I don't even want to think about what'd happen to a base console or average PC if it tried to stream in all this data at once.
Following the B-roll footage that appeared on the official website last week, the embargoes have lifted from a global preview event with the game. A ton of fresh gameplay footage, showing the cockpit view and a lot more of the Azure and Bing Maps-powered streaming tech, is now available, and holy shit is this game something stunning.
For one: procedurally generated grass, and those clouds.
And here's some footage of the game in motion, featuring flights over forests, cities, sparse lands, through dynamic weather and more. Hell, if you look closely, you can see traffic in some of the urban areas. The whole game is co-developed with Asobo Studio and Microsoft Studios, the French studio behind A Plague Tale: Innocence, and the sim has been in development for five years already.
The main keys for the sim so far: realistic weather transitions, no loading, around 40,000 airports and more than 400 cities, with the data extracted from Bing Maps and an Azure AI layer using machine learning to build 3D models from the Bing satellite imagery.
But because all of this is streaming, the question comes down to bandwidth. Microsoft and Asobo told the press and influencers at the global preview that the game would ship with an adaptive bandwidth requirements, with three different sets of data: fully cached, live and offline scenery, so you're able to play the game without internet if you need be. The amount of cache used can be customised as well.
Aaron Greenberg, Xbox's GM of marketing, tweeted early Tuesday morning that "typical speeds" (presumably for United States connections, which aren't always as good as those in Australia) were providing "good experiences" internally so far:
Having good experiences with typical speeds so far by teams playing internally, however the sim has an adaptive bandwidth adjustment system including cache & pre-loading that will deliver the most optimal experience for a given players system as well as an offline mode.
— Aaron Greenberg (@aarongreenberg) September 30, 2019
The first public technical alpha for Flight Simulator, which won't fully launch until 2020, is due to go live around October 24 according to the official website. You can sign up to join the Insider preview here, if roaming around the skies sounds like your thing. A full development roadmap for the rest of October can also be viewed below.
It makes you wonder - if this is the start of things that are possible with the combination of local hardware and cloud streaming tech, what happens when that technology gets applied to shooters? MMOs? Battle royales? Open-world RPGs? Or next-gen Euro Truck Simulator?