September 21, 2018 // 11:38 a.m.
Financially-troubled development house Crytek has announced the release of CryEngine 5.5, the latest version of its in-house game engine, which includes considerably improved documentation, ray-traced shadow functionality, improved terrain system, and a plug-in system for adding Steamworks, PlayStation Network, and other distribution platform support - but comes with the warning that it will be the last version to support 32-bit target platforms.
In its latest release, CryEngine 5.5 - which features an open-source beta programme, allowing developers to not only provide feedback on new and planned features but to actually make modifications to the source code directly and request their modifications' inclusion - has a clear focus on attracting new users: As well as a significant overhaul to the documentation, CryEngine 5.5 comes with a guide for migration from the rival Unity engine and a 3D Flappy Bird-inspired tutorial course dubbed Flappy Boid.
Deeper changes to the engine include an improved sandbox editor, the ability to mark objects as part of the terrain mesh for improved blending, new entity system components including a new virtual reality (VR) camera, an enhanced terrain system, plug-ins for popular game distribution platforms, and improvements to the engine's sparse voxel octree global illumination (SVOGI) implementation which includes the option to use ray traced shadows in place of cached shadow maps.
One change that may not be welcomed by developers, however, is the news that CryEngine 5.5 will be the last version to support building for 32-bit target platforms. 'We will discontinue support for 32-bit Windows platforms from here on out. This means CryEngine 5.5 is the last engine version that you will be able to develop games for 32-bit systems with,' Crytek explains in its launch announcement. 'There are several reasons on our check list that lead to this decision. We have to set priorities in development and direction to support our core platforms in the best possible way. Spending resources on supporting 32-bit systems would take away this priority and slow down our development.'
Among the reasons for dropping 32-bit support provided by Crytek are the limit of a 32-bit process to access only 4GB of memory, no support for the Khronos Grouyp's Vulkan renderer, the fact that the company has already refused support for 32-bit Linux systems, and that support for 32-bit systems from middleware and tool vendors is also steadily decreasing.
The dropping of 32-bit support isn't all bad news, though: Crytek explains that game builds using CryEngine 5.6's new 64-bit-exclusive build system will be smaller and quicker to transfer. 'While we appreciate our CryEngineers wanting to develop for a broad audience of players, we see 32-bit systems are on the decline, and it makes more sense for us to focus on supporting new platforms like Android/mobile and further look into improving VR/AR development solutions,' the company continues. 'As we look forward, we will keep providing CryEngine 5.5 and previous versions which will be available to those developers who want to develop for 32-bit systems.'
More information is available on the launch announcement.