Build Engine

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The Build Engine (also called Build) is a first-person shooter engine developed by Ken Silverman for 3D Realms. It became renowned for its innovative use of 2.5D graphics, which allowed game designers to create complex environments with a pseudo-3D effect, despite the technical limitations of the time. 

The History of The Build Engine 

Created in 1995, the Build Engine was a revolutionary step forward in game design. Building an engine game with Build was easier and more efficient than before. 

This engine was utilized in multiple iconic video games of the 1990s and set a new standard for graphics and gameplay in first-person shooters.  

How Does Build Engine Work? 

The Build Engine renders a two-dimensional map in a pseudo-3D space through a technique called raycasting. This technique permits varying floor and ceiling heights, room-over-room architecture, and dynamic lighting—a stark advancement from the flat levels seen in earlier first-person shooter engines. 

Popular Build Engine Games 

The Build Engine helped developers create several prominent games. Each of these games made history in the first-person shooter genre.  

Duke Nukem 3D 

Perhaps the most famous Build Engine game, `Duke Nukem 3D` debuted in 1996 and featured the charismatic and muscular protagonist Duke Nukem fighting aliens in a quest to save the planet, recognized for its interactive levels and memorable one-liners. 


Launched in 1997, `Blood` is a cult classic that combined a gothic horror theme with intense action. Its graphic violence and dark humor left a lasting impression on fans of the genre. 


Released in 1996 as `Powerslave` and known internationally as `Exhumed`, this game took players to an Egyptian setting with a mix of action-adventure and first-person shooter mechanics. 

Redneck Rampage 

This 1997 game added a humorous twist to the shooter genre, with a storyline involving alien abductions and country-themed chaos. 

Shadow Warrior 

With a release year of 1997, `Shadow Warrior` introduced a mix of martial arts and first-person shooting, set against a backdrop of Asian mythology and advanced weapon designs. 

Redneck Rampage Rides Again 

The direct sequel to `Redneck Rampage`, released in 1998, continued the comedic style and action-packed gameplay of the original. 

Ion Fury 

A relatively recent title, `Ion Fury` pays homage to classic shooters and uses an updated version of the Build Engine. Introduced in 2019, it provides a modern twist to the retro feel, with detailed pixel art and fluid gameplay. 

Building Games with The Build Engine 

If you are a game developer, you may decide to use The Build Engine when building games with a retro aesthetic that have capabilities beyond the limitations of true old-school game engines.  

For modern projects, developers often use it for nostalgia or the specific demand for classic gameplay mechanics. Thanks to its simpler architecture compared to modern engines, the engine also helps newbies learn the basic principles of game development.