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You might already be wondering how did the game engine received this rather strange name. This name is the result of a little word play with the words 'dragon' and 'engine' (as in “game engine”) using their phonetic writing. For “dragon” this is ['drægən] and for “engine” it is ['endʒin]. The common characters (en) at the end and the begining of each word seemed to be forming a link between them and inspired the concatenation to Drag[en]gine. From there on the game engine had received its name.
Take a look at any modern game engine and you will soon arrive at the conclusion that they look more like a black box or a set of components that cooperate to perform tasks like rendering, physics, textures, bones, etc and also provide some modding capabilities.
Unfortunatly, in the majority of cases one or more of these features will not be as good as “in that other game engine” which is a result of either bad implementation or simply trade-off between requirements. Additionaly, most of those engines are difficult and messy to extend in order to accommodate future changes in hardware or software. Ultimately, those engines have to be rewritten from scratch in the worst case .
For a game developer, finding a game engine suiting the specifications of the next project is a balancing act and a decision to be taken as early as possible in the project's lifecycle making this one more thing to worry about instead of focusing on the game's content. The most likely case is to have come up with 2 or 3 choices and wishing to have the option to mix and match the best components from each engine. This is clearly a design problem caused by the way game engines are designed today. To make matters worse, software companies sell licenses at high prices which makes it difficult for smaller groups of developers / software companies or even creative individuals to get started buidling their project. Creative groups or individuals might consider creating their own game engine which means spending a considerable ammount of time in designing and debugging a rather complex piece of software.
These design choices also have an impact to the game player / power user / creative individual who will also have to deal with the benefits and disadvantages of different game engines used by the games they have installed on their machine. For example, it so happens sometimes to have two games based on the same game engine not neccessarily both running on a specific machine. Choosing a game based on a closed design means locking down to the set of customisation options it has to offer.
Closed designs are not the only option of course. Because of the collective nature of open source projects, open source game engines tend to be much more modular but still, most choices can only be applied during compilation time. However, people have being programming like this for ages, producing better software than a closed design but still not good or flexible enough for taking game design one step forward.
Drag[en]gine aims at solving the problems mentioned in the previous section by applying the right Software Design practises. The key to the real next generation game engine is not adding more and more features making the problem worse but stepping up from a blackbox design to an open modular design. The Drag[en]gine is designed with an operating system in mind instead of a blackbox. The entire game engine is based on Modules which can be compared to device drivers. The Game Engine is the system kernel taking care of managing the modules, managing resources and providing an abstraction to the underneath operating system. The modules in turn provide all the features other game engines come build in with ( or which they are lacking ). Due to the very loose coupling of the modules with the system and other modules it is very easy to exchange or improve a module without interfering with any other parts of the engine. As a result the modularity reaches down to the end user not stopping at the developer. With this system the Drag[en]gine is designed to provide modularity on the end user machine. An end user can now choose optimal modul combinations for his personal computer even down to per game setups for maximum performance and enjoyment. Instead of turning the game engine into a compile nightmare for the user it becomes an engine he can customize even down to run-time. Now a developer does not have to worry anymore about what graphic routines draws his game or what physics library makes his objects tumble around. He simply concentrates on the content of his game. The player can now decide for himself what graphic renderer or physics library works best on his computer since nowbody else then he knows his own computer like the inside of his pockets.