What's the best game engine to use for producing footage that's truly royalty-free?
August 7, 2007 7:23 PM   Subscribe

I want to include some fabricated video game footage into a commercial video piece. I don't have the time or the resources to have professional 3D animation done, so I've decided to use a machinima approach towards animation. My main concern, though, is copyright issues -- what's the best game engine to use for producing footage that's truly royalty-free?

I'm looking into Lionhead's The Movies, but according to this, Lionhead withholds commercial license from any content (i.e., character models, etc) that appears in machinima created by the program. I could try to sneak under the radar with that one, but I'd rather not.

What I'm looking for (in order of importance):

1) Either, a) a repurposed game engine that's been open-sourced and has a long history of being used for machinima and mods with no interference from the parents company (I know there are a few like this -- early Quakes maybe?) or: b) a machinima engine, the content and products of which are entirely royalty-free.
2) A large pre-built content library -- downloadable extensions are fine, but creating my own textures and modding them in by hand isn't going to work.
3) The piece in question is about a fictional, extremely violent videogame set in a suburb, so pre-built animations are a must too.

Any suggestions? (I should also say that if there are any budding game-modders or machinima artists on Ask MeFi who are looking for a fun project, we definitely open to a bit of paid help!) Thanks!
posted by tweebiscuit to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Googling "open source game engine" comes up with some possibilities. Can't vouch for any of them, though.

Your brief concept started my wheels turning...given the realism in games today, I'm wondering if you couldn't actually film live actors on locations. Then treat the footage...pixelate it a bit, lower the color-depth a bit, add explosions and blood...and not get what you want? Just a thought.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:41 PM on August 7, 2007

Maybe the ol' Quake 2 engine, or possibly something newer from id. id has released a number of their old engines, and there is a pretty big community around them which would help with questions/tools/etc. I think they're all under the GPL.
posted by lubujackson at 9:22 PM on August 7, 2007

Even where the engine is open sourced, the artwork is not always free to use.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:00 AM on August 8, 2007

The artwork is going to be your biggest stumbling block, and the artwork for id games, at least, is not open-source.

Depending on your project, you might be able to engage a team of people in the community with the relevant skills and free time to generate some content for you on the basis of giving them credit somewhere or allowing them to use it in a demo reel/portfolio. If you can pay them, all the better. I'm not really into the mod scene, but places like PolyCount, if it's still around, and www.moddb.com might be places to look.
posted by Alterscape at 6:32 AM on August 8, 2007

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