In the age of free AAA game engines, are we still relevant?

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The game development industry just got hit by a tidalwave of free. Unity 5, Unreal Engine 4 and Source 2 all give away their flagship product for free now. They’re all different brands of free, but who cares? The average game developer certainly won’t. The little guy now has access to more tools than what…


haha jme seems to be fine. Honestly, jme, for me at least, has been better than unity as it gives more freedom to the programmer.

But torque3d, it seems, is going to be totally forgotten now, unless they change from that ugly %torquescript.

UE4 has been very intuitive to use though, and the toolset is just amazing.

Great article! I too love the freedom you have with JME, you can do anything you can imagine. You get the tools you need: rendering, physics etc. and you can build your game out of that. You don’t get a complete simplification where you are forced to use a certain system. In JME you can adapt every part of the engine to best fit your game without needing to write a whole engine yourself.

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Thanks guys! Also, we’re trending on Hacker News right now :smile:

Good discussion on Reddit as well:

I saw this on the gamedev subreddit but I didnt realize it was jmonkey until I came here! Haha.

I use Unity at work (since sept 2014) and develop an mmorpg with jme in my free time with 2 friends.

It is safe to say that the progress we have made with jMonkey would not be possible with Unity.
A simple and important fact is that Unitydoes not support refactoring, our most valuable tool as coders.
Rename a C# class in Unity and all links to it within scenes and prefabs are lost.
=> Tools like Unity try to abstract coding as far as possible, which handicaps a coder.

Full source, refactoring in a powerful IDE like IntelliJ IDEA, and using jMonkeyPlatform for asset management.
I cannot imagine having this productivity and power with Unity.


There always was something else available and some people didn’t care and went their very own way anyway - and either failed or (eventually) have been successful doing their thing.

I think it was John Carmack who said, that when he started programming games the possibility for success was not at all very different from what you can achieve today. You still can be smart and invent something new or find a new way to do existing things AT ANY POINT IN TIME. It always only seems easy and logical and appears as obvious when looking back at the past but it WAS something new and not easy to achieve at the time when they actually invent something new! Be it the orginal Doom or Quake or whatever.

Everyone now looks at Minecraft and it looks so obvious now to make that kind of game. But it probably wasn’t as simple to came up with it at all. It only looks obvious and simple once it was invented and became part of the general consciousness, if one can say so.

Unless JME doesn’t try to copy everything from UE4 or Unity or whatever and does it’s own thing I don’t see any reason why it shouldn’t be able to continue to be successful! So go your own way JME and make it even more easy to create games (or do something else different) and you’ll be fine!



Heh, we even have refactoring in the SDK but its more an advantage of Java vs other languages or even scripting languages that it allows such easy refactoring.

We made an appearance on Phoronix too :smile:

oh, and now we’re getting Slashdotted!

Pshhh, of course we are!

Personally, I plan to design my game toolset to be totally tossable onto the SDK Download. I want the jME community to mess with my stuff to make it even better. I don’t have all of the awesome ideas in the world, and I know I certainly don’t have all of the time either.

So, I say: Sure let the AAA engines go with “free” for as long as they want, go on ahead and make the moneyz! We are just “toodling along” for our own enjoyment, and really can only be “slowed down” by them trying to distract/entice fellow devs to their platform before they find out about us. The important thing is that: We Move Forward, too. We make our money off of our GAMES!

Which is really what it should be about, eh?

Of course the netbeans based editor supports refactoring :smiley:
The IDEs are one of the best benefits of Java, but jMonkey does not have a wierd “editor” that does not know the code.
Thus things don’t break constantly.

C# IDEs support (some) refactoring as well, however the Unity editor does not know about what the IDE is doing, so it loses all references while refactoring.

The biggest challenge for JME is that it’s java. I’m the author of GitHub - gamemachine/gamemachine: Multiplayer game engine which is a java based server solution for games, and even on the server side where arguably java makes even more sense, it’s still a challenge getting people to use it.

The game industry as a whole is still too much of a MS mono culture. It’s the only hammer they know. Much like social games caught them completely unprepared, so will open source eventually, but it’s going to take a while. This is an industry that is just habitually late to the party when it comes to tech in general. It’s not until you disrupt them in some major way that they seem to take notice.


