In a surprising move Amazon today released Lumberyard, a free AAA game engine integrated with AWS and Twitch – with full source code provided. It comes as a branch of CryEngine but with AWS, Twitch, and Double Helix. But this is not just a poor-man's CryEngine, Amazon had already hired a team of crack senior games engineers, and added some "41 pages of additions, fixes, and improvements to Lumberyard." CryEngine will continue and so will Lumberyard as separate branches.
The move to free in high end game asset generation tools is remarkable. While the last few years has seen Unity used solidly in a host of applications away from games, recent moves such as the re-pricing of Epic's Unreal Engine and the advent of both Autodesk's Stingray Engine and now Lumberyard will hail a dramatic shift in the economics and deployment of game engine technology away from just AAA titles. The power of CryEngine combined with this pricing/server expansion model is remarkable and will no doubt cause a serious shake up in a host of applications and users.
Of particular interest (other than the fact this is Triple A game engine and free) is that soon the VR platform version will also be released.
"We have been actively working on VR within Lumberyard for some time now, and it looks great. We are currently upgrading our Oculus VR support to Rift SDK 1.0, which was released by Oculus in late December. We wanted to finish upgrading to Rift SDK 1.0 before releasing the first public version of VR support within Lumberyard, which will be included in a future release soon".
As of today you can go to aws.amazon.com/lumberyard and get full access to full C++ source code included with the download of Lumberyard. All Lumberyard (free) customers have access to documentation, tutorials, forums, and samples and assets. Additional support for Lumberyard is also available via AWS Premium Support plans.
Amazon want to see this used not only for gaming and VR but they have also particularly named "non-game purposes, such as architecture, simulations, and animated movies".
To get started you need a PC with Windows 7 64-bit, 8+ GB RAM, a 3GHz+ quad-core processor, and a 2+ GB DX11+ compatible video card. For development work more than 8Gig is highly likely to be desirable along with fast SSDs. Lumberyard currently supports PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Mobile support for iOS and Android devices are coming soon, along with additional support for Mac and Linux. (The Amazon team also note that just because they can support Xbox and PS4 that Sony and Microsoft only permit developers who have passed their screening process to develop games for their platforms).
Whether you are a major vfx or games studio, an indie developer, a student, or a hobbyist, Lumberyard seems to provide a set of tools to create high quality games, and then connect your games to the vast compute + storage of the Amazon AWS Cloud.
Lumberyard can be a visual scripting tool and a drag-and-drop GUI interface, in addition to the C++ source code for such projects as blocking tests, prototyping and lighting design. Lumberyard is also integrated with Amazon GameLift, a new AWS service for deploying, operating, and scaling session-based multiplayer games. With Amazon GameLift, Amazon Lumberyard developers can scale high-performance game servers up and down to meet player demand, without any additional engineering effort or upfront costs.
Lumberyard is not open source and you can't repackage it and sell it as your own game engine - but that is about all you can't do right now it seems. You can operate it on your own servers, you don't have to use Amazon's servers. There is even an asset download site for initial testing, once you download the 10 Gigabyte core Lumberyard software. Assets are at http://aws.amazon.com/lumberyard/downloads/
For example, there is an impressive woodland and a Legacy Game Sample (CryEngine GameSDK) containing all the code for a first-person shooter game, including complex animated characters, vehicles and game AI. A sample level is also provided, utilizing the woodland sample assets.
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