This is a big bombshell to drop over the holidays, but Star Citizen has just had a major technology shift, with developers Cloud Imperium Games switching from CryEngine over to Amazon's Lumberyard engine.
Oh, and Star Citizen has already rolled out with the Lumberyard-based version of the game with the recently v2.6 release. The change is odd, but not when you consider that Amazon's Lumberyard engine is pretty much just a rebranded version of CryEngine, but with direct access into the AWS infrastructure that Amazon runs.
Erin Roberts, Head of Foundry 42 - the UK-based studio of CIG, who said: "Thanks for getting in touch. As you've (correctly) surmised, any suggestions that the engine switch would have a major impact on our development couldn't be further from reality. Lumberyard is completely based on Cryengine, yet with a lot of improvements. As a consequence, we do not have to change the fundamental core engine at all which is why this change has had absolutely no effect on our development of Star Citizen".
He added: "The advantage of Lumberyard is that we get great ongoing support on the cloud / networking side from Amazon as well as great tools support while continuing uninterrupted development on what we have built up over the last 4 years. As we've tried to explain many times before, we have pretty much rewritten 50% of what we licensed 4 years ago now, even in core systems from Cryengine. What is great is that everything we have reworked, also now seamlessly integrates into Lumberyard, and the engine switch has not required any extra engineering time. We are actually very lucky that this opportunity presented itself to work with a powerful and committed company like Amazon that is investing heavily in its tech. This collaboration will effectively allow us to do more for our community going forward without costing us really anything in terms of engineering time or otherwise, so it is a win-win situation and good news all around".
Does This Matter?
Well, Crytek haven't had the best year - with employees complaining of unpaid wages, and then the recent closure of five Crytek studios across the world, days before Christmas. On the business side of things, Amazon and Crytek have been working together more lately, and this could be some fruits of that labor.
Amazon running the game engine behind one of the most ambitious games ever made, and a furiously die hard PC exclusive, this is a massive deal for the future of Amazon in the technology and gaming industry. Crytek blew the world away over 10 years ago with the original Crysis, and has walked off into the forest of console engines - watering down the world-class technology it put out when it was a PC exclusive engine.
Star Citizen can now grow in a large way with Amazon, as Roberts pointed out that Lumberyard has "a lot of improvements" over CryEngine. There won't be a big change from Cloud Imperium Games' development of Star Citizen and its various pieces of the game pie - as it's very close to the foundation of CryEngine, which Star Citizen was based on until now.
Funnily enough, this is something I've been saying to friends and family - that CIG would change from CryEngine as it continued pushing the boundaries - as there's only so far CryEngine can stretch. CIG is brutally ambitious, and they've expanded past the technology Crytek can offer - moving to Amazon. Interesting.