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Cheap Open renderware/virtools look alike?

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I just got a look of renderware and virtools and I have to admit Im very impressed with them, they (aparently) have everything you need to create a 3d game (and for just about every platform) in a relatively small period of time (AI, 3D, model loading, Level editing, physics,scripting) and a realtime editable IDE is dreamlike for any game programmer! unfortunately the price tag is not. 50,000 for renderware and around 10,000 for virtools (ouch!) Is there an alternative for indie developers or open source developers that has similar features? maybe is there a way to combine tools to create a similar environment? Is there a project to create such a tool? maybe I could lend a hand.

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Er, no. There''s a *lot* of manpower and resources thrown at those products. While I was working for them, I watched Criterion chang from a small, close-knit bunch of coders and a couple of managers, to a major corporation hell-bent on becoming the Microsoft of middleware. They literally tripled in size within six months. An Open Source or even a GNU equivalent is just not going to happen. Not for a few years, at any rate. It''s a shitload of hard work, and many people forget that Criterion''s support people outnumber their developers by nearly 2:1.

That 50K price-tag is for support; the product itself costs much less to produce, but the support side costs a lot to run. You can''t just hire someone in off the street: the support people need to know as much about the guts of RenderWare as its developers do.

£50K is a damned sight less than the equivalent in-house cost of tools and technology R&D teams. Neither are designed for indies or small teams; they''re designed for mid-tier developers who have plenty of game dev expertise, but don''t want the expense of reinventing their wheels for each game. Renderware Studio, for instance, is a combination of middleware, tool-chain framework (for bolting your tools and converters onto), asset management system (it includes AlienBrain), workflow tools and more. It''s incredibly useful if you work on big budget projects, but its value is dubious for those working in teams of 3-4 people at most.

Most people on GameDev.Net are indies and for them, RenderWare and Virtools are way beyond overkill.

Auran''s "Jet" middleware is a good option for indies. (You can find them at www.auran.com.) It''s far less expensive and has no workflow tools, but it''s very capable, being used in a few games already. "Bridge It!" and "Trainz" can be checked out on their website, if you want to see what it can do. Alternatively, you should check out some of the others.


Sean Timarco Baggaley

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