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Aether3D Game Engine

Author: Timo Wirén



  • Windows, macOS, iOS and Linux support.
  • Vulkan, D3D12 and Metal renderers.
  • Physically-based rendering.
  • Particle System
  • Forward+ light culling.
  • Component-based game object system.
  • VR support in Vulkan backend. Tested on HTC Vive.
  • Sprite rendering, texture atlasing and batching.
  • Bitmap and Signed Distance Field font rendering using BMFont fonts.
  • Skinned animation for meshes imported from FBX.
  • Variance shadow mapping.
  • SSAO
  • Bloom
  • Audio support for .wav and .ogg.
  • Hot-reloading of assets.
  • Custom model format with .obj, .fbx and Blender exporter.
  • Virtual file system for .pak files.
  • Xbox controller support.
  • Cross-Platform WYSIWYG scene editor.
  • Statically linked into your application.
  • Wireframe rendering mode.
  • Line rendering.

Planned Features

Sample Code

    Window::Create( width, height, WindowCreateFlags::Fullscreen );
    RenderTexture cameraTex;
    cameraTex.Create2D( width, height, DataType::Float, TextureWrap::Clamp, TextureFilter::Linear, "cameraTex", false );

    GameObject camera;
    camera.GetComponent<CameraComponent>()->SetClearColor( Vec3( 0, 0, 0 ) );
    camera.GetComponent<CameraComponent>()->SetProjectionType( CameraComponent::ProjectionType::Perspective );
    camera.GetComponent<CameraComponent>()->SetProjection( 45, (float)width / (float)height, 0.1f, 200 );

    Mesh sphereMesh;
    sphereMesh.Load( FileSystem::FileContents( "sphere.ae3d" ) );

    GameObject sphere;
    sphere.AddComponent< MeshRendererComponent >();
    sphere.GetComponent< MeshRendererComponent >()->SetMesh( &sphereMesh );
    sphere.AddComponent< TransformComponent >();
    sphere.GetComponent< TransformComponent >()->SetLocalPosition( { 0, 4, -80 } );

    Scene scene;
    scene.Add( &camera );
    scene.Add( &sphere );

API documentation



  • After building build artifacts can be found in aether3d_build next to aether3d.
  • Grab the sample asset archive and extract it into aether3d_build/Samples after building.


  • Open the project in Engine\VisualStudio_* in Visual Studio and build it. For MinGW you can use Engine\Makefile_Vulkan.
  • Build and run Samples\01_OpenWindow. On MinGW the command is make
  • Vulkan users: built-in shader sources are located in aether3d_build\Samples that comes with sample asset archive. If you modify them, you can build and deploy them by running compile_deploy_vulkan_shaders.cmd in Engine/Assets.
  • FBX converter tries to find FBX SDK 2020.1.1 in its default install location (English language localization)


  • Copy OpenVR headers into Engine\ThirdParty\headers
  • Copy OpenVR DLL into aether3d_build\Samples
  • Open Vulkan renderer's Visual Studio solution and select target OpenVR Release
  • Build and run Samples\04_Misc3D target Release Vulkan OpenVR in Visual Studio.


  • Open the project Engine/Aether3D_OSX_Metal in Xcode and build it.
  • Open the project Samples/MetalSampleOSX and run it.
  • FBX converter tries to find FBX SDK 2020.1.1 in its default install location.


  • Install dependencies:

sudo apt install libopenal-dev libx11-xcb-dev libxcb1-dev libxcb-ewmh-dev libxcb-icccm4-dev libxcb-keysyms1-dev

  • Run make -f Makefile_Vulkan in Engine.


  • Build Aether3D_iOS in Engine. It creates a framework.
  • Copy the framework into your desktop.
  • Open Samples/MetalSampleiOS and build and run it.

Tested GPUs

  • AMD Radeon R9 Nano on Ubuntu 20.04 and Windows 10
  • NVIDIA GTX 750M on MacBook Pro 2013 and macOS Catalina
  • NVIDIA GTX 1080 on Windows 10
  • NVIDIA RTX 2060 on Windows 10
  • Intel Skylake HD530 on Ubuntu 18.04

Running Tests

Visual Studio

  • Unit test project can be found in Engine\Tests\UnitTests. You'll need to set it to run in x64 and copy OpenAL32.dll into the build folder.

GCC or Clang

  • You can find Makefiles in Engine/Tests.


The engine is licensed under zlib license.

Third party library licenses are:

  • stb_image.c is in public domain
  • stb_vorbis.c is in public domain
  • OpenAL-soft is under LGPLv2 license
  • Nuklear UI is in public domain

Roadmap/internal TODO