Just before the holiday weekend, Cloud Imperium announced that both Star Citizen and Squadron 42 are using Lumberyard, Amazon’s robust game engine, and in fact have done so for “more than a year.” Lumberyard’s only been public knowledge for about 10 months and change, and Star Citizen’s devs haven’t mentioned it at all, which got players buzzing about transparency along the way, to say nothing of the folks puzzling over the CryEngine base Star Citizen was originally said to be using.
Yesterday, Chris Roberts addressed both issues. First, he says, “Lumberyard and StarEngine are both forks from exactly the SAME build of CryEngine.”
“We stopped taking new builds from Crytek towards the end of 2015. So did Amazon. Because of this the core of the engine that we use is the same one that Amazon use and the switch was painless (I think it took us a day or so of two engineers on the engine team). What runs Star Citizen and Squadron 42 is our heavily modified version of the engine which we have dubbed StarEngine, just now our foundation is Lumberyard not CryEngine. None of our work was thrown away or modified. We switched the like for like parts of the engine from CryEngine to Lumberyard. All of our bespoke work from 64 bit precision, new rendering and planet tech, Item / Entity 2.0, Local Physics Grids, Zone System, Object Containers and so on were unaffected and remain unique to Star Citizen.”
The justifications for the change are complex and multi-faceted, from Amazon’s focus on network stability and future-proofing, to the recent troubles at CryTek surrounding staff. There are a lot of ways in which this new development environment could improve the final quality of CIG’s final product. It seems just as likely though that CIG is using the tumultuous decision to put backers minds at ease by relying on a more stable and equally reputable company like Amazon, at least compared to recent financial troubles for CryTek.
StarEngine was based on CryEngine 3.7 (last big integration) with cherry picked changes from CryEngine 3.8 (mainly some Animation/Serialization fixes/improvements). The Lumberyard builds we used had the same CryEngine 3.7 base with the main changes on the Editor/Tools side. We heavily changed or have completely rewritten CPU/GPU side rendering, memory management, multithreading, entity/game object handling + added tons of engine features wich neither CryEngine nor Lumberyard have. Everything else is relatively easy to merge, thanks to the same code base + adding independent Lumberyard only features is straightforward too, especially with the help of Amazon developers. We are pretty good at handling the rest of the old CryEngine codebase, which CryEngine, Lumberyard and StarEngine have in common
More important is that the majority of the CryEngine knowledge back to FarCry is at CIG now, which is invaluable and makes a switch like this easier and safer. The general direction of Amazon in regards to a stronger focus on network technology helps a lot though. So no worries about the future of Star Citizen, we will deliver the best game with the best technology, doesn’t matter how it is called. Internally it is StarEngine.