This weekend I was thumbing through some computer gaming magazines and came across a profile of Garage Games. Basically, when Dynamix flamed out, some of the developers who had worked on Tribes 2 reached an agreement with the Sierra subsidiary to cheaply license and sublicense the Torque engine that powered Tribes 2.
This is cool for a number of reasons — first, the Torque engine was cross-platform so game developers can create games for Mac, Windows and Linux. Second, Garage Games licenses the Torque engine dirt cheap — $100-$495 depending on the type of license, which beats the hundreds of thousands or even > $1 million for some commercial game engines.
So there are quite a few interesting, idiosyncratic games that have been created around Garage Games — the sort of games that many big game publishers just aren’t interested in anymore because they’d be failures at the retail level.
For example, the folks behind one of my favorite games of all time — The Incredible Machine — have created a similar Rube Goldberg game called Chain Reaction. I downloaded the demo and quickly played through its 7 or 8 demo levels — it was pretty cool, if a bit too easy. The full version has 40 levels, plus 65 different parts to create your own levels.
(Correction: the price of licensing the Torque engine was originally misstated.)