Amazon releases Lumberyard, a free game engine with Twitch integration

There is an obvious irony to a company named after the Amazon rainforest calling its new, free game engine Lumberyard. Putting that to one side, though, Amazon has stirred up excitement in game-making circles by revealing a brand-spanking, cross-platform game engine.  

That’s brand-spanking in both senses of the term, as Lumberyard is both completely new and a smack across the cheeks for current dominators in the game-making sector – namely Unity and Epic Games’ Unreal Engine. 

Lumberyard’s full source code is available to download, which makes it highly customisable. It can be used to make both PC and console games, and Amazon has signed deals with Microsoft and Sony to make it possible for developers to immediately build games for Xbox One and PS4 with the engine. Mobile compatibility is apparently on the horizon, and Amazon is also testing support for Oculus SDK.

Another boon for Lumberyard is its integration with the Amazon-owned game-streaming firm Twitch. This comes through two features the company is calling ChatPlay and JoinIn. The former lets Twitch users stream at the engine level, while the latter enables viewers to jump into online games being made with the engine.  lumberyard_2

The game engine doesn’t have anything in the way of subscription fees or royalty charges. So how does it make money, you howl. Well, that comes in the form of Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing, which is the only third-party cloud service supported by Lumberyard. That shouldn’t be an issue if you’re making a single-player game without cloud connectivity, but is something to consider if you plan to make a multiplayer game.

One interesting point is that in the AWS Service Terms it says the following: 

“57.10 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.

I guess…that’s legally binding? Regardless, on Twitter the reaction to the announcement seems to be generally positive. Developer Rami Ismail said the new engine looked “pretty magnificent”.

Lumberyard is currently in beta, but you can use and download it free from today.

If you need some game-development inspiration, you could do worse than check out the latest gameplay videos from Dark Souls 3.

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