez. They buy 3DGamestudio, 3D RAD and such crap, hoping, that engine will make up skills they have not.
Shiva is one of such piece of... you know, what I mean. Despite they claim programming language to be C/C++ - it is script based framework that is intended for hobbysts.
If you are going to create some screensaver, or amaze your friends with your basic "masterpiece" - then, go forth. Else, don't even bother with this one.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

the only packages that compare to Shiva's end results, cost tens of thousands more.

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 EBNY May 28, 2014 at 06:50

Shiva supports 16 or more platforms, for 1 price.
windows,Mac,ios, android, BB, linux, SteamOS, ..etc
xbox, playstation, nintendo(x)..etc

The hardest parts are learning 3d programming/concepts/rules and then the ShiVa interface. HOPEFULLY, you already know 3d programming/scripting concepts before you even try to use this toolset.
The UI is the other half..
There's learning videos, examples, API docs, wiki, forums..and you can get far with them. And later this year, I'll be taking the concepts of all of those areas and placing them into a Shiva Learning Video series that explains the UI and workflows that you can use, to get you warmed up and familiar.
ShiVa has power..Once you learn'll feel accomplished and confident that you can make your games/apps without much trouble.
- Skilled dev making mobile apps - YES
- Unskilled Dev making mobile apps - Sort of, Yes, but you have to have some serious computer skills
- Skilled dev making high end games/apps - YES
- Unskilled dev making high end games/apps - HELL NO, you're unskilled! duh!

Shiva is not a "press button make game" program. If you want noob tools, check out Construct2(which is cool, but noob-cool).

btw.. "Pedagogue for the 21st Century; a ShiVa Video Lab" - Coming in 2014. Learn how to use ShIva like a pro, in as little time as possible.
See ya out there. ;)

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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful

Cheap engine and we know why...

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 squier13 Jul 21, 2009 at 07:24

Slow engine, poor graphics, catastrophic management of shadows, suicidal compiling times (for acceptable results buy a render farm or contact the NASA...), forum support Muahahahahahah !!!..... It's a joke I hope... Import/export process with 3D soft works "a half", etc...etc...

Those who reviewed this soft with a lot of stars haven't really worked with it, or they content themselves with the minimum visual acceptable, not me sorry, Shiva is just a draft for the moment, maybe later who knows ?...

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful

What are you talking about?

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 grimlog Aug 18, 2009 at 19:33

For those of you looking deeply into actually making games, please do not take into account the posters who say this engine is a mere "draft" and that games are not possible. They say this because they are probably Unity users. Shiva is about to release 1.8 with a multitude of awesome features for any AAA title. The idiot poster who just recently stated that any serious developer wouldn't get anything from this platform or hasn't used it, is a fool, who has no idea on how to code, model, use music files, animate, etc...
I am underway with a AAA title for the iphone, which by the way, you get for FREE with Shiva. Unity is thousands when all said and done just for iphone? WHat a freaking joke.
I tried UNity and it has its good points, but it is unstable and very slow. PLUS IT IS $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
Games are not products of the engine, but products of imagination, hard work, creativity, and the willingness to be humble when times get hard. Anything worth putting on the market is going to be hard. I am a 1 man team going to produce an awesoem game for iphone.....maybe I'll make $$$, and maybe I won't....but that is up to me, not the tool I use!
I believe that Shiva offers the best bang for the buck. PERIOD.
ANyone who tells you different has no idea of what they say.

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful


  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 redqueen May 27, 2012 at 18:38

Being that they had a PLE version it gave me the chance to try out the engine and I instantly fall in love with it. There is a learning curve but being that you can use without limitation to try it out doesn't hurt to test it out. And majority of the time if there is a issue that you are having someone in the community will jump in to help which is good.

The main editor is LUA but you can do C++ in an outside editor. Has a terrain editor but the chunk system that it works with I just couldn't get but I doubt I would use it anyway I do everything in a outside editor.

I enjoy using it and discovering new things I can accomplish with it and the most recent release of games using Shiva is quite inspiring. I hope to have my own deployed to Android soon. :D

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful

How Artist Friendly is the Engine (5days training test total 20hours)

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 cmvrgr Feb 27, 2011 at 02:00

I loved that engine – love from first sight… but I am a bit disappointed with the learning curve.

I have completed a 5days training test for Shiva 3d sacrificing 4 hours after work every day for that test (20 hours total).

The first impression is that it is not "artist friendly" engine, requires a lot of coding.

I am trying to learn the engine but the learning curve it too difficult cause of the absence of tutorials.

I am an Artist user (no programmer for sure) with some background experience in programming.

The ShiVa Engine price and the export options are fabulous and maybe the reason for having the prices so competitive is the lack of tuts.

Maybe they are they are doing it because they try to sale the 10000 € 10days training cost (I am just joking :) ).

I have completed already the 20hour learning testing of shiva 3d and I will try another competitive engine (Unity) to see the learning curve in 20 hours (and if it is artist friendly) and I will come back after a week to update my review here and to the Unity’s Review Section.

