The Nebula Device 2

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Radon Labs (

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  (11 reviews)

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Nebula Device is an open source realtime 3D game/visualization engine, written in C++. Version 2 is a modern rendering engine making full use of shaders. It is scriptable through TCL/Tk and Lua, with support for Python, Java, and the full suite of .NET-capable languages pending. It currently supports DirectX 9, with support for OpenGL in the works. It runs on Windows, with ports being done to Linux and Mac OS X. new game framework called Mangalore can now be used on top of Nebula 2 to reduce the time and complexity involved in building games.

Supported Features


  • Object-Oriented Design
  • Plug-in Architecture
  • Save/Load System
  • Other
  • Hierarchical Object Name Space: Nebula2 objects live in a hierarchical tree of named nodes similar to a file system hierarchy. An object name can be converted into a C++ pointer and a C++ pointer can be converted into a name at any time.
  • Nebula2 objects survive on disk as scripts that contain exactly the sequence of script commands that would put a default object of that class into an exact clone of the object which created the script.
  • Provides a full blown system for providing themeable user interfaces within the game
  • Provides basic support for threading
  • Fixed-function
  • Render-to-Texture
  • Fonts

  • Environment Mapping
  • Lens Flares
  • Billboarding
  • Particle System
  • Sky

  • Splines
  • Patches


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


  • Basic
  • Multi-texturing
  • Bumpmapping
  • Mipmapping
  • Projected Default image format for textures is DDS


  • Vertex
  • Pixel
  • High Level
  • Shader Based Graphics: Nebula2 is ‘shader-centric’, all render state is handled by the shaders
  • Shader parameters can be created and altered from the in-game console
  • DX9 implementation uses Direct3D Effect Files


  • Mesh Loading
  • Skinning Supports .wavefront object file (ascii), legacy n3d files (ascii), new n3d2 files (ascii), legacy nvx files (binary), new nvx2 files (binary)

Scene Management

  • General
  • Portals
  • Octrees
  • Occlusion Culling


  • Keyframe Animation
  • Skeletal Animation
  • Morphing
  • Animation Blending
  • High-performance skinned mesh renderer with multiple animation clips per state and blending between different states.
  • Many things can be animated: shader parameters, position, rotation, scale. The animations can be driven by time or any other variable of your choosing and you can choose from step, linear and quaternion slerp interpolation.
  • Supported file formats are nanim2 and nax2 (ascii and binary animation file formats)


  • Rendering
  • CLOD
  • Splatting


  • Basic Physics
  • Collision Detection
  • Rigid Body ODE integration is available.


  • Client-Server
  • Peer-to-Peer A running instance of Nebula2 can be controlled, via the script server, from another process on the local machine or another remote machine (mainly used for debugging)

Artificial Intelligence

  • Scripted


  • 2D Sound
  • 3D Sound
  • Streaming Sound Supports both OpenAL and DirectSound.


  • Commercial Maya tools available from Radon Labs (
  • Scriptable in TCL, Lua, Python, Ruby. Other scripting languages can be added easily.


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

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

Nebula is the best

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 MasterPotamski Aug 10, 2007 at 12:14

I bellive in some close time Nebula will be better even than Unreal Engine 3!!!

god work!!!

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

Best open source engine with commercial titles

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 keedongpark Jan 18, 2007 at 07:25

Myself used Nebula2 for the development of online action game Tapa Online (

The engine is very powerful to develop commercial titles.
Performance including particle systems is nice and TCL scripting makes everything easy from tool development to game scripting. GUI system is good enough to develop online game GUI.

The lack of export tool for Max is overcome now. So you would not have problems with tool chain as I suffered from the project beginning.

Nebula is not that complicated compared with other commercial engines like Gamebryo. Nebula is rich in feature. So you need to study quite bit as 3D programming itself is quite challenging subject.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

Dont know how to start it :(

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 killallthattry Dec 28, 2006 at 17:37

Can someone help me I see that all of you know what you are doing so please hlp me on how to even start Nebula Device 2 I tried everything and its not working I downloaded it from but I dont know why its not working.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

hard to learn :O ???????

