Editorial

Titanfall: How the cloud allowed ex-Call of Duty developers to create the must-have game of the year

The Xbox One has a killer app, created by developers from the Call of Duty series and populated by a world where giant robots run about with really big guns. It's Titanfall, a multiplayer-only Xbox and PC exclusive title that has caused ripples throughout the gaming world. 

With gamers likely to have a fondness for Pacific Rim-style mech/Gundam science fiction fantasy, it allows you to take control of both giant robots and their wall-scaling parkour running pilots, with different gameplay mechanics providing a depth not seen with traditional multiplayer shooter games. Although played on a multiplayer battlefield, Titanfall is story driven, merging multiplayer mechanics with cinematic storytelling.

After completing the Modern Warfare series and following an acrimonious split from Activision, the founders of a new games studio in Respawn Entertainment started work on the Titanfall game in 2011. Using Valve's Source engine as a foundation, Respawn decided that the game they wanted to create had to make a big impact on next-generation consoles.

No single-player mode

It was also decided that the game would be multi-player only – Respawn is a relatively small studio, and games with single and multiplayer modes often needed separate teams.

As Respawn Producer Drew McCoy explained to Polygon.com, "At a studio like ours, where we have about 65 developers, development time is a very valuable resource. We always said ‘it would be so much better if we didn’t have to worry about the other half.

"But we didn’t want to ignore either half, and to combine our strengths in those really cool moments with characters and events people will talk about at work the next day. We want a storyline that we hope will have people playing for months and years down the road."

But if the game was going to be multiplayer-only player, Respawn also needed to jump another not-insignificant hurdle – to power a multiplayer game properly and allow players to have a great gaming experience, you need a whole lot of servers.

Server issues

Respawn engineer Jon Shiring, who worked on and coded for Titanfall as well as the Call of Duty series said, "The vast majority of games will pick a player and have them act as server for the match."

"This means that all of the other players talk to them to decide what happens in the game. When you shoot your gun, the server decides if that is allowed and then tells everyone what you hit."

But there are some pretty serious issues with player-hosted servers. For example, games need to choose players with different bandwidths and latency. This means a host may have an advantage as they will have the game running locally on their machine with super low latency.

Shiring said, "You've probably seen this in action as some players seem to see you long before you get to see them, or their bullets hit you before yours hit them. That sucks – nobody should have a competitive advantage in a multiplayer game."

Issues could also come up in the event of a host cheating or disconnecting (you would have to pause while migrating to a new host), a lack of bandwidth, and different game experiences due to the host powering the session.

Another option for the running of multiplayer games is through dedicated servers, where an extra computer will handle all of the host duties, allowing clients to just be clients. It would have its own CPU to run the session, with guaranteed bandwidth and no fear of disconnecting, providing a much better gaming experience for all.

But this is expensive. As Shiring said, "I personally talked to both Microsoft and Sony, explaining that we need a way to have potentially hundreds of thousands of dedicated servers at a price point you can't get right now. 

"Microsoft realised 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 the idea."

Cloud Gaming

And that's where Windows Azure came in, a way which allowed Respawn to push games with more server CPU and higher bandwidth, allowing the developers to create bigger worlds with more physics and better AI.

"[Microsoft] 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 it can host our games servers for other platforms – Titanfall uses the Xbox Live Cloud to run dedicated servers for PC, Xbox One and Xbox 360."

This means that for the launch of Titanfall, Respawn won't have to worry about estimating the right amount of servers needed for the number of players, or having to perform regular maintenance that might eat into the dev cycle. 

Shiring added, "Microsoft has data centres all over the world, so everyone playing our game should have a consistent, low latency connection to their local data centre."

Halo 4 and Forza 5

Game developers will be able to get more out of Windows Azure than just dedicated servers. For example, Microsoft Studios' 343 Industries used it to power Halo 4's back-end supporting services, which ran multiplayer features such as leaderboards and multiplayer rendering.

It also analysed data held in Windows Azure for a five-week Halo 4 tournament, providing data to partner Virgin Gaming, tracking a player's personal score in the game's multiplayer modes across a global leaderboard.