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful

Shiva 1.9 Update 2011

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 devchristy Jan 09, 2011 at 19:02

I am an Indie developer with about 1.5 years experience in the games industry about 7 in the CAD industry and 10 in the programming industry.

This games engine is very stable and copes well with large files. I chose this engine because of the built in ambient occluder which makes multiple 3D models in your scene have the kind of shading that makes them look great. The frame rate was very good and there is a very good logic to the way the development environment is laid out. This was my third purchased games engine and the one that I know will start making me some money. Most importantly is the ability to port to various platforms thus giving your game maximum exposure. This is a clever move by stonetrip and one that I can be thankful for in the future. The demo game is of amazing quality and the forums have been very helpful. The language lua has been challenging but it works. This product has been written very carefully and I give it my full endorsement. If you have never programmed before choose another product however if you are considering a move and you understand computer languages well then I would recommend this program to you.
check out my website to see the games I am currently making.

I would suggest that all problems you may have with this product can be solved rapidly. There are good code samples.

Finally this product has a Personal leraning edition, Basic and professional. The titles have recently changed. This is an absolute bargain for such an advanced piece of software.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful

A second view...

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 r0g4n Dec 01, 2010 at 16:57

I want to update my previous review, which was not very nice. Some things have changed in version 1.9.0, but some not and remain very bad:

One of them is the general implementation of the Editor: the editor consists of different window frames e.g. scene view, data explorer, script window etc., which are arranged in a way mostly 4 different windows displaying. The annoying thing here is: you can't change or resize these windows. You are stuck with a certain window size on preconfigured arrangements. This is really a pain when you are used to a flexible layout manager such as is provided in blender3D or in Unity3d.
Furthermore be sure to have a full HD (1920x1080) screen, otherwise some parts of text and options cannot be accessed anymore, because the specific windows are simply too small to display the necessary width. As a workaround you need to open the specific section in another window - and afterwards you need to change this frame back again. This slows down the workflow a lot and the requirement for switching back and for gets annoying in no time. Generally you feel very restriced and immobile when working with this stiff system.

The most frustrating feature is the Terrain Editor: this is by far the most unintuitive thing I've ever seen. For example there are the terrain chunks: each time you want to paint or sculpt the terrain you need to select the some of the chunks first or all of them. Otherwise it doesn't work. Most often however you click somewhere into the scene because of rotating or something else and thereby deactivate the chunks. Now you must guess which chunks you activated previously and select them again. You even need to select chunks if you have only 1 of it.
Then to get started with sculpting you need to apply at least 2 or 3 layers. You can't just start sculpting your heightmap as you are used from all other terrain editing tools. I don't know what's wrong here. Sculpting itself is a pain too, because it seems you just can't sculpt high mountains or low valleys... it comes to a stop at a (small) height, nothing more than a small hill or sink. If you however apply an automatically calculated noise you receive a result with huge mountains/valleys. I don't get the logic in that it is obviously able to generate large height differences, but totally restrictive when trying to manually change a thing.
An even worse workflow is provided by the texture painting: painting textures with a brush just doesn't work. You seem to do some "masking" work with a certain opacity on the terrain, but when you are done - almost nothing has changed, or changed in a way you didn't want it to be e.g. let's say you click on a rock layer and make its "intensity: 0" and then you click on your grass layer and make its "intensity: 100. You'd expect that you'll fully see the grass texture then - but you don't. You still see the rock layer only. Also you can't determine exactly what you are painting, because the terrain chunk you are painting on has a white colored overlay. So you can't directly paint textures anyway. You only paint the opacity of this overlay from transparent to white, which is very disturbing. I didn't achieve any usable, nor productive result with that.
The only thing which works here is - which is nice: you can apply textures procedurally on a terrain: you can determine at which angle/slope and which height the different textures shall appear. If you have done this however be sure to take a coffeebreak, because the action "applying it" takes very long. Even the "preview" takes unbelievable much time.

Some good things now:
The visual quality of this game engine is good, I don't know what exactly makes it look better than e.g. Unity maybe it's because of better shaders, or the way distance LOD is handled, I'm not sure.
Although there is no spotlight available you have at least directional light (sun) and omnilight. Both support dynamic shadows!
Their ocean shader and waves are impressing.
Basic pathfinding is included. The implementation is ok and works, could be improved though. It provides access via the scripting interface.
Lightmapping is included, which will be your first choice for creating lighting in games. The default setting is quite high and needs some time to calculate, however you can easily set it lower and still achieve good quality with much faster render time.
This engine worked on my Linuxbox as well, I had no graphical artifacts. It is the rumor that version 2.0 might include an editor for linux. Would be truly crossplatform.
The support of normal and parallax mapped textures on terrain allows very high quality looking terrain.

