Open 3D Foundation releases Open 3D Engine 23.05
It’s a sizeable update, adding a new node-based material authoring environment and material pipeline, brush-based terrain editing, and updates to the animation and physics toolsets.
Other changes include support for OpenXR-compatible hardware and the Robot Operating System.
An open-source ‘AAA-capable’ game engine based on AWS’s Lumberyard
First announced in 2021, O3DE is an open-source, cross-platform “AAA-capable” game engine” pitched as a successor to Lumberyard, AWS’s free engine.
It features a modular, SDK-like design, open-source build system and new networking stack, and includes Atom, the firm’s hardware-accelerated ray tracing renderer, also available open-source.
O3DE 23.05: updates to material authoring, animation and physics
Open 3D Engine 23.05 is by some way the largest update to the game engine since its original release, adding new features throughout its major toolsets.
For asset development, the update adds the Material Canvas, a new node-based material- and shader-authoring environment, and the Material Pipeline.
The latter is described as “a layer of abstraction between lighting and materials”, and it inteneded to make the render pipelines of O3DE games more customisable.
The terrain system gets a new Paint Brush tool, for editing terrain by painting directly in the viewport.
Animators get a new performance profiler in the Anim Graph, for troubleshooting performance bottlenecks, and the Animation Editor has been redesigned to group multiple panels into a single contextual window.
The PhysX-based physics system gets “improvements in multiple … authoring workflows”, and the option to enable support for PhysX 5.1, the latest version of the open-source physics library, via a “simple flag”.
According to the release notes, PhysX 5.1 provides a “15% increase in simulation performance” over 4.x.
Workflow and usability improvements
Usability improvements include a new Asset Browser for managing game assets, with “different layout options, file operations [and] an asset inspector panel”.
Technical artists gee a new Action Manager API for adding custom menus, hotkeys and contextual actions to the O3DE Editor, and the option to specify compatible platforms for Gems they create.
It is also now possible to install multiple versions of O3DE on the same drive, with projects aware of which O3DE version they were created in and which they were last used with.
OpenXR and ROS support, plus a new example multiplayer game
The update also adds OpenXR and OpenXRVk Gems to support virtual and mixed reality hardware via the OpenXR open standard, including support for stereoscopic rendering.
Another, less expected, change to platform support is the new ROS2 Gem, which integrates the Robot Operating System, a set of open libraries for creating robot simulations.
Outside the core application – but probably equally importantly for new users – there is a new Multiplayer Sample Game, an example third-player combat game built on O3DE as a learning resource.
Availability and system requirements
Compiled binaries of Open 3D Engine 23.05 are available as free downloads for Windows 10 and Ubuntu 20.04. The source code is available under an Apache 2.0 licence.