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http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/10/titanfall-cloud-explained/?ncid=rss_truncated

 

 

While you were busy running along walls and throwing missiles back at your opponents during the Titanfall beta, countless data centers across the world were making sure that each AI-controlled Titan bodyguard had your back. Much of the frenetic action in Respawn Entertainment's debut game rests on one thing: Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure.

Up until last November, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's baby was mostly used for business applications, like virtualization and acting as an enterprise-level email host. With the Xbox One, though, the company opened up its global server farms to game developers, giving them access to more computing power than could reasonably be stuffed into a $500 game console. Since the Xbox One's debut, Microsoft has been crowing about how Azure would let designers create gaming experiences players have never seen before. Now it's time for the product to speak for itself.

With Tuesday's release of the online-multiplayer-only Titanfall, Redmond's gamble takes center stage. Players are no doubt concerned about the game's stability at launch. With one look at the problems that plagued Diablo III, SimCity and Battlefield 4, consumer skepticism is easy to understand. The folks behind Titanfall believe they've got a not-so-secret weapon to circumvent the foibles those games endured, or are still enduring, in Microsoft's server infrastructure. It's been in place and running pretty successfully since 2011.

Respawn engineer Jon Shiring says that since the beta ended, some skeptical devs have already changed their minds about the feasibility of using Azure for the parts of a game traditionally handled by a user's console or PC. In Titanfall's case, that largely includes artificial-intelligence-powered teammates.

 

 

"Back when we started talking to Microsoft about it, everyone thought it was kind of crazy and a lot of other publishers were terrified of even doing it," Shiring says. "I've heard that since our beta ended, they've been pounding down the doors at Microsoft because they're realizing that it really is a real thing right now."

 

 

Because Titanfall's advanced AI is handled by the Azure servers, your Xbox's or PC's innards can be used to achieve more detailed graphics and the game's silky-smooth frame rate. The Titan bodyguards, dropships and legions of AI-controlled combatants are essentially free from a processing-power standpoint. Without Redmond's cloud, it's highly likely that Titanfall's six-versus-six player limit would be painfully apparent. Since these features live on remote servers, though, making sure they seamlessly appear in-game is paramount.

 

 

Azure's regional data centers address this by providing a clean, semi-local connection point between your console and the server where it connects. Naturally, the lower your ping is, the better; most PC gamers try to select servers that have a ping of 100ms or less. Shiring tells us that when Respawn's offices in Los Angeles connect to the Azure data center in San Francisco, the average ping is 19ms to 20ms. "We're talking barely more than one rendering frame to get a message to the server and back again, which is outstanding," he says.

 

I have quoted some interesting excerpts, article is a good, long read.

 

Emphasis mine.

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Because Titanfall's advanced AI is handled by the Azure servers, your Xbox's or PC's innards can be used to achieve more detailed graphics and the game's silky-smooth frame rate.

 

It's a joke right?

 

For one the AI of the grunts in the beta was really bad. So bad it surely did not require enough pocessing power to be worth offloading it to a server. For two the gfx of the beta was nothing to write home about.

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It's a joke right?

 

For one the AI of the grunts in the beta was really bad. So bad it surely did not require enough pocessing power to be worth offloading it to a server. For two the gfx of the beta was nothing to write home about.

 

Maybe it will improve over time.

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http://www.engadget.com/2014/03/10/titanfall-cloud-explained/?ncid=rss_truncated

 

 

 

 

 

I have quoted some interesting excerpts, article is a good, long read.

 

Emphasis mine.

Azure, and all that it includes, is proving itself to be a massive disruptor by bringing stability, bidirectional scalability, and commodity pricing, to every area where it has been deployed so far.

 

The really scary part is the eventual deployment to the desktop even if only for use by garage developers.

 

No - I'm not kidding.

 

First off, some garage developers are, in fact, using Azure right now - remember, it's a plug-in to Windows Server 2012R2, and as low as Standard Edition - and if you have a DreamSpark or Website Spark Admin subscription - both of which are free - you can try out Windows Server, and Azure, right now, at a cost of nothing.