Other notes:
The community is very small, even smaller than the Neoaxis community. You will wait 2 days for an answer in the forums, or sometimes you don't get any answer at all. There is however a good starterguide ebook available for download with lots of things explained. The wiki also helps much therefore you might not even need the forums.

When you are new to this engine you will find yourself spending time searching for different options and settings within the editor. Many options are available but not on locations or menus you expect them to be on the first place. It takes some time to get used to this structure but it's doable.

The performance in their small Tech Demo "The Hunt" is not so good, but that does not mean you can't create bigger scenes. I achieved a good framerate on a very large terrain generated automatically including grass, and you'll also find a large town map in the editor package.

This game engine has a great potential. The visual quality is top for a midrange game engine and the features are good. However 2 issues must be worked out to make this engine a real gain:
First: the editor should allow manually resizing the windows
Second: the terrain system must be reworked completely! It really is unusable.

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful

Shiva or the first time I had fun building a game from start to end.

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 kyis Jul 31, 2010 at 22:09

Shiva is in its version 1.8 at the time of this review, and 1.9 is in beta.

Well I'll stick to the guidelines for this review since my mind isn't naturally focused. ^^

For the supported features, well I'll be brief, they all work really well, as advertised, the only thing I would see improved is the terrain editor as some geometry modification layers are sometimes too aware of the terrain splits which cause a bit of warping, but in my usual workflow I tend to use custom height maps done in dedicated apps which Shiva imports well, artifacts only appear when I skip steps. ^^

Ease of use:
Well that could be the keywords for Shiva, when I first started with it, I was clueless about 3D game development and I was a little confused by the way it worked, in a completely object oriented fashion, but after a while it all makes sense, and that's a huge strength of Shiva, just switch a few objects and you have a completely different game.
I picked up lua faster than I thought, the API and editor was already complete and evolved quite a bit at each version, always in the right direction.
I also noticed very quickly that Shiva's development was almost entirely driven by community feedback.
If you suggest a feature it's either implemented, kept in consideration until implementation makes sense or denied with a proper reason, you always feel like part of the math and this tends to become very rare with other competitors, big +1 for Stonetrip on that.

The different versions/prices make sense and are honest, the unlimited (indie) version isn't crippled or limited in capabilities compared to the advanced version.
The licenses are very well targeted, you never feel handicapped with an unlimited version and you probably are using and abusing the added features of the advanced version if you felt you needed them.

For people who want to get started in game development Shiva is an excellent choice, you can develop for many platforms in an iterative manner, experiment and play at will, the documentation sometimes lakes of specifics but the community is responsive and enthusiast about helping good ideas become reality.

The learning curve is smooth if you do things in order, look at the samples, go through the documentation of the editor and API once, then see how you can interact with the different assets in the editor, try modifying the samples while getting to know lua and some best practices often used in the samples, etc...

I tried many engines, the closer to Shiva being Unity but in the end I felt like I wasn't part of Unity's targeted users and went with Shiva, I bought a license 2-3 years ago and if Stonetrip continue on their current path, I will do it again at the next major version without thinking twice about it.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful

Shiva Capabilities

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 GohanX Jul 31, 2010 at 13:33

Shiva as a game engine overall, seems to be quite powerful with a lot of features. the lighting is fairly good and competes with the other game engines to some degree but the editor does lack functionality and ease of use. the scripting is also a different way of working but not always better. but overall it is a good engine. with the engine being free to use it does allow to a more global market as alot of people do not like to pay. the iphone version is quite cheap and allows commercial releases.

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful

An Artist Review

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 Anonymous Jul 30, 2010 at 18:35

As the title suggests, I'm not going to get into the technological details concerning Shiva. I'm an artist, not a devhead.
However, if you work with artists – and if you're serious about game dev, you definitely are... – my perspective on the tool could be useful to you (and them...).
First of all, the WYSIWYG editor is really nice, with the ability to customize it to your needs (windows layout and content for each).
Then the Collada import is more or less perfect according to my experiences with it. This allows me to get my models from my 3D app to the real time editor in no time and ready to go. There I can tweak the materials and add effects with a realtime feedback. Placement and resizing are made with gizmos similar to those of most of DCC. Easy.
I don't remember the editor crashing on me, so it may have happened, but not to the point it is a problem.
The particle system is very simple (too simple ?) and easy to use.
On the graphical side of things, I think Shiva is on par with Unity (I hadn't had the opportunity to test Unity long enough, so I base my opinion on what I've seen of it).
On the not-so-good side of things, I'd like to see coming a dynamic sun-sky system, possibly with volumetric clouds, all with projected shadows, godrays, and night/day cycle, etc. (like what can be seen in silex3D for instance) instead of the much much dated cubemap system. That would be a major improvement.
Other elements are beyond my understanding and/or field of expertise, but devs seem happy with them...
As an artist, I'm very pleased with Shiva.

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful

A Good General Serious Game Tool

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 makkar Jul 30, 2010 at 08:41

This review is from a 3D artist's point of view, talking about Shiva more as a tool for serious games, interactive visualizations, product configurators, etc.

