Australian game developers have had a rather mixed bag of success when it comes to the Unreal engine. Irrational Games (now 2K Australia) has perhaps the most Unreal engine related success with their Unreal 2 powered Tribes 2 game, although unfortunately sales were just in the tens of thousands. Auran did not fare any better with Fury, which was running on what was the new Unreal Engine 3 at the time. Fuzzyeyes Studios' steampunk themed RPG, Edge of Twilight, seems very much up in the air at the moment, and let's not forget Perception's Unreal Engine 2 powered Stargate SG-1 shooter, the game which was the centre of their well publicised demise.
Pushing all that aside, it's time that we can turn it all around!
Although it may look like the recent announcement of the free Unity engine had inspired Epic Games to follow suite, Epic had been planning to entice indie developers to the Unreal engine by pushing it as a powerful casual game development and game education solution months ago. From Shacknews...
(Mark Rein) Actually we've been working on this for months. Tim Sweeney actually revealed it in an interview he did with G4TV back in July :) He said we were working on an initiative to “open up the engine to more people to use freely and build cool stuff” and that “currently things that you do with Unreal Tournament we'll try to open up to a larger audience
The newly announced Unreal Development Kit features the very capable Unreal Engine 3, and with it includes the amazing level / terrain editor, character / facial animation tools, as well as its tried and true physics, lighting, shaders, AI, and networking capabilities. And for no initial cost, you're able to develop a title which you can later package, redistribute, and charge what ever you like. How cool is that?!
From Epic's press release...
The Unreal Development Kit is the free version of the award-winning Unreal Engine 3, the software development framework used to create computer and video games, 3D simulations, TV shows, films and more
Anyone can download UDK and work with the same game development tools used to create blockbuster games, architectural walkthroughs and digital movies. UDK ships with the latest version of the Unreal Editor, with its unrivaled content creation toolset and rapid prototyping functionality.
UDK is free for noncommercial and educational use. Licensing terms are available to those who wish to sell UDK-powered games or to create commercial products or services for business use at www.udk.com/licensing.
The licensing terms are interesting, and if you do plan on selling your project or game made with UDK, you'll have to pay a $99 license and cough up $1,250 once you reach $10,000 worth of sales. Then it's a 25% cut of royalties from that point, which seems reasonable.
The new UDK solution will contain some assets from Tournament 3 as well as source code, so you can begin mucking around with the engine immediately. For more details, head on over to the UDK website!