Thursday, November 14th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

Xenko team ships Xenko 3.1

Silicon Studio’s original 2017 release video for Xenko. The 2D and 3D game engine is now available open-source, with this week’s 3.1 release being the first to be completed under community development.

The development team behind Xenko has released Xenko 3.1, the first significant update to the open-source C# game engine since it was made available under an MIT licence last year.

The update breaks the engine into a set of modular, reusable libraries, distributed as NuGet packages, reducing unnecessary bloat in completed games; and switches Xenko fully to .NET Standard.

Created by game and middleware developer Silicon Studio, but now fully open source
Xenko was originally developed by Japanese game developer Silicon Studio, responsible for PlayStation 3 title 3D Dot Game Heroes, and more recently, a range of mobile and Nintendo 3DS titles.

The firm also develops other middleware, including the Yebis post-processing system used in Adobe’s Substance products; and acquired real-time GI system Enlighten from original developer Geomerics in 2017.

Xenko itself was originally available under a dual-licence model, with the source code available under a GPL licence and compiled binaries under a custom licence.

The engine was released commercially in 2017, but had a short run as a paid-for tool: in 2018, Silicon Studio stopped support for the project and made it fully open source, this time under an MIT licence.

Former Silicon Studio senior software engineer Virgile Bello still maintains development, although at the time of posting, Patreon donations are below his target for working on Xenko full-time.

However, the engine has been used on at least one commercial title, indie strategy title Children of the Galaxy, currently available in early access on Steam.

A full C# game engine capable of developing 2D and 3D titles
Xenko has a feature set broadly similar to Unity or Godot, including a full asset pipeline; a 3D scene editor, 2D sprite editor and UI editor; character animation and pathfinding; and physics and particles systems.

Graphics features include support for PBR materials, hair and skin – the latter with subsurface scattering; a light probe system for indirect lighting; and a forward renderer with support for a standard set of post effects.

Games can be deployed to Windows, Xbox One, Android and iOS – the latter two via Xamarin – and Linux. It supports the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets.

However, Xenko’s unique selling point is that it is written fully in C#, rather than simply supporting C# for scripting, making it compatible with most .NET libraries.

New in Xenko 3.1: new modular architecture reduces the size of shipped games
The 3.1 update – the first made completely under community development – addresses one of the criticisms previously made of Xenko: the file size of the games it generates.

The release breaks Xenko up into a set of modular components, each available as a .NET NuGet package.

The change makes it possible to create games that use only the Xenko core: the physics, particles, video playback, UI and sprite systems are now optional packages.

By referencing only the packages used, devs can reduce the file size and startup time for a packaged game.

The editor itself is still monolithic, but the developers aim to make the non-core components available as plugins in future updates.

The packages are also now available via rather than Xenko’s custom server, which should mean that projects work out of the box in the Visual Studio IDE.

In addition, Xenko has made a “full switch” to .NET Standard, the new-ish cross-platform implementation of .NET. Desktop titles can run on .NET Core on both Windows and Linux.

New online tutorials to help new users get up to speed
There update also addresses another user request, adding a tutorials section to the online documentation.

It’s currently fairly limited, being targeted at new users needing to get up to speed with C#, but more advanced tutorials are planned for future updates.

Availability and system requirements
The Xenko 3.1 installer is available for Windows 7+. The source code is available under an MIT licence.

Read a full list of new features in Xenko 3.1 in the online release notes

Visit the Xenko project website
(Includes link to download the installer)