I used to deal only with 3D architectural still images and animations. I wanted a tool to present building models interactively, so I conducted a detailed research of the available 3D engines to choose from. There were about 40 of them which I read a lot about or installed a trial and fiddled with it. Some of the aspects were: good workflow with the DCC tool, all-in-one development environment, web publishing, no need for much programming, nice graphics, etc. In the end Shiva came as winner taking into account all the neccessary features my profession needed, and its price range also. I bought both versions and have been using them for more than two years. Shiva has got many-many new features since then keeping me sticking with it.

Learning path:

It is always a good idea to learn the very basics of a tool before using it. There are quite a lot written and video tutorials on the developer site, I highly recommend to read or watch at least those aimed at beginners before jumping into deepwater. There are some concepts unique to Shiva, it is good to know them beforehand. They help in getting to know the interface too, which might look a bit non-standard and distracting with its unusual colors in the beginning, but becomes second nature in no time. The user reference is easy to read and searching for information is feasible, but at certain places the descriptions are just plain technical - in these situations the supplied sample applications come handy, there is plenty of them. Nevertheless, I think that the documentation could be improved especially with regard to new people. Online support is great, the forum is very lively, the staff is often the first to help solve a situation. Registered users are entitled to email support, and I did receive help through this channel numerous times.


Geometry: Shiva imports only Collada which is about to become industry standard for asset exchange, and mostly every DCC tool is able to correctly export it. Shiva is not a modeling tool ( though it can create basic primitives like box, sphere, cylinder, plane, etc.) but a scene can easily be assembled from the imported geometry. Having standard orthographic views in the editor would make things easier, but that can be faked by using very distant cameras for those who desperately need it. Vertex snapping would be a nice feature, too. It is easy to keep assets updated, they just have to be reimported and it can be chosen what you want to overwrite: model/mesh/materials/textures. Assets can also be easily reused in different projects.

Materials: Shiva has its own shader solution, and users can't define their own custom shaders. For architectural scenes the available diffuse/specular/normal texture map group is mostly enough and there is one more texture slot for an effect map of various modes: modulate, saturate, burst, etc. The effect map may use the a second UV channel and can be utilized to create some stunning materials. Off course, talking about architectural visualization, Shiva could incorporate more advanced eye-candy material effects that freshly turn up in this field.

Reflections: Spheremaps can be set at the effect map for faking reflections, they generally look good except if the object is a perfect sphere - the spheremaps rotate with the camera. Cubemaps are on the roadmap, they should be more realistic. True realtime mirror reflections are created by placing Reflector planes, they work perfectly. Some potential blurring effect might make it to the next level.

Lighting: Dynamic lighting can work with vertex or per-pixel method, it uses high quality cascading shadow maps, which can be easily tuned for better appearance. Only direct lights can cast shadows at the moment, but it is on the short time roadmap for point lights, too. Objects can use Static lights, and they can even be mixed with dynamic lights. E.g., you could have an AO lightmap, and use a dynamic direct light for the sunlight. Shiva itself has a built-in GI-less lightmap solver, which can prebake static vertex lighting, too. The lack of GI can be counteracted by turning on AO in the settings, but then it becomes rather slow, so I prefer importing my GI lightmaps instead.

Post Processing: Some useful color correction controls for the final rendered images: Levels, Hue, Saturation, Contrast, Bloom, etc, just like using Photoshop.... SSAO would be nice to have here.

Dynamics: ODE based, the samples contain some prebuilt stuff that can be used: car, ragdoll, swing, etc. Easy to use for rigid body dynamics without programming, harder for more complex setups as it needs scripting then.

Animation: Imported animations for objects and characters work well, they can be manipulated to some degree with the Animclip Editor. This can be also used to create simple object translation/rotation animations inside Shiva, like camera walkthroughs.

Special effects: Particles are of standard quality. There is an Ocean module which creates a very good looking infinite water surface.

Terrain: Capable of importing heightmaps from other terrain generator tools, and there are sculpting tools inside Shiva for modifications are even creation. The terrain mesh is optimized for rendering and uses the mega-texture method for the material. Material layers can be painted by hand or defined on a slope angle basis. Several layers of foliage can also be painted onto the terrain. Simple roads can be created as well by drawing paths.

Viewing - Navigation: There are two navigation frameworks that can be used with architectural models: First person and Orbiting cameras. They work out-of-the-box, but if you want them to work side-by side, you'll have to get into scripting. No worries, this would be just scraping the surface. I have created my own combined and extended framework which I can easily reuse for new models.

Scripting: The language is based on Lua, filled with custom StoneScript commands. Fortunately, they are humanly readable, it is almost like reading a drama script in English. Basic programming knowledge will help, but it is relatively easy to get going. There are complete games to learn from like iBall3D or The Hunt. For simple serious games without much happening you won't have to dig deep, but if you want fancy features, it might be a good idea to partner with a programmer.

