Star Citizen has moved its development from one version of CryEngine to another version, Amazon’s Lumberyard. Previously, Star Citizen was running on what they called StarEngine, a modified version of the Crytek engine, now they have moved over to Amazon’s modification of the engine. Lumberyard adds in multiplayer and social aspects to make use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Twitch streaming among other upgrades.
In a newsletter released yesterday, Chris Roberts made the announcement bringing the release of Alpha 2.6:
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.
With that I would like encourage everyone to download and play Alpha 2.6. It is a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing you in the ‘verse!
A member of Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) explained 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.
Star Citizen was successfully backed on Kickstarter where it reached a funding goal of over $2 million from 34,397 backers, it went on to obtain more funding by making unique ships available in game that players could buy for real money. It surpassed $100 million in funding of December last year. It is available now in Alpha for Windows PC, the team are also working on the game’s Single-Player campaign, Squadron 42 featuring Mark Hamill, Gary Oldman, Gillian Anderson, Gemma Whelan, Sophie Wu, Mark Strong and more.