Wednesday, August 17, 2011

CryEngine vs. Unity3D

As hinted over a year ago,  of today, CryEngine is now free for non-commercial use. That's fantastic! CryEngine is used in at least 30 commercial games, and most of them look gorgeous. Here are a things to consider if you're looking at this new engine.

Even orphans look happy!

Awesome engine with a proven track record and a name that will get gamers interested in your title. Even the CryEngine demos are beautiful, so if you say your title is based on it, you'll get some bonus play with the gamer community, even before your game ships.

The CryEngine mod community is very active, and this translates into having a solid development platform. Its designers already knew the kinds of things people wanted to build with it. So if hearing that the engine is free excites you, you're the type of person they built this free kit for.

There are a few 'gotchas', of course.UDK and Unity3D are already free for non-commercial use. But unlike the other guys, the CryEngine team hasn't disclosed how much the commercial license will cost.

Also, like UDK, the free CryEngine environment is PC only at this time.
Unity3D can (with a single click) deploy to iPhone, iPod, iPad, Android, Wii, Mac, PC, and Web, and they provide help getting it onto the XBox and PS3 (I have no personal experience with this, so I can't say how extensive that help is).

And UDK can deploy to portable platforms as well...

I assume that if you pony up the dough, the CryEngine guys will let you deploy to other platforms as well. Time will tell. And frankly, if their development environment remains PC only, and their target platforms are only PC, XBox 360 and PS3, that will still be enough for most people.

That said, the Unity3D game engine isn't some doltish slacker. And keep in mind that their engine already runs on iPhones, computers, web browsers, and console game platforms...

How will it affect me personally? Well, let's look at the kinds of stuff I get to work on.

Shot Simulator

It would be fantastic for the Shot Simulator, but since it doesn't deploy to the iPhone, iPad, or Android, that would be a problem. Maybe in the future?


I'm honestly not sure if it would be a good match for the VTI Games like +Poker, since all of them are card games. Despite that they use real physics, objects, and rely on Unity's rendering engine, I've never seen a CryEngine based casino game. But who knows.

Project Griffon

It would be *ideal* for Project Griffon (which will be re-released in a few weeks). Griffon is a third-person mech combat / shooter. The lighting and visual effects of CryEngine will be fantastic. But I do all of my development on Macs, so I'd have to use CryEngine's kit by running Windows 7 on my Mac. That's a tall order. So far, UDK doesn't exist on the Mac, which was a show stopper for me. So I'll have to think about it.

I'll be looking into the CryEngine in more detail in the near future. Until then, I can say it honestly looks impressive. And it will be really nice to have them officially in the arena. But Unity's going to be extremely hard for them to compete with. With so many great resources, it's a great time to be a game developer. 

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