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Pre-GDC: GarageGames' Torque Gets Web Functionality

The newest version of the Torque 3D engine features a web- enabling option -- GarageGames exec Brett Seyler spoke to Gamasutra about the news and its relation to InstantAction.
Game developer and middleware provider GarageGames has revealed that Torque 3D, the latest version of its popular Torque development environment, will feature the ability to publish games playable directly in web browsers. Speaking to Gamasutra in advance of the announcement, GarageGames business development VP Brett Seyler called the feature "push-button web publishing," and said it will function with any Torque 3D-developed game project. The IAC-owned GarageGames has already invested heavily in full-scale, 3D, web-based gaming through its online portal and game platform InstantAction, and while Torque 3D makes use of much of the same technology, Seyler said there are crucial distinctions in execution. "The plugin's architected a little differently," he said. "It's tied more tightly to Torque than is InstanctAction, which works with any engine tech. The implementation you use to deploy the game is via an installer for the end user rather than just a plugin." "It's a little bit different, but it's still a really low hurdle to get into 3D web games," Seyler added. "There's zero performance overhead; it runs at full speed within the browser." The result is that InstantAction and Torque 3D are likely to be used in very different development situations -- the InstantAction technology makes sense for developers of high-budget titles with their own internal or licensed rendering technology, who are looking to heavily integrate their game into the social community features InstantAction offers. On the other hand, Torque 3D is a self-contained engine and development environment that also offers more straightforward web publishing. "If what you want to do is blast your game out a huge audience, get it in front of Facebook users, share it quickly and cheaply with friends or publishers you want to pitch the game to, Torque 3D would be an easy way to show it has traction," Seyler explained. "It's an extremely low-overhead publishing option." Although GarageGames has traditionally offered two pricing tiers for its engines, Torque 3D marks the first time there will be a feature delta between the two. The Basic version of Torque 3D will run $250 per seat, and will include new physics technology, a COLLADA-driven content pipeline, the new material editor and unified terrain system, and other feature debuts. Thanks largely to COLLADA, "Torque will basically work really easily with any of the major art tools that are popular in games," Seyler promised. That Basic SKU will not feature web publishing, however. To get access to web publishing, as well as other advanced features such as globally dynamic lighting and the full source code, developers will have to step up to the $1,000-per-seat Professional license. GarageGames will continue to offer custom licenses for studios whose needs don't fit neatly into those two categories. As evidenced by the company's continued investment into web-based gaming, Seyler sees the browser trend as hugely significant for the industry. "It's got huge potential for growth," he said. "The bar is very low for game content on the web right now, and technologies that enable higher-end content are going to capture a really broad content share." The exec mentioned competitors like id Software's Quake Live and the Unity engine, which also supports browser gaming, as a positive sign of demand. "A lot has happened," he pointed out. "Not just with our stuff, but with Quake Live and other games being deployed to the web. There's a lore more attention being paid -- ways to monetize even Flash content. There's a lot more broad demand, rather than just curiosity, than there was a year ago. I think it's going to be another piece of the puzzle for really enabling browser games to grow much, much faster." The company will demonstrate the new software during next week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

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