I remember a dozen years ago, Indie game developers where using game engines or rendering engines such as Ogre 3D, Irrlicht, Blitz 3D or building Mods for games such as Unreal, Quake, Starsiege Tribes or Half-Life. We didn’t really have complete engine kits available at the time like the Unreal Engine, Unity or Torque, heck most AAA game titles weren’t even made with an all-in-one development kit like we have available today.
I was really disappointed in Garage Games when they began charging $1,000 for their new flag ship engine Torque 3D, which while is impressive, is cutting out a huge portion of the Indie community. Remember when Torque Game Engine was just $100? Yes, Torque 3D is a lot more impressive looking and state of the art, but the Torque Game Engine was state of the art at it’s time. It had most of the major components featured in major AAA titles at the time, and it was still only $100.
Why does Garage Games move to charge a solid grand for their new engine bother me? Because they are taking away from the ‘Garage Gamers’ who might want to spend $100 on a game engine, but can’t afford $1,000 on one. Indie game development has started to become a mainstream item, with a lot of potential for financial success in it. Indie gaming is no longer cost friendly for a vast majority of people who could have easily spent $100 on the engine.
Unity 3D and Epic’s Unreal Engine has now been released for free, and this is a solid move by both. While you can’t sell your game’s really without purchasing a license, I can guarantee you that 80% of the indie games released out there on the market, where not self published. They are sold on the Garage Games marketplace, Steam, Xbox Live ect. The publisher can easily pick up the tab on purchasing the commercial license to the engine in order to sell the product. Garage Games requires developers to buy the engine before building their games, while Unity and Epic allow developers to build their games before buying the license.
While I still prefer the Torque Toolsets, I favor the Epic and Unity pricing model, and applaud them. I’ve heard rumors that Garage Games might do the same, but come on now, these guys are the pioneers of Indie game development tools, they should be setting the standards, not competing with new standards set by major corps.