The goal of free or indie games has to be to provide some value which cannot be found in major commercial games because they cannot compete on story, art, or performance, and certainly not on multiplayer. Battle.net rules all.This. If you've already got a copy of Warcraft 3 (and most people who would be interested in playing Glest probably already do), why play Glest unless you're just an avid supporter of FOSS? Better art, better story (in that it has one), more varied gameplay, more balancing, huge multiplayer community, etc. We indie enthusiasts can't out-produce professional full-time developers, but we're free to take risks and explore whatever crazy innovation suits our fancy. There is no reason I can see for trying to fit the mold of a standard Age Of Xcraft game unless that's just what you really enjoy doing.
I wouldn't bundle Glest with what most now come to know as "Indie". Glest GNU/GPL liscense makes it difficult for an Indie dev to monetize on it to at least return the investment put in to both polish it and make a viable commercial game out of it. You can still do it, but your options are limited. Currently the only use for Glest is for the at-home enthusiast, hobbyist, or as a prototyping tool.
Without being able to put your Indie Glest driven title on Steam, it cuts what oppertunities of distribution you have. Making a polished game that looks proffesional and not just another at-home hobby project takes time and money. Additionally Glest as it is (MegaGlest or GAE) just isn't polished enough and in a state for a viable commercial release. However, I believe with a bit of investment it can be. Unfortunately I don't know of any serious indie team that would want to use Glest, not because of what it can or can't do, but because of the GPL/GNU provisions.
I really wish the team behind Glest would have used a liscense similar to Unity (provisions for Indie but, a per-seat fee for legal entities/developers with more than $100k a year income). That way the at home enthusiasts could still make their mods as they've always been and indie devs could use it as a foundation. Funds taken in from commercial sales could go to improving the foundation source. Additionally by it not being GPL/GNU (or using a liscence that doesn't include source) it would encourage investment in the engine.
Why did I choose Glest over Unity/UDK, etc? Neither of those engines comes with a solid RTS api. Well they sort of do, but all of them are in research phases, require significant programmer time to get them fully implemented, and have high costs (not including programming time and research). Glest allows a non-programmer like me to easily "plug-and-play" the data of my game. Sure I still have to mess with the source, but nothing compared to the barebones Unity or UDK approach.
The problem with the GPL/GNU is that you have to include the source with your distribution. That means that any third party middleware you plug into the source code (or link libraries to) would cancel/conflict with the liscense. That means; no Steamworks (for steam distribution), no scaleform (for UIs), no flash (for UIs), DRM wrapper/handler and so on. Online digital distributors such as Steam, Direct2Drive/Gamefly, Gamer's Gate require a DRM setup so you can set up their authenticator systems. As far as I know none of these allow GPL/GNU covered engines or any such liscense that requires providing the source code.
That severely limits what can be done with an engine
As I explained in another post; proffesional grade work costs a lot. Even recovering the costs just to break even can be difficult when you can only self-publish.
I have no problem donating to the Glest community to get the features I specifically want or need. The problem is when I add those costs on top of development costs it can severely hurt my enthusiasm particularly since I won't be able to distribute on Steam.