Crystal Space Free Software

crystal space

Crystal Space (CS) is a cross-platform, free software development kit for 3D graphics written in C++. This framework supports Linux, Windows, and MaxOS/X. While most reviews of CS focus on the advanced rendering techniques, pixel/polygon drawing speeds, etc., it is obvious that this engine will be good enough for basic-to-intermediate level projects.

Instead, this assessment focuses on CS’s included features as well as its "learning curve" factors. This review therefore purposely highlights documentation and support, along with general engine features.

Built-in engine functionality 

CS has a lot of things built right into the engine. These include a virtual file system, keyboard/mouse/ joystick input, sound, scripting, console, a game objects library (CEL), map loader, etc. But some of these additional items appear to be poorly implemented or broken. Also, you will need to replace some of them in your application code.

Engine stability

The engine is mostly stable because of the development team’s very fast fixes whenever problems arise. Release planning and release testing are somehow more casual and less formalized. The engine could benefit if it had a much larger user base. As it stands, however, there are several parts of the code that remain unused and untested.

Featured projects page

Sadly, the featured projects page is lacking in that many of the listed titles are abandoned, incomplete, and not very relevant. Although there are some bright spots, it is very clear that there are not nearly as many noteworthy CS projects going on. This is in spite of the fact that this engine was introduced 5 years before Ogre.

Learning curve          

In terms of ease of use, you are likely to have difficulties finding your way at first because of outdated or incomplete (sometimes confusing) documentation. The IRC channel is a bright spot. It can help you a little bit when you get stuck. Still, CS is a huge engine. You have to know a lot and expect that a lot can go wrong. But this gets much easier as you go.

Online forums and mailing lists        

CS performs poorly in this aspect. In addition to the relatively little participation, it seems that the forum also pays no attention to questions considered not "well-defined". Only few mailing lists are available and they are almost useless since they generate only a few messages every day.

IRC helpfulness        

The IRC is a major strength of the support efforts of the CS team. The CS chat room makes a great community. You will not be disappointed when asking questions because you are likely to get great answers. The main CS developers are also active daily.


CS has few good tutorials. They tend to be more complex and much larger, that is, the novice may have difficulty understanding the tutorials and explanations.

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