Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium Games is toying with the idea of dropping DirectX support from the game completely and instead solely supporting The Khronos Group’s cross-platform open graphics API Vulkan.
The API has attracted the gaze of many notable developers in the past and has seen support included in games like Dota 2, The Witness, and Doom. Usually it's the performance boost offered by the API that wins developers over, but for Star Citizen those benefits are only part of the reason for the switch.
While DirectX support would require Star Citizen players to run Windows 10 on their machine to play, the Vulkan API can be used on Windows 7, 8, and 10 while also potentially enabling the game to be played on PCs running Linux.
“Years ago we stated our intention to support [DirectX 12], but since the introduction of Vulkan which has the same feature set and performance advantages this seemed a much more logical rendering API to use,” said director of graphics engineering Ali Brown in a forum post Q&A. “As a result our current intention is to only support Vulkan and eventually drop support for [DirectX 11] as this shouldn't effect any of our backers.”
Brown said the team would consider DirectX 12 support again in the future, but only if it showed a “specific and substantial advantage over Vulkan.” He also noted that the two API are similar in many ways, quite possibly in a bid to quell the fears of more development delays from the fans who have been following the game since its 2012 Kickstarter campaign.
It’s worth also mentioning that this isn’t the only significant development shift Star Citizen has seen recently. Just a few months ago, Cloud Imperium announced that Star Citizen would abandon Crytek’s CryEngine in favor of Lumberyard, making it one of the first high-profile games to adopt the Amazon-made game engine.