The Source Engine is a 3D game engine developed by Valve Corporation. Its unique features include a large degree of modularity and flexibility, an artist-driven, shader-based renderer, accurate lip sync and facial expression technology, and a powerful, efficient and completely network-enabled physics system. 

The Source engine was first shown to the world by being the power-horse behind the hugely anticipated Half-Life 2 which was released in late 2004. Since then the Source Engine has been upgraded with the release of such titles as Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, Team Fortress 2 and the Left 4 Dead series to name a few.

Whilst it has been years since the release of the Source Engine they haven't yet unveiled a 'next-generation engine' as the Source engine is always updating and is just as relevant in the gaming world today if not more than when it debuted in 2004. It has been aided by the release of the free Source Development Kit (SDK) which include such features as HDR for developers to use in their projects. Hence the reasons stated we have yet to see 'Source Engine 2'.

On July 10th 2012, Valve released the 'Source Filmmaker' - a freeware client to allowed anyone to make movies inside the Source Engine. More information on the Source Filmmaker can be found here.

Below you can find a list of amazing features that the Source Engine boasts:

Renderer

  • Version 2.0 (and below) shaders, bump mapping, LOD on models and world
  • Author shaders with HLSL
  • Cube and environment mapping
  • Dynamic lights, vertex lighting and light maps, many light types including flickering, pulsing etc.
  • High-Dynamic Range lighting
  • Water with refraction and fresnel effects
  • Advanced particle system that can emit sprites or models
  • Projected shadows allow for a large number of characters per scene
  • Occluder entities for visibility blocking
  • Indoor/Outdoor environments
  • Deformable terrain
  • 3D skyboxes extend the horizon and add parallax on distant objects
  • Dynamically rendered organics (grass, trees etc)
  • Subdivision surfaces, diffuse & specular bump maps
  • Real-time radiosity lighting
  • Effects include but are not limited to: particles, beams, volumetric smoke, sparks, blood, environmental effects like fog and rain
  • Scalability
  • Dx6-Dx9 hardware supported

Materials System

  • Instead of traditional textures, Source defines sets of materials that specify what the object is made from and the texture used for that object. A material specifies how an object will fracture when broken, what it will sound like when broken or dragged across another surface, and what that object’s mass and buoyancy are. This system is much more flexible than other texture only based systems.
  • Materials can interact with objects or NPCs such as mud or ice for vehicles to slide/lose traction on.

Multiplayer Network Code

  • Time and gamer tested by millions of gamers around the world
  • Support for both LAN based multiplayer and Internet based multiplayer games
  • Prediction analysis for interpolating collision/hit detection
  • Optimizations for high-latency, high-packet loss 56k connections

Advanced Characters

  • Detailed and believable characters
  • Realistic eyes
  • Focus on player/object, not simply parallel views
  • Proper eye “bulge” for realistic eye reflections
  • Simulated musculature provides outstanding emotions, speech and body language
  • Language independent speech, characters can naturally speak in many languages
  • Skeletal/bone system for animation
  • Layered animation system can synthesize complex animations out of several pieces
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About INFRA with 5 comments by assassini on Oct 24th, 2014

Hey guys! The game has come a long way since we first started working on it. We put together some comparisons to see just how much everything has changed over the years.

In case you were wondering about the post title, we also spent some time improving the foliage in INFRA. We turned on "alpha to coverage" for all foliage. This basically allows the leaves of trees and bushes to be anti-aliased. It's not really visible in the thumbnail, but be sure to click the image and marvel at its full glory.

We also made some changes so that the foliage sways in the wind now. It looks super amazing and really makes the levels come to life.

The flashlight also has volumetrics now. It basically looks like that it illuminates dust floating in the air. Adds a ton of atmosphere to dark levels.

It's really expensive to render at the moment, but we are hoping to optimize it so that it runs a bit better. If that doesn't work, we'll just leave it as an option for the "ultra" graphics level or something.

It has been a fruitful couple of weeks. Oh, and we're hoping to get a new gameplay video out in the near future, so stay tuned for that!

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Post comment Comments  (10 - 20 of 316)
SU154
SU154 Nov 10 2013, 8:30am says:

I want to ask how big the generated maps can be? I want to use engine for an open world survival mod but i really want the entire game to be on one level, with no loading. Can someone give me an estimate of how big the maps can be without having a nasa processor to run it in square meters or kilometers maybe? thanks

+2 votes     reply to comment
Toyoka
Toyoka Nov 26 2013, 12:58am replied:

This isn't possible because of Source Engine limitations. You're better off using the Unreal engine for that.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Col_Jason
Col_Jason Oct 25 2013, 4:42am says:

I'am lovin' this engine lol

+2 votes     reply to comment
slipkid69
slipkid69 Oct 3 2013, 8:45am says:

Yes I don't like it I love it.

+3 votes     reply to comment
ppetrechen
ppetrechen Dec 13 2013, 8:32am replied:

Me 2.

+3 votes     reply to comment
GamerDude27
GamerDude27 Feb 17 2014, 11:36am replied:

Me 3

+1 vote     reply to comment
JrComissarValvatorez
JrComissarValvatorez Aug 15 2013, 11:59am says:

Valve should just drop Direct X Eight for Orange Box games already. No need to hold the rest of us back because mommy and daddy can't afford a replacement for little Timmy's would be litterbox.

+5 votes     reply to comment
michael89
michael89 Aug 27 2013, 10:06am replied:

The support was dropped on P2 - source, so newer engine branches starting from it are DX9 - only.

+3 votes     reply to comment
Sticksanity
Sticksanity Jul 11 2013, 7:28am replied:

Download Source SDK from steam.

+5 votes     reply to comment
michael89
michael89 Aug 27 2013, 10:07am replied:

Source Sdk is just the collection of tools, while source sdk base is the real deal.

+6 votes     reply to comment
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Platforms
Windows, PS3, X360, XBOX
Company
Valve
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Official Page
Valvesoftware.com
Licence
Commercial
Release Date
Released Oct 31, 2004
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Highest Rated (16 agree) 10/10

Even tho it is aging and it is beginning to show its weakness comparred to other more modern engines, it is still my most preferred engine and the only one I was able to get into succesfully. And with all of the updates Valve is giving it, I think the source engine will be with us for a long time. I wouldn't really recommend this for a commerical product, just because there are so many more modern engines out there that will be a lot easier in the long run (like UDK), but all of the commercial games…

Nov 16 2010, 3:48pm by Half_Kill

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