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Isetta Engine

The Isetta Engine is a C++ game engine developed over 3 months for the twin-stick shooter genre. Please visit our website for a full documentation of our journey in making this engine.

Engine Architecture and Progress

Architecture Diagram

Getting Started


  • A 64-bit Windows operating system (How to check?)
  • Visual Studio 2017
    • Install VC++ 2017 and Windows 10 SDK (10.0.17134.0). With Visual Studio Installer, select "Desktop development with C++" and the correct Windows 10 SDK version.
    • You may need to restart your computer
  • CMake 3.10.2 or later
    • Make sure you add it to your PATH (either check the box during the installation process of follow this)

To clone the engine:

git clone --recursive


Before you build you must pull and build the submodules:

  • Pull all submodules by using git submodule update --init --recursive
  • Build the submodules
    • GLFW & Horde3D. Either:
      • Run the Dependency.bat batch script in the repo (requires CMake in path), if it failed, see below
      • Build manually:
        • GLFW:
          1. Open a CMake Window
          2. Set the source path to REPO/Isetta/External/GLFW
          3. Set the binary path to REPO/Isetta/External/GLFW/Build
          4. Click "configure" (select Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64 compiler), "generate" and then "open" the project
          5. Build under both Debug and Release configurations
        • Horde3D (should be built AFTER GLFW):
          1. Open a CMake Window
          2. Set the source path to REPO/Isetta/External/Horde3D
          3. Set the binary path to REPO/Isetta/External/Horde3D/Build
          4. Configure (select Visual Studio 15 2017 Win64 compiler)
          5. Set the GLFW_INCLUDE_DIR to REPO/Isetta/External/GLFW/include
          6. Set the GLFW_LIBRARY_PATH to REPO/Isetta/External/GLFW/Build/src/Release/glfw3.lib
          7. Uncheck HORDE_BUILD_EXAMPLES
          8. Generate and open the project
          9. Build under both Debug and Release configurations
    • ImGui
      1. Open the Isetta.sln
      2. In the solution explorer expand the folders: Solution 'Isetta' > External > imgui
      3. Right-click lib_glfw_opengl3, select Build
    • Yojimbo
      1. Go to the yojimbo folder and run .\premake5.exe solution
      2. Build the yojimbo project (only that project, not the entire solution!) for both the Release and Debug configurations

Using the Engine

You can start playing with our first demo game! You'll need a controller for it.

  1. Set build configuration to Debug DLL
  2. Set "IsettaTestBed" as start up project
  3. Build "IsettaEngine"
  4. Set start_level in config.cfg or user.cfg to "Level1"
    • Refer below for configuration settings
  5. Build and run and start playing! There will also be a bunch of values for you to tweak

Build Configurations

There are currently 3 configuration options with this solution of the engine:

  • Debug: Debug settings and level is built/run in-engine (not using engine dll)
  • Debug DLL: Debug settings and level uses engine DLL (separate project from engine source)
  • Release: Release settings (optimized code) and level is built/run in-engine (not using engine dll)

There are different levels available in the projects of the solution; ones in IsettaEngine have most recent/testing features, ones in IsettaTestbed are functional tech demos and games. To run any level built within the engine, use Debug or Release and set startup project as IsettaEngine (right-click the IsettaEngine project and select "Set as Startup Project"). To run any level within IsettaTestbed, the configuration must be Debug DLL (to build the engine into a DLL), the startup project should then be IsettaTestbed.

Debug DLL will build the .dll for you to use and export. To use your version of the engine in another solution/project, build with Debug DLL and use those .dll and .lib built files in your project (follow Isetta-Game instructions for more information). You will also need to export your changed header files, external library headers, resources, etc. Use the ExportHeaders.bat batch script, located in the top level of the repo, which will export all of the necessary files to a folder labeled includes. You can alter the batch script as needed to include more/less of the engine.


The configuration settings of the engine are placed with config.cfg within the IsettaEngine folder. For personal configuration settings, create a user.cfg in the same folder as config.cfg If you want any personal options when using the engine (such as selecting a level for your computer to run) without changing the config.cfg you will need a user.cfg. You will need a user.cfg for each project (ie. IsettaEngine, IsettaTest, and IsettaTestbed), this fill needs to be placed at the root directory of the project (not the .sln).

Predefined Components

In our engine, we have lots of predefined components that you can use out of the box!

Component Name Component Description
Nav2DAgent Agent that is moved on a Nav2DPlane.
Component Name Component Description
AudioSource ...
AudioListener ...
Component Name Component Description
BoxCollider ...
CapsuleCollider ...
SphereCollider ...
CollisionHandler ...
Component Name Component Description
AxisDrawer ...
FlyController ...
GridComponent ...
NetworkMonitor ...
Component Name Component Description
AnimationComponent ...
CameraComponent ...
LightComponent ...
MeshComponent ...
ParticleSystemComponent ...
Component Name Component Description
NetworkDiscovery ...
NetworkId ...
NetworkTransform ...

