If any example were required to illustrate the explosion of indie development combined with the rise of casual, downloadable games, Oregon-based GarageGames' Torque engine and development suite would be it.
Initially created from the skeleton of the PC-based Tribes 2 engine by ex-members of its development team at Dynamix in 2000, the Torque engine has since blossomed to offer various technological options for game makers ranging from hobbyists through to professional studios.
This is reflected in the pricing options that are split into indie and commercial, depending on the size of the licensee.
The simplest option is Torque X 2.0, which is designed for use as part of Microsoft's XNA Game Studio 2.0 for Xbox 360 and PC games, while a similar option for general PC and Mac games is the 2D drag and drop engine, Torque Game Builder.
The 3D version of this is the Torque Game Engine, while Torque Game Engine Advanced includes features such as dynamic lighting, programmable shaders, a terrain rendering system and special effects such as water.
Other flavors of these technologies are specifically available for Xbox 360 and Wii development in the form of Torque 360 and Torque for Wii.
Features (TGEA): DirectX 9-class renderer including procedural generated shaders and custom materials; Puppeteer Mesh animation system, terrain generation engine, TorqueNet networking, TorqueScripting language; Mission Builder editor
Platforms: Linux, Mac, PC, Wii, Xbox 360
Integration with Other Technologies: Bullet Physics, OGRE, Havok, PhysX, Scaleform and Umbra, plus plug-ins for 3ds Max, Maya, Houdini and XSI
Cost: ranges from $100 per seat to $1,495 commercial license depending on technology. No royalties.
Released Games Include: Curse of the Pharaoh (Ph03nix), Cyclomite (Wideload), Marble Blast Ultra (GarageGames), Think Tanks (BraveTree), Wildlife Tycoon (Pocketwatch), Penny Arcade Adventures (Hothead)
Games in Development Include: Legions (GarageGames), Metal Drift (Black Jacket), TBA (EA), TBA (NCsoft), TBA (Ubisoft), TBA (Vivendi)
GarageGames' Marble Blast Ultra