Leadwerks Engine first began as a 2D render/physics engine for the Blitz Basic programming language. After the development of the BlitzMax programming language, the 2D engine plan was discontinued, and work on a 3D, OpenGL-powered engine began.
At first, Leadwerks Engine 1.0 consisted mainly of basic rendering capabilities offered from OpenGL. After expanding to include physics and sound, Leadwerks Engine was released to the public.
By version 2.0 of the engine in 2008, Leadwerks had implemented OpenGL 2.1, and now required a Shader Model 3.0 graphics card as a minimum, with Shader Model 4.0 recommended to get the best quality and speed. The engine used a forward renderer for lighting. Because of this, it suffered from large overhead and a hardware limit of 8 lights total.
From version 2.1 on, Leadwerks switched to a deferred renderer which moved lighting to a post processing step that requires input from color, depth, and normal buffers. This switch increased speeds by up to 50% in some places, removed the hardcoded lighting limit, and opened up a flexible shader framework for others to build on.
Version 2.3, released in November 2009 (11/23) added support for Lua scripting (per-entity and/or main program) and introduced an improved editor, now called Leadwerks Editor, replacing the Leadwerks Sandbox world building program. As of this upgrade, the price was raised from $150 to the current license cost of $200 ($199.95). Existing users could upgrade for the difference ($50), however towards the end of 2010 and in January 2011 all existing users who hadn't bought the upgrade were given it for free.
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