Dark Engine

Software entity

A game engine by Looking Glass Studios originally for Thief: The Dark Project.


The first video game about Dark Engine was released on November 30, 1998.

Eidos and Night Dive Studios has published most of these games

DromEd is a Dark Engine level editor used internally by Looking Glass. It comes in five flavors (Theif, Theif II, Theif Gold, System Shock 2, and Dromedary). Dromedary is the name used for an unreleased Arthurian legend game. Each flavor of DromEd, excluding Dromedary, has been properly released for public use because of petitions by fans.

Source code thefts:
(All games discussed below use the Dark Engine)
1. A Looking Glass Studios ex-employee had taken a copy of the Dark Engine source code and it was found on a computer at his new job. Apparently it had also been given to Thief and System Shock fans.
2. A Dreamcast development kit hard drive owned by a collector had content left over from compiling the Dark Engine. He was able to reconstruct a good portion of the source code.
3. System Shock 2 source code was leaked in an unrelated incident.
4. Another Dreamcast development kit owned by a collector had content left over from compiling Theif 2 and System Shock 2. It also had the complete Dark Engine source code but lacked the proprietary supporting libraries need to compile it.
5. An extensive patch was anonymously distributed on the internet to update the Dark Engine. This patch and the code pieced together from the above 4 sources make a complete version of the Dark Engine plus many improvements. Coupled with DromEd, new content has been added to Dark Engine games.

From 2009 until 2019 (and onward), lawyers are very, very, very busy. No one is allowed to make anything from the System Shock 2 source code. Not even the rightful owners of the code. It is not the lawyers preventing it, they are actually trying to arrange for using the code. Interactions between inter-corporate licensing, US copyright law, the thefts, and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act have made the code illegal to use.