I-Novae Engine Strategy

Continuing the discussion from I-Novae: Engine Screenshot Thread!:

You’re correct the engine market has change dramatically since we first started trying to commercialize the I-Novae Engine. I think it’s likely we’ll be following industry trends and focusing on indies. For starters we’ll probably give the engine away for free as mod tools for those who purchase Battlescape. We’ve also talked about making early access to the engine available as a pledge tier during our Kickstarter campaign. After Battlescape ships our goal is to make the engine generally available to anyone who wants to build a game with it. At the moment I think a simple subscription license could be a good way of doing that. One problem is that, unlike UE4, I don’t think we can afford to give our source code away. Epic isn’t really doing anything all that different from Crytek or anybody else. Their core value proposition is in their tools and with their dominant market position they can easily defend the Unreal Engine source code. We have a very unique technology and we don’t have the resources to defend it like Epic does. This creates a unique challenge for us in terms of figuring out how to price our technology. We’re going to need better documentation because people can’t just look into the source code and we won’t be able to accept pull requests from the community.

Overall we definitely want to make our technology available to indies and our strategy for doing that is going to evolve. A lot will depend on our Kickstarter so it’s difficult for me to give you any sort of definitive answer in the near-term.


Thank you for sharing that information with us, I’m glad you are going the indie route.

The indie license for the engine will have to be considered very carefully.

If you give a cheap license like Unity does then an indie dev could take it and have a massive hit based upon all your work and you’d have to just be happy for them.

On the other hand royalties or other profit sharing schemes would be a nightmare to manage and legally very tricky to set up.

Well there are other ways of licensing. You can do many options. Something like for the first $50,000 a game makes you pay them nothing, but after that its 2% of profits. So if you end up having a massively popular game, inovae gets a good return and the studio keeps a large portion. There are a lot of creative ways you can license the engine.

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Yeah, you can do it like a progressive tax system, too. Have a flat licensing/subscription fee, and then, say, charge 0% for the first (and I’m making numbers up here, because I have no idea what reasonable sales numbers would be, nor what reasonable licensing rates are) 5000 sales, 0.5% for sales between 5000 and 10,000, 1% for sales between 10,000 and 25,000, and 2% for sales between 25,000 and 50,000. So, if a game sold 35,000 copies, the they’d pay an effective licensing fee of 1.07%, plus their subscription fee.

I’m sure you can get pretty deep down the rabbit hole with stuff like this, though. I can say that I don’t envy you guys.

The only thing is you would either have to develop a system to keep track of other parties sales or you would have to audit them. It is really a trust thing. I wonder how CryEngine keeps track of that kind of thing. Doing it through Steam probably helps a lot.

You’d need to do that for a flat per-sales fee, anyway, or on a per-profits basis for that matter. Subscription fees or flat licensing fees are the easiest thing to do; the former’s been gaining traction for a while now, when the rise of indie gaming. I imagine the latter’s been falling to the wayside, as publishers just scoop up engine developers.

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Just thought I would chime in here.

  1. How do you guys plan to handle support for the engine?
    I think a mix of forums for collaboration, a Answer hub for bug reports, and Wiki for documentation would be the best bet.

  2. If it is a subscription model for the engine will we be able to keep the previous version of the engine if we unsub? This is really important to me.

I would like to hear your answers though.

  1. Pretty much exactly that

  2. More than likely yes however we honestly haven’t put much thought into it yet as we’re currently focused on launching our KS


So here goes a few questions -

  1. What stage is the engine now?
  2. How many major releases for the engine do you plan on making per year?
  3. Can I get a private demonstration of the engine Pre or Post kickstarter?
  4. Will the engine be royalty free or no? If not royalty free how much?
  5. How many players can the engine handle over the network?
  6. Would you allow player hosted servers of third party games made with your engine?
  7. Would you allow mod tools for your engine for third party games?

As I understand things, you guys are going with .NET for scripting in your engine. Does the transition of .NET to an MIT license on their sources change anything for you? Such as making access to other platforms that much easier?

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  1. It’s really coming together quite nicely but still has a long way to go before its tools are at the same level as UE4 or Unity
  2. No idea, I suspect at least quarterly
  3. Probably not a private one however it’s possible you could catch a glimpse along with some other people
  4. We haven’t decided yet, our focus is currently just on shipping the Kickstarter
  5. That depends on a lot of variables that have nothing to do with the engine and a whole lot to do with what hardware it’s running on. We haven’t tried to push it to its upper limit yet so I can’t give you a relative benchmark at this time.
  6. Yes however if the game is being monetized then licensing fees/royalties will likely apply in some capacity
  7. Yes

It does change stuff for us! It’s actually quite exciting because we can now package a cross-platform version of the actual Microsoft CLR with our engine. That’s great because Microsoft’s CLR is considerably more advanced than Mono, of higher quality/stability, and it also allows us to provide a deeper level of integration than we would otherwise be able to.

I think having your engine publicly available will be a game changer for many space-related games out there. With existing engines such as Unity and Unreal which are highly level-based it is simply not possible (without major workarounds) to design large-scale experiences since these engines are highly optimized for small-scale environments (and with small scale I mean km range).

Even Cloud Imperium is re-writing the CryEngine to support 64bit for double precision positions. This would be the first engine developed from the ground up for this type of large scale space games and I’m really looking forward to developing with it. Getting tired of hacking the Freelancer engine :wink:

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Heretic! You shall burn!

That said…

Pretty much this. Fingers are firmly crossed that we’re entering into an era of indy space game proliferation, shouldered at least in significant part by the INE.

I personally think Inovae should make the source of the engine availible and open for comunity tinkering and contribution.

Because no mather how hard and how far a head thier tech currently is compared to the tech of other engine once infinity is out they may get a couple months to a year befor some other people catch up or even befor some other engine with similar capacity that was devloped in a similar maner surface up to make competition.

hell i’m currently devloping my own engine that has similar capacity to INovae but if the infinity engine source code was made availible i would be very likely to drop my own engine and port the game to INovae because i could thinker with it and bend it to my will making my project easier to complete building on INovae then from scratch

Potentialy some of my modifications could make it back into the engine helping INovae stay a head of the curve

On the other hand investing money on an engine that i won’t really know the limitation and i cannot bend them or remove them if they get in the way of my project is just not worth it.

We definitely see the value in that however I think open sourcing the engine at this stage would ultimately be hugely detrimental to our effort when you consider that our algorithms are currently our largest competitive advantage.

Ya I at the current stage that could be really a suicide it’s obvious and until you guys have the resources to defend your intellectual property it will likely remain the same but as soon as a game comes out on the INovae engine people will likely be able to deduce some of the technique involved and produce similar result.

Ether way no matter what you chose I hope you find a proper way to defend your IP and prosper because a crash or an IP theft on INovae could screw up a whole generation of space sim