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When I was looking up costs to use software earlier I saw Photoshop commercial license was around \$2000 for 2 years. But then again I knew that Photoshop is the beast of the bunch making their commercial licenses way to expensive. I’m pretty sure the 3d studio max ,maya, and a bunch of other development software packages work the same way.

I guess I just assumed that all the other development software companies worked under the same type of business plan, making developers pay through license subscriptions on top of initial product purchase. Especially because of how reluctant my old company was about allowing machines to have access to programs like office because of “licenses”

That’s not so bad then. I already have everything I need other then the asset producing programs. I guess I just gota get my feet wet and practice up on some milkshape and gimp so I can make some assets with programs that I am allowed to use commercially.

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Yeah, between Blender, Audacity, GIMP, Eclipse (which I use for Java but which also works for C++) or VS2005 Express, OpenOffice, the free Platform SDK and DirectX SDK, and the myriad of other open source libraries, you can pretty much develop a game at the cost of a desktop pc and a windows xp license. With NSIS and InnoSetup, you don't even have to pay Macrovision for their InstallShield :)

Milkshape isn't free of course, but I don't know any other game development-related program that adds this much value at only 30 bucks or so.

Both ATI and nVidia also provide a whole bunch of free tools related to shaders, textures, and the like. ATI offers RenderMonkey and the Compressonator, and nVidia even has a whole bunch of royalty-free textures for free download.

As to the original topic: I don't have actual figures to back this up, but I believe that a substantial amount of the money in independent game development is being made in small games for the casual gamer segment, and in games aimed at mobile platforms.

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