Amazon released a new beta version of its Lumberyard Engine (opens in new tab), and update 1.12 delivers a massive chunk of new content. The free service, which doesn't require licenses, royalties, or subscriptions beyond standard Amazon Web Services (AWS) fees, has added over 400 new updates (opens in new tab) this time around.
This year, the cross-platform game engine saw the introduction of several new features to its portfolio of tools, such as EmotionFX, which was swapped out with a previous feature called CryAnimation as of update 1.11. This particular system looks like it’s capable of handling some pretty complex behaviors, and the act of assembling said behaviors has been simplified due to the program’s improved and streamlined interface. Additionally, the included visual scripting option, Script Canvas, has seen a wealth of upgrades with Lumberyard 1.12.
Script Canvas looks a lot like the narrative adventure tool Twine, but it's for creating scripted behaviors via the use of familiar, node-based elements. Twine is an interactive narrative game creation program that allows creators (especially novices) to put together text-based adventures in a straightforward manner, including full CSS customization with other scripting elements. Several elements of Twine look to have been borrowed for Script Canvas. You can create worthwhile experiences with this element of Lumberyard even if you have limited coding expertise, as we were able to create some rudimentary content despite having done only a modicum of coding work in the past.
In terms of player engagement, the Cloud Gem Framework received seven new Cloud Gem mechanics. The entirety of the Framework, which is a combination of two different components, is meant to make it simpler for users to include cloud-connected content in their games. The Cloud Gem Portal is an application that allows you to manage cloud features, while Cloud Gems are actual packages of assets that help inject this type of functionality. These Gems are essentially “pods” of content that offer everything you need to augment your project with cloud connectivity. For instance, you can create in-game surveys, player accounts, and leaderboards with this service.
If you're interested in seeing how all these elements come together to create an actual game, the update also includes a sample game simply titled “Starter Game,” (opens in new tab) which essentially amounts to a collection of areas strung together to explore, with various different terrains and environments included. It's pre-installed with Lumberyard 1.12 and features over 500 free assets. While the service does have a bit of a learning curve, as with nearly all game creation tools, this one certainly has promise, especially if you’re looking to get into the business without having to cover additional costs beyond the standard AWS fees.
Update, 12/19/17, 8:18am PT: The article originally misstated that EmotionFX was part of 1.12. It actually debuted in update 1.11.