16 of the Best Free Linux Game Engines (Part 1 of 2)

Game engines offer huge benefits to game developers. The main functionality they provide is the library of core functions used in a computer game. This often includes a realtime rendering engine for 2D or 3D graphics, physics engine with collision detection, a character animation system, scene graph, sound, artificial intelligence, threading, networking, input, streaming localization support, debugging tools, integration with languages, and the provision of performance monitoring and optimization tools.

Game engines play a crucial role in the fast creation and development of computer games. As they offer a collection of visual development tools, and are often presented in an integrated development environment, they vastly accelerate the development of games. Game engines are referred to as “game middleware” because they provide a flexible and reusable software platform.

However, game engines are not only used in the creation of games. We find them being used in a whole diverse range of projects such as educational software, interactive art, and scientific visualization.

To be eligible for inclusion in this list each game engine needed to meet the following requirements:

  • Free to use without restrictions
  • Not in the early stages of development

We have included ScummVM in this feature even though it is a collection of game engine recreations rather than a fresh engine. However, it is worthy of inclusion here given that the SCUMM engine is used in so many fantastic games.

To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 16 slick free Linux game engines. This article is the first in a two part series. Part 2 will be available shortly. Hopefully, there will be something here of interest to any organization or individual who wants to develop commercial or open source games.

Now, let’s explore the 8 game engines at hand. For each engine we have compiled its own portal page, providing screenshots of it in action, a full description of the game engine, with an in-depth analysis of the features of the game engine, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.

Game Engines (Part 1 of 2)
SyntensityMultiplayer 3D game engine
SauerbratenBuilt as a major redesign of the Cube FPS
Panda3DOriginally developed and actively maintained by the Walt Disney VR Studio
FIFEFlexible Isometric Free Engine
ScummVMRun classic graphical point-and-click adventure games
DarkPlacesGameplay modification and a source port engine based on the computer game Quake
Crystal SpaceProvides real-time 3D graphics for applications such as games and virtual reality
GemRBImplementation of BioWare's Infinity Engine

Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. The collection covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There's tons of in-depth reviews, alternatives to Google, fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.
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