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The Valve Source engine technology, the same used to power Half-Life 2, is now available for license by third party developers. Source provides major enhancements in several key areas including character animation, advanced AI, real-world physics, and shader-based rendering. Source offers the most advanced features, tools, and support at extremely competitively prices.
|License Name||Price in $US||Source Code Included?|
|Discussed under NDA.|
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Source is a very popular engine, but at its core, it is essentially a series of Quake hacks. One can even see some original Quake documentation in some areas.
I can only review this from a modding point of view, but I have spoken to some developers who have a full licence. Their experience is similar to mine.
Source engine has a nice set of features, complete with HDR and Facial Animation. It has a very advanced physics engine, that has caused a large stir.
The Source engine uses a shader based pipeline, and thus has some very nice effects. It has refraction, reflection and advanced specular highlights. The material system is very advanced and works itself into the shader system and the physics engine. Materials have "types" which determine the physical effects and how they interact with the world. The bumpmapping in Source is a mojor let down and gives no real appearence of depth.
The lighting in Source is quite nice, especially the HDR. Shadows aren't dynamic, which is a let down for the price. The engine uses soft shadow mapped shadows, which look quite nice, but are unsuitable for many purposes.
The AI is quite nice, but not perfect. It has some issues and needs to be heavily scripted in most instances.
The facial animation system uses muscles, and looks very nice ingame. VALVe has provided tools to facilitate this and it can lead to some very nice sequences.
The netcode for Source is particularly good, even though the physics are sever side, even physics based games manage to run lag free even on basic DSL connections.
Source provides a rounded feature set that is up there with the best. It is let down on some key issues such as shadows and bumpmapping.
-Ease of Use:
Source uses C++ with no scripting support. However, it provides a nice SDK.
Hammer is a BSP based world editor with support for advanced geometry and entities. The compile tools are great and easy to use to get content ingame. The Half-Life model viewer allows developers to view their models ingame without compiling a scene each attempt. A tool for scripting facial animation sequences allows for unprecentented control on lip synch and other aspects ingame.
The SDK works well with Microsoft C++ 7, but is difficult to use under diffrerent IDEs. It is generally easy to use, but has little official documentation, though several modding based sites give tutorials which can help programmers.
-Stability & Performance:
The stability of Source is less than perfect. It has been known to crash and bring up compile errors for no reason in particular.
Source can crash in several instances, and the engine is riddled with anomolies. For example, the engine will crash when the player in Half-Life 2 based games attempts to pick up the scout car with the super gravity gun. While this is a game specific example, it shows the issues with stability that Source suffers for a commercial product.
Performace is decent, even on older machines. Source can be scaled back to DirectX 7, which is impressive for a shader based engine. However, there are several things that negate performance, such as the physics in multiplayer being calculated server side.
From a modding point of view, there is plenty of support from forums that are dedicated to Half-Life 2 modding. For a licenced developer, all accounts say that VALVe are very helpful and prompt with support and provide a top-noch support service that can be accessed 24/7.
The Source Engine was obviously made for Half-Life 2 and is best suited for urban FPS games. It provides quite good features (4.5 if it were possible), and is quite easy to use. It suffers from stability issues, but performs quite well on older systems. From all accounts, the support is top of the range.
If you are looking for publicity on your licence, Source is the engine for you. However, as a engine for serious developers, it is let down by some key issues that make it inferior to other choices.
-Overall Mark: 4.2
OK I don't have the engine but the SDK together with HL2.
Upon that I made my review.
unmatched by ANY other engine.
Ease of Use:
as far as HAMMER goes along with VC7 - just super
Stability & Performance:
never had any problems with the game or the SDK
The web forum is very good, and I can not complain.
ps. my name is NOT gman but isn't he cool, hey?