And for the Xbox launch game Forza 5, Microsoft Studios' Turn 10 Studios used Windows Azure to create 'drivatars', where the game studies a gamers' driving style to create custom AIs which behave like real players do on the road.

Bill Giese, Design Lead at Turn 10, told the Official Xbox Magazine, "We developed a system based on player behaviours that we record and process in the cloud, then push into the game itself. 

"It captures the cars that the players drive, the paintjobs and how they drive – whether they understeer or oversteer, cut or block. It's all pushed together to develop this drivatar system. 

"That is then shared into every single mode that you play – single player, split screen, your friend's drivatars, they're always going to be with you."

The cloud is a marketing term with many meanings. But if you're talking about gaming it's pretty simple – it means you have a virtually unlimited number of servers that can run whatever you need.

As well as the bigger game studios, it gives indie developers a canvas and opportunity to take advantage of huge computing and rendering power to develop on different platforms, levelling the playing field.

As Titanfall developer Shiring added, "Microsoft priced it so it's far more affordable than other hosting options – their goal here is to get more awesome games, not to nickel-and-dime developers.

"So because of this, dedicated servers are much more of a realistic option for developers who don't want to make compromises on their player experience, and it opens up a lot more things we can do in an online game.”

This guest article was brought to you by the development team at Microsoft UK.

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I love how those who I thought were fairly technical are panning the cloud (Azure) usage in the game, citing it as nothing more than dedicated servers.

You folks have NO clue.
Azure is more akin to Mainframe style administration than what distributed is doing today.

What a load of crap, its cod with mechs and dedicated servers all hyped up to be something new and it seems idiots are buying into it. I played the beta on PC and its nothing special im stick with COD. Same old crap under a new name.

Claims of "Must have" and "Game of the year" aside, i'm not a 'mech' fan but the beta of this game was the most fun i've had playing a game in a long time, so it's been pre-ordered.

As for the cloud stuff, people seem to have their heads so far up their wrong end they fail to see where Azure leaves your average dedicated server farm trailing. Please don;t come on here and say "PC's been doing this since the 90's" or "It's just dedicated servers" because it isn't. Infinitly (more or less) scalable completely redundant and with 10's of thosands the power of your average server farm, this 'Cloud' (and yes, i hate the buzz word too) thing is very much a new thriving technology.

So how about we all settle down and get meching!?!

Titanfall is already game of the year. Wow it must be totally awesome saucingly good. I'm kind of sad for all the games released later this year as they don't have any chance to win any goty awards

BTW i played the beta and did not see anything not possible without the Cloud. For one the gfx are average at best. The multiplayer while fun is nothing that has not been done before.

Totally passing on this, as are all my friends, because it's clearly going to be a ###### console port on the PC. The makers have past form with their butchery of Call of Duty during MW2.

Good:
Single player missing - excellent. Single player is surplus to requirements. Multiplayer is the only thing that matters...unfortunately they've messed that up. See down a section.
Novel elements like the movement abilities and the efforts to mix it up with the "Titans"
Source engine - a bit long in the tooth but it works and runs well on any half decent PC.

Stupid:
All the fancy nonsense about cloud computing is nice but in reality it just means you'll end up with a game that PC players can't control, can't mod, can't extend. It's purely a console-centric consideration. A compromise.
Devs have already trotted out the "won't have mod tools at launch" tidbit to imply they'll be coming down the road. Unfortunately that lie has been well used in the past and people aren't falling for it again.
6v6 - I lol'd. They've made it too small. Another fault they just carried over from their COD days. Again....console-centric.

Valve really need to step in and take back the FPS genre. They seem to be the only ones who actually understand it's only possible to execute correctly with a PC-first, PC-only approach. Even they seem to be losing their way with their console effort though so I'm not holding my breath.

PhilTheThrill said,
Valve really need to step in and take back the FPS genre.

Agreed.
The fact this is built on the 10 year old source engine is exactly why the graphics are unimpressive.

If I could change one thing about Respawns game is the core engine.

