Titanfall developer tackles Xbox One cloud "confusion"

Respawn Entertainment engineer explains how Microsoft will make use of its cloud technology for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC.

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After seeing "a lot of confusion online," a Respawn Entertainment engineer has explained how multiplayer shooter Titanfall will make use of Microsoft's cloud technology across the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC versions of the game.

Many current multiplayer games use peer-to-peer matchmaking, explains Jon Shiring on Respawn Entertainment's website. The downsides to this method are lag, host advantage, host disconnections, bandwidth, and potential opportunities for cheating.

Shiring said many developers use player-hosted servers to save money. "Running hundreds of thousands of servers can be extremely expensive," he said. "EXTREMELY expensive. Like 'oh my god we can't afford that' expensive. So your player experience gets compromised to save (large amounts of) money."

The alternative is dedicated servers, which cost a lot more money for developers as it requires a separate computer to host the multiplayer game. "I personally talked to both Microsoft and Sony and explained that we need to find a way to have potentially hundreds-of-thousands of dedicated servers at a price point that you can't get right now," said Shiring. "Microsoft realized that player-hosted servers are actually holding back online gaming and that this is something that they could help solve, and ran full-speed with this idea."

Shiring also said how Microsoft's cloud service Azure--which it's using to power its Xbox Live cloud--will power more than just dedicated servers. "The Xbox group came back to us with a way for us to run all of these Titanfall dedicated servers and that lets us push games with more server CPU and higher bandwidth, which lets us have a bigger world, more physics, lots of AI, and potentially a lot more than that!"

The term "cloud" can be confusing in itself, Shiring added. "Cloud doesn't seem to actually mean anything anymore, or it has so many meanings that it's useless as a marketing word."

"Let me explain this simply: when companies talk about their cloud, all they are saying is that they have a huge amount of servers ready to run whatever you need them to run. That's all."

The costs associated with accessing Microsoft's cloud technology is reasonable, too, according to Shiring. "Most importantly to us, Microsoft priced it so that it's far more affordable than other hosting options--their goal here is to get more awesome games, not to nickel-and-dime developers."

"So because of this, dedicated servers are much more of a realistic option for developers who don't want to make compromises on their player experience, and it opens up a lot more things that we can do in an online game."

"Over time, I expect that we'll be using these servers to do a lot more than just dedicated servers. This is something that's going to let us drive all sorts of new ideas in online games for years to come," concluded Shiring.

Titanfall will launch for the Xbox One, Xbox 360, and PC in 2014.

Discussion

980 comments
Wattsburg0
Wattsburg0

Microsoft is pioneering the cloud for system gaming but they have to watch out because pioneers pave the way but settlers get the land.

Dudeman315
Dudeman315

Your last paragraph has been repeated proven untrue.  Publishers are chasing CoD numbers as the base line of where they think video game sales should be(anything that is not #1 in sales is considered a failure by the AAA studios).  Unless DRM started making niche titles hit record(CoD) sales number they would still be against making them.

DKant
DKant

So in this generation at least Microsoft is offering some real value for that Gold subscription. But 50$ a year seems a bit cheap to fund enough of these servers AND all the other things they'd already be spending those 50 on - free games, support, etc.

Will be interesting to see how far this infrastructure actually gets used and how will the costs scale (will Microsoft allow a 20$ game that extensively uses cloud infrastructure? At this point, somehow I doubt it)

indiansepoy
indiansepoy

100% cloud computing = gaikai(owned by sony)


indiansepoy
indiansepoy

And titanfall is also available on pc.....plus its a limited time console exclusive as far as i know

BudMcB
BudMcB

Can anyone clarify to me the differences, if any, there will be between the 360 and One versions of this game?  Supposedly the game is all next-gen.  As in the things Respawn wanted to do would not have been possible on 360 and that an unknown side company was working on a 360 version.  How does that work?  Is this right or did I misunderstand something?  I'm confused.

vatorus
vatorus

"Over time, I expect that we'll be using these servers to do a lot more than just dedicated servers. This is something that's going to let us drive all sorts of new ideas in online games for years to come,"

Not even possible on teh PoS4

capeaterer69
capeaterer69

Microsoft wouldn't base there entire next gen console on the cloud servers if they think they haven't perfected it, im sure by release everyone will be eating there words when the xbone ends up being an amazing machine (I hope)!

