A new version of Amazon’s Lumberyard game engine is now available to developers. Version 1.8 adds a new framework to make it easier to add new content or provide up-to-date stats and messages to online-based games. Amazon also announced a new feature to its GameLift service, which could attract more studios to the company’s services.
The most notable feature in version 1.8 of Lumberyard is called the Cloud Gems Framework. As the name suggests, it centers on cloud-based services. Amazon believes that the cloud will become even more integral not just for player experiences, but for the developers as well.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for you to build common connected elements, like multiplayer, social features, and dynamic and live content updates, in your game,” said the company in a press release. “We want you to focus on great gameplay, not hiring expert backend engineers and spending months or years building undifferentiated infrastructure. Next, we aspire to help you create fantastic new types of gameplay and real-time interactions made possible by massive on-demand, global compute and storage. Here, we’re inspired by the game teams thinking about procedural gameplay, complex artificial intelligence, and games of huge scale and incredible fidelity.”
In other words, the Cloud Gems Framework will make adding new content, multiplayer features, and messages so easy that only one person will have to work on pushing new content into the game, rather than devoting a whole team of engineers to the same task. Depending on the type of content being pushed out, the process could take as little as 30 minutes. This saves time and, more importantly, money.
The framework itself is made up of two smaller elements. The first part is the Cloud Gems Portal, a web application that manages a slew of game cloud-based features. This includes scheduling specific messages to players or the release of new content. The second, larger part of the framework are the Cloud Gems themselves. These are multiple packages of assets and functions that developers can use to create new content in the cloud and then add it to their game. Three examples of Cloud Gem packages are waiting in the framework for anyone who updates to Lumberyard 1.8. These include the ability to add leaderboards, implement Messages of the Day, and create a system that will let you continuously add content to an existing game.
These aren’t the only Cloud Gems available to developers. Amazon is working to add more packages in the future, and developers can also tell the company what Cloud Gems they’d like to see by writing in the Lumberyard forums.
In addition to the release of version 1.8, the company also added new functionality to its GameLift service, which can add or subtract the number of servers required for a game depending on the number of players online. Initially, this was only available to those using Lumberyard, but now it can be used with any game that also utilizes C++ or C# programming, which means that any game can use it regardless of the engine used. (You'll still need to implement the GameLift SDK into your game prior to utilizing the service). There’s also an improvement to GameLift’s matchmaking functions that will allow it to automatically detect and select the Amazon Web Services server with the lowest latency and use it for a game session.
If you’re at GDC next week, you can stop by Amazon’s booth at the show and check out the new version of Lumberyard and see its cloud-based service in action. Even if you’re not at the show, you can still fiddle around with the new Lumberyard version at home: The engine is free to download and use.