 

The code differences between Windows 8.1 and Server 2012R2 are far less than between any desktop and server version of Windows based on the same code (such as between the orignal Server 2012 and Windows 7).

 

Could Microsoft create a "Developer Essentials" add-in (for Visual Studio Professional and above, for example) to bring Azure power to play within the IDE?  If you have seen "Server Essentials" in Windows Server 2012R2, you tell me.

 

Things are going to get messier.

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It's all very well offloading processing to the cloud but if there is no noticeable difference then all it does is make the game sensitive to latency and server outages. And given that the game isn't even 1080p it's obviously not doing that much to reduce CPU/GPU usage.

 

Microsoft is going to have to do a lot more than this to convince consumers of the benefits.

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Excuse my ignorance, but what happens when someone's internet gets lag spikes? I think we've all experienced it at some point, either because other people are using it at the same time, or it's a busy time of day and there's a lot of contention. So does the AI just cease to function? It seems to me like its cloud design has more to do with preventing piracy than it does with needing massive amounts of processing power. I could be wrong, and Repawn might have invented a Skynet like AI, but I doubt it.

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Excuse my ignorance, but what happens when someone's internet gets lag spikes? I think we've all experienced it at some point, either because other people are using it at the same time, or it's a busy time of day and there's a lot of contention. So does the AI just cease to function? It seems to me like its cloud design has more to do with preventing piracy than it does with needing massive amounts of processing power. I could be wrong, and Repawn might have invented a Skynet like AI, but I doubt it.

There's meant to be a fallback, meaning it will simply be processed locally in a more basic manner. How that works in practice remains to be seen.

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Excuse my ignorance, but what happens when someone's internet gets lag spikes? I think we've all experienced it at some point, either because other people are using it at the same time, or it's a busy time of day and there's a lot of contention. So does the AI just cease to function? It seems to me like its cloud design has more to do with preventing piracy than it does with needing massive amounts of processing power. I could be wrong, and Repawn might have invented a Skynet like AI, but I doubt it.

You mean what happens to a multiplayer/online only game when internet stops working or slows down? Take a guess.

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Excuse my ignorance, but what happens when someone's internet gets lag spikes? I think we've all experienced it at some point, either because other people are using it at the same time, or it's a busy time of day and there's a lot of contention. So does the AI just cease to function? It seems to me like its cloud design has more to do with preventing piracy than it does with needing massive amounts of processing power. I could be wrong, and Repawn might have invented a Skynet like AI, but I doubt it.

Don't worry about it. The AI is dumb enough that you wouldn't be able to tell the difference one way or the other.

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Maybe it will improve over time.

 

I sure do hope they will improve the AI. I can live with the gfx and anyway i'm sure they downgraded the textures to reduce the size of the download. The AI is one of the things that prevented me from really enjoying the game as much as i wanted to. I liked the beta but it would be much more fun with not totally stupid grunts.

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It's all very well offloading processing to the cloud but if there is no noticeable difference then all it does is make the game sensitive to latency and server outages. And given that the game isn't even 1080p it's obviously not doing that much to reduce CPU/GPU usage.

 

Microsoft is going to have to do a lot more than this to convince consumers of the benefits.

We don't know whether the game is 1080p or not - the beta code and release code are two different animals.

 

The beta PC code could be yanked to 1080p rather easily, thanks to the maturity of the Source gaming engine.  As much as some whined over the engine's age, that same age (and the tons of admitted underutilized potential in the engine, merely by looking at what Valve has done with it, not to mention what Respawn did with it), has put 1080p within reach, even on dead (not merely old) PC hardware.  I played at 720p, on DEAD hardware, with no trouble whatever.  1080p is ONE upgrade away - and it's not the CPU.  How many games, even in beta, could be played at 1080p, on hardware affordable by the middle-class, let alone owned by the middle-class?