In other words, reinvent the wheel?
For all the hate on Source as an engine, we have (even from Valve) only gotten glimpses as to what Source, as a game engine, is capable of - who's fault is that?
Even more telling, Respawn did have access to other game engines - Frostbite 3 and CryENGINE - and passed on both of them. What did Respawn discover that everyone else has missed? Lastly, consider that Titanfall is - on the PC side - quite capable of running on Windows 7 - the system requirements are actually quite sane (lower than either BF4 OR the current CoD). A PC with the minimum requirements and a decent GPU - as little as a GTX550Ti (which has been dead for three years) - can run the game at 720p all day, and with zero quibbling. Merely replacing said GTX550Ti with a GTX750Ti (which has a smaller memory bus and a lower power draw, by the by) can do 1080p all day. When was the last shooter - of any type - that could do that on Windows 7? If anything, Titanfall is the antithesis of a system-melter - if anything, it has lower real requirements than Crysis 3, if not Crysis 2! Are we so caught up in the search for "the next Crysis crisis" that we will automatically despise any game developer that wakes up and smells the coffee?

deadonthefloor said,

Agreed.
The fact this is built on the 10 year old source engine is exactly why the graphics are unimpressive.

If I could change one thing about Respawns game is the core engine.

From what I've read, it's the Source engine in name only. There was an article somewhere (I think it was Eurogamer?) where Respawn talked about how much of source they'd rewritten.

Well who said its a must have? All I see its that this game is pushed so hard. it has no innovations, its just a COD with dlc. It has no super graphics, no astonishing AI, no extra large maps (those titans can barely move around inside those tiny maps), no funky weapons. Just a mix of things from other games slapped together.

Zaic said,
Well who said its a must have? All I see its that this game is pushed so hard. it has no innovations, its just a COD with dlc. It has no super graphics, no astonishing AI, no extra large maps (those titans can barely move around inside those tiny maps), no funky weapons. Just a mix of things from other games slapped together.

COD with DLC? So does that make Titanfall COD with DLC with DLC because COD also has DLC?

(sorry)

People are pumped for this game. If you played the Beta you'd know how fun it is, and how satisfying the combat. First and foremost you need to be a fan of first-person shooters to 'get' why it's so good. If you don't like intense first-person action then STAY AWAY from Titanfall! For all the rest of you - I'll see you in-game on March 11

I had my own concerns about the game, because I've PLAYED other "mech" games (from the original Mechwarrior to Hawken) - all too often they have devolved, and rather quickly and messily, or a major case of "meh". Then I played the Titanfall beta - and found myself unable to compare it to other mech games - including Hawken, or even Blacklight.

The promise of ALL mech games (even the original Mechwarrior) has been powered armor that you mostly just wear - like BDUs or a work uniform. How many have actually delivered on that promise? (The promise itself stems from a single science-fiction book - the late Robert Heinlein's "Starship Troopers". I am referring SPECIFICALLY to the book for two reasons - the movie is not a thing like the book, and the book goes into the core idea behind the powered armor the Mobile Infantry usually wears - which, again, is not like the movie in any way/shape/form.) Hawken, and even Blacklight, did make an honest effort to deliver - however, both failed at it - Titanfall, rather shockingly and surprisingly, did not. Due to Hawken and Blacklight, I actually EXPECTED Respawn to fail. I - WAS - WRONG. Absatively posilutely wrong. And I've never been happier to BE wrong about any shooter ever. It's different in way that no other shooter - regardless of type - has been, ever. Regardless of platform. (If you've seen the Gundam games - any of them - they are closer to Mechwarrior than Hawken OR Blacklight, and none are even remotely close to Titanfall. Even in an Atlas Titan, you watch the readouts and REACT accordingly - the best reaction for a given situation is NOT always to shoot the offending target. (If it's a grunt or even a pilot, you CAN simply squish him - even if it's an "enemy" Titan, even another Atlas, you could simply use the Vortex Cannon - a defensive tool - to do a return-to-sender on what the enemy is throwing at you - if the Titan is damaged enough, you can take it out, at a cost of no ammo of your own.) The possibilities are legion - however, the Vortex Cannon - a defensive tool that can be used to not just shut down an attack, but throw it back into the attacker's face - is a major game-changer. Other shooters that had anything like it - none.

BajiRav said,

COD with DLC? So does that make Titanfall COD with DLC with DLC because COD also has DLC?

