How game engines Unity, Marmalade and Havok can help indie developers

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Unity game engineDeveloping mobile games isn't cheap. Adding all the creative things consumers expect--like shadows, explosions, sounds and 3D effects can add hundreds of dollars to the bottom line, and the licensing terms can be confusing. No wonder mobile gaming engines have recently decided to make it a little easier--and cheaper--for indie developers to compete.

Late last month, for example, San Francisco-based Unity Technologies, which makes a popular game engine platform called Unity3D, said it would be dropping all licensing fees for the basic tier of its products and services. According to Unity CEO David Helgason, the intent is to not only empower a host of independent developers who might not want to pay to create more advanced 3D games, but to help cement the company's position among the developer community.

"'Standard' is kind of a bigger word than I'd use myself. A standard requires a bit more, and I think that's really too bold. I think what we want to be is a default where people use Unity or, if not, have good reasons not to use Unity," he said. "We've been striving for that 'defaultness' for a while now. We started as three guys in a basement, and we can remember when we couldn't afford all the tools." Feature

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