 

I get the reticence, and especially from those that have dealt with the BF4 muckup.  Only the launch will clear that up.

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I like how they make it seem like it's some revolutionary technology by describing it as "offloading AI to the cloud", when the reality of it is all they're doing is using dedicated servers.

 

Big whoop, I play CS:GO vs bots on a dedicated server already. Power of the cloud indeed.

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I like how they make it seem like it's some revolutionary technology by describing it as "offloading AI to the cloud", when the reality of it is all they're doing is using dedicated servers.

 

Big whoop, I play CS:GO vs bots on a dedicated server already. Power of the cloud indeed.

It's a big whoop for us console gamers that didn't have dedicated servers like PC. We always had to rely on peer to peer. Many of us are not PC gamers, so it's great tech for us.

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We don't know whether the game is 1080p or not - the beta code and release code are two different animals.

Yes we do. The game will ship at 792p and they're going to "experiment" to see if they can increase the resolution.

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It's a big whoop for us console gamers that didn't have dedicated servers like PC. We always had to rely on peer to peer. Many of us are not PC gamers, so it's great tech for us.

 

It's not a matter of technology, but rather corporate policy / control. I've yet to see a convincing argument for why consoles cannot utilise the same community-run dedicated server model that most PC games use.

 

This "cloud" stuff is all well and good for Microsoft, but what happens when Titanfall or even the console itself have had their day and the servers go down? Nothing but dead weight - a situation you don't get with crowdsourcing servers.

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I like how they make it seem like it's some revolutionary technology by describing it as "offloading AI to the cloud", when the reality of it is all they're doing is using dedicated servers.

 

Big whoop, I play CS:GO vs bots on a dedicated server already. Power of the cloud indeed.

 

I take it that you didn't read the article beyond quotes in the OP?

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I like how they make it seem like it's some revolutionary technology by describing it as "offloading AI to the cloud", when the reality of it is all they're doing is using dedicated servers.

 

Big whoop, I play CS:GO vs bots on a dedicated server already. Power of the cloud indeed.

It is apparently still a big deal to gamers, Athernar - and it is often the most easily screwed-up part of the launch of any multiplayer-game, let alone an MP-only game such as Titanfall.

 

The need would not be as great as it is if it weren't FOR those constant muckups (BF4, CoD, etc.) - if it was so simple, why is it gotten wrong as often as it is?

 

What sounds really simple quite often is FAR from simple in practice.  (That was something I learned, and the hard way, as a developer-in-training - and on mainframes, back when the PC screens were still green.)

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I take it that you didn't read the article beyond quotes in the OP?

 

Care to be specific rather than waste time with silly passive-aggresive posts? I skimmed the article and didn't see anything relevant.

 

if it was so simple, why is it gotten wrong as often as it is?

 

Because most game publishers are stupid and/or greedy, not to mention short-sighted and risk-averse.

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Care to be specific rather than waste time with silly passive-aggresive posts? I skimmed the article and didn't see anything relevant.

How am I wasting time when you are the one who didn't read the article and commenting on it? They didn't call dedicated server a revolutionary technology and in fact the article is pretty straight forward that they wanted dedicated servers from the start and Azure infrastructure made it easier to deploy. Nothing more to it.

 

They claim that running the grunt and titan AI in the cloud is something never done before and that may be true. I don't claim to know how games work on all platforms and see no reason for them to make false claims about it. Azure doesn't need Respawn's blessing, it is a success story on its own.

 

You read my post as passive-aggressive because you didn't bother to read the article. You just need to calm down and not jump on any Xbox/Microsoft threads like you always end up doing for whatever reason.

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It's not a matter of technology, but rather corporate policy / control. I've yet to see a convincing argument for why consoles cannot utilise the same community-run dedicated server model that most PC games use.

 

This "cloud" stuff is all well and good for Microsoft, but what happens when Titanfall or even the console itself have had their day and the servers go down? Nothing but dead weight - a situation you don't get with crowdsourcing servers.