(sorry)

what happens when titanfall gets DLC? so it will make titanfall with DLC COD with DLC with DLC with DLC.

Zaic said,
Well who said its a must have? All I see its that this game is pushed so hard. it has no innovations, its just a COD with dlc. It has no super graphics, no astonishing AI, no extra large maps (those titans can barely move around inside those tiny maps), no funky weapons. Just a mix of things from other games slapped together.

Didn't know CoD had mechs. Did they add them before or after that stupid dog?

Another reason I know this isn't CoD, is that it's actually fun.

I read the whole article written by the developer on respawn's website (the above uses a few quotes from it) and its a very interesting read on how they are using cloud technology for the game. A lot of people on here seem to have misconceptions of what the cloud and cloud servers are though.

Keep believing into clouds and rainbows. BTW in the end you are paying for it.
I do hope you know that cloud is just a server farm and it has no advantages over other server farms. And all the crap talk about offloading tasks to cloud is just a crap talk. All they could use the cloud for is hosting games, and serving DLC content YAY!.

The big advantage of cloud technology is that it scales as needed providing things when and where they are needed. If you just buy normal servers you will end up having to buy more than you need making it more expensive while cloud technology scales therefor reducing cost,

Zaic said,
Keep believing into clouds and rainbows. BTW in the end you are paying for it.
I do hope you know that cloud is just a server farm and it has no advantages over other server farms. And all the crap talk about offloading tasks to cloud is just a crap talk. All they could use the cloud for is hosting games, and serving DLC content YAY!.

You fail to realize that these "cloud servers" are owned and operated by Microsoft. Servers are NOT an easy thing to set up. They are expensive and each game created by developers needs to be set up correctly to communicate to these servers. With Azure Microsoft does all the leg work when it comes to the servers. They give devs a simple API and say we will provide all the servers you need, all you have to do is have your game communicate with them using this simple API.

You're downplaying a very cool service that Microsoft is providing. You are right in saying these Azure servers have no advantages over other server farms. The key is that it is no longer the responsibility of the developers to handle this stuff. It gives them more time and money to spend on the actual game.

Zaic said,
Keep believing into clouds and rainbows. BTW in the end you are paying for it.
I do hope you know that cloud is just a server farm and it has no advantages over other server farms. And all the crap talk about offloading tasks to cloud is just a crap talk. All they could use the cloud for is hosting games, and serving DLC content YAY!.

So the fact that they're already testing raytracing via the cloud means nothing? Neither console can do that by themselves, but Xbox apparently can with the help of the cloud.

Same here, sadly. This game looks like exactly the kind of game I'd love to play and waste endless hours playing... except I hate PvP gaming. The only time I don't play solo is when I play co-op with one friend (Borderlands & Borderlands 2).

este said,
No single player mode at all = No buy.

Wait, what? I missed that!
Just removed that from my consideration list - thanks for the pointer.

Raa said,

Wait, what? I missed that!
Just removed that from my consideration list - thanks for the pointer.

Yes. And I didn't know either until I read this article. Oh well. Maybe there will be some single player campaign "DLC" content coming later on

You can shove your cloud gaming is the greatest thing ever up your Singapore based servers. 180ms ping is abysmal, hurry up and finish your Australian azure servers!

Raa said,
I must be one of the only people that isn't really interested in the game...

I'm with you but nerds love any game with mechs in it.

Nope - I'm with you on this one, it looks a good game mind but to call it the "must have game of the year" is a laughable stretch of editorial garbage.

-adrian- said,
Mech warrior

With everything mech sized on the battlefield it's like no mechs at all.
While I enjoyed MW in the day, Titanfall ups the ante buy having pilots and mechs on the same battlefield. Add parkour and it's something unique that has to be played.

I maxxed out my character in the beta in under six hours. Can't wait until my digital pre-order is unlocked.

First Azure isn't Xbone exclusive. If a dev wants to host a game on Azure (or Amazon or any other cloud service) they can. MS sells Azure services to lots of companies, they aren't going to say no to you just because you are making a PS4 game lets say.