gkoolaid
gkoolaid

I don't know why there is so much confusion. Anyone heard of a Free to play game thats another word for cloud in this instance (and if you don't get it I mean the model you get a game actually running on the server ppl tap into it and the dev has control of the world) and I call bullshit I will be shocked to see them do anything more then dedicated servers and dlc. I just doubt the passion really exist with the Pay to play model of gaming the only time devs do something different is via DLC especially when consoles are involved

B00MR
B00MR

i'll tell you whats funny.....people thinking that this kind of power is coming at the time of the release of the xb1.  I have much faith that the system will one day be able to offload a serious portion of the back-end tasks and processing to the cloud servers, but it will take some serious time.  As the article states;

"Over time, I expect that we'll be using these servers to do a lot more than just dedicated servers. This is something that's going to let us drive all sorts of new ideas in online games for years to come,"  

This tech just isn't that far along yet.  At a programming stand point, it will take far to long to send a query to a server for computations, and receive data back to be relevant for use within any layer 3 programming(that is direct use of hardware, no language barriers)  I do agree that they are making good strides to reach a goal like this but it is still a few years off. Until then the overall majority will ride on the system's internals to handle almost everything outside of dedicated services for MP, except for maybe some lighting and AI handling.

Nikolajj
Nikolajj

Its sad to see how many people think that it is anything other than processing power that determines the level of physics and AI.

Rajiv_psn
Rajiv_psn

Buuuwwaaaaaaahhahaaahahahaaaaa

ESB
ESB

lol cmon guys you really believe all this shit about the cloud doing physics and AI processing? This is all drivel an buzzwords or have you already forgotten about Sim City and the "power of cloud"? 

victorcom
victorcom

Many people are confusing cloud's usage here. It improves the online usage, only by increasing the speed of download and upload data. It will not make any changes to AI or Physics. You should have noticed the seamless transmission from mech to ground and again ground to inside Mech, there is no lag In Titanfall trailer. reducing lag is the only usage of dedicated servers. Better visuals is only possible by better GPU specs. Better AI is only possible by the games engine and developers. PS3 and PS4 will also be using cloud. Ps4 have better GPU specs.

Vodoo
Vodoo

@DKant Microsoft has 46 million XBL Gold members all paying $50-$60. They have more than enough income to fund those things. And I would suspect they'll let any game use them. They have something like 10x's as many servers as they did previously.

Wattsburg0
Wattsburg0

@BudMcB  Better graphics and more things can be going on at once in your game on next gen among other things.Things you will notice playing it on the X1 but won’t miss if you are playing it on a 360 until you play it on the X1.

My best guess at why a 3rd party is working on the 360 game is the game engine used on the 360 will be like an older version of the game engine they are using on the X1.Kind of like the difference between Frostbite and Frostbite 3.

cirugo
cirugo

@BudMcB  

prepare for an influx of PR tech jargon bullshit.

indiansepoy
indiansepoy

@vatorus  honestly in an interview sony has confirmed that ps4 is capable of cloud computing however its upto the devs to decide if they want to use that feature and offcourse pay for it. And xbox one has to find ways to even the ground with ps4 since its a much more inferior system as per specifications.

Puck269
Puck269

@vatorus That isn't necessarily wise to come to that conclusion at the moment.  Remember, Sony does have access to cloud technology and servers also that has been largely overlooked since the announcement was so long ago and such a minor blip on the radar.  Theoretically the PS4 can do the same things that the X1 can do, while it is connected to the internet.  Remember, Sony has not ever said that some publishers would be able to make online-only games.  In fact, they have hinted at the opposite and that the experience could very well be similar.

What publishers need to do, now that the architecure is so similar between the systems is finally have a game that does true cross-platform play.  I see little reason why companies such as EA can't link the multiplayer experiences together on their own servers.  Its well past time that the console wars ended that dinosaur policy.


Puck269
Puck269

@capeaterer69 Not to hate on Microsoft, but their pushing of the Kinect would beg to differ.  I remember all the talk when the Kinect released that claimed that it was possible to do all these digit reading and recognition of the skeleton, when it can't even properly recognize my outstretched arm properly.  I have serious doubts that the Kinect 2.0 is not just another expensive eyetoy with a microphone, just being forced to be bundled with every system so they can properly track their install base.

Puck269
Puck269

@B00MR Not to mention the required bandwidth that would be needed to pull something off like that.  They talked before about the X1 requiring a 1.5MB bandwidth.. but from personal experience I have that now and 360 games still seriously lag if I start streaming a video on my computer to the point of just downright timing out.  What they are talking about is video-type size data running while also trying to upload data for what will most likely be a LOT bigger match pool (think happy wars).   I have my doubts that it can be done on a 1.5MB connection.

