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Amazon Launches Free Game Engine Lumberyard 56

Dave Knott writes: Amazon has both announced and released a new, free game engine, Lumberyard, which offers deep integration with its Amazon Web Services server infrastructure to empower online play, and also with Twitch, its video game-focused streaming service. Lumberyard is powerful and full-featured enough to develop triple-A current-gen console games, with mobile support is coming down the road. Its core engine technology is based on Crytek's CryEngine. However, Lumberyard represents a branch of that tech, and the company is replacing or upgrading many of CryEngine's systems. Monetization for Lumberyard will come strictly through the use of Amazon Web Services' cloud computing. If you use the engine for your game, you're permitted to roll your own server tech, but if you're using a third-party provider, it has to be Amazon. Integration of Amazon's Twitch video streaming tools at a low level also helps to cement that platform's dominance in the game streaming space. Alongside Lumberyard, the company has also announced and released GameLift, a new managed service for deploying, operating, and scaling server-based online games using AWS. GameLift will be available only to developers who use Lumberyard, though it's an optional add-on. The game engine is in beta, but is freely usable and downloadable today.
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Amazon Launches Free Game Engine Lumberyard

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  • by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @02:33PM (#51471669)

    Our new triple A rated three dimensional action game powered by Lumberyard under the hood.

    It just makes me think of saw dust or Mendards/Home Depot

  • by NotInHere ( 3654617 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @02:40PM (#51471745)

    From [] :

    Q. Is Lumberyard “open source”?

    No. We make the source code available to enable you to fully customize your game, but your rights are limited by the Lumberyard Service Terms. For example, you may not publicly release the Lumberyard engine source code, or use it to release your own game engine.

    Limberyard is gratis, and free as in beer, but it isn't free as in freedom.

    • Yeah, but it is empowering.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Much like beer...

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
        If by empowering you mean it binds you and restricts you, then yeah, it's empowering. Amazon is a corporation. Lumberyard is a fraction of a fraction of their revenue. One day a new manager will come along and change the TOS and you will be completely fucked with no recourse. By all means, develop away.
        • We have always been at war with Eastasia. Empowering always means binding and restricting in Corporatespeak.
        • by rwven ( 663186 )

          Changes of that nature are rarely, if ever, retroactive. A ToS change would almost certainly only apply to future versions/updates to the engine.

          There would also be no wisdom in changing a revenue model that guarantees AWS income to one that would drive people away from providing that income. It would be counter-productive to attempt to screw over your customer base.

          • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

            A ToS change would almost certainly only apply to future versions/updates to the engine.

            Oh? How about "We've decided we no longer wish to continue the service due to reorganization". Boom, there goes your app. What are you going to do - sue? Read the TOS. Once you get past the arbitration instead of law-suit clauses you'll see that they hold all the cards and you hold none. Yeah ok, you might save yourself a few weeks' of coding. In return for which you become their little bitch.

        • You're right, we should definitely not engage with any technology or solution whose availability isn't guaranteed to exist until the end of time, and offer us 150% of the features we need. After all, if I'm building sandcastles in the sky, I can't let my dreams of creating a game that makes me a billionaire be threatened by even the most unlikely of hypothetical scenarios.

    • Well, of course it isn't open source, silly. If it was, the first thing the developers would do it pull out the code requiring you to host your production game servers on AWS.

    • Right, because I'm sure the people trying to make money off selling their games are all crusading for free software.

      Why would you expect Amazon to be making an open source tool here?

      • And who guarantees you that Lumberyard will be free for use in, say 2 years? Perhaps Amazon is pulling this off, getting as many game developers interested in their engine as possible, and then starting to require a 50% revenue fee on published games? And it doesn't have to be bad intent. Just some new guy in middle management who wants to present great numbers to his bosses, and after the quarter he is off to the next company.

  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @02:55PM (#51471909)

    PC, Playstation and Xbox support, Android and iOS in the wings... no specific mention of Windows Metro, Linux or OSX (I assume PC only means standard Windows).

    Unity3D has all the bases covered, and a large number of third-party support through assets and plugins.

    The CryEngine is certainly nice, though.

    • They did say linux and osx are coming.

    • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @03:24PM (#51472249) Homepage Journal

      Unity 3D even has continued support for years and years, whereas Mighty No. 9 is all like, "We're having trouble and have to mess with the source code and maintain and bugfix UE3 ourselves because it's no longer updated even though it cost $350,000 per seat!" That was fucking irresponsible, and I called it from the start: they initially budgeted under a million dollars and wanted a (then) half-million-dollar engine instead of the $1,500 Unity 3D engine; they're struggling now even though they got nearly five million dollars of funding.

      Maybe if you're Blizzard or Bethesda you can use UE4. It makes sense, even though it's expensive: Ubisoft dumps like 30 huge games every year, so of course they get a lower marginal cost (no matter how low you go, when you divide up a licensing cost across dozens of units, there's a limit to how much you're going to save by taking the less-expensive option). If UE4 does something Unity 3D doesn't and your game will be significantly harder to develop without that feature, deal with it; if this happens and you generally develop dozens of games each year, then maybe you should buy UE4. Of course this applies less now than it did with UE3, since UE3 was ridiculously expensive compared to UE4.

