[So you need a game engine? Gamasutra surveys the state of the market in this comprehensive overview of solutions, priced from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars, in an article originally published in Game Developer magazine this summer.]
Perhaps what's most remarkable about talking to the people behind the range of game engines listed in this article is their attitude toward each other.
Despite there being clear competition between some of the technologies -- try Unreal Engine 3, idTech 5, CryENGINE 2, and possibly Source -- the main threat is still viewed as being the internal engine.
Yet, it's the industry's growing acceptance of not-invented-here solutions that underpins the variety of middleware companies and wares now available to developers and publishers.
The success of such middleware has been aided by several different trends. Rising game budgets, the need to mitigate risk factors where possible and the robustness of most of these engines means that even at the top-end, paying a few hundred thousand dollars to be able to get something up and running in weeks not months (or years) has become what could be described as the lesser of two evils.
Of course, some bastions of homegrown technology remain, certain in the knowledge they can come up with something more specific and suited to their actual project.
Issues such as vendors being bought -- need we remind people of the disaster that was EA's acquisition of Criterion (disastrous in terms of RenderWare licensees at least) -- still linger.
But more generally, the rise of middleware should be seen as a good thing. Less focus on technology and more time spent on gameplay was always the sales pitch, and maybe games such as BioShock and Mass Effect are proving it finally works.
Here we look at commercial game engines (listed alphabetically by company name) and give developers an overview of the off-the-shelf solutions available.
Each company's approach to engine design is different and developers who are looking to build their next game on outside technology will find a wide variety from which to choose.