EA Has Over 1,000 Staff Working On Cloud Gaming

PlayStation has their streaming service, Google is trialling video games through Chrome and Ubisoft has been open about the next frontier of video games. It's all about the cloud, and we can now add EA to that list after the firm revealed it has more than 1000 staffers working on the cloud gaming project.

Ken Moss, EA's chief technology officer, has publicly revealed Project Atlas through a Medium post. It's largely an ambitious outline for the venture, and to a large extent outlines many of the advancements developers and game engines have made over the last decade.

Broadly, Project Atlas is designed to unify EA's backend with Frostbite and their existing infrastructure in a way that makes it more scalable with the use of cloud computing. It will also incorporate artificial intelligence into EA's existing systems.

But there are some notes there outlining what EA hopes Project Atlas will unlock, along with guidelines on how that will feed back into regular development. For instance, when talking about user-generated content:

We’ve been developing software that utilises the cloud to remotely process and stream blockbuster, multiplayer HD games with the lowest possible latency, and also to unlock even more possibilities for dynamic social and cross-platform play. Beyond that, we’re investing in cloud gaming to enable deeper personalisation, and to eventually create a world full of user generated content - blurring the lines between the discrete domains of game engines and game services. In fact, it is the merging of these two formerly distinct domains, along with the paradigm of cloud gaming, that is a key driver of the next-generation unified platform from EA.

Moss also described incorporating AI into commentary for sports games, allowing for more contextual remarks based off the current play rather than simple triggers:

For example, imagine that you’re playing Madden, and you’ve just thrown your second interception of the game against the same cover 2 defence that caused the first turnover. Instead of the commentator simply stating that you threw a pick, the AI enables contextual, real-time commentary to reference the fact that you’re throwing to the sideline against a cover 2 defence and should have thrown against the weak zone over the middle to your tight end, who was open on the route.

Using AI to generate ambient music and soundtracks for games was also mentioned. "Imagine a world where a huge and talented virtual orchestra is behind every game, and new and unique scores get written depending on the current scene you are playing," Moss wrote.

AI-powered asset generation was another potentially enormous benefit, saving hours if not weeks of work for individual artists. "In one example, we are using high-quality LIDAR data about real mountain ranges," Moss said, "passing that data through a deep neural network trained to create terrain-building algorithms, and then creating an algorithm which will be available within the platform’s development toolbox."

Project Atlas would also help EA develop games without the constraints of "individual systems":

Previously, any simulation or rendering of in-game action were either limited to the processing performance of the player’s console or PC, or to a single server that interacted with your system. By harnessing the power of the cloud, players can tap into a network of many servers, dedicated to computing complex tasks, working in tandem with their own devices, to deliver things like hyper-realistic destruction within new HD games, that is virtually indistinguishable from real life.

A simple example given was the battle royale genre. Games tend to have a maximum of 100 players due to the current constraints of consoles and gaming PCs, but relying on cloud computing could - in theory - overcome those technical restrictions to enable grander experiences. "Thousands of players could compete on a single map hundreds or thousands of kilometers wide, in a game session that could last for days, weeks, or years and with the progression and persistence of realistic seasons and campaigns," Moss said.

This is only some of the examples given, and much of it is still ambition at this point. But there are some real-world instances mentioned of how we might start to see this tech be deployed over the next five to ten years.

It's also just an interesting thought exercise: what kinds of games do you build when the crappy Jaguar CPU in your Xbox One or PS4 is no longer a problem? Rather than limiting yourself to how many people can be displayed on a screen at any one time, what's the maximum you would want to render? Will I finally be able to run Star Citizen at 60fps?

OK, I kid. But it's a provoking read nonetheless, so go check it out. It's also the kind of territory we'll hear publishers talk about more often, as they look towards the billions of gamers without consoles, computers and the hardware we take for granted.


Comments

    I just love how game developers are offering to install and maintain high speed, low latency internet infrastructure across the entire world and create data centres in every major city so that gamers everywhere can enjoy cloud processing and streaming in their games. Our government must have been joshing us all along with the kerfuffle over the NBN and were waiting to surprise us with a brand new fibre optic network installed by our pals at Ubisoft and EA.

      Just watch as the NBN fold over and the major ISPs will be dealing out 5G and 6G connectivity over the next 20 years. You'll no longer need to send a tech to run lines into houses and apartments, it'll all be hotspots.

        Yes sir, the 5G is so fast you can use your monthly quota in 3 minutes!

          Yeah but I think with the capability to of having your home connected to a 5G hotspot, your quota will move to 500GB-1TB-Unlimited data caps. The most people use for home is streaming content and you can get HD netflix content on a 1.5mb/s ADSL connection

            IIRC 5G and the likes have physical limitations to the point where you would need way too many towers to service all of the devices. Having everyone run on wireless is a pipe dream for now, just like having everyone on fibre NBN.

    Will I finally be able to run Star Citizen at 60fps?

    Bwahahahaha! Let's hope Chris Roberts doesn't see this article, or he will delay release by another 4 years just to have the latest cloud technology >_

    Well you can't stand in the way of progress I suppose. But when a $400 console can run RDR2 in native 4K i don't really see the need for sending computes to the cloud.

      Unless they have solved the latency issue I cant see it as being more than a feature they can put on the box that never amounts to anything.

      I still remember Microsoft saying that the cloud would make up for the launch X-Box One being far slower than the PS4 and that never ended up making any sort of difference.

        And Microsoft are in the position for that. If this had the potential to do half of what they want it to Micrsoft would be unstoppable. The crumbs from their cloud based business solutions would be enough to make the very idea of an offline console laughable.

    They forgot to mention how this would extract more revenue from their customers.

    EA is all about extracting the revenue now, and games are suffering for it.

      Microtransactions wont be for lootboxes, they'll be for more bandwidth.

        I can't wait to purchase the platinum latency package! (Best Value)

    Cloud gaming might be ok for consoles and controllers... but anything using a mouse will feel very laggy... The input is sent to the cloud, and then the video is sent back to your computer... Horrible :P

    The holy grail of subscription services for EA. They talka the shit but hardly ever deliver da goods!

    Yeah nah, hard pass!

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