HUD: Easy to use wysiwyg editor.

Publishing: A very strong side of Shiva. Truely crossplatform. My favourite forms are standalone executable and web integration. The later is made possible with a browser plugin, which is extremely easy to install - if a Shiva content is encountered in a web page, there is only one click ahead, and the plugin will get installed within a minute. Not any special rights and privilages are needed for the user. Stability is very good, not any crashes in the last several months.

Teamwork: The Advanced version has some asset synchronizing feature for teams. You can work in teams with the Unlimited version, too, taking some care not to open certain kinds of assets at the same time. Usually all assets can be edited independently, and they can be assembled in the scene by someone else.

Versions: The cheaper version named Unlimited (~169 Euros) lacks a few features of the costlier Advanced version. I definitely think that if price counts, an indie developer can very easily get along with the cheaper version's feature set. In my opinion there are no really essential features missing - the Advanced features are mostly making work more convenient like material batch processing. What you might miss though is the built-in LOD creator and manager, but you can quite easily script your own. And you might even want to anyway, since you cannot define your finely prepared meshes as LOD levels, and the built-in automatic generator may yield some distorted forms. Also, you might miss the performance analyser tool, too, but only if you get into large scale development. You can work with both versions on the same project, at the same time.


I also use UDK for architectural models, and it is superb in many aspects - but it isn't crossplatform, can't be integrated in a homepage and needs a very strong graphics card, let alone the 25% royalty in the long run. There are many tools in the market, some are really better than Shiva - and they usually cost that much more. Shiva offers a balanced feature set: an integrated all-in-one environment, ease-of-use, smooth workflow, good visual quality, widespread publishing options and outstanding support. All that for pocket money if you take the Unlimited way.

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ShiVa - the way to go!

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 giggsy Jul 26, 2010 at 14:55

A quick intro about me: I study game development, my thesis is about "rapid prototyping in game development"
I'm in the "scene" for >10 years now and have also worked for some gaming companies (from indie studios to AAA ones).
I am about to get self employed with some colleagues of mine, and for that, I am evaluating possible game engines.
I have taken a deeper look at Unity, Torque Game Builder and of course ShiVa (only to mention the commercial 3D engines).

We want to primary develop 2D mobile games for iPhone and Android and that's what ShiVa comes with out of the box!
In my opinion, nothing is more worth than that - and I wouldn't want to change that e.g. with some kind of mostly eyecandy-only cloth support.

If you're new to full feature game engines like ShiVa, the learning curve probably will be quite steep.
If you have experience with Unity or the Unreal Engine, you'll get into it quite quick.
Although the docs could be a bit better organized...
I highly recommend the ShiVa Book which is avialable free for download on their site.
Community support is very good. I always got an answer within half a day.

I've done a little test game and can only confirm: 2D is definitely possible with ShiVa!
Sometimes you might have to think a bit around the corner though.

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smooth, easy and strongly updated!!

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 pitipulet Jul 24, 2010 at 16:45

It's been two years since i'm using shiva, first for a game under windows, and now focusing on mobile platforms (iphone,android).

Globally this is one of the best engines i've seen so far, and i have tested a lot over ten years from old Q3 to quest3d or unity, and i think shiva can pretend to be the most accessible and versatile platform development tool.

because of his strong and well written core engine, very stable and flexible, because of the well maintained code and new features integrated fast enough to really stay up to date in the performance jungle.
this is one of the strongest features of shiva and the stonetrip team ( i've met them in their office, and there is no mistake : passion is beyond profitability) : integrating only the features that will work fast enough and efficiently without sacrifying anything.

stability :

-WYSIWYG system working like a charm, no crash, no data loss, no strange behaviour or fuzzy stuff
-dae format, dynamic shadowing system that become very efficient since one year ( cascade technique )
-auto batching, culling, partitioning, mesh and texture streaming
-auto LOD system
-post render effects integration without killing fps
-terrain system

flexibility :

-organize and customize your desktop the way you want
-write in lua or c++, create opengl shaders, hlsl development, portability to various platforms, growing each month!
-beta/advises for/from users, wide community, lot of tutorials and samples.
-price really accessible for small teams/individuals : and you got all the features without restrictions !
-license that is aquired for long time and benefit from the successive updates without any fee, so as the multiple platform publishing without fee too!

the only weak points i see are for me :

-the mesh manipulation system and 3d navigation system : i would have prefer the flexibility from sketchup, wich is the best ergonomic manipulation system ( with navigation around selected mesh with middle button, or point and zoom function)
-mesh importing system wich still sticks with 3dsmax, you have to convert, reassign textures... wich is still painfull if you are working with another 3d tool.
this is generally the same problem with the other game engines, because of the wide variety of proper formats, softs and platforms, so shiva find his way with collada, and i believe it will be easier as they continue working on it.
- impossibility to resize the desktops (come on guys, let us do it !)

