Lightspeed 3D

Lightspeed 3D is a realtime 3D engine for MacOS. It is available in source code form, with free licensing, and it's optimized for the PowerPC. It's lightweight enough to add to an existing application that just needs some quick 3D rendering, yet powerful enough to form the central graphics engine for commercial-quality games.

I'm writing this because I want to see more cool software for the Mac. So if you're a Mac developer, I encourage you to consider how Lightspeed 3D can help in your next project. I'll also help you personally as much as I can, asking nothing in return -- just make great Mac apps!

Quick Info

Features You Can See: Features Under the Hood:
  • perspective view
  • Gouraud shading
  • self-shadowed surfaces
  • procedural color/shading functions
  • texture mapping
  • bump mapping
  • backface culling
  • S-buffer depth mapping
  • adaptive depth sorting
  • extensible design
  • clean C++ class structure
  • optimized for PowerPC from the ground up

Current Status

Important Note: Lightspeed 3D is no longer under development. I've become convinced that QuickDraw 3D is a better way to go for games, as it is part of the OS, supported by a wide variety of hardware accelerators, and even quasi-portable. If you want to look at the Lightspeed 3D code anyway, you can get it here:

I'm now working on a game framework based on QuickDraw 3D. See Magdef for more information.

Quick Info Table

System Requirements Lightspeed 3D is optimized for the PowerPC, running MacOS 7.0 or higher, with a monitor set to 16-bit color. However, at this point it contains no assembly code, and it should compile for 68K Macs as well. Let me know if you'd like to try it.
Licensing Lightspeed 3D is available free for any use, commercial or otherwise. However, it is provided "as is" and the user accepts responsibility for any risk to person, data, computer, mental health, etc.
Language The library is written entirely in C++ using Metrowerks CodeWarrior.
Suggested Uses Lightspeed 3D is appropriate for making many types of realtime 3D games, such as MechWarrior, 3D fighting games, Doom-type games, driving/flight simulators, etc. It is also appropriate for modeling or visualization software, when the data being modeled or visualized takes the form of discrete polygons.
Suggested Non-uses Lightspeed 3D is not appropriate for games such as Riven where a high degree of realism is needed. (If that's what you're looking for, I suggest you check out POV-Ray.) Also, it does not currently support transparent polygons, which may limit its utility in some cases.
Support No support is available for Lightspeed 3D, as I'm no longer developing it. I now consider QuickDraw 3D to be a better approach to 3D games.
See the Acknowledgments for some of the kind people who have helped me provide this library.
Last Updated: 8/01/98 . . . . . .