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Open Source game engine Xenko 3.1 ships

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Former commercial 2D and 3D game engine gets its first update as an open-source app.

Looking for an open-source alternative to Unity? (Or an alternative open-source alternative to Godot?) Xenko might be worth checking out. Originally developed by Japanese games and middleware firm Silicon Studio, the 2D and 3D game engine had a brief spell as a commercial product before going fully open-source last year, and this week's Xenko 3.1 is its first update under community development.

It's a couple of years old now, but this trailer for Xenko's short-lived commercial launch gives you a fair idea of what the now-open-source 2D and 3D game engine is capable of.

An open-source alternative to Unity?

Xenko has a feature set broadly similar to Unity or Godot, including a full asset pipeline; a 3D scene editor, 2D sprite editor and UI editor; character animation and pathfinding; and physics and particles.

As you might expect, given that Silicon Studio develops optical effects middleware, its graphics capabilities are pretty good, including support for PBR materials, hair and skin; a light probe system for indirect lighting; and a forward renderer with a standard set of post effects.

Games can be deployed to Windows, Xbox One, Android and iOS – the latter two via Xamarin – and Linux. It also supports the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets.

However, Xenko’s unique selling point is that it is written fully in C#, rather than simply supporting C# for scripting, making it compatible with most .NET libraries.

The 3.1 update also addresses one of its former drawbacks that the file sizes of packaged games were quite high by breaking Xenko up into a set of modular libraries. The editor itself is still a single application (although that may change in future updates), but when shipping a game, you can choose to include only those libraries you actually need. You can find out more in the dev team's blog post.

System requirements

The Xenko 3.1 installer is available for Windows 7+. The source code is available under an MIT licence.

About Author

Jim Thacker

I've been writing about Blender since the mid-2000s when, as editor of 3D World magazine, I commissioned a series of on-set diaries from the Blender Foundation's first open movie. Since then, I've worked with ArtStation and Gnomon, ‘development edited’ books for Focal Press and Design Studio Press, and am currently editor of industry news website CG Channel.

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