Except a few things to improve, shiva has arrived to great maturity, simplicity and a workflow more and more fluid, thus permitting to focus on the GAME, simplifying a lot the crazy life of game creators!
their strength is really to keep such a small core running so fast, on so many platforms with everyday improvements and new features, i haven't seen that on any other game tool for now.

So if you're searching a tool that run really good and even you're a coder or a designer, you will be 100% happy with shiva.

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Shiva is great for indies!

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 toovy Jul 12, 2010 at 09:16

I bought Shiva Unlimited in winter 2009 and since Feb 2009 I'm was creating an iPhone/iPod touch title. As I'm a professional software engineer, but not in the games branch, I needed a tool which lets me concentrate on the gameplay instead of anything else (e.g. getting inputs, managing the main game loop, creating event based messaging, including scripting languages, writing level editors and other tools, etc.).

In Shiva I found what I need to create games with great tool support.

Look at their website. The list of features is long. Not everything is perfect, but still very good. The features can even compete with very expensive engines.

Ease of use:
Take some time to learn the user interface. I think is pretty good! Also the workflow needs some ours to learn, but then it's smoth and you need no big extra efforts.

No complete crashes at all. Sometimes it's a good idea to restart it. The game runtime is also stable.

When I started there where not that much tutorials. But as for now there are a bunch of. Also the e-mail support was god, my question was answered very fast. Nevertheless the most answers can be found in the forum and also the response time in the forum is good. There is a wish list and I have the feeling that the developers of Stonetrip care about me and my complaints / bug posts / feature requests.

What do you need?

- you NEED basic development skills (no C++, but it's still scripting)
- you NEED basic 3D knowledge (Vectors)
- you NEED knowledge of a DCC Tool (Blender, 3sdMax, etc. which supports Collada)
- knowledge of game architecture is a PLUS

What is the workflow like?
Import assets, organize them in Shiva, edit them in the corresponding editor view, assign them to a scene and script the behaviour of the objects. Most of these actions can be performed by simple drag&drop actions, e.g. drag a material from the resource browser on the model in the 3D View, drag a object from the resource browser into the scene, drag a scene into the game. Then the scripting can be done with the nice code editor which has features as highlighting and code completition. Very handy.

Can you use Shiva for big games (AAA titles)?
In my eyes Shiva can not compete with e.g. Cryteks Engine or the Unreal 3 Engine. But on the other side Shiva has theoretically all features needed to create a very good title. The techdemo "The HUNT" e.g. shows that technically it is possible. So in theory a AAA title would be possible, but so far most AAA title studios have so much budget that they write their own engine or by one of the named above.

Why can you forget some of the negative post from above?
the HUD improved a lot, it's easy to add actions (fade in/out) and sound. It automatically scales depending on the resolution (that's the reason why you can't place HUD elements using pixels)
it was never the target of Shiva to create pure 2D games, nevertheless it is possible to create 2.5D games
the documentation and number of tutorials increased
the network features improved, it's now possible to create a multiplayer without an additional server (nevertheless you need a server when you wan't a dedicated server)

Shiva is an integrated game development environment and so much more than just an engine. You get the tools to create games for little money. A good choice for indies.

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The End of a Long Search...

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 clockmaster Jul 11, 2010 at 07:36

At first, sorry for my Bad english ^^...

Hello Everybody,

I want to tell you something about my Experiences with this Engine. Before I found Shiva, I used many other as "easy" advertised Game Engines like 3D Gamestudio, Dark Basic ( and Pro ), Beyond Virtual ( now GameCore ), NeoAxis, Unity, DX Studio, and some Mod tools. All the Tools are really Great Piece of Software, but it took sometimes to much Time to build something Small with it. Or the Workflow wasn´t as Good as I wanted, or the Graphic output wasn´t the Best. Then I found Shiva. And after several install and delete ( It is not really Easy to learn ), I learned to love Shiva. After I understand the Concept behind it, it was really easy to develop quick and easy games. This was the First Time, I had the Feeling that I had really the Ability to Create a Full Game. Even when it´s a Small One ^^. So but now let me tell you about the Engine Itself.

In my Opinion, the Engine is really Good for SmallCasual Games (For Desktop and Mobile Devices Like IphoneIPad, Android, WebOs Palm ) and for Good build and Funny Full Price Games. But if you want to create some Big Ones like Crisis, Far Cry, Battlefield, Mass Effect a.s.o, save a Huge Amount of Money, hire a Big Team of Really Experienced Guys and buy some of the Overpriced Engines. But I don´t think, that someone can do something else with Shiva alone ^^.

Features: Shiva offers much Features for this small Price. You don´t only get some Nice Eye Candy Features like Easy to handle Shaders ( You can´t write your Own here, but be Sure, that the Shaders are enough for Small Games, and that they work for every Plattform with 3D Acceleration ), you get some really Good stuff like Pathfinding, Ocean and Terrain Tools, Particle and Hud ( User Interface ) Creation Tools and much more... All build into on Big Editor with Windows, where you can put this "Modules" in. If you get the Concept behind this Editor, you will love it for sure :).

