Amazon is updating its Lumberyard tools for game developers. The engine is adding dozens of new features to improve animations, nonphotorealistic visuals, and more.

Lumberyard is Amazon’s biggest gaming project. The company has some internal development studios, but it is putting a lot of investment in building making a tool for others to use. The company is, of course, leveraging its gigantic Amazon Web Services cloud platform for Lumberyard, and its visual backbone is the CryEngine SDK that developer Crytek built for games like Crysis. The idea is to provide a powerful and scalable tool for indie and blockbuster developers that is familiar but also is built for teams to work together in a connected, online environment.

But Amazon has that cloud-based development infrastructure up and running, and now it’s time for incremental improvements. That’s what today’s update is all about.

“Lumberyard Beta 1.11 adds over 400 new features, improvements, and fixes,” reads Amazon’s blog post about the changes. “Since launch, we’ve overhauled over 50% of the original code base, and we’re still just getting started.”

Here’s an overview of everything that has changed in Lumberyard 1.1, according to Amazon:

  • New Animation Editor for Lumberyard and Animation Sample Levels
  • Use Script Canvas to Script Game Logic and Behaviors
  • New High Quality Shadow Component
  • New Graphics Scripting Gem
  • Use Toon Shading to Create Non-Photorealistic Rendering Effects
  • New Cloud Canvas Features
  • Starter Game is the Default Project in Lumberyard Editor
  • Create Game Projects from a Default Template or Empty Template
  • Use the Simple Level to Learn How to Manipulate Objects
  • Use the Microphone Gem to Capture Audio
  • Easily Transition from CryEntity to the Lumberyard Component Entity System
  • New Features and Improvements for the Component Entity System
  • Easily Import Your Assets into Lumberyard
  • Use the Viewport Camera Selector to Position Your Camera
  • Support for Linear Skinning Added to Geppetto
  • New UI Editor Features
  • New Amazon GameLift Features
  • SDK Compatibility

The big highlight is probably the new animation editor. Developers were still using CryAnimation, and the new EMotion FX animator should make it easier for studios to create more realistic looking character movements.

But I’m also interested in the toon-shader options. CryEngine was always known for its realistic visuals, so it’s interesting to see Amazon add on its own work to make the option viable for creators who want a more stylized look in their games.

Lumberyard is still in its early days compared to competitors like Unity and Unreal, which are among the most-used engines in the industry. But continual updates is the only way to attract more users, and Amazon wants everyone to see how much work it is putting into offering a viable alternative.

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