How Xbox Live's Cloud Computing Could Make Games That Last Forever

Illustration for article titled How Xbox Lives Cloud Computing Could Make Games That Last Forever

At Microsoft's huge Xbox reveal last spring, the company made a big hubub about the 300,000 cloud servers it would be adding to help speed up GPU and CPU heavy tasks. But in an interview with Gizmodo, Xbox Live Lead Programmer John Bruno detailed how it could change the way we think about gaming in the future.

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Powerful cloud computing lets developers offload tasks like graphics processing and AI computation from Xbox One's local resources. "There is s thrust to turn more things server-side," Says Bruno. "Looking for ways to expand the power of the box." As we've noted before, this lets game developers build games bigger than what the hardware can support on its own. But it could be so much more.

Dedicated servers for all

In large measure, Xbox Live is about multiplayer gaming, and in effort to make its offering competitive, Microsoft is offering the benefits of its scalable dedicated server resources to all developers for free. This sounds like a lot of techno-babble, but it's a big deal. "We want Xbox Live to be the best place to play multiplayer games," says Bruno.

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How does the Xbox Live cloud help? As the developer of Tinfall explained back in June, scalable, dedicated server resources vastly improve gaming experiences. They make multiplayer more reliable by preventing disconnects, and they also make sessions fair by eliminating any advantages a player hosting a game might have.

Big game studios can pay for their own server resources that are allocated regionally depending on who is logging on to play games where. Microsoft's offer of free cloud computing allows all developers to take advantage of big-ticket resources, even if they're not that big.

Games that evolve

The lofty potential of Xbox Live's Cloud Computing is that it allows developers to evolve games and experiences over time. In a commonly cited example, Forza studies your driving style over time to evolve its AI.

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But according to Bruno, this is just the tip of the iceberg. "It could change the way developers think about their franchises and their intellectual property." What if a game purchase was a constantly evolving experience that grew over time—more like what we're used to from software these days. We're talking about more than just patches and stability improvements. Bruno declined to comment on the future of business models, but he did note that it would be interesting to see developers grow their games over time. Imagine a world without expansion packs.

Where does that leave us?

Bruno is obviously touting all of the benefits of Xbox Live's cloud in an effort to lure in both developers and customers. It remains to be seen how many people will actually take advantage of the possibilities on Xbox One. What' pretty certain, is that there's an opportunity, and that's always a good thing.

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DISCUSSION

So this evolving game thing seems like BS for us to buy into this cloud computing for gaming thing. Sure it might help computationally, but certainly not to evolve the game, or as the author mentioned, addon packs would be a thing of the past. You expect fifa to be stuck at 2k and keep evolving over the next x number of years? How about a world without halo or geors of war expansion maps? Not gonna happen. Theres money to be made. Even if somehow ms is promoting it this way, no way game developers will adopt this model.

Secondly, can someone explain how xbox live games are hosted? I always thought part of what im paying for with live is microsofts servers that host games. Doesnt that make sense? Back in the unrela tournament days i remember a host had to host the game. No central servers n all. But i thought xbox live changed that?? Am i wrong? All those disconnects and the first two paragraphs of the article make me believe im wrong.