B00MR
B00MR

But i think its a great idea and will get one eventually, have a PC that blows the shit out of the up and coming gen

NoAngle
NoAngle

@Nikolajj yeah, stupid developers, what would they know about development...

hal2k
hal2k

@ESB This article specifically deals with how this developer would use cloud servers to enhance a multiplayer game.  Did you read it or are you just jumping to XBox articles and spouting nonsense?

If Microsoft's servers are down, you're obviously not going to be playing games on Xbox-live.

This is substantially different than a single player game like Sim City requiring an internet connection.  If you're actually interested in what the article is talking about go read up on elastic computing.

Ahmi20
Ahmi20

@ESB because EA would have servers on par with Microsoft....I think you need to look at the size of these companies in respect to each other, i don't remember hearing anything about hundreds of millions of dollars going into servers for sim city, not at all

Threesixtyci
Threesixtyci

@ESB It could be possible, but the question is will you be able to actual see it? In that how good is you latency going to be for this data to come from their end to your end... to your screen while being effected by your controller inputs. You're likely going to need a 120 dollar a month Internet Plan, before it actually becomes beneficial.

Really the only thing I think this type of thing will work with is stuff that doesn't matter. Like flags fluttering in the background and other such eye candy that really doesn't need physics to function or real time rendering.

Cloud used to mean being able to save and load save files from a server....  basically, a ftp site..

NoAngle
NoAngle

@ESB yeah agreed, who is this stupid developer who is talking about HIS JOB. of course we would know better...


WTF ever.

NoAngle
NoAngle

@victorcom this means you did not read the article, just rushed to give us your expert advise instead ;D

Nminator_236
Nminator_236

@victorcom Maybe you shouldn't talk about things that you don't understand.

Cloud can be used for many things, and not just for dedicated servers.

But nice try Sony Drone.

DKant
DKant

@Vodoo @DKant That's actually a good amount of money :) I wasn't aware of those numbers. But it is worth thinking about that Microsoft probably already spends a chunk of that money (not much though) on the base infrastructure for XBox Live and costs we can't directly account for. And now they're adding to the costs with the cloud infrastructure AS WELL as the free games. All at the same price of 60$ a year.

Let's just do a quick calculation here. I've used the Amazon cloud before, so I'll use that as a reference. Anyone who has experience on Azure could chip in with the equivalents. 

An "Extra Large" "Heavy Utilization Reserved" instance from Amazon's list sounds like a really good server for realtime multiplayer.

http://aws.amazon.com/ec2/pricing/

A 3-year commitment costs about 2200$, so roughly 700$ per year. Since Amazon is super-low-margin, let's just assume that 700$ IS the running and maintenance cost of each such server per year (forget about procurement costs, although I'm sure that's at least partially covered in these costs). It could cost a lot more for more powerful servers, say with more CPU, etc.

Since Microsoft mentioned they had 300,000 dedicated servers for XBox Cloud, that's 210 million $ per year for all those servers. Or a little more if their machines are more powerful.

That's something, but it IS minuscule compared to the cool 1.44 Billion gross they make off XBox Live, considering roughly 50% of their 48million subscribers are Gold:

http://betanews.com/2013/06/28/battle-tested-microsofts-cloud-services-by-the-numbers/ (hunt in the article for the XBox Live subscription numbers)

http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/02/microsoft-only-50-percent-of-xbox-live-users-pay-for-gold-subscription/ (old, and biased article, but I don't think the percentage would have changed much)

So for the XBox cloud to be viable, and not a loss-making way to cement their position (as usual), XBox Live needs to generate a profit of at LEAST 210 million $ for Microsoft  annually (out of the 1.44 Billion it supposedly makes anyway). Meaning a margin of at LEAST about 15% and that's NOT including the additional margin they would need to pay for the "free" games. 

So in other words, Xbox Live needs to have been turning in a nice chunk of profit (not just revenue, which is huge) for Microsoft for the cloud thing to be viable.

XboxGuy1537
XboxGuy1537

@Puck269 @capeaterer69 Requiring Kinect is a great business move. It allows everybody to give it a chance. This is the 2.0 version as well, and it should be a lot better. Sony's console is $399, but remember, it doesn't include the Playstation Eye. Sony is basically killed the Eye by not including it. The LED's on the controller and the touch screen display depend on the Eye.

victorcom
victorcom

@NoAngle Do you  know what cloud means, first you read the article well.

victorcom
victorcom

@Nminator_236 Please enlighten what are those many other things and how exactly does it work?

