Epic just announced it is making its development kit available for free for noncommercial and educational use. This comes just a few weeks after Unity landed $5.5 million in VC funding. I’m not inferring that Epic’s move is a reaction to Unity’s news, rather I think it highlights that tool and middleware vendors are still jockeying to meet a growing range of game development needs.
From the AAA titles down to the indie and iPhone games, the range of games and platforms middleware tool providers need to support seems to be growing exponentially. There is also a new breed of tool and service providers looking to support smaller game developers. Companies like Wild Pockets and Mixamo.
Wild Pockets has a complete 3D browser-based game engine and development toolkit they make available for free. Part of their toolset includes microtransaction components built directly into the API. They have had impressive success within the indie game community and have caught the attention of a number of supporters.
Mixamo raised $4 million in VC funding earlier this year. The company has a 3D character animation service where users can log onto their website and buy animation sequences very inexpensively. They have announced a list of tool partners that includes Trinigy’s Vision Engine, Autodesk’s 3ds Max Bipeds, xaitment’s AI tools, and Emergent’s Gamebryo LightSpeed.
The road to development nirvana is long and fraught with unforeseen issues, setbacks and costs. It is those companies that understand the parameters of their projects that ultimately succeed. It doesn’t matter if the game is cross-platform, multiplayer, or mobile.