Respawn Entertainment’s senior programmer Jon Shiring recently put up a post on NeoGAF, explaining what Respawn are doing on Titanfall (which has been confirmed as having no singleplayer) and the Cloud technology behind it. The post itself has a lot of information in it so I’ll give you the surmised version.
Before getting into detail about the Cloud, Shiring talks about player-hosted servers and the problems surrounding them. Shiring explains the player-hosted server as a system that will “pick a player and have them act as the server for the match.” This basically means that all of the other players in the player-hosted server electronically communicate to each other to decide what will happen in a particular match. When a player fires their weapon the player-hosted server “decides if that is allowed and then tells everyone what you hit.” Shiring then goes on to list off the downsides to player-hosted servers, such as bandwidth, connection and hosting issues.
Shiring continued to explain that, despite the downsides, player-hosted servers are necessary for financial reasons.
“So why do so many games use them? They have one really big upside – it doesn’t cost money to run the servers! Running hundreds of thousands of servers can be extremely expensive. EXTREMELY expensive. Like ‘oh my god we can’t afford that’ expensive. So your player experience gets compromised to save (large amounts of) money.”
Shiring then went on to talk about dedicated servers and the advantages and benefits they bring. Such advantages include bandwidth for the servers being “guaranteed by the hosting provider,” making matchmaking far quicker to connect to, and players’ platforms only doing one thing instead of two (playing a game instead of playing a game and trying to host a server). However dedicated severs cost a lot of money.
Once Shiring finished talking about severs he proceeded on to talk about the Cloud. He first explained that the Cloud is basically something that, when said, means that companies have “a huge amount of servers ready to run whatever you need to run.” He continued on to explain what Xbox Live Cloud is and how it is beneficial to next-gen titles, including Titanfall.
“Microsoft has a cloud service called Azure (it’s a real thing – you can go on their website right now and pay for servers and use them to run whatever you want). Microsoft realized that they could use that technology to solve our problem.So they built this powerful system to let us create all sorts of tasks that they will run for us, and it can scale up and down automatically as players come and go. We can upload new programs for them to run and they handle the deployment for us. And they’ll host our game servers for other platforms, too! Titanfall uses the Xbox Live Cloud to run dedicated servers for PC, Xbox One, and Xbox 360.
But it’s not just for dedicated servers – Microsoft thought about our problem in a bigger way. Developers aren’t going to just want dedicated servers – they’ll have all kinds of features that need a server to do some kind of work to make games better. Look at Forza 5, which studies your driving style in order to create custom AI that behaves like you do. That’s totally different from what Titanfall uses it for, and it’s really cool! So it’s not accurate to say that the Xbox Live Cloud is simply a system for running dedicated servers – it can do a lot more than that.”
Shiring then explained how the Xbox Live Cloud is different than dedicated servers.
“With the Xbox Live Cloud, we don’t have to worry about estimating how many servers we’ll need on launch day. We don’t have to find ISPs all over the globe and rent servers from each one. We don’t have to maintain the servers or copy new builds to every server. That lets us focus on things that make our game more fun. And best yet, Microsoft has datacenters all over the world, so everyone playing our game should have a consistent, low latency connection to their local datacenter.”
Shiring wrapped up the post by saying that the Xbox Live Cloud is a pretty big deal, and that it’s something Respawn is quite excited about.
“The Xbox Live Cloud lets us to do things in Titanfall that no player-hosted multiplayer game can do. 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.”
If you’d like to read Shiring’s post in full you can head on over to NeoGAF.
What do you think of Respawn Entertainment utilising the Xbox Live Cloud for ‘Titanfall’? Let us know in the comments!
Chirps to NeoGAF. Thank you for reading, and I’ll catch you next time!