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nekitusan

Unity Game engines after the UDK and Unity3D stormed in

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Working myself on a game engine, I was pondering the point of doing it, now that UDK and Unity3D came into the picture, and frankly took most of the indie development scene to their side, how engines like C4, Leadwerks, Unigine and such, are doing it, and if there is a point to them anyway. Does the indie (or even bigger companies) need other engines ? Yes, sometimes scripting is not enough, but in general its enough.. And yes, its always good to have a competition, but then again, those two engines are doing ok anyway.
So, what are you guys think about the current big picture of the game engine market and trends ?

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Commercial engines like udk and unity are good for what they do, however they are ' black boxes'. You can't trace through the code if you need to debug a feature. This is why I still think there is a need for open source engines. They are also very generic, ie they try and provide for the most common features. You could try and make an engine for a specific purpose (for example).

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Certainly in nowadays market I wouldn't make an engine to try to license it, but there are still several other good reasons to make engines, at least:

1) if you need an inhouse engine for your specific needs
2) if you want the learning experience
3) if you're going to open source it

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Making a 'generic' engine to market to indies has never really been a solid business proposition.

I doubt Epic Games are really making much money off of indies either - but they benefit in other ways, such as hugely increasing the supply of people with skills in their languages/tool-chain, which makes selling their engine to big developers easier.

I'm pretty ignorant on Unity's business, but I feel they managed to cash in by being in the right place at the right time, by having an easy-to-use tool-chain available during the iPhone bubble. A lot of wannabe indies probably lost a lot of money by licensing unity for their $1 iPhone game which sold 37 copies.


As for making your own engine --- engines are just as much about the content creation work-flow as they are about the abilities of the code-libraries. I'd probably argue that the tool side is more important than the runtime side (which incidentally is why Unreal has done so well).
If you're making a game, and your team has a very specific vision of what they want their workflow to be, then building your own engine to those specs can definitely be a great idea. Taking an existing engine and massaging it to fit the workflow that you want can be a huge challenge (and downright impossible with the free/indie flavours).

Also, if you're making a game with a decent commercial budget / decent commercial potential, then the licencing fees on something like the UDK are actually quite high. If you've got an experienced engine developer on your team, you could save/make a lot of money by doing it yourself. On the flip-side, if your engine developer doesn't cut the mustard, then you might also have just doomed yourself to failure. There's a hell of a lot of variables when it comes to "buy or build?".

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