The state of Lumberyard at end of 2019

So, the Discourse forum bot has just thanked me for participating, and invited me to start a new topic. I hope it won’t regret it…

I’d first like to say that, personally, I’m very interested in Lumberyard and its potential. But, I must be honest and tell you that when discussing the selection of an engine with my colleagues, I’m about the only one who feels positive about it. This does sound harsh, but I do believe that being straight about the response I’ve had is important, and is intended as constructive criticism. Here are some of the comments that have been made.

“It lacks clarity about its direction and future.”

“How could we commit to an engine that seems to be in perpetual beta, with no roadmap and clear milestones?”

“There were major layoffs and problems in the Amazon games division, and this has the look of one of those corporate experiments that is on life-support and waiting for the axe to fall.”

“Hardly anyone but hobbyists seem to be using it, and their videos get a couple of dozen views. If Amazon were really committed to it, they would be making a much bigger push to launch, support, and promote it properly, given their vast resources.”

It think it’s important to note that none of the concerns are related to the quality of the engine itself, but more about confidence in the project, overall. I think it would help to have a major “state of Lumberyard” update, and a clear display of renewed commitment from Amazon. I think it is also essential that we have a clear roadmap, and a schedule for a milestone to leave beta status. Updates on the Lumberyard blog are always about what has just been released, but rarely about what to expect going forward.

There are many things I like about the engine, I’d love to explore its potential, and I hate to sound negative about it. But, the truth is that at the moment it really is a hard sell.

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Completely agree. Unfortunately Lumberyard, being the most promising of all “open” engines, won’t be able to get any traction until it starts proving commitment and aligning with the users. Keeping all future plans secret, developing almost exclusively network functionality (being that Amazon’s source of revenue) and a bit of script canvas (which not many people care about), and with the lumberyard team ignoring important questions in the forums (like those about the roadmap or Vulkan support), just conveys the feeling of an unreliable project. A year ago when I found Lumberyard I got really excited about it and started learning it, since it was much more powerful than the other open source engines. Progressively, as I saw how abandoned the users were by the developers, I realised that having some extra features out of the box won’t cover for an uncertain future so I decided to move to Godot/Xenko and Unreal (depending on the scope of the project, revenue or not, etc). I come back from time to time to check if things have changed and it makes sense to move back to Lumberyard, but nothing has changed so far. Changing the forums and adding badges won’t fix the project’s inherent problem. Will be back in a few months time I guess…

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Yes, looking back through some of the forum history, it is a bit disheartening how many important/inconvenient questions are just flat out ignored. And the idea of a public roadmap appears to be rather like Voldemort - they dare not speak its name.

When one compares the situation to, say, Tencent’s level of investment and aggressive promotion of Epic and Unreal, it does all look a bit half-hearted on the part of Amazon. It feels rather like a few people are working on it, but don’t quite know what they’re allowed to say, and a couple more have been hired to gamely attempt to promote it a little bit, on a shoestring budget.

One has to wonder whether Amazon still has much interest in Lumberyard itself, or has decided just to focus on the cloud services to serve other engines.

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I would like to see Amazon run events similar to Unity’s Unite. From what I have seen they do not see anything like this. Would be a good way to meet users face to face, provide training and could be used as a way to provide a road map to developers. Videos online are a great way to teach for most, but meeting and getting to know one and other in person would be even better.

Yes, that’s a good example of the sort of serious investment the major engines are making, to build adoption in all sorts of ways.

I do just want to be clear again that I’m not saying what I’m saying to stir the pot, or “bash” Lumberyard. Having been on the other side of the fence, I know that it’s sometimes useful to have customers willing to be a pain in the ass, and say what everyone’s thinking. It can give people on the inside an opportunity to raise the problem with the powers-that-be, without looking like a dissenter yourself.