There's an interesting post over at Slashdot suggesting that Epic could soon release a free version of its Unreal Tournament 2003 engine for educational purposes. The standalone executable will apparently be available without any game code or art assets, but be fully compatible with Epic's existing Unreal development tools.
For gamers, the standalone executable will be pretty useless. However, since the executable is available for free as long as it's for non-commercial use, I see no reason why mod authors couldn't develop free games using the executable.
On the surface, the Unreal engine executable looks like it might be a great platform for aspiring gamer programmers and existing mod teams. However, it's worth noting that GarageGames offers its Torque Game Engine SDK, which includes the entire engine source, for only $100. Torque can be used for commercial projects, too.
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