CIG has revealed they are moving Star Citizen over to Amazon’s Lumberyard which is a fork of CryEngine. Lumberyard is made up of technology from CryEngine, AWS, Twitch, and Double Helix
Anyone who has been following the development of Star Citizen over the years will have seen the team struggle with some aspects of CryEngine and its limitations. This change could help CIG get over some of those issues.
Chris Roberts dropped the news in their newsletter last night.
There is one other big announcement we would like to make with the release of 2.6. We are now basing Star Citizen and our custom technology development on Amazon’s Lumberyard Engine. Since the beginning of the project, we’ve had to make a huge number of changes to the CryENGINE code and tech to enable us to deliver Star Citizen. While the original CryENGINE had great strengths in many areas like rendering and cinematics the needs of our game were well beyond what came ‘out of the box’. So we have, over time, changed significant parts of the engine for our technology, such that only a baseline of the original engine truly remains. In the future we will continue to make significant changes to AI, Animation and Network code and systems.
When Amazon announced Lumberyard back in February 2016, we were immediately interested. While based on the same baseline technology as Star Citizen, Lumberyard is specifically designed for online games, utilizing the power of Amazon’s AWS Cloud Services and their Twitch streaming platform. Amazon’s focus aligns perfectly to ours as we’ve been making significant engineering investments into next generation online networking and cloud based servers. Making the transition to Lumberyard and AWS has been very easy and has not delayed any of our work, as broadly, the technology switch was a ‘like-for-like’ change, which is now complete.
As an added benefit Amazon AWS data centers are spread around the world from North America to South America, Europe to China to Asia Pacific, which will allow us to better support the many backers across the globe as we scale up Star Citizen.
Finally, Amazon has made Lumberyard freely available for anyone building their own game. That means that technically-inclined members of the community can have a better view ‘under the hood’ of our game than ever before. It’s also a great path for anyone interested in game development professionally; I fully anticipate that in the coming year we will be hiring programmers who have taught themselves using Amazon’s Lumberyard resources!
As we move forwards, we are confident you will see great benefits from our partnership. Amazon will bring new features to Lumberyard to assist in creating online persistent games, adding great support for their products like Twitch (which we use extensively) and of course investing heavily in engine research and development for years to come. We could not find a more stable and reliable engine partner than Amazon, so with this partnership we are sure we have secured the future development and continuing technical innovation for Star Citizen.
A member of CIG went on to explain the move further on Reddit.
StarEngine was based on CryEngine 3.7 (last big integration) with cherry picked changes from CryEngine 3.8 (mainly some Animation/Serialization fixes/improvements). The Lumberyard builds we used had the same CryEngine 3.7 base with the main changes on the Editor/Tools side. We heavily changed or have completely rewritten CPU/GPU side rendering, memory management, multithreading, entity/game object handling + added tons of engine features wich neither CryEngine nor Lumberyard have. Everything else is relatively easy to merge, thanks to the same code base + adding independent Lumberyard only features is straightforward too, especially with the help of Amazon developers. We are pretty good at handling the rest of the old CryEngine codebase, which CryEngine, Lumberyard and StarEngine have in common
More important is that the majority of the CryEngine knowledge back to FarCry is at CIG now, which is invaluable and makes a switch like this easier and safer. The general direction of Amazon in regards to a stronger focus on network technology helps a lot though. So no worries about the future of Star Citizen, we will deliver the best game with the best technology, doesn’t matter how it is called. Internally it is StarEngine.
By integrating Lumberyard, it could improve development in areas such as networking where they would have had to create their own new systems. With Lumberyard and the Star Citizen’s StarEngine both working from the same CryEngine base code, this is not a complete engine change.
It’s worth pointing out the comment “We could not find a more stable and reliable engine partner than Amazon”. With Crytek currently struggling financially and having closed a number of studios this week, CIG has more than likely made this announcement to put backers mind’s at ease.
How this change will impact progress so far into development remains to be seen.