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17. May 2017

 

Amazon have just released a comprehensive new starter game for their Lumberyard game engine, a fork of the AAA CryEngine.  This new example is a complete 3rd person view title with high quality production values authored by Climax Studios, the developer behind Silent Hills: Shattered Memories and the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series of games.   This new demo game is critical, as several underlying systems in Lumberyard have changed, making this the primary example of how modern Lumberyard development is done.  Details of the release from the Lumberyard blog:

We first gave you a glimpse of Starter Game at GDC 2017, and now we’re happy to give you the entire project for free, including full source and assets. Whether it serves as inspiration for a game of your own, or as a way of learning Lumberyard’s features, Starter Game is another tool for helping you reach your game dev goals.

Watch this video on how to download and install Starter Game.

In many ways, Starter Game started with you. We heard your requests for more sample content—please keep that great feedback coming by the way!—and then looked for ways to incorporate features from 1.9. So we started working with Climax Studios, known for their great work onLY Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and the Assassin’s Creed Chronicles series. With Climax’s decades of experience, and your great suggestions, Starter Game was born.

One feature that Starter Game leverages in particular is our new Component Entity system, which was recently updated in 1.9. This system provides a modular and intuitive way of constructing game elements, helping you create complex entities faster and with minimal effort. Starter Game uses the Component Entity system wherever possible, including Player Control, AI, UI and Particles. It also shows how this new system can be used in conjunction with legacy tools and APIs (e.g. terrain brush, FlowGraph, etc.), freeing you to adopt new features as you see fit.

In addition to components, another request we got from developers was to include an example of bipedal locomotion, since humanoids are the most common form of player characters. Enter Jack: the fully modifiable, two-legged robot of Starter Game, complete with a trailing third-person camera. You can learn from Jack’s setup, tweak parameters to change the feel, and bring it into your game to accelerate your prototyping. Jack also utilizes AimIK, an inverse kinematics system to point the held-weapon appropriately at targets, without creating bespoke animations. Thanks to AimIK’s procedural generation, you won’t need to create individual animations for every single angle or posture, saving you time and effort.

 

With all of the recent changes in Lumberyard, including the launch of this new sample game, I have decided to take another hands on look at the Lumberyard game engine, available here and embedded below.

GameDev News

25. August 2016

 

Crytek have just released CryEngine 5.2, their now open source AAA 3D game engine.  CryEngine 5.2 brings a number of new features, one that will be huge for Blender users, the FBX importer now has full material and animation support making CryEngine useable without using their exporter plugins.CryEngine

 

 

Major features of this release are:

  • FBX importer now supports animation and materials (video link)
  • VCloth 2.0 cloth simulator (video link)
  • Constraints on live characters
  • New C++ starter template (fps, tps, sidescroller, top down, rolling ball physics)
  • Documentation improvements
  • Window shell extensions for launching projets
  • CryPlugin system beta
  • Sandbox UI notification center
  • Viewpont gizmo in sandbox
  • Particle Editor new UI
  • Simplified project creation and Management
  • Extended analytical occluders support
  • Detailed screen space shadows (DSSS) officially supported

 

You can read the full release notes here.

GameDev News

10. August 2016

 

Amazon just released Lumberyard 1.4 Beta.  Lumberyard is Amazon’s fork of the CryEngine game engine, which is free to use, as long as you use Amazon’s cloud services (or host your own) for your game server.  I did a Hands On With Lumberyard video shortly after it was released if you want more details on Lumberyard.

 

The Lumberyard 1.4 Beta release focuses on making multiplayer games more cost effective and to improve team workflow when developing with the engine.decal_screenshot_01  All told there were over 230 improvements or fixes in this release, including:

 

  • News messages now shown in Lumberyard editor
  • New gem samples for environment special effects (rain, clouds, etc )
  • New Decal sample
  • New API enabling mannequin controller using Lua script
  • Automatically live reload skin files in Editor
  • Define Cloud Canvas resource manager resource groups using gems
  • New sample level illustration motion controller setup/scripting for VR
  • New preview mode in editor for previewing canvas at different resolutions
  • UI Canvas now support keyboard and gamepad operation
  • GridMate now supports encrypted connections
  • Amazon GameLift now tracks health of each server process.
  • Various Improvements
  • Various Fixes

 

More details are available in the release notes as well as on the Amazon GameDev blog .

