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If you want to make games, you’re in the right decade. In the last few years, game development became more and more accessible to the masses and what happened is known as the “indie revolution”. There are many awesome game engines out there and many of those (Unity and Unreal Engine come to mind) are even available for free. Latest entry to this market is now Amazon, that launches today their multi-platform game engine/development environment. It will allow developers to make games for PC, PS4, Xbox one and, in the future, even for mobile or VR. It’s called Lumberyard and it’s available for free in beta on the official site.

Lumberyard is a game engine with a questionable name (Who thought Amazon Lumberyard was a good name?) and an attitude. It’s based on the Cry Engine by Crytek which is a very solid engine (which is also available for lower prices than engines in the past would be, starting at under $10/month) that brought us many great titles. Amazon promises Lumberyard will allow developers to cut the times invested in the heavy lifting of the game development process in order to focus in developing mechanics and building a community. This will be achieved by giving the developers the possibility to develop game’s logic entirely via flow graphs. Of course, if you’re a programmer you can still get your hands dirty and write the code yourself (Lumberyard even includes support to the AWS SDK for C++). The flow graph based scripting is, nonetheless, a great tool for those people who want to make a game with little to no experience of programming.

Lumberyard will also include many features to make developers’ lifes easier. True, many of those are something you would pretty much expect to find in any game engine, but it’s good to see that Amazon covered all their bases, giving their users pretty much anything they would need to build a game (Asset editors, animation tools, audio editor, textures and terrain editors and so forth). What’s most interesting are the supporting tools for Lumberyard that have been launched alongside it, namely Amazon Gamelift and Twitch integration. The fact that the full source of the tool is also included is also interesting for those who like to delve in the depths of code (Note: although the source is available, Lumberyard is not open source).

Lumberyard cloud canvas

Gamelift is basically how Amazon will make a profit from Lumberyard (especially considering that unlike Unity or Unreal Engine, Amazon will not claim any royalties on games made with Lumberyard meaning single player games with no cloud servers make Amazon nothing although they are completely allowed). If you make a game with Amazon’s tool and you want to make it multiplayer or make use of cloud services, the terms of use dictate that you can only use Amazon’s services or your own servers to do that. Gamelift is the service that will allow you to do just that by making use of Amazon Web Services. Developers will be able to use Gamelift to make use of a run-time server/cloud environment for their games without having to worry about the technical side of it. You just have to build the server-side logic of your game, upload it using Gamelift and the system will carry it from there. It will manage the servers the game will run on and even expand the size allocated to your game the more people play it in order to accommodate the demand. You can make use of the flow graph scripting system of Lumberyard to manage the Gamelift sessions in your game as well.

Lumberyard will also natively support Twitch integration. Developers that will decide to make use of it, will be able to insert in their logic graphs (or in their code) features that will make directly take advantage of the streaming system. These features are taking advantage of Amazon’s ownership of Twitch to integrate things natively that other engines don’t have such as a system that will make the game react to certain words typed in the chat or an interface that will allow a streamer to invite a viewer in their game session straight from the game itself. Amazon surely learned a thing or two from “Twitch Plays Pokèmon“.

Looks like Amazon released a nice little packet full of potential. Just remember to abide to their Terms of Service. That means, never use their servers, Gamelift system included, to do anything dangerous and/or not related to your videogame. Unless, of course, there’s a zombie apocalypse happening as explained in section 57.10 of the Amazon Web Services ToS. In that case, you gotta do what you gotta do and Amazon is not going to stop you.

What you think of Lumberyard? Do you think there’s space for another game engine in the industry? Let us know in the comments.


Luigi Savinelli

Staff Writer

Gamer since I can remember and now writer for your enjoyment. Can't say more. Those games will not play themselves