There is no good point on starting with or moving to them.

They have their commercial system, and you would get seriously hooked to it. That is the main goal I think. So they are trying to hook most ppl possible.

}catch(DespairException e){

Now, think on the ones that may lose this “free GDK” fight; will their product be abandoned? in a sense that they will not be upgraded/improved or not provide means to upgrade the projects to a new release of their engine? Now think the developer that is not really a coder, how messed up he would get?

Think also that after years of effort it will be hard to break free from their system. Worst is they may simply get back to charging, even if only on a new version of their product, so to upgrade the game could be costy in one way or another; And if you think on migrating the code to an open source alternative (in case they allow it), the effort would be so high that you would simply set some agreement to get just a part of their source. And on that day you would be able to say it was “a platinum hook”.

Think also, they surely are keeping the top quality technology to their closed dev team, we may only have access to it after decades, if ever.

They will certainly catch new comers, thats their goal I think; industry will certainly push ppl into it too.


But… anyway… I cant even start thinking on their scripting langs and lack of quality IDE to edit these, or the plethora of options (resembling particles) on the GDK; you keep reading and reading all options on the endless lists; we barely know where to click there… Freaking tutorials, any click (idea) out of the expected is a mess…, another tutorial…; so many options is good to a point. Intuitiveness (about the GDK) comes from inspiration not effort. Hobbies, dreams, hopes are inspiration. Payment is not, it is just means to survive. But… there is always ppl that sell their souls tho…

Their big attractive also is the humongous assets database; So, I’m no artist; and, I want have no boss; I read and read and read and I understand I can use CC media on my commercial product (as long I keep the media CC compatible). My product is my ideas, the way I implement them, also the effort I put to adapt the essential media; but I am ok with re-releasing all the media for free (as free I got them). And there is loads of very good free assets out there, models, textures (beware royalty free stuff tho), music, sfx…

And… If I ever want to make my project completely free and opensource (like I win loto or find other means to not have a boss), here I can, with Java, with JMonkeyEngine. With them… I sure cannot (it will never be completely free there [all parts of it being open source maintainable and free]).


Why would the article go and suggest that Unity 5 was somehow ever free? I guess you can say the personal edition costs nothing to download, and there are no royalty fees for using it in your creations, but there’s nothing new. The personal edition has quite a few limitations in my experience that make it less than ideal, The professional version is much more usable for certain types of things, but costs $1500 to buy, which is not free by any sense.

And to suggest that Unity is driven democratically is equally absurd, considering that the suggestion they port their editor tools to Linux is the most popularly voted for feature request on the Unity feedback forum, beating out all others by more than a factor of four, and yet at Unity, they have since stated that they have no plans to ever make their editor tools for Linux. Now that’s all their own business decision to do that, which is all very well and good, but it is also very certainly the antithesis of democracy.


I have been working in games since 2006 and I am an Unity Developer since 2009, from freelancing to my current job and I am using JMonkey for my personal projects. I tried Unreal and CryEngine and other engines that offer a “free” edition to try my game projects, I was always coming back to JME. Their concept of “Free” is laughable in all senses.

I don’t own a licensed copy of Unity. Unfortunately I had to obtain a temporary license many times In order to put food on my table as a freelancer (I never launched a product, I just did my work and delivered the unity project so they could publish with a paid version) since I mostly work with plugins and stuff that needed a paid version. I am ashamed, but I had no choice since 4500 was too much.

The other reason I chose JME was programming paradigm. With Unity and other commercial engines I was “encouraged” to use a standard to develop my projects. While those standards make development easier in many cases. They become a serious obstacle once you want to do something “out of the ordinary”. Either you change some source(if you can, thanks Unreal) or force yourself to the standard and hope for the best.

I am porting my Unity game to JME and I hope to share some screenshots with you guys soon


I’m sure I can speak for many when I say: We look forward to seeing it. :smiley:

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I like how you managed to turn their free offer into publicity for jme :D.


That totally wasn’t planned but worked out very well it seems :wink:

I tried switching to both Unreal and Unity at one point but always came crawling back

UDK… you mean that “thing” that constantly crashes during dev and during gameplay ?
even if I was payed to use it I’d refuse