Xbox Wire

From Titans to Drivatars: A Closer Look at Xbox Live Compute

By John Bruno, Lead Program Manager, Xbox Live
Hello, again! Several months ago, we introduced Xbox Live Compute and began sharing details on how cloud computing improves games for both developers and gamers. In that post, we discussed what the Xbox Live cloud is all about, how Xbox One benefits greatly from the power of the Xbox Live cloud, and how those benefits translate directly to game creators and, ultimately, to those who play the games. With Xbox One launched and a few months of cloud computing in practice behind us, we wanted to share some great moments in cloud gaming.

Two examples of how Xbox Live Compute is helping to improve gameplay are found in “Forza Motorsport 5,” from Turn 10 Studios and “Titanfall” from Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts. Take a look at the video above about how Xbox Live Compute is used for “Titanfall.”

While the implementations of cloud computing in each game differ greatly, the benefits gamers are realizing are consistent. Those include:

  • Better overall connectivity – With the dedicated server-based multiplayer in each of these games, players are finding consistently reliable datacenter connections to our eight regional datacenters. In addition to eliminating NAT traversal issues, most players are finding reliable and fairly low latency ping times to one or more datacenters nearby. The consistency in connection contributes greatly to a smooth, uninterrupted gameplay experience. Finally, the reliability of the dedicated server provides far less opportunity for host connection drop.

  • Improved multiplayer experiences – In addition to having better, more reliable connections to the datacenter, players are also experiencing improved multiplayer experiences. Since each of these games relies on a dedicated server to be the game host, the surface area for cheating through host advantage has largely been eliminated. Gameplay is fairer by default, thus protecting the player and the game creator. Gone are the days of host advantage!

  • Improved and evolving gameplay experiences – One of the biggest advantages to having additional server horsepower is being able to rely on that power to make more “stuff” happen in the game. Additionally, when more “stuff” is being computed by the server, it affords the developer the ability to continuously patch and tune the game without the player even noticing. The addition of cloud-driven Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Non-player Characters (NPC) have led to higher fidelity game worlds, and generally more exciting online game experiences. We see this with both “Forza Motorsport 5” and “Titanfall.” Turn 10 cloud-powers the single and multiplayer experience using their Drivatar system of AI-powered racers that drive like your friends. Graeme Boyd, aka Acey Bongos, and Dan Greenawalt, the creative director at Turn 10 talk more about this in a video here. Respawn Entertainment delivers dozens of “grunts” and AI-powered Titans directly from the server, making the games bigger and more fun for players.

    While these implementations are very different – the experiences players get are amazing! Coupled with the ability to tune the game frequently and without player impact, the experiences are always evolving and improving. Players always experience the most up-to-date game server code.

As I’ve mentioned before, with Xbox Live Compute, our goal is to continue to inspire new innovations in game development and experiences on Xbox One. As we continue to work with game creators to build and launch next generation games on the cloud computing platform, we expect to tap into new capabilities, identify new scenarios and foster new ways of engaging the gaming community through the experiences that are built on the platform. We continue to be inspired by the creativity of our development community, and are excited for Xbox players that get to experience their great work. 
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