Selectable Levels

In your user.cfg add the lines:

# Level Settings
start_level = LEVEL_NAME

LEVEL_NAME can then be replaced with any of these options:

Level Name Level Description Level Inputs
EmptyLevel Empty level to be used as a starting point for user created levels N/a
NoCameraLevel Level that may be used when the user doesn't have a camera in their own level N/a
Level Name Level Description Level Inputs
AILevel Level showing how navigation module works in the engine and how to use the particle system WASD: Move the cube around
J: Spawn one navigation agent
K: Spawn one hundred navigation agent
L: Turn off the fire
O: Turn on the fire
P: Remove the top left target
AudioLevel Level with 2D and 3D audio looping and one shot NUM2: 2D audio play/pause loop
NUM3: 3D audio play/pause one shot
BVHLevel Level testing our dynamic AABB tree FlyController
LEFT_CLICK: Raycast colliders
KP_5: Spawn 100 entities each with their sphere collider
KP_6: Spawn 1 entity with sphere collider
KP_4: Destroy an entity spawn
KP_ENTER: Show/Hide AABB of spheres
SPACE: Start/Stop spheres from moving
KP_7: Decrease spheres' movement range
KP_9: Increase spheres' movement range
CollisionsLevel Level testing our collision intersections FlyController
LEFT_CLICK: Raycast colliders
CollisionSolverLevel Level testing our collision solving system FlyController
1: Select the box collider to move
2: Select the sphere collider to move
3: Select the capsule collider to move
9: Decrease the mass of the sphere collider by 10 (can go negative)
0: Increase the mass of the sphere collider by 10
DebugLevel Level demoing our debug drawing capabilities FlyController
V: Draw ray in a circle while pressed
B: Draw plane while pressed
EditorLevel Level showing the editor components: inspector, heirarchy, and console and level loading menu ESC: close window
CTRL+SHIFT+: H-hierarchy, I-inspector, F-frame reporter, C-console, M-menu
EmptyLevel Empty level to be used as a starting point for user created levels N/a
EventLevel Level demoing our event messaging system with sender and listener components A: Raise a queued event
S: Raise an immediate event
D Raise three queued events with different priorities and timeframes
ExampleLevel Level with an animating model and example component FlyController
UP_ARROW: Move the wire box forward
DOWN_ARROW: Move the wire box backward
LEFT_ARROW: Make the wire box turn left
RIGHT_ARROW: Make the wire box turn Right
GUILevel Level demoing some of our GUI capabilities N/a
InputLevel Level demoing some of the input capabilities A: press/release messages
MOUSE_LEFT: message on 1st click
GAMEPAD_{X,B,MOUSE_MIDDLE}: message while pressed/down
LevelLoadingLevel Level showing a menu to browse levels and load specific level ESC: close window
MeshAnimLevel Level with a mesh that is being animated FlyController
NetworkLevel Level demoing some of our networking capabilities. The default_server_ip in config should be set to your LAN IP for this level to work. FlyController
Y: Spawn a zombie across the network
H: Despawn a zombie across the network (can only be done by the spawner!)
U: Spawn a zombie and set its parent to the previously spawned zombie
I: Parent the previously spawned zombie to the zombie spawned before it
K: Unparent the previously spawned zombie from its parent
P: Send a generic handle message with integer 0
O: Send a generic handle message with integer 1
Mouse Left: Send a generic handle message with integer 2
F1: Start host
F2: Start pure server
F3: Start client
NUM1: Start broadcasting messages to all computers in LAN
NUM2: Start listening to broadcast messages
Keypad9: Switch to another level using NetworkLoadLevel
Keypad7: Switch back to NetworkLevel using NetworkLoadLevel
PrimitiveLevel Level displaying all the types of primitive objects FlyController
SkeletonLevel Level displaying a mesh and entities used to follow the skeleton N/a
Halves First demo twin-stick shooter game we created! Only support gamepads LFET_STICK: move around
KnightGame Game with a knight and a sword, can you take down the most training dummies? LEFT_STICK: moves knight
RIGHT_TRIGGER: raises/lowers sword
RIGHT_STICK: spin it in a complete circle for flame protection
Week10MiniGame First demo game with networking. Fool your enemy with your sword young man! NUM1: Start as a host
NUM2: Start as a client
R: Ready for the fight
AD: Move left or right
Up/Down Arrow: Switch the sword position
Space: Stab!


Stepping Time

Assuming you have checked out master, you are looking at our latest work. If you would like to view the engine from the start you can use the tags feature to see the code week to week. If you are interested in a specific feature, there are branches for each of the major systems of development for you to checkout (the majority of development happened on those branches, we slipped up sometimes and made changes on staging).

Mission Statement

Game engine development is a very wide field in the industry, but also a very inaccessible one. Budding engineers are advised to just jump into development to learn, and it's for this reason that the Isetta Engine project came to be.

Our team is building a game engine specialized for the twin-stick shooter genre. Every step of the way we will be documenting our process through a dedicated blog. Readers can hear from us personally and get an in-depth look at our journey to create the engine. In addition, we will supplement our content through regular interviews with industry professionals who have built their own engines before.

Between our own hands-on process and sage advice from veteran engineers, we hope to give newcomers a clearer representation of the engine-building process.

This project will span from August to December of 2018 and all of our progress and code will be accessible via the git repo.


Novice-built game engine from the ground up (with blogs!)





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