Threesixtyci
Threesixtyci

@Nminator_236 @victorcom  PC's have been using dedicated servers since the 90's.... and you get no added physics or greater AI when connected to one. What you do get is an elimination of processing overhead due to the host not playing the game, while hosting at the same time, which often ends up slowing everyone connected to an overburden host via. lag outs.

Nikolajj
Nikolajj

@Nminator_236 @victorcom What Nminator_236 said.

Also, having a powerful server take care of physics and AI calculations makes the posebilities of both much grater!

The lemitations of physics and AI is not the programmers, but the power that the programmers can work with.

And no, something like this is NOT something that Sony's cloud will offer you.

Enundr
Enundr

@vatorus @indiansepoy cause M$ paid them to say that? ;-P  but besides that , its hard to say WHY they would actually say that , it seems more likely that  its a financial reason if anything , both consoles are relatively similar in power , the cloud thing isnt a new concept and as its been said , sony has it as well. it more so points to them being owned by M$ (yes since its on PC it can also be said the same thing since alot of games still arent friendly on MACs or other OS).

heretic642
heretic642

@XboxGuy1537 @Puck269 @capeaterer69 You can pick up a launch bundle and the Eye and still save money vs the X1, best part is I dont have to have it constantly connected and agree to let MS spy on my whenever they feel like it.

indiansepoy
indiansepoy

@XboxGuy1537 @Puck269 @capeaterer69  honestly i don't give two shits about the eye or kinect....i preordered my ps4 simply because it has better specifications. fuck eye, kinect and all the spyware!!!!

metzenlord
metzenlord

@victorcom Fanboyism is not the problem of what you are saying, its that is not real.

Better AI comes from the programmer of the AI, yes the processor can help but ultimately is the skill of the developer that makes AI shine, and is not an easy feat, no matter how millions of servers you have, it is limited by the ability of the programmer to reproduce a human behavior.

More physics come at the GPU and CPU expense, you cannot do these calculations and send them to your console, because the console still has to run that information, it doesn´t work like you are portraing, its done in realtime in your console, else you are not running detailed physics, those are just animations that happen in the game and are pre-established, they can´t happen dinamically.

The thing is they are making people believe something that it´s not true, like the "we are only using the 30% of this console capacity" comments, NOT TRUE. From day 1 you are using the 100% and it will just go down, you get accustomed to it, and they use filter after filter to hide the fact that the console can´t display better graphics.

I will probably buy both too, but to say that graphics will be better with time is just not true, sure they´ll make it look better, but that´s a different thing altogheter.

NoAngle
NoAngle

@victorcom MS demonstrated what their "cloud" can do for games on XO, they made a tech demo about some NASA stuff and asteroids, check it out.


victorcom
victorcom

@Ahmi20 @victorcom @NoAngle they said more processing power for the server side. More physics, Better AI, better world all while playing online. Because of dedicated servers they are able to create bigger worlds, But it cannot assist your GPU and the visual are going to look similar. only the bigger world can be streamed faster. I think you people understand what I am saying. I am not a Sony or Microsoft fan boy. I will by both.

Ahmi20
Ahmi20

@victorcom @NoAngle you can't tell someone to read the article when what you're saying contradicts it...what's wrong with you

metzenlord
metzenlord

@Tha_Rnar @Nikolajj @Nminator_236 @victorcom  Nikolajj I don´t know how old you are, but you sound like a crazy preacher.

Cloud = Dedicated Servers

"Dedicated Server" as in "play on a paid server instead of getting people connected to your console to play", it has been done before, many many times with many many games.

It could change in the future, I don´t believie it will but it could.

victorcom
victorcom

@Nikolajj   Can you explain that bit how exactly a dedicated server will be able to assist your GPU? Smoke textures while you are playing online will reproduce on the users end fast, thats it. it cannot make better visuals, it can only reduce the time of online streaming. In that case pc have dedicated servers for along time.

victorcom
victorcom

@Nikolajj @Nminator_236 where did any of the these things are claimed by Microsoft. You are confusing something else with dedicated servers. Could you please explain all these things?

Nikolajj
Nikolajj

@Nminator_236@victorcom The cloud for Xbox One will also be able to assist your GPU. A lot of tasks like smoke and water textures don't suffer because of a little letency.