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More than four years into development Star Citizen changes game engine

Game will now run on Amazon’s Lumberyard instead of CryEngine


Star Citizen, the spiritual successor to the Wing Commander franchise and the single largest crowdfunding effort of any kind, has announced it will be using a new game engine going forward.

In a press release issued today, the team at Roberts Space Industries announced they would be moving on from Crytek’s CryEngine in favor of Amazon’s Lumberyard.

“We’ve been working with Amazon for more than a year, as we have been looking for a technology leader to partner with for the long term future of Star Citizen and Squadron 42,” said the game’s creative lead and studio head Chris Roberts. “Lumberyard provides groundbreaking technology features for online games. Because we share a common technical vision, it has been a very smooth and easy transition to Lumberyard.”

The news comes on the heels of an announcement by Crytek that it would be shuttering five of its international studios in favor of reorganizing around its core technologies. CryEngine is central to that effort, and represents a significant portion of the studio’s income.

Reached for comment at the time, Roberts said that closure would have no effect on the work on Star Citizen.

Star Citizen’s latest update, referred to as the “2.6 Alpha” in today’s press release, will run on Lumberyard. Polygon has reached out to the team at Amazon for more information on the game engine, which is currently still in beta. It is based on CryEngine, and has been used internally by Amazon studios for some time.

In a Gamasutra article, published earlier this year, Mike Frazzini, vice president of Amazon Games, said that the company had licensed the German studio's engine and got "full, unencumbered access to the technology” as the basis for future development.

Star Citizen is a sprawling project, featuring multiple modules all being worked on simultaneously by a full-time staff of more than 350 developers spread across three continents. At its core is a spacefaring single-player adventure called Squadron 42, which features performance capture by Mark Hamill, Gillian Anderson and other top-tier Hollywood talent.

In February, Roberts Space Industries began selling the Squadron 42 single-player module separately from the others.

The first episode of that single-player module was expected this year, but Roberts made the announcement in October that he and his team had decided to postpone it into 2017 at the earliest.

"We want to do it right," Roberts said at the time to a theater packed with dedicated fans. "It’s really important to do it right. ... As much as we wanted to have Squadron 42 for this year, it is not going to be this year because, for all the polish we need to do, it still needs more time."

The project also includes the parallel development of a massively multiplayer persistent universe, an arena combat spaceflight simulator and a tactical first-person shooter called Star Marine. Some of those modules are playable in a partially completed, semi-functional state. The project is funded by the sale of access to these modules, as well as premium ships which may or may not be accessible in-game for some time to come.

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