What can it do?
Lots of things! See the features page for an up-to-date list of the current features. Also, take a look at the screenshots page to see for yourself the kinds of eye candy OGRE can pump out.
Is OGRE A Game Engine?
No. OGRE can be (and indeed has been) used to make games, but OGRE is deliberately designed to provide just a world-class graphics solution; for other features like sound, networking, AI, collision, physics etc, you will need to integrate it with other libraries, something several frameworks have done, and we have a collision / physics reference integration library as an example in our distribution.
Why? Well, one reason is that not everyone who needs a 3D engine wants to make games, so we don't assume that you do - you can use OGRE for games, simulations, business applications, anything at all. Secondly, even within the games industry, requirements can vary widely; for
example a MMORPG will need a very different kind of network library than an FPS, and a flight sim will need a different kind of collision / physics system to fighting game. If OGRE included all these features, we would be enforcing a particular set of libraries on you, with an
inbuilt set of assumed requirements, and that's not good design. Instead, we provide a very integration friendly API and let YOU choose the other libraries, if you want them. Many experiened game developers have expressed their approval of this approach, because there are no
inbuilt constraints. It can be more daunting for newer users who just want to build another FPS-style game, but for those people there are a growing number of existing frameworks using OGRE which provide a complete solution using a given combo of libraries; but it's important
to realise that OGRE itself will always remain separate, flexible enough to be incorporated into any of these. The principle is of collaboration and integration with other libraries, rather than
assimilation of them, a standard tenet of component-based design.
Why should I consider using OGRE (rather than the other zillion 3D engines out there)?
Many other engines, whilst technically impressive, lack the cohesive design and the consistent documentation to allow them to be used effectively. Many of them have long features lists, but have the feel of a bunch of tech demos lashed together with twine, with no clear
vision to hold them together. Like any other software system this becomes their downfall as they become larger. Most other engines are also designed for one particular style of game or demo (e.g.
first-person shooters, terrain roamers).
OGRE is different. OGRE is design-led rather than feature-led. Every feature that goes into OGRE is considered throughly and slotted into the overall design as elegantly as possible and is always fully
documented, meaning that the features which are there always feel part of a cohesive whole. Quality is favoured over quantity, because quantity can come later - quality can never be added in retrospect. OGRE uses sound design principles learned, tried and tested many times
in commercial-grade software - the object-orientation mentioned in it's moniker is just one of those approaches - frequent use of design patterns is another. The core development team is kept deliberately small, and all of its members are veteren software engineers with many
years of real-world experience. Patches are welcomed from community, but they undergo a strict review for both quality and cohesion with the Ogre philosophy before being accepted.
OGRE does not assume what type of game or demo you want to make. It uses a flexible class hierarchy allowing you to design plugins to specialise the scene organisation approach taken to allow you to make any kind of scene you like. Want to render indoor levels fast? Fine, use the BSP/PVS plugin scene manager which has already been written. Want an outdoor landscape? Again, use another plugin scene manager. The rest of the engine continues to function exactly as before.
So the short answer is - if you favour design quality, flexibility and clear documentation, choose OGRE. You know it makes sense. ;)
Is it really free?
The Ogre source is made available under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL), which basically means you can use it however you like as long as release the source for changes you make to the core engine if you distribute your product. The source to your application or to new plugins you create does not have to be released (although it would be nice if you did). See the licensing page for full licensing terms.
One of the first scenarios that was uploaded to the Aggressors Steam workshop was “Ancient Orient BC1000” with its own mod “Orient”.
In that time our Map Builder tool was not yet available, and the creator made his map manually. It contained Greece, Asia Minor, Egypt, and Middle Eastern territories like Syria, Assyria, Arabia, etc. The scenario was a bit of a surprise for me. The other scenario creators were pretty active on the forum and our Discord channel asking questions regarding the game editor, mod related issues, how to add new factions, and so on. The creator of “Ancient Orient BC1000” was different. He rarely asked questions on forum, and he was able to figure out most of the things on his own. That's also the reason why I was a bit sceptical about the result. I eventually had some time to try it later and I was very surprised how much Hiro, the creator, was able to handle on his own. Not only it was a nice map with a balanced setup but Hiro was able to create a set of Objectives for each player, their own banners, coat of arms, and illustrations. I was impressed, even more so that he created it almost without any help or support.
Right before Christmas, Hiro published an even more ambitious scenario called "Sengoku Japan 1560". It had a much bigger map with an impressive 38 factions and 100 villages and towns across all Japanese islands. Hiro now had the Map Builder available, which made map creation easier and looking more life-like. Similar to his previous scenario, he created its own banner, coat of arms and illustration for each faction. I would like to say that it is a great work. Also, all the game windows were illustrated in the spirit of mediaeval Japan, but that was not all. He went into such detail that every faction has its own names of military units and fleets, and there were also dozens of Objectives. The game also has its own Government systems.
I have to humbly confess that I haven’t had time to try this great scenario yet, however you should not hesitate and give it a go. One of the signs of a good modder/scenario creator is that he keeps his work updated and reacts to players' wishes. Hiro is definitely one of these creators. He always updates it shortly after new game version is up and he never lets a player's request go unnoticed.
I am now leaving the floor to Hiro to tell you his story in his own words.
When the map builder tool for Aggressors came out, I made several maps. While playing with this new toy, I decided to make a new scenario with these maps. Eventually I selected two scenario candidates: one was a scenario about the Sengoku period of Japan, the other about medieval Europe, but I decided to make the former because as a native Japanese, I could more easily gather necessary materials such as flags and faction pictures for the diplomacy screen; also I wanted to make a scenario about completely new circumstances and factions.
Europe was already represented in the Mediterranean main scenario and several user-created scenarios. Finally I thought the Sengoku period was more suitable for the game engine, because eventually during the Sengoku period, Japan was united by Oda/Toyotomi clan like Roman Republic did with the Mediterranean coasts. On the other hand, medieval Europe was never united by one powerful faction; consequently that scenario must be an alternative history one (to be honest I don't much care about historical persuasiveness though). For these reasons, I decided to make the Sengoku one.
One of the challenges I've meet in developing the scenario/mod was gathering suitable pictures for event graphics. I chose these pictures from Ukiyoe, traditional Japanese art and several pictures of Sengoku period, but too many event graphics were required. Also testing game balance was a never-ending task. I myself am not a good strategy gamer; I usually play the game at the Noob difficulty. But the Sengoku scenario was even more difficult than the Mediterranean main scenario, so testing the scenario was (and is) very challenging.
Seems like users have enjoyed my scenario/map, and send a lot of opinions, which helps further development of the scenario/mod. Also I want to make more Objectives. But all in all I've been satisfied with the current version of the scenario/mod. Perhaps I'll make a Medieval Europa version and other periods of history too. I realized while making the Sengoku scenario that this engine, especially the AIs, are excellent for these scenarios.
You can subscribe to “Ancient Orient 1000BC” here and “Sengoku Japan 1560” here.
Don't forget to drop a message there for Hiro once you try them. I can only stress that players' feedback (whatever it is) is always good, and especially the positive is the best motivation to keep going.
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