Microsoft's talked about how its next-gen cloud infrastructure is going to change things for video games. Today, we could finally see what that looks like.
Back when Microsoft was revving up to launch the Xbox One last year, cloud computing access was one of the features they trumpeted as a big differentiator for their console. The basic idea was that game developers would be able to offload processing chores for things like AI behaviour to remote servers, letting the local hardware focus on different tasks like rendering an environment. Representatives from Microsoft showed it to the press at E3 last year and we described what it looked like . But now you can finally get a look at this important feature in action.
First, the caveats: what you're looking at isn't Xbox One footage. It's a custom demo from Microsoft's yearly Build developer conference that's running on PC hardware. That means that bandwidth connectivity and other computing factors are likely to be optimised in ways that aren't all that common in everyday scenarios. And the level shown isn't anywhere near a final retail version of a game; it's probably a prototype made to do this and only this.
That said, it illustrates the coolness of cloud computing as it'd apply to gaming development. What you'll see is a skyscraper being shot up in real time on two machines, one connected to Microsoft's Azure cloud backend and the other all by its lonesome. The unconnected machine gets bogged down with an all-too-familiar framerate drop as more stuff starts happening onscreen. But the framerate on the connected machine stays more or less consistent as the destruction increases.
You can watch this presentation in the archived video stream on the Build website. The demo starts at 3:22:01 and wraps up at 3:24:19. This cloud assistance is already at work in Titanfall. It will be interesting to watch other developers and games put it to use too.
[Thanks Arekks Gaming!]