Just a week after Unity announced its engine was now available for free to indie users Epic Games has revealed a free version of its popular Unreal Engine technology.
Called the Unreal Development Kit (UDK), it is a free edition of UE3 that allows community, modder and indie users more access to the engine's features and is available for all.
Epic said game developers, students, hobbyists, researchers, creators of 3D visualizations and simulations plus digital filmmakers can all take advantage of the UDK for non-commercial use.
The UDK can be downloaded at www.udk.com, which also offers detailed product features, technical documentation, commercial licensing terms and support resources.
Epic is calling the move 'an unprecedented milestone in game development' - the Unreal Engine is widely used in games for a variety of projects. Almost ever major publisher has signed up big licensing deals for the engine to form the basis of a number of high profile titles.
The UDK contains all the most recently added features in UE3 including, the studio says, "many that have yet to be seen in an Unreal Engine game". Epic has also promised to keep releasing ongoing, upgraded builds of UDK for free.
Currently the UDK only supports PC development - but Epic said it was 'considering' a console version.
The studio also reckons that the commercial terms for those switching from the free version should they choose to sell their project or have it published will find that is is "easy for independent developers, start-up firms and seasoned professionals to use UDK with minimal financial barrier from concept to deployment".
“I’m excited about the possibilities the Unreal Development Kit opens to those who are looking to get into the game business but don’t otherwise have the means to acquire world-class technology and tools like ours,” said Mark Rein, vice president of Epic Games said in the announcement of the tech.
"UDK is Unreal Engine 3, which has been used to create games in a wide range of genres, as well as military simulations, 3D architectural walkthroughs, animated movies and more. Users are only limited by their imaginations. Go ahead make something Unreal!”