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If you would like to try something different with your team, how about this…

Use the Blender GE.

Here are a few advantages…

– your 3D modelling tool is Blender itself, the GE is integrated – just press P to enter game mode.

This screenshot shows an example of a game playing in the top corner within Blender, with modelling and sound windows placed around it – the code/scripting windows could also be on-screen, the UI can be easily customised.

– the current CVS build has VERSE built in – this allows your team to work on the same environment at the same time – even on the same model! This is fairly unique, and could be a great way to prototype game levels.

In fact, VERSE could be used as the underlying technology for your RTS game – it’s focused on sharing 3D data in real-time between remote computers!

– The GE currently is pretty powerful, if you have the right team – check out this game…
Driving game
Third person game

– OGRE is currently being integrated to replace the current game engine – this is something that your team could help with

– it’s the top open source 3D modelling app ( with game engine ) – it could help build your teams rep outside of college

– excellent physics system ( Bullet – also open source )

– cross platform – it is already on PC, Mac, all flavours of Unix – it should be easy to port to XBox/PS/Wii – if you’re sceptical, check this out – someone has actually ported it to a PocketPC!!!

– Blender has a great community, so your team will get a lot of support and help.

– Cost of all of the tools, including source code – $0 :)

I’d seriously consider this – your artists can get up and running right away with the app ( it has a bit of a learning curve, but not so much more than the other 3D apps ), and your regular coders can be implementing gameplay scripts right away ( using Python – every game engine will have their own scripting language, with Blender you’re getting a pretty popular one, so lots of tutorials online etc ). Your hardcore coders can then download the source code and implement the more complex features that you require for your end of year game project.

If you want to evaluate Blender and it’s GE, check out this basic ( 30 minute ) tutorial out…

Main Blender website…