Back in March we learned that Epic Games had integrated Valve's Steamworks into Unreal Engine 3. This meant that all licensees suddenly had access to Valve's suite of services including product key authentication, copy protection, auto-updating, and more. Those options have now expanded into the free-to-use Unreal Development Kit (UDK).
In the latest release, Epic has made Steam the default system for handling all online services, including matchmaking, friends and server browsing. Epic has also incorporated numerous additions and improvements in the latest UDK build, offering the Scaleform GFX user interface (Flash-based), engine upgrades such as light shafts, exponential height fog, color grading and more. UDK also now supports running 64-bit binaries for the editor.
Launched late last year, UDK is the free edition of Epic's Unreal Engine 3. The release was slated for anyone interested in using 3D game engine technology, including game developers, students, hobbyists, researchers, creators of 3D visualizations and simulations, and digital filmmakers. Although there is no charge for non-commercial or educational use of the UDK, developers wishing to develop for commercial purposes are required to use the licensed version.
To download the latest build of UDK, head here. Minimum requirements include a 2.0+ GHz CPU, Windows XP SP2 or Vista, 2 GB or RAM, a SM3-compatible video card, and 3 GB of free HDD space. The current May build weighs a somewhat light 762 MB.
Can't decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing...
Hah, like i'll get anywhere with that. It's cool to see that other, more talented programmers can have their shot at the engine.
Hey guys, the nice thing about these SDKs is that they abstract much of the process. I don't think you use C with UDK, instead you use a custom script that runs on the Unreal Engine. I also believe the 3D stuff and other art is done with dedicated software that is optimized for artist (like Blender). That said, I have been intimidated by UDK in the past as well. I've done a little Blender but can't devote the time to be any good at it. I downloaded the UDK, but never even ran the a hello world example.
On the legal side. I don't like that you have to choose which license you want before you start the project. Say you start a game development project as a hobby, but half way trough it you want to profit from it. In that case you would be breaking UDK license agreement.
If the industry starts to converge on a few game engines (Source and Unreal) that would be good for the industry. Especial if the engines are multi-platform.
I am waiting to have Steam for Linux. I am tire of restarting the computer to play games!
Developing with the UDK you use the built in scripting language UnrealScript, which has a very similar syntax to Java.
What I'm not sure about here (I have UDK, haven't messed with the Steamworks options yet) is really how Steamworks integration works. Is it that you can have Steamworks in your game, but then you'll require validation through Valve to use it, or that you can just run your game and bam, Steam integration? I'm pretty sure the validation stuff, which on one hand, is great for independent developers who want to sell their game, but I don't think so useful for people just messing around.
Maybe someone will make a free achievements/friends framework for UDK in UnrealScript and share it. After all, it was already in UT3, so it's definitely possible.