1 year ago, we reported that following Unity's and Epic's UDK push to release a commercial grade engine for free (or at a price) that casual and indie game developers can afford, we expected Crysis and the CryENGINE to follow. Today it seems that announcement has been made, by none other than the CEO of Crytek, Cevat Yerli.
In an open letter to the Crytek Modding Community, Cevat discussed how important the modding community is to them, and how much they enjoy witnessing the creativity their community produces when working with CryENGINE. And in a move that mimics earlier announcements from Unity and Epic, Cevat says "This time around, we're going to do things in a different way - offering you the right tools to achieve your vision."
What does this mean? Three things:
- An Editor for Crysis 2 will be released early in summer. This will allow you to build new maps, items and more custom content for Crysis 2.
- In August 2011 they will be launching a free CryENGINE SDK. It is essentially similar to all of the previous modding SDK's, which will allow you to go above and beyond just building custom content for Crysis 2.
- The most significant announcement by far however, is "We'll be giving you access to the latest, greatest version of CryENGINE 3 - the same engine we use internally, the same engine we give to our licensees, the same engine that powers Crysis 2."
To put the 3rd announcement into perspective, CryENGINE 3 is commonly regarded as the most powerful engine in the market, and fetches an equally high licensing price by the companies that use it which includes game developers, the army, movie studios and more. Furthermore this engine is not a stipped down version with limited access to the source. As Cevet's says "This will be a complete version of our engine, including C++ code access, our content exporters (including our LiveCreate real-time pipeline), shader code, game sample code from Crysis 2, script samples, new improved Flowgraph and a whole host of great asset examples, which will allow teams to build complete games from scratch for PC."
While they didn't explicitly state how indie teams license the engine, it looks like it will be similar to Epic's UDK model whereby a rev share % will be put in place to sell the game digitally. Traditional commercial developers will continue to license the engine on a per-seat basis via MyCryENGINE.
This is simply astonishing and brilliant news. While UDK and Unity currently dominate and we haven't seen a huge number of large total conversions released on the Cryengine, though a recent Crash Bandicoot remake on the CryENGINE has been doing the rounds (see video below) which shows the potential. I'd attribute this to the fact that the current tools have largely been locked down by Crysis and only fully available to a few handpicked teams. It looks like that barrier to entry has just been smashed down and with full source code access the sky is the limit.
So are you happy with UDK / Unity or are you going to explore the CryENGINE?
Do you feel like the engines power is simply too much for an indie team to utilize, given the sheer amount of art assets and detail CryENGINE games typically demand?
Please share your opinion below, because this is a significant step forward for all game developers.