We’ve heard all about the power of The Cloud from Microsoft whenever the company talks up its impending next-generation console, the Xbox One – but we’ve heard very little about what that bit of digital meteorology might actually do for games. TitanFall from Respawn uses those services in the sky. In a post on the company’s site, engineer Jon Shiring explained how it all works.
In the past, console games have largely relied on player-hosted servers, but the cloud allows for the use of a networked services of machines to mitigate lag, host disconnects and other limitations.
So..uhh..”The Cloud” is just Dedicated servers? Well, yes – but it’s also more than that. It allows for AI, physics and other such tasks to be offloaded from the console, and run on said servers.
"I personally talked to both Microsoft and Sony and explained that we need to find a way to have potentially hundreds of thousands of dedicated servers at a price point that you can’t get right now," he wrote. "Microsoft realized that player-hosted servers are actually holding back online gaming and that this is something that they could help solve, and ran full-speed with this idea.
"The Xbox group came back to us with a way for us to run all of these Titanfall dedicated servers and that lets us push games with more server CPU and higher bandwidth, which lets us have a bigger world, more physics, lots of AI, and potentially a lot more than that!"
Sounds neat – but is it really restricted to the Xbox One? And just what the hell does “The cloud” really mean, anyway?
"Let me explain this simply: when companies talk about their cloud, all they are saying is that they have a huge amount of servers ready to run whatever you need them to run. That’s all."
Shiring says that Microsoft "built this powerful system" in Xbox Live cloud that allows developers to offload processing to the cloud, scale servers depending on the number of players and use it to host Titanfall on Xbox 360, Xbox One and Windows PC. But mostly, right now, they’re really just being used as dedicated servers.
"The Xbox Live cloud lets us to do things in Titanfall that no player-hosted multiplayer game can do," he says. "That has allowed us to push the boundaries in online multiplayer and that’s awesome. We want to try new ideas and let the player do things they’ve never been able to do before! Over time, I expect that we’ll be using these servers to do a lot more than just dedicated servers. This is something that’s going to let us drive all sorts of new ideas in online games for years to come."
Last Updated: June 25, 2013