GameDev News

29. June 2016

 

Lumberyard is Amazon’s new game engine based on a forked version of CryEngine.  I did a short hands-on video of Lumberyard shortly after it was released if you want more information.  Earlier this month Amazon announced the upcoming release of Lumberyard 1.3, announcing that it would have VR support among other features.  Well that release date is now here, at least in Beta form.  This release brings with it over 130 features, improvements and fixes including some serious graphicalvolumetric_fog enhancements.  The two major features of this release are HDR support and the aforementioned VR support (currently Oculus Rift and HTC Vive).  There were several other graphical updates to the engine, including:

  • Volumetric Fog: We increased the temporal stability of volumetric fog, reduced the presence of flickering artifacts, and improved fog’s overall performance.
  • Motion Blur: To give a higher degree of control over the motion blur effect, we added a weighting algorithm to improve the visual quality of silhouettes and added a shutter speed control like those you find in a real-world camera.
  • Height Mapped Ambient Occlusion: This new feature generates ambient occlusion per pixel from a terrain height map, which brings out subtle details and depth cues in terrain that would have been previously unseen.
  • Depth of Field: We implemented a new depth of field technique that reduces edge-bleeding artifacts and utilizes fewer GPU resources.
  • Emittance: We have replaced glow with a physical-based model of emittance. This allows you to model glowing objects as proper citizens of a physically accurate world of lighting and materials. We have changed lighting calculations to properly account for emittance, and we provided a way to automatically convert older content to use the new emittance property.

On the mobile graphics side, we have improved iOS rendering performance by an average of 15%, which is a significant jump considering our mobile renderer is already leveraging Metal and GMEM to maximize performance. We also added adaptive and scalable texture compression (ATSC), which is useful for managing bandwidth, memory footprint, and power, all of which are important for low-power, mobile devices.

Finally, if you are a graphics programmer like me, then you are just as concerned about profiling and performance as pretty pixels. So one last thing I want to highlight is the integrated graphics profiler. You can now display all sorts of mission-critical performance stats in real-time, including detailed CPU and GPU timings per frame, per pipeline stage, per sub-system. You will also find many useful graphics counters like to draw call counts, shader counts, triangle, and vertices count. These run-time stats nicely complement capture-based analysis tools like RenderDoc and Lumberyard’s Driller logging system.

You can read the announcement blog here while the more detailed release notes are available here.

GameDev News

6. June 2016

 

In a recent blog post the Amazon developer team discussed the upcoming support for VR devices in Lumberyard 1.3.  This support comes in two forms, supporting actual VR devices in your game and using VR to develop your game.  Both are being provided in the form of “Gems”, which is basically Amazon’s way of saying plugin.  To add support for a new VR device, you create a gem that implements the IHMDDevice interface, acting as a bridge between Lumberyard and the device’s SDK.

Utilizing Gems, small chunks of code can be created that interact with the engine but don’t require editing the engine code itself. This means that developers can add support for any VR device without having to delve into the engine source. As long as a new VR device conforms to the public interfaces that Lumberyard has defined, the engine will automatically use it. Developers can create their own integrations for additional devices without having to wait for an official Lumberyard update, as they would in other engines. With so many new VR devices coming out soon, we wanted to provide a way for customers to make their own support decisions. Additionally, developers can easily override existing device support to add any experimental features that may be important for their gameplay. Below is a high-level diagram of the way this works inside the engine.

The HMDManager contains an IHMDDevice, which is then implemented by a device-specific Gem. The manager takes care of device initialization and device-abstracted head-mounted display (HMDs) interaction with the rest of the system. On the rendering side, Lumberyard’s stereo renderer makes use of the D3DHMDRender object, which takes care of creating graphics-API-specific render targets, social screen rendering, and frame submission to the VR device. To add support for any new VR devices, you simply wrap the vendor-specific SDK in a Gem as defined by IHMDDevice. That’s it! There’s no need to edit Lumberyard’s underlying HMD code, which is represented by the Lumberyard Engine section of the diagram.

On engine startup, the selected HMDs are scanned for connectivity and selected for use. If you want to support both the Rift and the Vive, for example, simply go into the Project Configurator, enable both Gems, and the engine will pick which one to use at runtime based on which device is plugged in.

 

They also go on to describe the new VR developer functionality that will be part of Lumberyard 1.3:

Developing in VR

Game developers need to be able to see what they’re doing in the editor at all times. Without a way to see VR in the editor, developers would have to export a level, load it into the launcher, enable VR, and take a look around. This is obviously inefficient. The Lumberyard Beta 1.3 editor will have full VR Preview support built in. VR Preview utilizes the same Gems system as the engine runtime, and it works in a similar fashion. We’ve added the “VR Preview” button to the editor, which you can click to see in VR right away. This allows developers to make VR-specific adjustments to their level designs right in the editor, which reduces iteration time. Flow Graph nodes are an important part of developing in Lumberyard, but they can only be debugged in the editor. With VR Preview, users can debug their VR Flow Graph nodes and see what they’re doing.

The cool part of their implementation is there is no performance penalty for enabling VR if VR functionality isn’t used, making this functionality “free” from a processing perspective.

 

So, what devices are supported?  Well until 1.3 ships the answer is unknown.  They address it with this comment:

Rift and HTC Vive support were top requests (our demo was presented on the Rift), but many developers were just as interested in other devices, like the Samsung GearVR, PSVR, and OSVR.

But never actually state what gems will ship with the 1.3 release, meaning it might be left to developers to implement the various VR headset SDKs. 

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