flickr/CryEngine by Crytek

From PC to console to mobile alike, it all comes down to which video game development kit fits just right.

Whether you want to make a World Of Warcraft inspired RPG or the next Flappy Bird (or its clone), the next generation of game developers have a very promising assortment of choices.

Now it’s easier to start designing your very own video game. Instructional videos on YouTube and websites like Eat3D and 3DMotive mean an amateur designer can create a marketable game without needing to outsource.

Over the past few weeks, three of the largest game development studios announced their future plans for their Software Development Kits (SDK) at the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Unreal Engine 4

Epic Games started in 1991 by game developer Tim Sweeney. Their Unreal Franchise was designed to go head-to-head with Quake II in 1999. After rewriting the rendering engine seven times, they finally hit the mark. Back then game engines didn’t run on dedicated hardware so they were much more limited by the computer’s processor.

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Last week, the company announced a new business model for their previously unreleased Unreal Engine 4. For $19 a month, (plus 5% of revenue generated by any paid product using the engine) you have access to build games using industry standards.

Known for its ease of use and long list of accolades, the Unreal Development Kit (UDK) has been utilized to make big name, big budget games like Mass Effect, Gears of War, and Rainbow Six series.

UE4 GDC Demonstration

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CryEngine

As a college student, the now president of CryTek, Cevat Yerli, only knew the words he had learned from Hollywood movies when he flew to LA to showcase an earlier version of their engine. Prior to that he enlisted the help of his siblings and managed to create an engine so powerful that when tech giant Nvidia laid their eyes on it they licensed it immediately and demoed their latest Geforce 3 Video Cards using it.

In an attempt to sway potential UDKers, CryTek, known for their FarCry and Crysis series, upped their ante and offered the newest version of their CryEngine for $10 a month with no royalties. Crytek has its origins built on open­world experiences so their engine caters to just that.

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Taking a look at their Crysis series is a clear demonstration of the engine’s ability.

CryEngine Demo

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Unity 5

To add to this brew, Unity Technologies, a fanboy favorite, announced the release of its latest version at GDC, Unity 5. It offers upgrades in its lighting department, shading improvements and support for plugin­-free browser games. With this it reaffirmed its solid stance in the gaming market, and also offers an Asset Store where you can buy extra props for your games.

Unity was a failure turned success after creators David Helgason, Nicholas Francis and Joachim Ante released GooBall, which never gained traction. They saw the marketability of an effective game engine with the right tools geared towards independent developers. In 2009 they began to offer their software for free and the rest is history, now they dominate 53% of the mobile gaming market.

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Unity 5 Feature Preview

The big boys- Nvidia and AMD

Tech giants, Nvidia and AMD, have decided to weigh in and take sides by wedding themselves to the applications with the release of their own API sets. API sets are software toolkits specific to individual hardware, in this case video cards. What they essentially do is add an extra level of performance options for those who use their hardware, like realistic flowing hair technology or flame effects.

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AMD’s TressFX 2.0 Demo

Nvidia has aligned itself with UE4 by integrating its new GameWorks technology right into Unreal Development Kit. All while AMD attached its Mantle API to CryEngine. Each of which offers an innovative step forward for game developers.

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Nvidia FlameWorks Demonstration

Now what most fear is that this causes a separation between camps. If graphic card companies want to play dirty they can limit the other’s capacities and have certain games run better than others depending on which system the user is playing. What most people are hoping for is that these companies get along and that neither affect functionality.

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Which appeal to you most? That would depend on what you want to build.. but now you have options.

Julian Reyes is a VR Producer for Fusion.