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!
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16.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 14:51
16.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 14:51
Dec 24, 2016, 14:51
 
So how is performance?
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15.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 14:28
15.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 14:28
Dec 24, 2016, 14:28
 
This isn't so much an engine switch as much as an engine flavor switch.
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14.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 14:07
14.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 14:07
Dec 24, 2016, 14:07
 
This blurb is from VentureBeat:

“We’ve been working with Amazon for more than a year, as we have been looking for a technology leader to partner with for the long term future of Star Citizen and Squadron 42,” said Roberts, Cloud Imperium Games’ CEO and creative director, in a statement. “Lumberyard provides ground breaking technology features for online games, including deep back-end cloud integration on AWS and its social component with Twitch that enables us to easily and instantly connect to millions of global gamers. Because we share a common technical vision, it has been a very smooth and easy transition to Lumberyard. In fact, we are excited to announce that our upcoming 2.6 Alpha release for Star Citizen is running on Lumberyard and AWS.”

Seems likes a good move BUT SC is apparently the only game being done with the engine thus far. Atleast NOW they are using an engine that was actually DESIGNED for online gaming. I'm guessing that when you are building a massive online multiplayer game you should probably pick an engine that is built for this purpose from the very start... But of course, i'm not the one building SC so what would I know.
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13.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 14:05
13.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 14:05
Dec 24, 2016, 14:05
 
Someone else already pointed it out but they're not really switching engines DNF style. Lumberyard is a fork of CryEngine and is more or less the same thing. They're likely making that switch because Crytek is all but dead at this point. The reason Crytek didn't go under the last time they had money problems is because Amazon paid them $75M to basically buy CryEngine outright, everything except the actual copyrights. That's why CryEngine is actually free now, except for premium support, because Amazon made Lumberyard free.

The reason CIG is switching to this is likely because Crytek is all but dead now. They just closed all but 2 of their studios, after months of payroll issues. Crytek took the money Amazon gave them and blew it making VR games. VR games that no one bought because so few people have bought headsets that it's almost impossible to make money on VR games unless a headset maker bankrolls it for you.

I have little faith in Star Citizen but all this took me 5 minutes to figure out. Of course, proper research is too much to ask of the gaming press these days, especially when it's easy to generate clicks with a controversial headline. Bottom line though is that CIG isn't really switching engines, they're just switching to the Amazon version of it because Crytek will probably be bankrupt within a few months.
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12.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 14:02
12.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 14:02
Dec 24, 2016, 14:02
 
Just fired it up and it definitely says Lumberyard on the main screen, not CryEngine like it used to
11.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 13:53
11.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 13:53
Dec 24, 2016, 13:53
 
Ok Maybe... but what if your going from space to a full planet?
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10.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 13:45
Slick
 
10.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 13:45
Dec 24, 2016, 13:45
 Slick
 
Never heard of Hero engine?

Also yes, Cryengine is good at a single level, it's not meant (at least originally) for a streamable content like GTA, or Skyrim etc.

I'm sure they could patch in that code, but there's only so much lipstick you can put on a pig.

That being said, I think that when you get rid of all the palm trees, hundreds of AI soldiers, and shit tons of detail that Crysis had, and just put it into outer space, which is essentially just some objects floating in a skybox, then the real scale of how big you can make a "single player" map would get truly gargantuan, like planet-sized.

Other than the destructible trees, nice water, and well-done AI of Crysis, the thing that stood out the most was the scale of the levels. I'd imagine that there's still more geometry and detail in the first level of Crysis than probably a whole solar system in SC. Space is pretty barren, no vegetation, and shit is really far apart, easy to optimize for (aka stop rendering shit you can't see, ie. going indoors the engine stops rendering outdoors if you can't see it)
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9.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 13:38
9.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 13:38
Dec 24, 2016, 13:38
 
The Half Elf wrote on Dec 24, 2016, 13:29:
I don't have all the answers but I would have looked at Unreal first, maybe Hero Engine, honestly have no clue.
I would venture a guess that they looked at a bunch of engines before settling on the cryengine.
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8.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 13:29
8.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 13:29
Dec 24, 2016, 13:29
 
For a single player game (1 map loaded at a time) I could understand using CryENGINE. But for this scale and size (they are adding how many planets?) and detail (just in the vehicles alone) I just wouldn't see it as a viable option. Yeah there are some MMO's with the CryENGINE, but from what I remember, CryENGINE isn't best thing out there to code for.
I don't have all the answers but I would have looked at Unreal first, maybe Hero Engine, honestly have no clue.
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7.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 13:21
Slick
 
7.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 13:21
Dec 24, 2016, 13:21
 Slick
 
The Half Elf wrote on Dec 24, 2016, 12:46:
Anyone who EVER looked at the CryENGINE would NEVER use it as a space MMO with the level of graphics they want to pump out.