      The financials don't make sense. I'd try to fund a moderately-complex game on $100,000 with Unity 3D Pro. It can be done. I computed $58,000 for art for a 2D top-down ARPG, plus another $19,000 for music; I can do the story-writing and much of the programming myself, but a competent programmer will cost you $26,000 in under a full-time 4 months. I'm also a project manager, so I can plan these sorts of things out with reasonable effectiveness, instead of dicking around on a long tail of things going wrong on top of other things going wrong, turning a $100k budget into a $6 million, 9-year project; again, a competent project manager will throw you $100k a year himself. Your real resource costs for a simple 2D or 3D game might be $150k per development-year, plus a relatively fixed cost for assets (3D models, textures, music, animation). If you're making *one* *game*, the cost of your engine is your biggest factor.

      That leaves a big question: What are the marginal costs of Lumberyard? Is low cost plus royalty, like UE4? Subscription, like Unity 3D? High cost, like UE3? Answer: It's free plus monetization, like UE4, but with monetization being tie-in service: you can either build an in-house support infrastructure for your online experience, or you can use Amazon. That means if it comes down to engine cost, you might want to go Unity 3D or UE4. The cost of internal infrastructure would exceed the cost of almost *any* outsource service--Amazon, Azure, Verizon--and being tied to Amazon might cost you a lot more than $1,500 for each developer. If so, you need to decide: Will the royalties on UE4 cost you more than Unity? Between all three, will selecting any given one save you enough programmer time to offset the *lifetime* cost of any of these factors?

      Financials. I love it.

      • Um... isn't UE4 free of charge for development and then once your game exceeds 3K bucks a month they will take 5% of that?

        5% WHEN YOU SHIP

        The 5% royalty starts after the first $3,000 of revenue per product per quarter. Pay no royalty for film projects, contracting and consulting projects such as architecture, simulation and visualization. []

        • I may be out of date. UE4 used to be $20/month (i.e. essentially free) and 5% royalty all the time; it's now 5% when you ship. Unity 3D lets you go free, but makes you pay $75/mo or $1,500 all at once per seat if you make over $100,000 of income as a business (1.5% per seat). As mentioned, UE3 was expensive as ass--starting around $1.5 million when first released and eventually falling to $375,000 for a full, unrestricted license with engine source code (it was still $750,000 when UE4 came out).

      • you have to use AWS and pay for amazon's services for the backend of your game. since MS went to Azure for xbox one games, Amazon doesn't want to lose business
        • Yes, I covered that. You have the option of running in-house for the back-end, but that's likely more expensive than outsourcing.

    • and I don't say that lightly. There's something off with the Cameras in every Unity game I've played. My bro thinks it's because they've written their code to be easy to port to mobile and there are too many limitations with that. Got me. But even Unity games I like (Wasteland II comes to mind) feel a tad clunkier than Unreal based equivalents. Unity space sims tend to feel more like first person shooters. That's more to the physics though but stil...

      That said if my bro is right then Lumberyard might ha
      • I don't know if Unreal comes with a "better" camera out of the box (they do enable a lot of shiny but expensive effects by default, where Unity gives you a more bare bones rendering by default). In either engine, I'm fairly confident that the camera is what you make it. See e.g. this tech talk [] on procedural cinematography in Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak []. As for physics, both Unity and Unreal 3D physics are powered by the latest NVIDIA PhysX, so I'll wager that most (if not all) differences you're seeing i

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      Windows Metro doesn't exist anymore. They are now "Windows Apps" and you can build a windows program or app and both will run on 8+, no need to develop multiple times unless you are going for Windows Phone, which uses apps only.
  • So it embraces aws growth for multiplayer, does it spawn additional servers if more players join? How many users can you have in a game? Can we have battles with thousands of users playing a fps in real time?

    I can see why Amazon is releasing this, you are using aws services (with costs) and twitch, that uses aws servers.

    Not sure this would be cheaper than dedicated game rental companies. But if auto spin up of instances for on demand growth is a real feature, that is pretty awesome.

  • C'mon Timmy, I know they've got you posting 24/7 but still...
    Unicode support - we understand it's hard, we can wait.
    But checking the English is something our new overlords could fix fast..

  • Because they are losing game developers out to Azure. Look at Titanfall, for an example (whether you like it or not is irrelevant).

    The problem AWS has is that it is entirely VM/IaaS based. There is little to no PaaS offerings so developers have to write integration layers for the VMs and at many times, use more resources than they need. With PaaS services they can tailor it to be much more dynamic and that's the allure Azure brings them. The scaling can be elastic but also not waste any resources.

    AWS is pro

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Lots of "free" engines available these days, but it really ignores the real issue: CONTENT. You can get the best engine for free or extremely cheap (Lumberyard, UE4, Unity, etc) but if you don't have the art assets, story, and gameplay, the engine doesn't matter.

    Engines are becoming a black box and selection of it is down on the bottom; you need the assets and those are a different skillset than engine creation/optimization.

  • by zyche ( 784345 ) on Tuesday February 09, 2016 @04:23PM (#51472745)


    Acceptable Use; Safety-Critical Systems. Your use of the Lumberyard Materials must comply with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy. The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat. However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.

    From: []

    • Well, it's about time the lawyers started taking the Zombie threat seriously!

    • Thank goodness. Item #1 on my zombie apocalypse plan was always to take over a nuclear powerplant and rewrite its control system in Lumberyard, but the damn license would have thwarted that.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller