While open-source game engines are beginning to progress in terms of features and graphics capabilities -- thanks in large part to id Software making open their older game engines -- as a whole the open-source game engines and other "indie" game engines are far behind their commercial counterparts. There is the Unreal Development Kit that is available for non-commercial use, but now Unigine Corp is getting behind a game development competition to spur Linux game development efforts.
Unigine Corp is launching a Linux game development competition whereby the winner will be assigned a free license of the Unigine engine for the development of a new, Linux-native game. The Unigine Engine is the most advanced game engine we have seen to date for Linux with its OpenGL 2/3/4 renderer being fully supported quite well by the proprietary NVIDIA/ATI graphics drivers (the open-source Mesa/Gallium3D drivers still lack reliable OpenGL support). Even their tech demos from years ago (such as Unigine Tropics) are still compelling by today's standards and their most recent demo, Unigine Heaven, is absolutely stunning but is very taxing on your hardware. Right now they are finishing development of their first in-house game title, OilRush, which will be released in the coming months complete with a Linux client. With OilRush getting ready to go public, Unigine is preparing this Linux game development competition.
Indie game developers up to this point really have not been able to take advantage of the Unigine Engine as the licensing is quite expensive (up to $100k USD) and their evaluation kit for trying out the engine on an individual basis is quite limited and is binary-only. Normal licensing of the Unigine Engine starts out at $25k USD for producing one binary per-project, while source access for one project starts out at $40k USD. For using Unigine on more than one project, that pricing starts out at $60k for binary use and $100k is the highest tier and that is for source access to the Unigine Engine for unlimited projects. Update: Unigine now has holiday prices where they are allowing source access for the Unigine Engine for use on one project at a price of $24950 USD or binary access for use by one project at just $9980.
Their Linux giveaway press release says interested development teams just need to submit a proposal for their native Linux 3D game prior to 10 December. The team that Unigine picks will receive a free binary license for their project for support on both Linux and Windows.
This competition will hopefully result in another Linux game and hopefully with unique game-play. This new game development competition makes us quite excited since it's the first time we have seen such an effort done focusing upon improving Linux game and Unigine Corp itself is very Linux friendly, as was talked about when we last interviewed Unigine developers. Good luck to the interested teams! 2011 will hopefully be a good year for the Linux gaming community.