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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Hello, our dear friends, today we are going to show the first part of our media update dedicated to procedural sky rendering. In this part we will talk about basic things of our new techonology. The whole material is very complicated, so we decided to split it in two parts.

Introduction.

We have been dreaming for a long time about making more dynamic sky with moving clouds and replace the static one. We had three options: make a rotating model with cloud texture and place it inside 3D skybox; make clouds using particle system or write a custom sky shader. The first two options are easy to implement, but we still can't create something that we can control in real-time and something that physically simulates with them, so we have chosen to write a shader.

Despite the fact that in Lost Squad we don't have day/night cycle, we have flashbacks where player gets teleported to a completely different location with different weather and time of day, so option to write a shader seemed for us the most convenient.

Same 3D-Skybox, but acting as a sky sphere.

The first thing we have done to improve current sky was an ability to use on 3D-skybox textures designed to be used on skysphere. That allows level designer, even if he doesn't want to use procedural features, create better sky without artifacts usually seen when using skybox.

Usually, people create 3D model of a sphere, place it inside 3D-skybox and use sperical texture on it. We wanted to make our technology as simple for use as possible, so everything happening automatically inside our shader.


An example of static sky with sperical texture.

No artifacts that usually seen in skybox.


Physically-based skylight model.

After that, we impemented procedural skylight model.

Sunset with Physically-Based skylight model.

We have tried a lot of different skylight models and very early implementations looked like this:

Very early and very simple skylight model.

More advanced model but still far from ideal.


As a result, we took "An Analytic Model for Full Spectral Sky-Dome Radiance by Hosek & Wilkie" as a base. Currently, this is the most realistic skylight model used in games and realtime renderers.

Sunset with Hosek & Wilkie skylight model.

Sun near zenith with specific light setting.

Nightsky.

For nightsky we tried to generate stars procedurally, but result were far away from being good. After trying a lot of different techinques, we decided to simply use a starfield texture. We created spherical starfield texture and applied it to our "pseudo sphere".

Skylight model for night is much more simplier, but still gives good enough results.

Nightsky with static starfield texture.

Nightsky with static starfield texture.

So, we got seamless sky with realistic skylight model and day & night suppport. We are only lack of clouds here.

Procedural cloud generation.

Working prototype of our new sky was almost ready, but without clouds. Our task was to implement procedural, physically-based clouds for real-time.

One of early implementations of procedural clouds.


We quickly realised that this task is too complicated, almost impossible even on better next-gen engines.
Perfomance and quality were very poor, don't even think that something is "physically-based" here.

Another attempt to get realistic clouds.


But despite all the difficulties, we saw the potential in these clouds and tried to unlock it.

Not bad, but 26FPS.


The work was very slow, unproductive, but still there were some progress.

  1. FPS is OK and quality is good too, isn't it?

Recently, we managed to create something similar to what we wanted originally and with good perfomance.

More or less good result.


However, there was still a lot of problems, which prevented us to finish the work and forced to think about finding more simple alternative. Although the results have been impressive we still do not dare to use procedural clouds on real maps in the game.

Clouds test on one of old maps.


So, that's all for today. In the next part we explain functionality of our shader in more detail, demonstrate some dev-videos and finish with clouds.
Finally, let's look at this old sky demonstation video recorded when we have just implemented Hosek & Wilkie skylight model:


Thanks for reading,
Have a nice day!

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Post comment Comments  (310 - 320 of 331)
jacko1121
jacko1121

Source is one of the better engines out there, to me even better then the unreal engine just because the amount of detail.

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leilei
leilei

(buried)

any engine can be 'detailed' too if you had a texture artist with a camera and a sharpen filter.

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Soviet529
Soviet529

you obviously don't know much about making games.

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GisleAune
GisleAune

Source is the best game engine EVER!!!!!

The bump mapping is GREAT, the capabilities is GREAT!!!!

keep up your good work on HL2 EP3

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mr_peters
mr_peters

just great... and they are using games in it that i have played/playing... feels like this clip is about a part of my life, or whats gonna happen to my life if i keep sitting at my comp 10 h each day xD, well, **** happens and im still 15 years old ;)

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HunGub
HunGub

WHAT THE IM CONFUSED WHERE DO I DOWNLOAD IT?

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LORDDEREX
LORDDEREX

u cant download Source Engine u need to buy games like Half-Life 2 and u get Source SDK with it

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jazminas
jazminas

there i can get this engine?

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viper276
viper276

this is one of the best engines ever used for games

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LORDDEREX
LORDDEREX

Source is the best for realism-made games!

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viper7x
viper7x

Here, I have half life 2 (orange box) but I can't see to find out how to get hold of the engine. Is it possible to do this and if so where would i find it.

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da_newb
da_newb

Open up Steam and on the top where there are all the tabs click tools. Then click on Source SDK and click on install in the bottom right. I would also recommend installing the bases. I think some mods utilize them in some way. I might be mistaken though.

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Highest Rated (17 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 by Half_Kill

Lowest Rated (2 agree) 1/10

LAMEST GAME ENGINE I'VE EVER SEEN

Jan 14 2011 by jonas6910

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