As a final present to fans last week, Cloud Imperium Games (CIG) released a new update to those playing the alpha version of Star Citizen. Version 2.6.0 added a new mode to the game’s Arena Commander flight module, but more importantly, players can now try an early version of Star Marine, another game module that focuses on first-person shooter gameplay. In addition to the update, the studio also announced that it’s now using Amazon’s Lumberyard game engine to develop the game.
From CryEngine To Lumberyard
Amazon’s game engine was announced earlier this year, with its biggest lure being that it was free to use. However, Amazon does make a profit from the cloud services used in conjunction with Lumberyard. Before the switch to Amazon’s engine, CIG used Crytek’s CryEngine to create Star Citizen, and according to Amazon’s FAQ on Lumberyard (opens in new tab), some of the CryEngine technology is used in Lumberyard, so CIG is in somewhat-familiar territory.
The decision to switch to Lumberyard was based on its online services. Specifically, Lumberyard includes Amazon GameLift, which allows you to set the maximum number of servers required for a game. However, GameLift will also monitor the number of players and add or reduce the number of servers needed. On the player side, this prevents any bottleneck issues, which become apparent in online gameplay. For the studio, GameLift ensures that the company is paying the right amount based on the number of players on a server.
The engine also includes ChatPlay so that Twitch viewers can have better interactions with the gameplay while watching their favorite streaming personality. There’s also Twitch JoinIn, which allows the streamer to send invites to viewers so that they can join in the game.
When CIG used CryEngine, it had to make many changes to the software in order to fit the needs of the game, according to studio head Chris Roberts. As the game continues its alpha development phase, you can expect even more changes in many game elements, and Lumberyard seems to fit the bill in that regard.
“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,’” he said. “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.”
As for the latest update, fans will have new content to play with, starting with the Arena Commander module. The flight simulation program now includes a new mode called “Pirate Swarm.” In it, you and your friends must fight waves of pirates, controlled by the game’s AI. With each wave, the number of pirates (as well as the overall game difficulty) will increase, so you have to survive for as long as possible.
In other modes within Arena Commander, the developers also added a feature that will have enemies drop specific items when they're defeated. This includes fuel for your afterburner, ammunition (ballistic ammo or missiles), or a repair boost for your ship. The update also unlocked most of the game’s available ships for use, and you can now see how you rank against other players with the new leaderboard system, which assigns a military rank based on your performance.
As for the new Star Marine first-person shooter module, you can play two game modes. Elimination is a free-for-all mode where you try to kill as many players as possible to get the high score. There’s also Last Stand, where two sides (Outlaws and Marines) fight in four rounds for control of four access points. Similar to Arena Commander, Star Marine also includes leaderboards so that you can see how your gun-wielding skills match against other players.
More To Come
It’s still unclear as to when we’ll see the finished product of Star Citizen. After all, it’s still in alpha, which means that more game modes and features are coming in the future. However, you can keep track of the studio’s progress through the Production Schedule Report. If you want more information on version 2.6.0, you can also read the full patch notes on the game’s website.
|Type||Sci-fi, Shooter, Flight|
|Developer||Cloud Imperium Games|
|Publisher||Cloud Imperium Games|
|Where To Buy||Star Citizen|