Amazon Lumberyard’s 1.3 Update is All About VR

by Jamie Feltham • June 6th, 2016

Back in February, we reported on the launch of Amazon Lumberyard, a new development engine that promised support for VR later down the line. Now it looks like that support will soon be here.

A new blog post from Amazon’s graphics and VR engineer, Cody White, has confirmed that integration for both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive HMDs will be arriving as part of Lumberyard’s 1.3 update, which should see a Beta launch “in a few weeks”. Support will arrive in the form of dedicated Rift and Vive ‘Gems’, which is the engine’s name for asset and feature packages that are more commonly referred to as plug-ins. Developers will also be able to use these Gems as templates to support other VR devices, so don’t rule out PlayStation VR integration later on.

White goes in-depth on VR support in his blog post, confirming that it will include a ‘VR Preview’ option to allow developers to quickly double check their work within VR itself. What Lumberyard doesn’t yet have is an in-VR editor which others are offering. That said, the company is “just getting started” with what it wants to do with VR; the current pipeline includes reducing iteration times, improving rendering performance and enabling new features, so hopefully we’ll see some major additions in the near future.

So, why should you pay attention to Lumberyard over other VR compatible toolsets like Unreal Engine 4 and Unity? Because everything included in the package is completely free; Amazon isn’t asking for any subscription fees or anything like that. Instead, developers can pay to utilize other features from Amazon Web Services, which the engine is pretty much designed to promote. It’s licensed from Crytek’s own CRYENGINE, which is placing a big focus on VR support going forward.

Essentially, it gives developers another weapon in the growing arsenal of VR development. Whether Amazon will be able to compete with more established engines remains to be seen.

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