Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Source engine is a game engine developed by Valve Software for their first-person shooter computer game Half-Life 2 and for licensing to other developers. It provides rendering, sound, user interface, networking, artificial intelligence, and physics.
Troika Games' Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines was the first publicly announced licensee of the Source engine. Valve later announced licensees including Arkane Studios (for Arx Fatalis 2) and Smiling Gator Productions (for Twilight War: After the Fall, an MMORPG) .
The most obvious improvements of Source over the old Half-Life engine are in the areas of rendering and physics. Rendering now takes a shader-based approach that allows greater control over the graphics to create interesting visual effects. Source uses DirectX exclusively for its rendering.
The physics, based on the Havok physics engine, allow for an extra dimension of interactivity in the games that use Source. Character death can now be handled by ragdoll physics. It also provides more sophisticated vehicle physics than were available for the original Half-Life.
Source features "three-dimensional" skyboxes, which are basically collections of non-interactive geometry outside the playable area of the map but within the confines of the traditional skybox. This adds a greater sense of depth to the surrounding environment.
Source also has the unique ability of the characters to simulate emotions and facial speech movements on the fly. The characters are language independent, with the facial features being created and executed in real-time, with the help of script file. Valve says that forty-two digital "facial muscles" make this possible.
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