You again have completely missed the point, which was explained easily above. I will say it again. It's a HUGE deal for us console gamers that have wanted dedicated servers, something PC gamers have always had. Again, a huge whoop for us. Maybe not a huge whoop for you obviously.

 

What happens when it storms out and my DirecTV goes out? What happens when someone cuts into my cable and my internet goes out? What happens when someone trips on the power cord and turns off my console? What happens when my internet drops on my cell phone? What happens if someone slams into my car and my body goes through the windshield and decapitates me?......

 

Everyone is at the mercy of servers, even peer to peer. Peer to peer are still going through servers.

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It's a big whoop for us console gamers that didn't have dedicated servers like PC. We always had to rely on peer to peer. Many of us are not PC gamers, so it's great tech for us.

You might want to be more specific here as the PS3 supported dedicated servers.  It's only Xbox with it's "Walled Garden" approach that prevents dedicated servers.  The PS3 (as well as the PS4) connect to the regular internet with no Sony filter.  That's why you get a web browser (crappy as it may be) out of the box on these without having to pay Sony for some service (and why Netflix, etc. work without subscribing to PlayStation Plus).  As such any game company who releases a PS3/PS4 game can set up servers if they like.  In fact a game company can release a server that runs on PCs but hosts games for PS3 players if they like.  I believe Epic experimented with this with Unreal Tournament for the PS3 but I'm not sure what ever came of it.

 

On the other hand Microsoft doesn't let you connect directly to foreign servers.  You can only connect to Xbox Live and you have to pay to go out their gateway to the larger internet.  Since MS controls what you go to they block XBox games developers from putting up servers unless they do so inside the Xbox Live network which in the 360 days where prohibitively expensive (though I believe technically possible... I think they do sell that option but no one buys it because it costs so much).  So with Xbox One the solution is to have a Azure cloud INSIDE their network that game developers can use instead.  This is a good solution but it's a solution a problem they created by their own Xbox Live restrictions and is not even an issue for PlayStation.

 

As for Cloud in general cloud services likely will replace dedicated servers this generation but they aren't exclusive to MS.  MS HAS to provide a special cloud inside their Xbox Live network because they block devs access to outside clouds (just like they blocked them to developer hosted servers in the 360 era).  So sure you can make a cloud backed game for the Xbox One now but you can also buy regular Azure service from Microsoft (the commercial one, not the Xbox Live one) and use it to host servers for a PS4 game or any other platform for that matter.  The benefits of the Xbox Live version is that it has some game specific extensions to make your life easier and it's accessible by Xbox One owners.  The downside is it's your ONLY cloud option for the Xbox One.  If you are a PlayStation dev you can make your server run on MS's regular Azure cloud but you'll lose the game specific extensions.  You can also however choose a different cloud such as Amazon or other competitors both now or in the future if you aren't targeting the Xbox One.  You can even make your OWN cloud if you have that capability.  For example EA could set up their own cloud framework for their multiplayer games for PC, Mac, Linux and PlayStation (not sure how Nintendo's networking works) but it won't work for the Xbox One because you HAVE to use ONLY MS's Xbox Live Azure variant for Xbox Once cloud gaming.

 

So basically all this hype about MS's cloud is just that, hype.  It IS better than the Xbox 360 but that's only because MS's self imposed restrictions on wider internet network access.  Xbox users can finally get something similar to dedicated servers.  Cloud computing in general IS the future of networking because it allows for hardware to scale seamlessly behind the scenes and companies to only pay for what they're actually using but in this general since it is not something that's exclusive to Xbox.  Nothing stops a developer/publisher for making their servers on any available cloud service for PlayStation, PC, Mac, Linux, etc.

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How am I wasting time when you are the one who didn't read the article and commenting on it? They didn't call dedicated server a revolutionary technology and in fact the article is pretty straight forward that they wanted dedicated servers from the start and Azure infrastructure made it easier to deploy. Nothing more to it.

