So you need a game engine? Gamasutra surveys the state of the market in this comprehensive overview
of solutions -- From Bigworld's Technology Suite to Valve's Source engine -- priced from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
GarageGames's Torque engine has become a popular solution for independent developers looking to create casual, downloadable games on a limited budget. Pricing options are available for both independent and commercial setups, deepending on the size of the licensee:
"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.
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."
On the other end of the spectrum, CryTek's CryEngine 2 places emphasis on graphical quality, its DirectX 10-class engine supporting features such as real-time lighting and shadows that do not require pre-baked textures to create time of day and dynamic weather conditions.
"Also integrated is a flexible physics engine, which enables the creation of fully destructible environments, and a realistic animation system that can combine motion capture and hand animation.
But in terms of getting good games made quickly, CryEngine 2 production tools are just as important. The Sandbox game editor offers a collaborative, real-time working environment for game designers and level editors.
Tools include terrain editing, visual programming of features such as AI, special effects creation, facial animation, sound design, and asset management.
This is important as versions of your game can be generated and tested on target platforms without the need for assets to be compiled. Indeed, the only obvious lack is support for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, something that's currently in development."
You can read the full feature
, which reviews the strengths and features of nine other game engines, such as Emergent's Gamebryo and Trinigy's Vision Engine (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).