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#1 BajiRav

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 18:24

http://www.engadget....d=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.




#2 LaP

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 18:38

 

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.



#3 McKay

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 18:47

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.



#4 PGHammer

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 18:49

http://www.engadget....d=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.



#5 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 18:54

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.



#6 simplezz

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:07

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.



#7 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:14

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.



#8 OP BajiRav

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:15

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.



#9 Luc2k

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:16

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.



#10 LaP

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:17

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.



#11 PGHammer

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:19

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.



#12 Athernar

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:25

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.



#13 Kvally

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:31

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.



#14 theyarecomingforyou

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:41

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.



#15 Athernar

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 19:47

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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