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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Blog RSS Feed Post news Report abuse Latest News: Source SDK is free

153 comments by INtense! on Jul 4th, 2011

This news comes a little late, but for those unaware due to the recent release of a free Team Fortress 2, the Source SDK will soon become free to use in its entirety, for everyone (confirmed by Valve's Robin Walker in this RockPaperShotgun article). The free SDK was first uncovered in our forums on the 28th of June by an enterprising young man going by the name of Riley, who just happens to be the playtest leader of esteemed Source mods Zombie Panic Source and No More Room In Hell.

This means that all Source mods, made for Valve games (we list around 1,500 for HL2 alone) may eventually be free to play, without requiring you to purchase a Valve game (thou who hasn't purchased a valve game on this site?)

Here is what Robin Walker had to say:

Robin wrote:Yep. That said, your email has triggered a process here that made us re-examine that, and we’re going to just go ahead and make the Source SDK freely available. Thanks for making us better!


When RockPaperShotgun emailed Walker for further confirmation, and he went on to explain:

Robin wrote:We are in the process of getting it all done. It’s a bit messy because we have multiple versions of the SDK, and there’s some dependencies we need to shake out. But yes, the gist of it is that we’re just going to go ahead and make the Source SDK freely available.


Nifty... share this great news!

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Post comment Comments  (30 - 40 of 331)
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
Justinsanity
Justinsanity Jul 9 2013, 8:29pm says:

How can I get this engine?

-4 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
xalener
xalener Jun 12 2013, 12:23am says:

Why isn't Titanfall here?

+6 votes     reply to comment
Aplayer12345
Aplayer12345 Jul 24 2013, 2:35pm replied:

Wait... I've just read the wiki, and the game is developed on Source engine :DDDDDD WICKED :D

+4 votes     reply to comment
elyad1998
elyad1998 Jun 2 2013, 3:00am says:

the physics are great but the graphics ( textures, water physics) are ...

-1 votes     reply to comment
EddAdrian
EddAdrian Jan 4 2015, 5:52pm replied:

maybe in your opinion, when they presented it in 2003 it was incredible on the graphics also. no other game had all those features together, and no other big title in 2004 like far cry came even close to half life 2 as a whole. even in the recent years i still love it because the art-style is just beautiful and it's really immersive, when used right. games like black mesa source and portal 2 shows that and also Titanfall, even though the engine was modified, it's still source.

+1 vote     reply to comment
saltedDog
saltedDog Jun 7 2013, 12:40pm replied:

Great.It's just old.But lots of modders are making it great.Source is the best engine in the world.It's easy to use.And fun to use.

+7 votes     reply to comment
xalener
xalener Jun 12 2013, 12:21am replied:

It's not the best engine in the world. It's just the engine that everyone has an editor for.

0 votes     reply to comment
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Platforms
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Released Oct 2004
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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, 3:48pm by Half_Kill

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