Hello, is Panda3d for my project?

Hello everyone,
I can see many nice things done already with Panda3d. I’m impressed. I hope one day some screen shot of my game would be nice for someone.

I’d like to make sailplane simulation coded mainly in python.

I imagine graphics in this game (let’s say FreeSailplaneSimulator, FSS) like this:
,view from cocpit with 3d instruments, some transparend canopy(maybe with some dead bugs on it;-) ), visible other parst of glider.Textured ground (bumpmaped or not, frankly in beginning I’ll try to make it just to be visible), some 3d objects down on earth, preferably with some shadows(made by moving sun or lamps on earth).

I’ve already read that making terrain from heightmap is not so simple, so that’s not good for flight sim, where maps used to be big, with may objects on them.

I’ve already tried Crystal Space 3d but it lacks on documentation for me, too many possibilities, not enough help.

I’m asking for your opinion if Panda3d is engine which is suitable for such type of game. I don’t see any sim in projects here. I just don’t want to lose few day just to realize that it’s impossible to make graphics for flight sim with this engine.


Hello Pikkt,

Well, first a disclaimer, I’m not expert, not even close! I’m still learning Panda3d so take what I say with a grain of salt.

I see a couple things that may hinder you with your project:

  1. Terrain
  2. Physics

You already know about the terrain issue. Panda3d can do it, It’s just you need to implement the algorithms to do it. There have been a few attempts at implementing terrain that have been published on the boards so maybe you can build off that.

Physics. From the devmaster.net entry for Panda3d:

Very basic physics engine that may apply forces to classes. The physics engine can handle angular or linear forces, as well as viscosity

If that works for you, there you go!

What you’ll find with Panda3d unlike some other engines is that a lot of the stuff we may have taken for granted in those engines isn’t done for you in Panda. Terrain for instance.

I just wanted to post something to show you aren’t being ignored. Officially, there are only two people associated with Panda3d:

David from Disney
Josh Yelon from the ETC

Sometimes it takes a while for someone to post a reply.

The community is smaller than others.

Maybe David or someone else with more knowledge will add to this post.

Bottom line, if you have the skill in C++ and knowledge of 3d graphics, you can implement whatever you want in Panda3d.

Otherwise, it will be a little harder, which I’ve found out myself :slight_smile:


Thanks for quick reply.

Physics will be other kind of problem for me, I’ll try to use JSBSIM http://www.jsbsim.org and make python bindings of it, I know that will be a hard taks for such noob programmer, but I’ll try.

I still have little knowledge about 3d graphics, but I’m still learning, I hope everything I need in matter of 3d graphics is already done in Panda.

After all my project I make to learn some new skills, so won’t be so dissappointing if I don’t finish it.


Well, there is PyODE also. There is a post in the forums about it. Just a matter of installing the PyODE distribution and then copying over the .dll to your Panda python directory.

I’m not sure how it would work though, haven’t tried it myself.


I know about pyODE, but ODE is not for flight dynamics model, maybe I’ll use it for some other collision detection or on ground movement. Thanks for info!


i dont think you need that much physiks to simulate a airplane.
in fact its rather difficult to simulate a correct behavior using physik engines since they are used to calculate physik behavior between colliding objects.
if it’s only a plane you can code the neccesary mathematics straight in python.
it’s easyer and it costs less cpu-power than real physics.

as far as i know there is only one plane-simulator using physical calculation based on the catual plane-model shape,wingprofile etc.
using simpler math to do it is the more common way and it still can be pretty real.
thomas e

ps:if you’r looking for a terrain-code… you might want to have a look at the Ranger MKII terrain-algorithm. not so well suited for ground-near camera but perfect for flight sims.huge terrains and still full of details.
you would have to make it work with panda but its well documented, guess you’ll have to do some work regarding collision with terrain.

Wow, Thomas, that Ranger MKII is nice!! I downloaded the demo. As I sat and watched it fly through the terrain I was envisioning the possibilities in Panda3d.

Adapting however, that’s another issue. :slight_smile:


In fact I don’t want to make flight model that way I think you think I’m going to do.
Fluid dynamics are computionally infeasible. Like some idea of simulating kinetic energy of air and pressure things. JSBSim works with FlighGear, I’d like to use it also in my project. I’m not any kind of scientist in field of physics(I regreat that), but I think this FDM is just good.
Thanks for that link to Ranger, looks really nice, just in time when I was going to start looking for thing like this.

Hey folks, I just received the following message from Jon Berndt, and he asked me to post it:

As the chief architect and development coordinator, I’d like to invite you to contact me directly if you have any questions about JSBSim, and its possible use in Panda3D projects.

Best regards,


Jon S. Berndt
jon *at# jsbsim.org
Development Coordinator
JSBSim Project