The Xbox One Sounds Like It’s Going To Improve Multiplayer Gaming
Microsoft has been throwing around the Cloud word a lot lately, and it seems like people are either completely against the idea (for some bizarre reason) or don’t really understand what the cloud can do for them. If you’re on of those people, then new information from the Xbox One creators is probably going to (confusingly) enrage or stump you.
So this is for those who understand the power of the cloud, dedicated servers and how they can be used to improve multiplayer experiences across the board.
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The big news came yesterday, when Microsoft announced that it is making all Cloud Processing, Storage and Dedicated server features free to any developer for the Xbox One. And you thought that was already a thing.
Microsoft director of Xbox product planning Albert Penello made the announcement:
“One of the benefits of publishing games on Xbox One,” ALL game developers get Dedicated Servers, Cloud Processing, and ‘storage’ (for save games) free.”
And that’s all fine and dandy for Xbox One developers, who are most probably screaming songs of joy over the hilltops, but that’s not what you’re here for right? You want to know how something like this betters your living room (or dark corner) experience, and how multiplayer will ultimately benefit from every developer having these tools.
Firstly all games that have a multiplayer component, or focus solely on online content, will now be able to benefit from these cloud and dedicated server features, meaning you never have to worry about a multiplayer service being player hosted. That’s practically the past now, since developers have the choice to do with the better option for no loss. And if they choose to dabble in cloud services, then they’ll be free to, considering they’re not risking a large portion of capital to features they have never tried to implement.
It’s hard to describe some of the benefits this announcement has purely because you aren’t able to tangibly measure them here and now, but listening to Respawn talk about how the Cloud and dedicated servers have help Titanfall really puts things in a bit more perspective.
“That’s a 7 on 7 game but it felt huge because there’s [extra] AI [soldiers] in there that brings the world to life,” Respawn boss Vince Zampella says, referring to the Titanfall bout I’d just seen.
The AI for the grunts is designed to run off of Microsoft’s cloud servers, a service that the Xbox One maker is offering to all game creators on the new console. …
With Zampella there, I sense I can get some answers on whether this cloud stuff is really just hype. I mention I’d seen plenty of games that don’t use the cloud rendering tons of characters on screen, though maybe not in multiplayer. “It’s better to do it on the cloud,” Zampella said. “It’s more secure. It’s a better experience. It also lets us focus on the experience we’re giving to you, the rendering experience, all that power. The more we can offload the better, because then we can do more locally on your box.” In other words, if they calculate the grunt AI remotely, the Xbox One can spend more processing on graphics.
It’s not just that.
The cloud servers, Zampalla said, are “dedicated servers so there’s no host advantage. The game spins up fast.” No host system has to be bogged down with that grunt AI. “When that’s handled on the cloud, now it’s the same experience, it’s not lagging for you. If I’m the host, and I’m calculating AI on my box or if we’re both calculating AI on our boxes and we have different things…” That wouldn’t be good. The cloud helps. To Titanfall’s busy multiplayer design, perhaps it’s essential.
At first, it was assumed that services like these would only be utilised by heavy hitters in the industry due to the cost, but with Microsoft opening the doors to the masses could see nearly every Xbox One game with some form of a cloud experience. Hell, what does this mean for the future of indie development as well? As the industry slowly edges closer to an all online world, Microsoft are effectively offering a head start to those who understand this, allowing them to test their services in a playground that doesn’t yet require them.
And in essence, that’s the beauty of having the Xbox One not always online. It gives players the choice between cloud enhanced and offline experience, and will hopefully go to show that there is some benefits to be gained with going all online eventually.
You might have the choice of staying offline forever, but Microsoft is making it very hard to ignore the call to be online most of the time.