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 kariem2k Aug 22, 2006 at 14:16

Hi all
who told that the engine is hard to learn,it is one of the easiest engines i have ever used ,Also with the upcoming game framwork "Mangalore" using the engine will be even easier.
This engine has many features that makes it different from any other game engine specially in the objects managment and scripting interfaces.

three games using the engine are just announced on
visit to have a quick look on them.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

A great engine

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 chris_kruger Jun 21, 2006 at 14:35

I've been following the development of this engine for some time now and it's really coming along. It was one of the first open source engines to make really good use of the scene graph and many associated tricks and optimisations.

There is kind of an internal heirarchical object filesystem/database that allows one to easily interact with the scene. It is reminisicent of some of the features of plan 9 where all datastructures are some how represent on the filesystem. The builtin TCL scripting allows you to set up so much quickly and easily. The distiction between data and code is blurred. The TCL language and associated WISH windowing toolkit allows you to create tools and editors from the game engine by merely creating the script to run the requisite widgets. A nice example was the old particle editor that was present in a previous version (not sure what happened to it).

The design of the engine code makes use of many design patterns and it's quite intuitive. However because of the design flexibility and features it's probably not suitable for a raw beginner (but few engines are).

The commerical tools package that is available for Nebula Engine is wonderful. It allows you to create content and view it directly in the game engine at whim.

I strongly believe this engine is one of the best offerings available. Sadly there are few community tutorials and examples of what can be achieved with this engine which is why I think it is under represented amongst hobbiests. I believe features within the commerical toolkit would lend an artist to actually enjoy working with the engine.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

If you want a free professional engine, this is THE ONE

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 meeshoo Nov 14, 2005 at 09:04

Hi. We are in our game's design phase and I was conducting some research on the free engines available out there. I've tried lots of them(around 6-7). The Nebula 2 was one of the first, but I've abandoned it quickly, because it was too complicated at first sight and it didn't have enough tools. But after looking at other engines, I've returned and give it a try with Nebula 2. It's absolutely amazing, it's the best design of an engine you could possibly see. It's very robust, very abstract and very easy to use. The tools problem is not a problem at all, because of the community support. The only thing it is really missing is a level editor, but an in-game level editor should do it. So don't hesitate to use it, because it looks complicated, because it's not.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

One of the Best Engines, I've ever seen!

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 ZeroMem Jun 01, 2005 at 22:52

Many people say that OGRE is one of the best Engine. But how some of them noticed, it's more like just a Rendering Engine. And this is the biggest difference between this Engine and OGRE Engine. Nebula has already participated in over than 15 commercial games. OGRE - not. Many people do not choose Nebula 2 Engine because of it's complexity. But don't be a fools. Use Nebula 2. All other free OpenSource Engines do not have a such powerful and extendable core like this does.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

Nebula2 - The best!

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 InternetNightmare Apr 30, 2005 at 09:27

Nebula2 is indeed the best free engine out there. In Nebula2 you can find anything that you need to develop modern games. It's not as easy to use as other engines, differs from teh rest, but TCL scripting speeds up the process. For professional game development, Nebula2 is the best choice.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

Nebula2 3DEngine

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 ZDeveloper Apr 03, 2005 at 07:45

In my opinion Nebula2 is the best 3d engine with free sourcecode. Ok it is not very easy to use, but it is very powerfull. And if I compare it with other (not only free) engines, I see the power of Nebula2.

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

Great potential!

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 Zeitgeistde Aug 10, 2004 at 09:53

A very interesting architecture, but the engine is hard to learn and understand. Mostly all popular scripts are supported by the core and the contribute modules like: TCL, Lua, Python and some more. Needs further development, documentation and some basic tools (export, level-design...).

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0 of 0 people found the following review helpful

one of the best

  by 00000000000000000000000000000000 anubis Aug 08, 2004 at 01:21

the nebula device can be a great learning experience for everyone. the very well integrated scripting allows unexperienced people to get things running quickly, especially because the nebula device abstracts scripting in a way that led to every major scripting language being supported by the engine through community packages. for the more advanced programmer the engine offers a great opportunity to see excelent design in action.

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Last edited Dec 28, 2011 at 13:11

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