A lightweight game engine written in modern C++
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Halley Game Engine

A lightweight game engine written in C++14. It's considered to be highly experimental, and alpha quality at best.

The Halley Game Engine is licensed under the Apache 2.0 license.

Design guidelines & objectives

  • Modern graphics pipelines, with first-class shader support
  • Written in modern C++
  • "True" entity system based, with components that store data and systems that operate on families of components
  • Tuned for high performance
  • Code-first: no reliance on editor to generate anything
  • Easy to use: games should be easy to implement
  • Easy to maintain: games should be easy to keep working on long-term, after it has grown to a large project size
  • Cross-platform: support as many platforms as possible
  • No legacy: don't bother supporting legacy systems, such as Windows XP or older Android/iOS devices
  • Rich tools: where possible, provide tools to assist in development and debugging
  • Fast iteration time: hot-reloading wherever possible
  • Support scripting in other languages, such as Lua


Halley is divided in a several sub-projects:

  • engine
    • core: Core features of the engine, including looper, API management, resouces, and graphics engine
    • audio: Audio engine
    • entity: Framework for dealing with entities, components, and systems
    • utils: Utilities library
    • net: Networking library
    • ui: UI library
  • plugins
    • asio: Network/Asio implementation
    • dx11: Video/DX11 implementation
    • opengl: Video/OpenGL implementation
    • sdl: System/SDL, Input/SDL and AudioOut/SDL implementations
    • winrt: System/WinRT, Input/WinRT, Platform/WinRT and AudioOut/XAudio2 implementations
  • tools
    • editor: Editor UI
    • cmd: Command-line interface to tools
    • runner: Provides an entry point for execution and dynamic reloading. Highly experimental.
    • tools: Editor tools to generate files and assets
  • tests
    • entity: Stress test of entity system
    • network: Stress test of network system
  • samples


The following platforms are supported:

  • Windows: Tested on Windows 10 Professional 64-bit (Should work on as low as XP 32-bit)
  • Mac OS X: Tested on Mac OS X 10.9.6
  • Linux: Tested on Ubuntu 16.04


Tools required

  • CMake 3.10+
  • C++14 capable compiler:
    • Visual C++ 15.3 (Visual Studio 2017)
    • Clang 3.5
    • GCC 5.0

Library dependencies

  • Engine:
    • Boost 1.66.0 (header only)
    • OpenGL [optional]
    • SDL 2.0.2 (2.0.7 recommended) [optional]
    • Windows 10 SDK [optional]
  • Also required if building Tools:
    • Boost 1.66.0 libraries: filesystem, system
    • Freetype 2.6.3
    • yaml-cpp 0.5.3

Set up

  • Ensure that all dependencies above are set up correctly
  • Build with CMake
    • Typical: "cmake -DCMAKE_INCLUDE_PATH=path/to/headers -DCMAKE_LIBRARY_PATH=path/to/libs -DBOOST_ROOT=path/to/boost .."
    • Engine only: "cmake -DBUILD_HALLEY_TOOLS=0 -DBUILD_HALLEY_TESTS=0 [...]"
  • Run "halley-editor tests/entity" (or whichever other project you want to test)
  • Launch that project


The full documentation is available on the Wiki.