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Game engine

In computing, a game engine is the core software components of a computer game; usually those than handle rendering and other core tasks such as opponent and helper AI, collision detection between game objects, etc. Usually, the common element between all these software tasks is a relation to the rendering system.

The term arose in the mid-1990s, especially in connection with 3D games such as first-person shooters. Such was the popularity of id Software's Doom and Quake games that rather than work from scratch, other developers licensed the core portions of the software and designed their own graphics, characters, weapons and levels -- the so-called game content.

Later games, such as Quake 3 and Epic's 1998 Unreal were designed with this approach in mind, with the engine and content developed separately. The licencing of such technology has proved to be a useful auxiliary revenue stream for some game developers. At the very least, reusable engines make developing game sequels much easier, a valuable feature in the competitive computer game industry.

The continued refinement of game engines have allowed a strong separation between rendering, scripting, artwork, and level design. It is now common (as of 2003), for example, for a typical game development team to be composed of artists and programmers in an 80/20 ratio.

A practical definition of a game engine is whatever most game developers would prefer not to write (as opposed to the things that make their game special, such as levels, artwork, textures, animation, sound tracks, etc.). The extreme realization of this idea has been for some game developers to take existing games and simply modify their artistic resources.

Game engine development is a popular project amongst computer science students, hobbyists, and game developers alike. It requires a strong interdisciplanry understanding of geometry, colour theory[?], and computing. By being largely visual, however, it is often very fun and rewarding. Crystal Space, for example, is a popular open source multiplatform game engine.

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