Gears of War and Unreal Tournament developer Epic Games today released a free version of Unreal Engine 3, allowing noncommercial and educational use of the technology that powers numerous PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games.
The 563MB Unreal Development Kit can be found on FileShack, with various Unreal Tournament 3 assets included to help you get started. Two UDK-crafted sample games are also available: Psyonix's vertical puzzler Whizzle and Toltec's The Ball.
"I'm excited about the possibilities the Unreal Development Kit opens to those who are looking to get into the game business but don't otherwise have the means to acquire world-class technology and tools like ours," said Epic VP Mark Rein. "UDK is Unreal Engine 3, which has been used to create games in a wide range of genres, as well as military simulations, 3D architectural walkthroughs, animated movies and more."
Among the numerous titles powered by Unreal Engine 3 are Epic's own Gears of War 2 and Unreal Tournament 3, Chair's Shadow Complex, Rocksteady's Batman: Arkham Asylum, Gearbox's Borderlands, Swordfish's 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, and the hospitality training software Virtual Heroes crafted for Hilton Garden employees.
In its present form, content created with the Unreal Development Kit is only usable on PC, with Epic noting that PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 support is "under consideration."
The tools include many "features and technological enhancements...that have yet to be seen in an Unreal Engine game," claims Epic. The company further pledged that it will be supporting the Unreal Development Kit with continuous upgraded builds.
Alongside the tools, Epic released more than two-hundred pages of documentation via the Unreal Developer Network, launched dedicated forums, and offered up licensing details for those seeking to use the technology in a commercial application