* Video / PDF tutorials - Quite a lot of tutorials that show basics of using the engine. What was impressive was the strange connection I had to seeing the code, I didn't feel alienated by the setup of things. I wasn't left thinking, "I wonder how the programming goes using this engine" as I was with many others.
* Site Layout - The site was very user friendly and looks clean. I could find most of everything I wanted to know there. Very simple to navigate and plenty of resources on there.
* Forum Support - The lead developer is active on the forums. Having helped ran sites before, I know the demands of handling forums + business + development, so it's a good sign of how serious the project is as the developers are to committing to it.
* Evaluation Kit - This is nothing new of engines, but the matter of the fact is, you kind of associate these with "serious" engines. So when you come across an engine that is not "widely" talked about, like Torque, it's easier to place confidence in it.
I clicked through the top 10 commercial engines on DevMaster's engine list and took a look through all of the projects sites and this projects was the one that stood out the most. I saw a few engines that looked really nice and all, but none of them made me feel like "wow, I actually want to use this product". Even if what I want to so fails or things turn out not so good, it wouldn't matter.
I was getting ready to shell out for Torque but wasn't quite sure confidence wise of trying it. It looked like it had a lot of good stuff in it, but I was still on the borderline of that decision. After looking over the Leadwerks site and forums for a few hours, I was solidly sold. I want to use this product and I want to finally make a game with it.
Before I started all my engine research today, I took another look at a possible DIY approach. I've always liked working on my own frameworks and what have yous, but as a result, I've never had a working game. I've only learned about tool design in practice and nothing about actual game designing. Now that I've spent all of 2008 understanding network interactions in TCP based MMORPGs, I'm eager to prototype out ideas, but I simply don't have the means to.
That's when I decided, I need to stop the impracticalities of trying to have complete control over code and actually get something done using existing middleware. I mean without a doubt, I have the time, patience, and discipline to actually do a game form start to finish, but I never focused on that, ever.
I just wanted to make tools or frameworks that can be used to make games easier and while those are good learning experiences, learning experiences alone aren't going to pay bills. Trying to show off YAUF (yet another useless framework), having a working game framework to prototype out ideas and see them in action is what I need now.
What I've learned in the past year is that, when I write practical programs that have a specific use, I end up learning more and having concepts I reuse in ways greater than any framework or 'generic' code I've ever written before. In fact, I don't think I even use any of my old generic framework code since it was focused on SDL or wrapped a few OpenGL things (never got into DX).
All of the work I've done in the past year though, will be applicable and useful for 'a while'. I've built up a lot of experience in the game security domain and am looking forward to apply those principles to my own programs. I should just look for some security consulting for games, but those opportunities are hard to come by. I'm not an expert in all the theory, but I have become quite efficient in breaking through protocols [grin]
Anyways, I should post some game design ideas later of what I plan on making once I get the engine. I want to get this project off the ground fairly fast, I want to out do what I've done in '08, which I'm not sure I'll be able to hit that peak again in my life, but I still want to try.
Over and out -