Free to use, but little loved thus far…
Amazon continues with its (thus far unfruitful) efforts to become a player in the video game production industry, this week rolling out its latest updates for its free video game development platform Lumberyard
Amazon Lumberyard is a free cross-platform video game development tool. The platform is continually in a state of development and since its initial launch over 50 percent of the platform’s code base has been overhauled. It has yet to catch on in a big with with game developers however.
The company no-doubt hopes that its latest large-scale overhaul will draw more in, as the platform gets more refined.
Included Amazon Lumberyard Beta 1.21 is a more dynamic range of physically-based secondary animations that can be applied to for characters and objects via the EMotion FX Animation Editor. With this tool developers can create realistic looking motions on objects such as gun holsters or backpacks.
The Simulated Objects node allows you to adjust an object’s stiffness, gravity intensity and collision factors. Developers will be able to fine tune simulated objects by tweaking the joint limit, mass, collision radius, stiffness, damping and friction, all of which can be done on individual joints or objects.
A major part of the overhaul of the developer platform is the refactored Lumberyard’s cross-platform architecture, while this change doesn’t affect public APIs, it does have a significant effect where code is stored.
Mark Biales Sr. Product Manager at Amazon wrote in a blog that: “We removed heavy reliance on cascading platform #ifdefs by reorganizing platform-specific code into a parallel directory hierarchy. This makes cross-platform feature development and maintenance easier and also significantly reduces the effort required to add new platforms to Lumberyard.”
Lumberyard’s game engine is based on Crytek’s CryEngine which Amazon licensed in 2015. The first CryEngine was originally developed as a technology demo for Nvidia, which was so impressive at the time that Crytek decided they should probably use it to make a game, resulting in the release of Far Cry in 2004.
The updated Lumberyard also includes improvements to its Script Canvas visual scripting tool. All scripts are easy to use and replace and user can now disable nodes so they can test different graph structures on the fly. In order to make the development software accessible to creators of all sizes, Script Canvas creates all scripts in a self-contained manner, this makes it clearer what function are called. All scripts are easy to use and replace.
Mark Biales notes that: “Script files are their own file format and accessed by other entities or other events. Should it be required, this is a simple swap within an entities component properties. Node based scripting can get large and unwieldly when you need to address every form of functionality. Our approach allows for event driven scripts, letting you produce small scripts that don’t require complex logic to maintain states.”
Amazon Lumberyard and Amazon Games Studio
Amazon is continually eyeing up the video game industry and created its own video game studio, the imaginatively named Amazon Games Studio back in 2012.
The studio has yet to release a major/hit title. Originally it focused on mobile gaming, which made sense as Amazon was also developing its own mobile operating system Fire at the same time. However, it changed direction in 2015 to develop video games for the PC. In 2016 they announced that they had three games in development Breakaway, Crucible, and New World. Breakaway was a team-based fighter game that was going to be integrated with the video game streaming platform Twitch TV, which Amazon bought for £779 million in 2014, but Breakaway was cancelled last year.
As of the time of writing neither of the two remaining titles have release dates.
Last July Amazon confirmed rumours of layoffs within its games studio to the video gaming website Kotaku. An insider told Kotaku that the studio had cancelled a number of unannounced titles and were in the process of letting people go. Amazon stated that the layoffs were part of its regular business planning cycles.
So far the only non-mobile game released by the studio and one that also uses Lumberyard is The Grand Tour Game, a poorly received racing game based off of the Amazon Prime series The Grand Tour.