Amazon launches Lumberyard beta, a free gaming engine, but there is a catch

Do what you like, as long as you play in our forest

Amazon has released a beta of Lumberyard, a free game engine and development tool – but with the condition that your game may not read or write data to competing cloud services.

Lumberyard is a gaming SDK (Software Development Kit) with visual technology based on CryEngine, a commercial package used by studios including 2K, Bethesda and Sony Santa Monica.

Lumberyard also includes character creation and animation tools called Geppetto and Mannequin, a networking subsystem called GridMate, which integrates with online console services, and a free version of Audiokinetic's sound engine called Wwise LTX. Developers get free access to Lumberyard's C++ source code.

There is also integration with Twitch, a popular site for broadcasting your gaming efforts and interacting with Twitch viewers.

The reason for Amazon's giveaway is the hope that developers will take advantage of AWS cloud services including S3 storage, EC2 cloud compute, DynamoDB NoSQL database, SQS message queuing, Lambda function execution, and Cognito identity management. The Lumberyard SDK includes C++ APIs for all these services.

Multiplayer games can use the Amazon GameLift service, which monitors player activity and handles multiplayer gaming sessions

While there is no problem integrating with gaming platforms such as Microsoft Xbox or Sony PS4, the service terms stipulate that you may not use rival cloud platforms such as Azure or Google as an alternative to services available from AWS:

Operating Restrictions. Without our prior written consent, (a) the Lumberyard Materials (including any permitted modifications and derivatives) may only be run on computer equipment owned and operated by you or your End Users, or on AWS Services, and may not be run on any Alternate Web Service and (b) your Lumberyard Project may not read data from or write data to any Alternate Web Service. “Alternate Web Service” means any non-AWS web service that is similar to or can act as a replacement for the services listed.

The Lumberyard SDK is available for download now – though it is a substantial 10GB download – and runs on Windows 7 or higher. System requirements also include 8GB RAM, a quad-core processor, at least an NVIDIA GeForce 660 Ti or Radeon HD790 graphics card, and Microsoft's Visual Studio 2013 (Community, Pro or Ultimate). ®

PS: For a giggle, check out clause 57.10 in the terms of service.

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