Xbone does have its own Azure cloud with game specific extensions that make game development a little easier however a large part of that is because of their "walled garden" approach to networking. They want the servers inside the wall and so they had to set up a cloud there themselves. Sony doesn't have a wall so devs can use ANY cloud sevice they like or even make their own.

It is also a bit disappointing that we hear all this stuff about the power of the cloud and all that gets you is 6 vs 6 multiplayer. With 8 member chat support common in this generation one would have expected at least an 8 man team cap.

Finally on the xbone you get a $60 multiplayer only game on a platform that requires a subscription to play multiplayer. End your sub, game is a coaster. Also with cloud hosted servers they are going to take them down at some point, maybe when Titanfall 2 or 3 comes out, then again your game is a coaster with no single player or peer to peer hosting. I still play a fair number of old games. I'm sure Titanfall is a fun game but $60 to basically rent it is a bit much.

Asmodai said,
all that gets you is 6 vs 6 multiplayer

They are kidding, right? Meanwhile UT2004 already supported 32 player matches without a problem and without the magical cloud…

EDIT: BF1942 was even designed for up to 64 players…

MFH said,

They are kidding, right? Meanwhile UT2004 already supported 32 player matches without a problem and without the magical cloud…

EDIT: BF1942 was even designed for up to 64 players…


Yes. 6 humans on both sides and a slightly larger number of AI players on each side meaning it ends up being much more than just 12 players.

MFH said,

They are kidding, right? Meanwhile UT2004 already supported 32 player matches without a problem and without the magical cloud…

EDIT: BF1942 was even designed for up to 64 players…


MAG supported 256 players on the PS3. I don't expect (or even want) that many people though as it's rough to organize (MAG was grouped into 32 8 man teams!) but since consoles generally support 8 person chat it makes sense to have 2 teams of 8 each for a total of 16 players AT LEAST. Add in some NPC players if you like from there. I've heard the NPCs in Titanfall aren't particularly impressive and I certainly wouldn't want to lower the the player count below 16 to get some crappy AI NPCs.

Except this is not just about dedicated servers. This is just the beginning. I saw this comment on reddit about a week ago:

-------
"For one quick and simple example, you could create insanely high quality sky boxes at almost no processing cost to the console. Referencing a players IP address to get their rough location, flight plans to get plane locations, headings, and brand, Doppler radar and other weather reports for clouds and weather condition(temperature included), star maps, and time of day, could give you all the information you need to render a sky box from the perspective of the player, which looks as though they were actually outside.

It would generate a massive picture as the base texture, and then make small changes over time, continuing to use the simulation it used to generate the base texture, so the planes move, and the clouds/weather changes. Because you would only need to change small chunks of the picture, you save on a lot of bandwidth. This is exactly how video codecs work, and you would be doing the same exact thing here.

To give you some context, H.264 is a video codec commonly used which can represent 1080p@30fps footage in good quality only using 15 megabits/second. H.265 is the new iteration of that which has been shown to reach the same bandwidth but for 4K@60fps(3840x2160 at 60 frame per second). On-the-fly H.265 encoders don't exist yet, so it takes a while to encode footage, but the cloud could also be used to handle that as well. The end result is a sky box that genuinely looks real as though you were outside in your area, at that exact time, and this was at almost no processing cost to the console."
-------

Developers will use cloud for many different things in the future. The sky's the limit.

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
So basically they are talking about dedicated servers which PC gaming has had...since I can remember. They just decided to call that "magic" Cloud.

Exactly. It kind of grates on me that this "cloud multiplayer" nonsense is being thrown around like it's some kind of revolution in gaming. In reality this is just the consoles catching up to what PCs have been doing since what, the late 1990s?

Majesticmerc said,

Exactly. It kind of grates on me that this "cloud multiplayer" nonsense is being thrown around like it's some kind of revolution in gaming. In reality this is just the consoles catching up to what PCs have been doing since what, the late 1990s?

The difference is reliability and scalability. They don't need to buy servers only to realize its not enough or to much and wasted money. With cloud servers it auto scales up or down on the fly. Also if a server crashes on dedicated your SOL but on cloud its auto handled by other live servers and the user is none the wiser. Saves a ton of money since you pay as its needed and not have to pay maximum right away. "cloud" is just a more advanced dedicated server given a new name to be differentiated .

