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Saturday, Dec 24, 2016 Christmas Eve

Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers

Cloud Imperium announces the release of Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 for all backers of the upcoming online space game. They celebrate the news with an updated Production Schedule Report to help us understand the game's current state of development. The announcement also has a detail that impacts that development, as it includes news that they've pulled a Duke Nukem by switching engines, sort of. Star Citizen began using Crytek's CryENGINE, but is now using Amazon's Lumberyard engine. The good news is that Lumberyard is actually based on CryENGINE, with additional support for online games using Amazon's AWS cloud. The game is already overdue based on their initial announcements, and the project has drawn fire from skeptics who think it is an endless crowdfunding scheme, and this news does not include any outlook on when the game be released or hit the beta stage. This project was split into two games almost a year ago, and the most recent word on the offline Squadron 42 half is that a first episode for backers is due next year. Here's more on the alpha release and the engine switch:
I am happy to announce we have just released Alpha 2.6 of Star Citizen to all backers!

With Alpha 2.6 you can now enjoy: Star Marine, featuring a host of new FPS features; big improvements to Arena Commander; further improvements to characters and their animations; new locations and missions to try; 47 flyable ships, including 8 new ships (Herald, Hoplite, Caterpillar, 85X, Wildfire, Renegade, Valiant and Comet)!

I hope you will spend many hours enjoying all the content we’ve put into this build and meeting new friends and enemies in our expanding universe! To find out more about what it took on the development side to get the patch ready for release make sure to check out the retrospective included in the final Alpha 2.6 schedule report.

There is one other big announcement we would like to make with the release of 2.6. We are now basing Star Citizen and our custom technology development on Amazon’s Lumberyard Engine. Since the beginning of the project, we’ve had to make a huge number of changes to the CryENGINE code and tech to enable us to deliver Star Citizen. While the original CryENGINE had great strengths in many areas like rendering and cinematics the needs of our game were well beyond what came ‘out of the box’. So we have, over time, changed significant parts of the engine for our technology, such that only a baseline of the original engine truly remains. In the future we will continue to make significant changes to AI, Animation and Network code and systems.

When Amazon announced Lumberyard back in February 2016, we were immediately interested. While based on the same baseline technology as Star Citizen, Lumberyard is specifically designed for online games, utilizing the power of Amazon’s AWS Cloud Services and their Twitch streaming platform. Amazon’s focus aligns perfectly to ours as we’ve been making significant engineering investments into next generation online networking and cloud based servers. Making the transition to Lumberyard and AWS has been very easy and has not delayed any of our work, as broadly, the technology switch was a ‘like-for-like’ change, which is now complete.

As an added benefit Amazon AWS data centers are spread around the world from North America to South America, Europe to China to Asia Pacific, which will allow us to better support the many backers across the globe as we scale up Star Citizen.

Finally, Amazon has made Lumberyard freely available for anyone building their own game. That means that technically-inclined members of the community can have a better view 'under the hood' of our game than ever before. It's also a great path for anyone interested in game development professionally; I fully anticipate that in the coming year we will be hiring programmers who have taught themselves using Amazon's Lumberyard resources!

As we move forwards, we are confident you will see great benefits from our partnership. Amazon will bring new features to Lumberyard to assist in creating online persistent games, adding great support for their products like Twitch (which we use extensively) and of course investing heavily in engine research and development for years to come. We could not find a more stable and reliable engine partner than Amazon, so with this partnership we are sure we have secured the future development and continuing technical innovation for Star Citizen.

With that I would like encourage everyone to download and play Alpha 2.6. It is a lot of fun and I look forward to seeing you in the ‘verse!

Diablo III Season 9 Details offers a first look at what to expect from Diablo III Season 9, which gets underway in under two weeks on January 6th. They update the various challenges and rewards this will entail, including a new Class Set available through Haedrig's Gift for completing certain chapters in the Season Journey. They also explain that they are going to save on hard drive space by deleting older seasonal records. Here's the explanation of that:
As we continue on into additional Seasons, we will no longer be able to store some personal Seasonal records. While Season 9 will store your personal bests for all Seasons to date, at some point in a future Season we will begin removing old personal bests, beginning with Season 1. This will be true regardless of your participation in past Seasons. We will have more details on this at a later date.

Seasonal Leaderboard records are not being cleared, and will remain archived both in game and on our website.

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Out of the Blue

Merry Christmas Eve to all who are celebrating the occasion. We had a shot at a white Christmas in these parts, since it's currently coming down here, but it's only 37 degrees, so that's rain rather than snow. Maybe I'll head out in a bit and try to build a rain man. The festivities in the Blue Tower will be subdued, but we planned it that way, so that is not a problem. Here's hoping you stay safe and warm whatever your plans may or may not be.

R.I.P.: Piers Sellers, Space Shuttle Astronaut and NASA Climate Scientist, Dies at 61.

Links: Thanks Ant and Acleacius.
Play: Make Happy.
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Media: Silent Night by Chewbacca.
Home Alone - 8 Bit Cinema.
The Magic of Christmas - Cyriak.
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