This is big: Epic Games just announced the release of the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), a free edition of the Unreal Engine 3. It's available to anyone interested in using 3D game engine technology, including game developers, students, hobbyists, researchers, creators of 3D visualizations.
The Unreal Engine is the technology behind popular PC and console games such as Gears of War, Unreal Tournament, Bioshock, Medal of Honor, Army of Two, and Batman: Archam Asylum. It's one of the best game engines available today. See the UDK features page for more details on all of its capabilities.
Previously, if you wanted to use the Unreal Engine in your programs you had to enter into a very expensive agreement with Epic for access to the technology. A few years ago, Epic reportedly asked for up-front payments of as much as $8 million before your game was even developed! Now anyone can download the PC version of the UDK and immediately try it out without paying a cent or signing anything. As a former professional game developer, this is just amazing to me.
The Unreal community was going nuts this morning after the announcement. Some were shocked that Epic chose to release the entire engine and not just a crippled subset. As one poster put it,
"Man, one thing I hope you guys realize is that this is almost EXACTLY the engine build that we're using here at Epic! You get every single feature that we've been using here that aren't even in any games yet! We only got some of these features last week!"
Use of the new UDK is free for noncommercial purposes, but it can be licensed cheaply for commercial uses. For example you can use it to write a commercial PC video game and pay nothing up front and no royalties until your sales go over $5,000. See the licensing page for all the details. Currently, the free kit is only offered to PC users but Epic says console support is "under consideration".
"Unreal Engine 3 has been used to create games in a wide range of genres, as well as military simulations, 3D architectural walkthroughs, animated movies and more," said Epic VP Mark Rein. "Users are only limited by their imaginations. Go ahead, make something Unreal!"
- Epic Offers Free Unreal Engine 3 Dev Kit, New Licensing Deals
- North Carolina’s Research Triangle–“the hub of East Coast video games?”
- Never mind the recession, the Triangle computer gaming industry is booming