The Linux Foundation (LF), Amazon, and more than 20 other gaming companies hope to make open-source game playing more of a win-win technology for both developers and players.
LF on Tuesday announced an intent to form the Open 3D Foundation to accelerate developer collaboration on 3D games and simulation technology. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization focusing on mass innovation through open source.
AWS is doubling down on open source by bringing its Lumberyard gaming engine to LF’s growing inventory of technologies for further open-source gaming adoption. The company is contributing an updated version of the Amazon Lumberyard game engine to the foundation, which will rename the product the Open 3D Engine (O3DE) under the permissive Apache 2.0 license.
The Open 3D Engine enables developers and content creators to build 3D experiences unencumbered by commercial terms. It will provide the support and infrastructure of an open-source community through forums, code repositories, and developer events.
“The new Open 3D Foundation finally gives gaming and engine developers an opportunity to influence the direction of a major AAA class 3D engine that is sustained for the long term by a worldwide open-source community,” said Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of The Linux Foundation.
“Furthermore, other industries such as automotive and healthcare can take advantage of embedding the engine and supporting the advancement of the engine to benefit all,” he added.
Something Old Becomes Something New
Amazon developed the Lumberyard engine as a freeware cross-platform game engine based on CryEngine, which it licensed from Crytek in 2015. The engine featured integration with Amazon Web Services to allow developers to build or host their games on Amazon’s servers, as well as support for live streaming via Twitch.
“We are proud to offer the 3D development community an unencumbered, AAA-capable, real-time 3D engine with one of the broadest arrays of integrated 3D authoring tools in the industry, including a new photorealistic renderer, built for both modern gaming hardware and distributed cloud rendering,” said Bill Vass, vice president of engineering at AWS.
O3DE is not just a new paint job applied to the old Lumberyard. Rather, it is a completely new approach.
“We believe that creating a first-class, community-driven, open-source option will revolutionize real-time 3D development, as Linux did for operating systems and Apache did for the web,” he added.
The most significant factor of O3DE is that the engine has been completely re-architected from the ground up as a modular system. This non-monolithic approach means that game developers can use what they want as plugins, according to LF.
Developers do not have to ‘unwind’ features that do not fit what they are trying to build. This means that the renderer, networking, physics, prefab, and underlying systems are all plug-in libraries and can be completely replaced, unlike anything else found in the market today.
This marks the first true AAA-class open-source gaming engine. A developer preview of O3DE is available on GitHub today.
Big Name Supporters
Founding members of the newly formed Open 3D Foundation include:
- Apocalypse Studios
- Genvid Technologies
- Here Technologies
- International Game Developers Association
- Kythera AI
- Open Robotics
- Red Hat
- Rochester Institute of Technology
- TLM Partners
These member companies are contributing funding and resources to the foundation as the initial governing members. The O3DE community is hosting O3DEC on Oct. 12 in Los Angeles and virtually and invites the wider open-source engine community to attend, contribute, and learn more about the future of the foundation.
Additionally, there will be an O3DE panel at the Grid and Distributed Computing (GDC) conference on July 22.
“An open-source 3D game engine gives total control and puts creators back in the driving seat. It will accelerate innovation and foster amazing content and experience creation.
“At AccelByte, we are committed to the deep integration of our tools and back-end platform tech to support content creators using O3DE. We are looking forward to working with the Linux Foundation to make this a reality,” said Nik Palmer, product manager of AccelByte Blackbox.
What 3D Engines Power
3D engines create a range of virtual experiences, including games and simulations. They provide capabilities such as 3D rendering, content authoring tools, animation, physics systems, and asset processing.
Many developers are seeking ways to build their intellectual property on top of an open-source engine where the roadmap is highly visible, openly governed, and collaborative to the community as a whole, according to LF.
More developers want to create or augment their current technological foundations with highly collaborative solutions that can be used in any development environment.
O3DE introduces a new ecosystem for developers and content creators to build, share, and distribute immersive 3D worlds. Major features of the Open 3D Engine include a new multi-threaded photorealistic renderer, an extensible 3D content editor, a data-driven character animation system, and a node-based visual scripting tool.
Developers can build games and new engine features on top of O3DE’s component-based architecture. This enables the engine’s components to be used together or independently.
Devs will have the flexibility of authoring code with C++, LUA, and python. Animators, technical artists, level designers, and other content creators can work directly with O3DE’s built-in authoring tools to create 3D experiences.
The Open 3D Foundation enables developers to collaborate on building games and simulations as well as the underlying engine. It includes a governing board focused on business and budget decisions and a steering committee dedicated to technical strategy and community management.
The Foundation is organized into special interest groups that include Build/Dev Pipeline, Simulation Engine, Content Creation, Network & Cloud, Presentation, Documentation/Demo, Release, Security, and Testing.
The O3DE community welcomes contributions from all cloud providers, gaming companies, and industries to advance the project.
Supporting Foundational Thoughts
Carbonated is a mobile-first studio whose games must perform on myriad devices and tap into cloud-enabled services to drive forever games for its players.
“We chose O3DE as foundational tech because it delivers on all of our needs while being completely free and open-source,” said Travis Boatman, CEO of Carbonated.
Successful implementation of cloud-native games requires both a fundamental shift in design paradigm and the availability of enabling technologies, according to Stephanie Chen, founder and CEO of Gamepoch.
“The O3DE initiative is an important catalyst for empowering creators in the new era of cloud-native gaming,” said Chen.
The release of a fully open-source AAA-quality game engine has the potential to reshape the games industry significantly, observed Aidan Hobson-Sayers, technical director at Hadean.
“We are particularly excited by the modularity goals of O3DE and the potential for integration with our highly scalable distributed simulation engine in pursuit of a more open ecosystem for gaming and simulation,” Hobson-Sayers said.