While Amazon might be known for selling you things, its cloud services now have just as much of an impact. It already powers many of the most popular apps and websites on the planet, but it's easy to forget that the company has an impressive online gaming presence thanks to Twitch. With its latest announcement, Amazon has decided to combine all of its strengths and unveiled Lumberyard, a new free game engine designed to let developers build A+ games and integrate all of its online services at the same time.
Amazon says Lumberyard is built around making games social. The company wants developers to focus on creating unique games that can support huge communities from the beginning, rather than getting bogged down with the complexities of building a custom engine or firefighting server issues. Once signed up, studios gain access to features that let them play around with character animation, camera frameworks, animation and particle editors, audio tools, weather effects and AI elements. Lumberyard is based on Crytek's CryEngine and features Double Helix technology it acquired in 2014.
Sure, that sounds great for developers, but what does it mean for you? Because Lumberyard already has cloud elements built into its editor, developers can specify how many Amazon servers they want to use and let the company automatically scale everything to ensure you can connect to a multiplayer game during busy periods. Game makers can also include community news feeds, gifting platforms, leaderboards and in-game messaging with the click of button.
A screenshot from Alien Abode, a game created with Amazon Lumberyard.
Then there's Twitch. While Amazon has been pretty quiet on the game-streaming front, the company now looks set to give the service a much needed boost. As with Lumberyard's other online features, studios can now include Twitch features and enable mod support directly from their editor.
With Twitch ChatPlay, Amazon boasts that developers will be able to implement real-time features that let viewers vote on an in-game outcome, send gifts to their favorite streamers or increase a game's difficulty based on a player's viewer count. It could also pave the way for more "Twitch Plays.." games with its built-in support for chat channel commands. Twitch JoinIn, on the other hand, takes viewer interactivity one step further by letting fans instantly jump into a streamer's game with single click.
Lumberyard currently allows developers to build PC and console games, but Amazon says mobile and VR support is coming soon. While the editor is free, the online retailer will make its money based on the number of active daily users a game has, which may help smaller projects get off the ground quicker and give gamers a wider array of titles to play.