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By: Andy Schatz, Pocketwatch Games
I'd like to congratulate GarageGames for winning a Front Line Award for its flagship game engine, Torque Game Engine Advanced. I've personally used the Torque line of products since I quit my mainstream game programming job four years ago and went indie.
Over that time, Torque has evolved from a somewhat clunky and underpowered 3D engine to a framework that supports the Xbox 360, Wii, PC, Mac, and iPhone and sports many of the bells and whistles that make Unreal and other high-end engines cost a million dollars. But in stark contrast to those high-end engines, TGEA costs under 300 dollars. And over the past four years the engine has evolved: it's not just for indies anymore.
Originally, the founders of GarageGames had the vision that if they could create a low-cost 3D engine, the world would explode with revolutionary games made by hobbyist game developers. My first indie game, Venture Africa, sold over 100,000 copies, which made it one of the very few to fulfill this vision.
Unfortunately, it turned out that the engine was too feature-rich and obtuse for most hobbyist developers to handle. So GarageGames shifted its focus to building a 2D engine in order to compete in the casual space. Again, the bulk of the engine made it compare unfavorably to other simpler engines out there in the 2D space.
But the rise of casual gaming on the consoles finally created the perfect niche for the GarageGames product line. Rather than focusing on hobbyist developers with their heads in the clouds, GarageGames began to incubate slightly larger studios with visions grounded in reality.
The company consolidated and componentized its codebase, offering the features of all of its products in a single engine. The engine was then ported to the Wii, the Xbox 360, and the iPhone. Torque Game Engine Advanced became an incredibly versatile tool with a competitive feature set for small to mid-size developers while remaining dirt-cheap.
GarageGames is now focused on helping developers with a high potential for success, rather than on the myriad dreamers hoping to make their first game into the next WoW. Penny Arcade's Precipice of Darkness series is a good example of what a relatively small team can do with the engine.
These days, TGEA offers complete source code, DirectX and OpenGL support, and Xbox360, Wii, iPhone, PC, and Mac support for only $295 ($1495 for commercial developers). The multiplayer framework is still one of the best in the business, and GarageGames continues to improve the WYSIWYG game and GUI editors.
Now that some successful titles are beginning to prove the potential of the engine, it's impossible not to see Torque Game Engine Advanced as an emerging player in the field of major game engines.
Over the past two years, indie games like Portal, Braid, and World of Goo have made their mark on the mainstream game industry. It's finally come time to recognize a piece of indie technology that has broken through to compete with the major engines. Congratulations GarageGames, Torque has finally realized its massive potential.