The open-source game engine and graphics engine for multiplayer, cross-platform, real-time 3D action

Feature List Print E-mail

3D Rendering and Material System Features

  • New Cafu Material System that handles all rendering.
  • The main MatSys components are Renderers, Materials, and Shaders.
  • All material surface properties can be controlled by the mapper or texture artist via easy to understand material scripts.
    That is, even after a map or model is finished, the composition, translucency, filtering, modulation, blending, reflectiveness and all other properties of any material can be modified.
    This even works while the engine is running!
  • Designed to be implemented on virtually anything:
    • Operating Systems: Windows, Linux, MacOS, Pocket PC, Palm, DOS, ...
    • APIs: OpenGL 1.2 to 2.0, DirectX 7 to 9, Cg, GLSL, Mesa, software renderers, ...
    • Hardware: NVidia, ATI, 3Dlabs, consoles, ...
  • Cafu demo packages currently come with complete sets of renderers for Windows and Linux, each containing variants for:
    • OpenGL 1.2 (mostly used as fall-back renderer for the Cafu demo),
    • Cg with fp20/vp20 profile (for NV2X and higher GPUs),
    • Cg with arbvp1/arbfp1 profile (for NV3X and higher GPUs),
    • OpenGL 1.4+ extended with ARB vertex/fragment program (all modern GPUs from ATI, NVidia and others), and
    • a "Null" renderer that is useful e.g. for performance profiling or dedicated Cafu servers.
    On start-up, Cafu automatically determines and loads the best renderer that is supported on the current system, so that highest image quality is obtained without user query.
  • New special effects on the latest hardware can easily be exploited, while at the same time fall-back solutions for older hardware can always be provided.
  • Direct import of jpeg, bmp, tga and png image file formats.
  • Global resource management for efficient sharing of common textures and meshes.
  • Powerful Pre-Caching System of all rendering resources for stutter-free animations.

Multi-Player Network Support

  • Client/server architecture for multi-player support, implemented in very well designed C++ code.
  • The server can run on Windows or Linux (both client-integrated as well as dedicated servers are available).
  • The client is available both for Windows and Linux. Clients can also act as servers (e.g. for LAN games)!
  • New, amazingly fast internet network code!
  • Optimized for minimum bandwidth requirements.
  • Based on Berkeley Sockets (highly portable, and no unnecessary overhead of general-purpose network libraries).
  • Full client prediction (for movement, events, and weapons).
  • Delta compression for network packets.

Cross-Platform and Cross-Compiler Portability


supported 32-bit
supported 64-bit
Linux / Unix
Linux / Unix

supported 32-bit
supported 64-bit
Mac OS X
Mac OS X

  • Use the same source code on Windows, Linux, and (soon!) Mac OS X.
  • Full support for native 32- and 64-bit code on all platforms.
  • Supports the Microsoft Visual C++ 2005, 2008 and 2010 compilers on Windows, and the GCC 3.x and 4.x on Linux and Unix.
  • Carefully designed, easy to read, standards compliant, portable and well documented C++ source code.

State-of-the-Art Lighting Technology

  • First engine ever to combine light-maps with dynamic lighting effects!
  • Radiosity-based, physically correct lighting.
  • Dynamic, shader-driven, per-pixel lighting for both worlds and models.
  • Stencil buffer shadow volumes (everything casts shadows on everything!).
  • Support for diffuse-, normal-, bump-, specular-, and luminance-maps.
  • Support for ATI and NVidia programmable GPUs and shaders.
  • Smooth-Group support even for world brushes, easily controlled in the map editor!
  • Shader-driven, multi-textured or 2-pass LightMap rendering.
  • Spherical Harmonic Lighting available as presented in my diploma thesis (the thesis is also available in the Downloads section).
  • All this is implemented in the Cafu Material System.

3D Sound Effects and Audio Support

  • Employs fmod for all sound, audio and music effects.
  • 3D stereo sounds for all audio sources (e.g entities, explosions, etc.).
  • Doppler effects that distort all sounds according to the relative velocity of the listener.
  • Can play mp3 and ogg-vorbis music files.
  • Available on all currently and future supported platforms.

Graphical User Interface System

  • A powerful Graphical User Interface (GUI) System (or short: GuiSys) is integrated with the engine.
  • GUIs can be 2D (regular GUIs for game menus etc.) as well as 3D for world (entity) GUIs. This provides a maximum of flexibility in functionality and design for all in-game interactive elements like for example call-lift buttons, doors with access control, computer displays of all kinds, etc.
  • GUIs can fully be scripted by the Lua-based Scripting system!
  • The GuiSys C++ interfaces can also be accessed from the game code directly, e.g. in order to implement all kinds of HUDs (Head-Up Displays) for the player.
  • An easy-to-use tool for creating own fonts for use with the Gui System is included with the SDK.
  • As examples, the current SDK implements the in-game console, the chat input, the "Really Quit?" dialog, the HUD and a world (entity) GUI all with the GuiSys.