Ease of Use: I must Confess, that the Engine has a Huge learning Curve. That´s not, because the Engine is so hard to Use ( On the contrary, it is very Easy and Intuituve to handle ), but the Concept behind it is a bit Confusing at the Beginning. The Developers are going different Ways of Doing things, as other Tools do. But for an Experience Game Creator, it should not be so a Big Hurdle to get the Head around it. But for someone, who had no Experience in 3D, Programming Languages or in Desing Concepts. This people will be overwhelmed with this Tool ( and with all the Other Tools, too ) . I recommend them to read some Book or Articles about Game Design, 3D Basics and Programming Basics, before you should try to use such a Tool. This Tool is Easy to Use, but Game Design isn´t.

Stability: From my Experience, this Tool is really stable ( there was several Crashes at Runtime, but that only was my Fault of crap Scripting ^^ ). As many People mentioned, this Engine lacks a bit of Performance. The easier to use the tool, the more performance you lose. That´s Normal. So when you want to get the Full Power of this Engine, then with the New Version, you can Programm your Game in C++ ( with or without Lua Scripts ). Then you get some Performance Boost ).

Support: I can tell you, the Support is really Good. The Devs are really Present on the Forum, the User are Helpfully, too ( even for Beginners, who asked the Same Questions without to use the Search function ). The Developer Site has Some Tutorials, a Making of from a Good Game ( the Hunt ), a Beginners Book, written from a Shiva User ( really Good Work ), a Complete Documentation with Tool Descriptions and Scripting API, a Wiki, where user can put their own Tutorials Online and a Download Section with Code and Material Samples. And the Content will grow in the Near Future.

So please Download the Free PLE Version, test all the Features, this Tool gives you, take some Time and try to learn the Concept behind.

Either you will hate this tool, or Love it ( like me ^^ ).

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Solid middleware...

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 r10k Jul 08, 2010 at 14:07

I've been working with Shiva for a while now, with the intention of releasing a mid to high-end PC title.

As far as the engine's capabilities go, it can pull off enough to please anyone not looking to crank out a AAA title. It can't do everything, but for the money, it's hard to complain. You get more than your monies worth. The best thing about the engine is that it feels solid, and everything has a nice look to it.

Shiva is quite easy to use, once the way it works clicks in your mind. Some people give up before the penny drops, but for someone like myself who stuck with it, it became obvious the devs knew what they're doing when they designed it. Shiva's scripting doesn't come much easier. It's straight forward, and it works. The docs are pretty light on examples, so if you need to be guided by lots of little steps or need examples of how everything can be used, you may initially find things confusing. If on the other hand you have some idea of what it is you're looking for, finding things couldn't be much easier.

The application itself feels solid. It currently lacks some much needed workflow enhancements like customisable keyboard shortcuts (apparently coming) and better asset management, but in general things are easy enough to navigate. If you're familiar with any of the popular 3D suites you'll feel right at home. It's very artist-friendly, as opposed to a lot of middleware guis that make handling 3D assets a clunky experience. If you're a coder and aren't used to modern advancements in that area you might not notice, but I sure did ;)

On the topic of artists- Shiva's asset importing is quite solid, except that issues relating to collada files do crop up now and then. If you're a beginner, you might want to put on your thinking cap and learn about 3D. Stonetrip have written tutorials on the subject, but importing into Shiva isn't always child's play. From my perspective this is a normal part of game dev. However, I realise some people expect this to be an "everything imports perfectly at the push of a button" affair.

Lots of people have mentioned the good support. And, I'll agree to that. Some time ago the community asked the devs to spend more time on the forums, and they responded. They now have an active presence on there, which is almost unheard of. Stonetrip also have a very simple beta testing process, which is open to any license holder. In short, while some things about development are kept in the dark, Stonetrip are generously open about what's happening and where things are going.

In summary, Shiva isn't everything, and it doesn't do everything. Like every middleware package out there it has areas that could use improvement. But, Stonetrip have shown they're happy to make large scale improvements (not mentioned in this review, but are excellent all the same) and take their customers thoughts into consideration. The engine itself is solid, and there's a lot of forward thinking that's gone into its design. Because of that, and Stonetrip's approach to its continued development, I can only recommend it as a solid middleware solution.

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Nice and reliable engine, not too powerful though

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 soy1bonus Jul 08, 2010 at 10:56

I've used Shiva3D to create some games in the AppStore:

Graviton, Itsy the Spider, Party Kit and some more.
I've used both Shiva3D and Unity and I think I have enough experience with both to be able to compare them.

Shiva has an outstanding support via forums, Unity devs read the forums sometimes, but most of the help comes from other users (which sometimes doesn't help that much).

In Stonetrip's forums, the devs read quite some posts and add the most requested features to the engine quite fast.

