Two days before Game Developers Conference we opened the PushButton Engine site in Beta form to the general public. The PushButton Engine is a Flash game engine released under the extremely liberal MIT Open Source license. If you are interested in Open Source Flash game development, you should check it out!Nine years ago when we released the Torque Game Engine for $100 at GarageGames (for those who don’t know, two of the founders of PushButton Labs, Jeff Tunnell (me) and Rick Overman, were half of the founders of GG) everybody wondered how we could make a company charging so little for our products. To be honest, we thought we would make up the difference by selling games, and even though that did eventually work out, it took a long time, and in the meantime we made a meager living selling TGE one at a time for $100. However, any way you look at it, GarageGames worked out very well, and, like I always say, if you catch fish in a hole, go back to that hole next time you go fishing. So, here we are making another engine, but this time we are giving it away for free!
A fair question that anybody should ask is how our company will survive giving away our efforts for free. I think that is going to be the main question nearly all online products and companies are going to have to answer over time. Our answer is that we are going to give away the game engine foundation for free, then sell premium components, starter kits, and content. In addition, we are opening up our e-commerce and store to anybody that wants to sell technology to our community. You can think of it as an “app store” for game technology.
We did a mini version of this model at GarageGames, but it was a closed system where we were open to submissions or we recruited certain developers to make technology that GG would sell in its developer store. Many developers made nice side income or even enough to make a living selling Torque add ons and tools. Like I always say, don’t quit your day job, and having a nice income stream from selling some technology can really help offset your game development efforts.
Flash has huge momentum and we think there is a great opening to supply Flash developers with even easier and more modular methods of making their games. We envision thousands of free and premium components, starter kits, and content packs all rated, ranked, and easily distributed through our store bringing in great money for the developers creating them.
When we launch our component store (hopefully next week), we will be giving a lot more info, but for now the enticing bits are that our entire infrastructure is built upon Amazon’s amazing EC2 and S3 cloud computing services, and we are using Amazon’s ex-commerce service for the payment system, which allows us to essentially allow micro-payments.
The first premium component created by PushButton Labs will be a real time networking component that is based upon the ideas behind the great open sourced OpenTNL, Torque Networking Library, we released from GarageGames six years ago. PB Networking should be the best real time networking the Flash game world has seen with bit packing, ghosting, and the ability to use Java, C++, or Flash based back end servers. Our test results show it performing better than anything we have seen in the Flash space (but, it is a big space, and we could have missed something). PBN will be released under an Indie and Commercial license that is compatible with the MIT license of the base engine. We have not yet decided on a price, but it will be low as we want to make sure this technology is very accessible.
If you decide to try out the PushButton Engine, please remember it is still in Beta. We have a long way to go to make everything more noobie friendly, and of course, the docs still have a long way to go. Even though we didn’t really try to make a big splash at GDC, we graciously got picked up for an article by Wagner James Au from the GigaOM technology blog, which resulted in coverage by the New Work Times and many other blogs. I hope all those visitors stick with us while we get the training wheels bolted on