 

They claim that running the grunt and titan AI in the cloud is something never done before and that may be true. I don't claim to know how games work on all platforms and see no reason for them to make false claims about it. Azure doesn't need Respawn's blessing, it is a success story on its own.

 

You read my post as passive-aggressive because you didn't bother to read the article. You just need to calm down and not jump on any Xbox/Microsoft threads like you always end up doing for whatever reason.

 

You're wasting time by not getting to the crux of the matter, simple as that.

 

The entire article is worded in a way that presents the subject as some sort of innovation, when the reality is games have done it for years. Any title that has dedicated servers with AI opponents involved is no different.

 

I think you need to stop projecting your feelings / current state of mind onto me, and stop getting so aggravated. Especially when you yourself conceed you do not understand the subject.

 

You again have completely missed the point, which was explained easily above. I will say it again. It's a HUGE deal for us console gamers that have wanted dedicated servers, something PC gamers have always had. Again, a huge whoop for us. Maybe not a huge whoop for you obviously.

 

What happens when it storms out and my DirecTV goes out? What happens when someone cuts into my cable and my internet goes out? What happens when someone trips on the power cord and turns off my console? What happens when my internet drops on my cell phone? What happens if someone slams into my car and my body goes through the windshield and decapitates me?......

 

Everyone is at the mercy of servers, even peer to peer. Peer to peer are still going through servers.

 

No, I think if anyone is missing the point here it's you considering the arguments you apply here.

 

This technology is not new and it's not revolutionary, there haven't been any breakthroughs - yet all of a sudden dedicated servers are a "thing" for consoles. Why is that? Or even more to the point, what about consoles stops/impedes the existing model the PC uses for servers from carrying over?

 

The PC model not only takes cost away from the developer/publisher, but gives the game a life even after the developer has completely discontined support. Why not give console titles the same advantage?

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"Back when we started talking to Microsoft about it, everyone thought it was kind of crazy and a lot of other publishers were terrified of even doing it," Shiring says. "I've heard that since our beta ended, they've been pounding down the doors at Microsoft because they're realizing that it really is a real thing right now."

 

Edit: I really hope this is happening...  LOOKING AT YOU EA!!!! YOU'RE SERVERS SUCK!!!!!

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You're wasting time by not getting to the crux of the matter, simple as that.

 

The entire article is worded in a way that presents the subject as some sort of innovation, when the reality is games have done it for years. Any title that has dedicated servers with AI opponents involved is no different.

 

I think you need to stop projecting your feelings / current state of mind onto me, and stop getting so aggravated. Especially when you yourself conceed you do not understand the subject.

 

 

No, I think if anyone is missing the point here it's you considering the arguments you apply here.

 

This technology is not new and it's not revolutionary, there haven't been any breakthroughs - yet all of a sudden dedicated servers are a "thing" for consoles. Why is that? Or even more to the point, what about consoles stops/impedes the existing model the PC uses for servers from carrying over?

 

The PC model not only takes cost away from the developer/publisher, but gives the game a life even after the developer has completely discontined support. Why not give console titles the same advantage?

No, it's clearly you missing the point. And you even reiterated my point in your comment. But we can see why you are not comprehending. Had you actually read the article, your questions would have been answered direct from developers implementing these cloud services on their console titles.

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Microsoft is providing the garage and the tools for game developers to work with, and, perhaps most importantly, it's keeping the rent cheap. By eliminating the hassles of setting up a game's cloud infrastructure, Redmond is letting developers focus on what's important: making killer games. For a startup like Respawn, that was pretty attractive and would allow the studio to achieve its vision with minimal compromise.

 

 

All devs should really go this route for Xbox One this gen.  It's not like their in house stuff is better.  Even if they don't go Microsoft, at least go Amazon, or Open Rack.  But those won't be cheap.  I think Microsoft would cut a decent deal on the price if the game is worth it...

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