The engine itself lacks some performance compared to Unity (but is WAAAAY cheaper) although is enough to make nice games. On the PC there's no problem with performace usually, just on the iPhone (but because the iPhone is not that much powerful). Actually there are things that are just plain slow on the iPhone, like music playback, and those are slow on any engine.

The visual editors on Shiva are great, allowing to test the particle systems, materials and user interfaces right on the editor. The GUI editor specifically makes interface creation REALLY fast.

The LUA scripting that powers Shiva3D is easy to learn although it's not the standard LUA language and many features have been ripped out (like arrays).

If you're an Indie developer and just want to do some simple and fun games, Shiva is more than enough for your needs. If you plan to squeeze the hardware, maybe you'll want to use a less visual engine (or code one yourself).

But the best thing you can do is download it for free and play with it a little bit. If you use the engine's strong points, the resulting app can be quite awesome.

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Get Shiva and start making games

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 dpharaoh Jul 08, 2010 at 01:13

I grabbed Shiva in 2009 when I was looking for a good alternative to iTGB to develop iPhone games. The Personal Learning Edition blew my socks off with its editor, and I put in the time necessary to learn how to use an IDE vs straight coding. To new users, my one message to you is this: stick with it. It's HARD to cross over to using an IDE when you're used to an open file system and notepad to code with. The rewards are fantastic to you, and you will finally allow your creations to see the light of day.

My real pleasure at finding Shiva is that after years and several thousand dollars of owning many licenses and engines and art packs/addons usable only in those engines, I finally found the one that lets me *finish* my game ideas. Shiva has enabled me to complete 4 games in 2009, and 3 so far in 2010. Compared to exactly 0 while using Torque at an expert level for 4 years.

Lots of engines will help you get a good prototype together or give you a place to start and learn, but with Shiva you will end up with something you can actually sell. Let me explain why!

Want to make an iPhone game? Sky is the limit here, build it.
Want to port it to Android? OK, just use the Universal Authoring Tool and you're done in about 3 minutes (no coding needed)
Want to target the Mac crowd? Go for it!
What about PC? Supports all the major Windows OS's
Wii? Yep
PalmOS? Yep
Well can I make a Facebook game with it? Sure can..

You code ONCE in Shiva, and can export to any of those platforms. No tricks. It all works smoothly. This is a tremendous and refreshing surprise.

Wether it's an MMO, FPS, Casual 2D game, racing game, RPG, you name it... Shiva can and will enable you to build it in less time than you would think possible.

You get all those features at the same price when you buy Shiva. No extra licensing costs or things to buy. And you're not getting substandard or sloppy products either. The thing that sets Shiva apart from all other offerings in its class is its polish. The editor and Universal Authoring Tool are HIGHLY polished, and everything works exactly the way you expect it would. Even with the amazing features under the hood, they all just simply work, 100% of the time. Stability is through the roof.

I have found that Shiva's polish and modularity really comes through when I need to reuse code and art from other projects. It is much easier to organize things using Shiva's IDE, and therefore easy to relocate them. This feature has let me go back into projects a year old and pull out an experimental function that I suddenly have a use for. Or pull in a polished character model and know it will work the exact way it needs to. I have been able to build up large libraries of functionality that I can pick and choose to bring from project to project.

Supported Features: The featureset of the engine itself is awesome. Whenever I need to add a feature to a game or need some specific technology, there is a path to do it in Shiva. Not some strange community add-on or other product to give me portions of functionality, but the right building blocks to do it right. It seems clear that the developers have put a lot of time into choosing the featureset wisely, and consider new additions very carefully. My observations of the dev team as a community member on the forums I can see how they make decisions and it's a smart approach that gets us new features quickly, they tend to be fantastic new additions.

Engine Updates: Shiva is leading the pack here, of that there is no doubt. Unity is close behind in many ways, but Torque is a distant memory here. Shiva gets updates very frequently, at least 2 times a year, and they are major updates to the engine and environment. Along the way there are point releases and releases to their Authoring Tool (the magic software which makes Shiva work on all kinds of operating systems)

To be objective, I know Unity has many of the same features Shiva does in terms of engine functions. What it doesn't have is a highly polished editor and workflow, all the extra platform support AT NO ADDITIONAL COST, and rapid reliable new developments and updates from the dev team. Though Unity has a much larger community than Shiva does, and more likely a larger dev team and budget, Shiva moves a lot faster to hit the new platforms. You don't have to wait months for a new OS (like the iPad or Android) to be supported, you can feel rest assured that Shiva will be supporting you hour by hour through that exciting release time or very close to it.

In terms of shortcomings, Shiva does suffer from a lack of text support. It is very difficult if not impossible to make a scrolling text container, or to display text in a variety of styles in the same text area. No HTML or markup support in text display either. However time has shown that when a shortcoming is in the engine, the dev team addresses it in order of priority.

This is one of the highest quality products around, and it will rub off on your creations. While others are standing by their engines of choice, you will be publishing games and gaining precious experience, not just pain.

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