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Emergent just unveiled a "Gamebryo Casual" edition of its game engine, but what does that mean, exactly? Gamasutra talks to president Scott Johnson about the new cost structure and his comments that Xbox Live Arcade, PSN and WiiWare are "...definitely the

August 26, 2008

2 Min Read

Author: by Leigh Alexander, Staff

Emergent, maker of the Gamebryo engine, recently announced a "Gamebryo Casual" game engine that it says is specifically tailored for the needs of casual developers -- but what does that mean, exactly? We talked to Emergent president Scott Johnson and got some details. Reading between the lines suggests that the toolset is essentially, if not completely the same, so what's new for licensors of Gamebryo Casual? A scalable cost structure appears to be the major shift. Johnson declined to specify how exactly the cost structure changes with Gamebryo Casual, but says it's "molding licensing packages based on a casual projects’ needs." In this context, it seems the primary qualifier of "casual" is that the title be downloadable -- Gamebryo as a whole is a cross-platform engine, so the adjusted cost structure applies to games for PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and WiiWare as well as PC. "There are a lot of places I think we’ll see this be applicable that we haven’t even thought of yet -- that’s the beauty of this industry," says Johnson. "But XBLA, PSN, et cetera are definitely the first that come to mind. Developers with hopes of a console SKU might go casual with it first, and Gamebryo Casual will allow them to have the extensibility to take that casual game to a full AAA game on any console." So then, who qualifies as a "casual" developer? "Each customer is unique, each project is unique and we’ve put a pricing structure in place to address that," says Johnson, who says qualification for the special pricing is based on length of project development, budget, game SKUs planned, and download size. Johnson says that overall, the Gamebryo Casual program is his company's effort to be "of service to the independent as much as the big established houses." Engine makers' flexibility is indeed a plausible step toward increasing accessibility for independent developers, and Johnson says the company's received "dozens of eval requests" since the program was announced. When asked about specific signed deals, though, he noted that Gamebryo has been used in "many casual games already." Thus, the Gamebryo platform - for which there are 330 projects being developed, and 250 games already shipped, is carefully targeting the casual sector. And while smaller developers have unique needs, it remains to be defined whether smaller games need special toolsets, and whether "casual" is a label that can be applied by virtue of size and delivery method.

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