Model Features

Player Models Player Models Player Models
  • Animation blending allows smooth transitions from one animation sequence to the next.
  • With animation channels you can play different animation sequences on different parts of the model (e.g. head, torso, legs).
  • Multiple skins: Re-use the same mesh with different surface materials.
  • Submodels: Each player is easily combined with any weapon.
  • Level-of-Detail: Automatically switch to lower-res meshes when the model gets farther away from the player.
  • Full integration with the Cafu Material System for per-pixel lighting and shadows.

Model Editor

The CaWE Model Editor The CaWE Model Editor The CaWE Model Editor
  • Use the graphical Model Editor to import many model file formats.
  • A complete toolbox for inspecting, transforming and texturing your models.
  • Adjust and tweak any Cafu-specific model feature to prepare your models for use in the Cafu Engine.
  • Attach graphical, interactive GUIs to any model.
  • Check out the Gallery.
  • Learn more at the Documentation.

Very Large Terrains

  • Implements the excellent SOAR algorithm by Peter Lindstrom and Valerio Pascucci.
  • Provides continuous-level-of-detail, permitting very large out-door scenes.
  • Employs geo-morphing for perfectly smooth transitions between levels of detail.
  • View-frustrum culling yields an optimal terrain approximation.
  • Can directly load terrains from Terragen (ter) and portable graymap (pgm) files in full 16 bit precision or from any bmp, tga, png or jpeg image file in 8 BPP precision.
  • Integrates fully into the rest of Cafu (i.e. terrains are in the PVS, use optimized code for collision detection and physics, etc.).
  • Even all compile tools are aware of terrains, and act accordingly.
  • There are no restrictions in combining terrains with other elements of Cafu worlds.
  • Full integration with the new Cafu Material System - you can apply arbitrary materials to terrains (e.g. with detail-maps and so on).
  • Direct terrain support and terrain preview in the Cafu world editor CaWE.
  • A terrain (pre-)viewer is included with the SDK.

Easy Extensibility and Great Flexibility

  • Supports Scripting based on the Lua programming language!
  • Several forms of scripting are supported by the Cafu engine (e.g. cmat material definition files), the most important of which are GUI scripting and entity (map) scripting. For example, a lift that stops at several floors with each floor having a call button can completely be implemented by GUI and map scripts.
  • Many relevant interfaces are available to (have bindings to) both the C++ game code as well as the Lua scripts.
  • Dynamic Link Libraries (DLLs) control the engine.
  • Simple to use C++ code interfaces make it easy to create entirely new games or applications (MODs) with Cafu.
  • Also the Material System can easily be augmented with new effects, or ported to new platforms via clean and well-documented C++ interfaces.
  • An example: the United States Air Force, Research Labs for Human Effectiveness employ the Cafu engine in warfighter simulation experiments to study the visuo-spatial working memory of their pilots.

Software Development Kit

  • The live demos include all binaries for developing new worlds or entirely new games.
  • Includes the sample source-code of the Cafu DeathMatch game.
  • Includes CaWE, the Cafu World Editor, a comfortable editor for editing worlds for Cafu.
    • CaWE is included both in the Windows and the Linux packages!
    • The user interface is intuitive and easy to learn for beginners. For experts, it has powerful features for fast and comfortable editing.
    • Real-time preview of all models and Material System effects.
    • Auto-save and recovery feature for crash-safe editing.
    • Can import Doom 3 and Half-Life 1+2 maps.
  • Includes all binary tools that are required for Cafu game development: CaWE, CaBSP, CaPVS, CaLight, CaSHL, Model Viewer, Material Viewer, Terrain Viewer.
  • Exhaustive documentation and support is available online.
  • Reasonably priced source code licenses are available at the Licensing page for independent developers, students, professional teams and academic institutions.

Special Features

  • Full support for curved surfaces (Bezier Patches) as seen in Doom 3, from the CaWE editor through preprocessing to dynamic lighting and shadows.
  • The vegetation of large eco-systems as implemented in one of my university projects is soon to be integrated.
  • In-game command console. For example, the display resolution and mode (full-screen or windowed) can be changed "in-game".
  • Realistic physics modeling for all world entities: natural player movement, accurate collision detection, 6 degrees of freedom, acceleration, friction, gravity, water, ladders, ...
    In addition, the Bullet Physics Engine has been integrated.
  • Particle Effect Engine (for explosions, smoke, muzzle flashes, fog, rain, snow, blood, ...)
  • BSP, PVS and Portal-based rendering.