Question is... is 2.6 Lumberyard or their version of CryENGINE?

I don't know, I thought it was a good pick. Thinking back to the alien parts of Crysis, the engine is definitely capable of delivery a massive scale, like huuuuge space stations, ships etc. I remember getting closer and closer to the mountain in Crysis, it was visible on the horizon for like 4 levels before you got right to it.

I can't think of another engine other than frostbite that delivers the sense of scale they want without sacrificing fidelity.

Plus the zero-g part of Crysis was some sort of indicator that you could implement a 6-dof style mechanic to the engine without much trouble.

Considering there's no way they'll get their hands on frostbite, what engine would be a better pick? UE4, Unity etc. they all seem to work best on med-small scales.
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6.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 12:46
6.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 12:46
Dec 24, 2016, 12:46
 
Anyone who EVER looked at the CryENGINE would NEVER use it as a space MMO with the level of graphics they want to pump out.

Question is... is 2.6 Lumberyard or their version of CryENGINE?
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5.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 12:21
5.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 12:21
Dec 24, 2016, 12:21
 

"Switching engines during development worked for me!"- George Broussard

Famous last words...
4.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 12:17
Slick
 
4.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 12:17
Dec 24, 2016, 12:17
 Slick
 
Tipsy McStagger wrote on Dec 24, 2016, 12:12:
Engine switch? Didn't Derek Smart call this a couple years back?

Slick wrote on Dec 24, 2016, 11:56:
As games like EVE have the time dilation happening whenever anything interesting happens.

TiDi (Time Dilation) made bigger fights possible. Eve used to just die when 400+ people would get into a fight.. If you ever played it you would know, with so many commands going on at once the servers just couldn't keep up.

now they're pushing 3500 people fights. Sure there's a couple problem like fights will last 20 hours till server goes down but at least you can still call targets and actually fight instead of staring at your unresponsive screen and never ending module cycles.

Oh I have many friends who play EvE, and am very familiar with how time dilation works, and the reason for it being there.

My point is if you integrate something as massive and scalable as AWS this early into the game (pre-launch at the very least) then that might bode well for handling the issue of why you need TiDi in the first place.

I have to imagine that Amazon's servers are bigger and more capable than anything CCCP could ever come up with. That's my point.
For your transgressions you shall be labeled a shill, called an idiot and anytime you mention facts or disagree with a tribe member you will henceforth be known as a troll. The best you can hope for is that the labels won't haunt your offspring. -RedEye9
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3.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 12:12
3.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 12:12
Dec 24, 2016, 12:12
 
Engine switch? Didn't Derek Smart call this a couple years back?

Slick wrote on Dec 24, 2016, 11:56:
As games like EVE have the time dilation happening whenever anything interesting happens.

TiDi (Time Dilation) made bigger fights possible. Eve used to just die when 400+ people would get into a fight.. If you ever played it you would know, with so many commands going on at once the servers just couldn't keep up.

now they're pushing 3500 people fights. Sure there's a couple problem like fights will last 20 hours till server goes down but at least you can still call targets and actually fight instead of staring at your unresponsive screen and never ending module cycles.
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2.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 12:00
2.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 12:00
Dec 24, 2016, 12:00
 

An engine switch would normally be a death knell, but in this instance it will improve the game.
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It's an IQ test. It's a compassion test. It's a decency test. It's a social responsibility test.
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1.
 
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers
Dec 24, 2016, 11:56
Slick
 
1.
Re: Star Citizen Engine Switch; Alpha Released for Backers Dec 24, 2016, 11:56
Dec 24, 2016, 11:56
 Slick
 
Hmm, I don't remember the crytek engines having the best netcode implementations, although that's not entirely apples to apples, the in-game engine and the server backend, but I assume that there's lots of overlap.

Amazon's AWS stuff is beefy, and scalable, could be a smart solution. As games like EVE have the time dilation happening whenever anything interesting happens, it would be nice to just pwn that problem out of the gate , and build something that's capable of epic epicness.
For your transgressions you shall be labeled a shill, called an idiot and anytime you mention facts or disagree with a tribe member you will henceforth be known as a troll. The best you can hope for is that the labels won't haunt your offspring. -RedEye9
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