You can make the next big Unreal-powered game

Anyone can make a game. You know that full well: some 2D thing in Flash or using the Adventure Game Studio, maybe even something in 3D with the Unity engine. But you’ll never make a game using a state-of-the art graphics engine, unless you can raise tens, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars, right?

Above: Something this pretty once cost big money

As of last month, wrong. Now, anyone can take and use the Unreal 3 engine for free. That’s the technology that powers BioShock, Batman: Arkham Asylum and, er, Leisure Suit Larry: Box Office Bust; now available to you for no-pennies.

Epic’s decision to make the Unreal Development Kit (UDK) publicly available in this way is something that’s going to shake up the industry, offering modders and amateur or low-budgeted game makers the kind of tools they’ve only had sad, money-related fantasies about previously. It’s not quite as good as it sounds, because you can only have it for nothing if your game isn’t going to be sold, but for mods, indie and academic projects, it’s a dream come true. As well as not having to lay out any cash on the UDK yourself, anyone can play your creation for free, without having to purchase a host game such as Unreal Tournament 3.

Above: Unreal Tournament 3 in action

If you do want to make a commercial game, you’ll need to cough up $99. This is nothing. While Epic don’t like to reveal just how much they used to sell the engine for, unconfirmed rumor and speculation puts it around the $750,000 mark, if you don’t want to pay them a share of any future revenue. So until now it wasn’t an option unless you were pretty sure of financial success, or both rich and mad. The catch is that Epic want 25% of your revenue if you earn more than $5,000 from a commercial game made with the UDK, so potentially they could really clean up. It sounds frightening, but for some people it’s going to be a whole lot more palatable than raising a ton of cash up front.

In any case, the UDK gives you the tools to create and implement animations, sounds, textures, networking, physics, lighting, terrain and even cinematics. It’s a complete, high-end game studio and it’s yours for nothing. It doesn’t include assets such as UT3’s textures or character models, alas, so you’ll need to create your own with Photoshop, 3DS Max et al, or procure some elsewhere.

Above: Tripwire's Killing Floor

David Hensley, art Director at Tripwire Interactive, creators of Killing Floor, is confident that this rethink of the UDK is a good thing. “I think there are a lot of lucky modders out there,” he says. “This is something that was just not possible in the past. Making the Unreal SDK free ultimately gets an up-to-date version of UE3 into many more hands then before. This will lead to more people having experience with Unreal, learning it in school, and working with game engines in general, which will give studios a better pool of talent they can pull from. It gives everyone a chance to make a commercial or non-commercial game without worrying about paying for the engine licence.”


  • noofer7 - February 14, 2010 10:25 p.m.

    Already knew about this (and think it's absolutely kickass) but didn't get it 'cause my computer's a netbook with not much memory. Still, I might try it out just for fun. Oh, and @jackthemenace: You're lucky your school has game design programs at all.
  • newgames128 - February 4, 2010 12:17 a.m.

    This is cool. Thanks gamesradar!
  • JohnnyMaverik - January 10, 2010 7:04 p.m.

    My advice is, if you have no idea what your doing, USE TUTORIALS. Don't go into it with an idea already mapped out and expect to beable to struggle through it, you won't manage. Learn how to use the tools even if it's only on a basic level, play others people stuff at the same time with the knowledge you've built up in mind, and then either try and get a concept down on paper that can work with-in the confines of your knowledge, or get some experiance working on someone elses. Then rinse and repeat. You'll never be fully at ease, don't worry, there are hardly any people who are, including many devs, you just gotta be willing to learn and ready to think hard about what you CAN do instead of what you might like to do. I'd love to jump straight in on this buy sadly what with Uni I just won't have time. But we're starting work with the Unreal Engine 2.5 (the unreal tournament 2004 engine) so hopefully I'll build up a bit of experiance through that so what I do have time I can go into it with a bit of know how under my belt.
  • nikrusty - January 5, 2010 2:10 p.m.

  • jackthemenace - January 4, 2010 10:25 a.m.

    I really wish our school would get the SDK so they could teach us how to use it their xP all we have is crappy game maker. bleh
  • hardcore_gamer1990 - December 31, 2009 10:29 a.m.

    This is actually very clever, it'll get a whole new generation of game designers and creators into the market and open up some real talent *downloads* I seriously want to try this, I'mma be the next Tim Schaffner :D (as if)
  • bigmonsterguy - December 30, 2009 11:59 a.m.

    As soon as i get my Alienware, I am so gonna download this! With any luck, MooCow Games will make the next Gears Of War! XD
  • austin128 - December 29, 2009 1:05 a.m.

    But to make a game on UE3, you have to have a computer that can run UE3.
  • lava_lamp - December 28, 2009 6:12 p.m.

    Oh, man I would use this but I'm terrible with Source SDK already.
  • Persona - December 28, 2009 4:07 p.m.

    ... Me thinks a mere teenager like me who has no knowledge of crating stuff. has a sudden urge to learn how to. Epic games. You are my hero.
  • ShadowFoxNinja09 - December 28, 2009 2:56 p.m.

    Nice Story, but terrrrrible article! For starters, there were a lot of grammatical errors, typos, and spelling issues plaguing the pages of this article. Come on guys, if your going to have awesomely written articles some of the time, then all of the time is a must. I look forward to next time! .....Oh Btw Third FTW!!!!
  • cronoman66 - December 28, 2009 1:57 p.m.

    already using it, atm its just UT3 multiplayer levels but after graduation from Derby Uni I'm hoping to make bigger and better things
  • erreip199 - December 28, 2009 1:28 p.m.

    Wow just wow!! i know a few people that will love this!! now i want to learn how to make 3D art to help em making models hehehe

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