Star Citizen Switches Engines: Move Along Folks, Nothing to See Here
Disaster! The sky is falling! At least, this is the impression you may get if you read some of the many headlines about Star Citizen floating around the web today. Most seem dedicated to giving the impression that Cloud Imperium Games (the makers of Star Citizen) have somehow decided to rip out the guts of the game 4 years into development. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. An update to backers of the game a couple of days ago explained that Star Citizen was switching to Amazon's Lumberyard engine and that this was live with the 2.6 version which just released.
Of course, any big game which switches a technology as fundamental as its engine must have to devote serious engineering time to the code to make the change right? While in many circumstances this would be true, for those familiar with Lumberyard (which one would hope most of the gaming media is), the fact that Amazon licensed CryEngine from Crytek to create it should be a big clue as to what is going on here. Lumberyard is of course effectively a rebranded version of CryEngine with direct integration into Amazon's AWS infrastructure.
I reached out to Erin Roberts (Head of Foundry 42, the UK arm of CIG) to ask him about his thoughts on the reporting of the change and he had this to say:
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.
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.
So there we have it, are other sites technically correct that CIG has dumped its game engine 4 years into development? Sure, it's just unfortunate that the real news story hasn't had a chance to get decent airtime yet.
Star Citizen 2.6 with Star Marine is Here!
CIG deployed version 2.6 to the production servers 2 days ago to all backers containing the long awaited Star Marine FPS arena combat mode. As with Arena Commander (the dogfighting module), some aspects of this have been available in the baby persistent universe which backers of the game have had access to for a long time, however Star Marine implements additional FPS animations and capabilities as well as a more game like environment to learn the FPS style of the game in. When you die in the universe, you need to respawn, get a ship again, fly back to wherever you were with your friends etc before carrying on with what you were doing.
Unfortunately I've not had the time to try out 2.6 yet (Christmas wrapping and a new Maserati have been eating my time!) so can't report on it, but feel free to check out the numerous people who are playing and streaming it online.
Check out the comm-link here to find out more about what's in 2.6.