In what should please up-and-coming game developers everywhere, Epic today announced the release of the “Unreal Development Kit”, a full-blown toolset based around Unreal Engine 3, for free. That’s right… the same tools that were used to develop such games as Batman: Arkham Asylum, BioShock, Borderlands, Gears of War, Mass Effect and of course, Unreal Tournament 3, can now be had to anyone looking to utilize the tools to either learn, or develop their own non-profit game.
That last point is the main caveat. Although Epic is kind enough to release its robust tools for free, publishing games developed with the tools is restricted to non-profit games or applications. For commercial software, you’ll need to refer to Epic’s licensing page. Depending on the number of game developers, the prices given could be manageable even if a modest fee for the game was made, but there are far too many angles to look at things from, to say the least.
Even though this kit is to be used for non-commercial / educational use, its release is a huge win for game developers who have wanted to experiment and learn the tools but were previously unable to. This should help give developers exactly the experience they need with such a mainstream engine, and hopefully land them a good job. It’s also a great thing for hobbyists, or mod-builders, who do intend to release their product for free.
What the entire kit includes is the Unreal Engine 3 engine itself, and its editor, the Content Browser that makes searching and using game assets a breeze, UnrealScript, an OOP-based programming language, Unreal Cascade, an advanced editor for particle physics and environmental effects, and even support for NVIDIA’s PhysX, should you want to take advantage of it. There’s much, much more to this, so I recommend reading through the press release, and then going to download the UDK.
An unprecedented milestone in game development, the release of UDK awards free access to the same world-class tools and technology used by many of the world’s best video game developers and publishers. Unreal Engine 3 is a constantly evolving game engine, and UDK contains all the most recently added features and technological enhancements, including many that have yet to be seen in an Unreal Engine game. Furthermore, Epic Games will release ongoing, upgraded builds of UDK for free.