A New Age for Computer Games

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The heroic age of game development is over. Once, rival computer game companies strove mightily against each other, slaving until dawn to produce smarter, flashier, and above all faster software from scratch, every time they wrote a game. It was as if Hollywood were reinventing the movie camera every time it made a movie. Now a new trend is sweeping the games industry: instead of writing the software that creates their game world, game designers can buy the code off the rack, prefabricated.

Sound boring? Not at all. In fact, it may be the best thing that's every happened to game geeks.

By far the most intense technological competition in the games industry takes place in the genre dubbed the "first-person shooter" -- games like Quake, Unreal, and Duke Nukem in which players run around in 3-dimensional virtual mazes, shooting monsters and occasionally each other. But the competitive atmosphere of the industry is changing, as more and more companies choose to license an existing "game engine" -- the core of the game that generates its 3D virtual world - from another company rather than develop their own. MORE >>