Houtei said,
"cloud" is just a more advanced dedicated server given a new name to be differentiated .

More like: "cloud" is simply a buzzword for a slightly improved age-old client-server-model…

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
So basically they are talking about dedicated servers which PC gaming has had...since I can remember. They just decided to call that "magic" Cloud.
No, cloud is not the same as dedicated servers. This is a new way of providing dedicated servers. The difference is that instead of the publisher having to have rows of servers waiting for people to use (and running out of capacity when busy), they instead have the ability to scale up and down their capacity automatically, which is massively cheaper.
The end user is getting the same functionality in this case but with more reliability and better support as the publisher won't be needing to take the servers offline when a new game comes out.

mog0 said,
No, cloud is not the same as dedicated servers. This is a new way of providing dedicated servers. The difference is that instead of the publisher having to have rows of servers waiting for people to use (and running out of capacity when busy), they instead have the ability to scale up and down their capacity automatically, which is massively cheaper.
The end user is getting the same functionality in this case but with more reliability and better support as the publisher won't be needing to take the servers offline when a new game comes out.

Im talking about old fashioned dedis not the New age crap you need to rent. If you dont know what Im talking look it up. Devs used to setup one Master and thats it, other was up to the users. And yes, cloud is just a fancy name for a network of dedis, they are using the same servers you can easily rent/buy yourself

Houtei said,
The difference is reliability and scalability. They don't need to buy servers only to realize its not enough or to much and wasted money. With cloud servers it auto scales up or down on the fly. Also if a server crashes on dedicated your SOL but on cloud its auto handled by other live servers and the user is none the wiser. Saves a ton of money since you pay as its needed and not have to pay maximum right away. "cloud" is just a more advanced dedicated server given a new name to be differentiated .

If the server the user is on dies. I'm sure the user will be bumped back to the login screen or whatever happens on a connection loss. Microsoft will not be running 2 or more copies of the same VM in multiple locations to protect against this. It is expensive for little pay off. So, the "cloud gaming" setup is just the same as dedicated servers.

Additionally, no one hosting dedicated servers in the last half of decade or more aren't virtualizing them. The only thing this "cloud gaming" stuff really is is Virtual Private Servers...

None of this stuff is massively revolutionary.

Edited by LogicalApex, Mar 6 2014, 3:14pm :

LogicalApex said,

If the server the user is on dies. I'm sure the user will be bumped back to the login screen or whatever happens on a connection loss. Microsoft will not be running 2 or more copies of the same VM in multiple locations to protect against this. It is expensive for little pay off. So, the "cloud gaming" setup is just the same as dedicated servers.

Additionally, no one hosting dedicated servers in the last half of year or more aren't virtualizing them. The only thing this "cloud gaming" stuff really is is Virtual Private Servers...

None of this stuff is massively revolutionary.

How can I like a post from my Phone?

yes, but the difference here is scalability and cost-effectiveness by using the same cloud to supply all games, scaling up and down accordingly as needed, all while maintaining lesser latency for players. Pretty neat if you ask me.

LogicalApex said,

If the server the user is on dies. I'm sure the user will be bumped back to the login screen or whatever happens on a connection loss. Microsoft will not be running 2 or more copies of the same VM in multiple locations to protect against this. It is expensive for little pay off. So, the "cloud gaming" setup is just the same as dedicated servers.

Additionally, no one hosting dedicated servers in the last half of decade or more aren't virtualizing them. The only thing this "cloud gaming" stuff really is is Virtual Private Servers...

None of this stuff is massively revolutionary.

Cloud is basically virtualized dedicated servers though you just don't like they put a fancy name on it. And yes one of the things "cloud" offers is redundancy. Which is basically making a copy of what is there as a failsafe if something goes down. Also "cloud" allows updates with virtually no down time so you dont have to take it all down for hours to perform a server update. But yeah im not disagreeing that cloud is just a name the industry slapped on a more fancy and updated version of dedicated servers because to the average person the term "cloud" is an easier sell.

If a server goes down the player will be kicked yes but it will immediately be back up because of redundancy and to the average user it was nothing more than a glitch in their cable or dsl. Versus the game just being down for hours.

They call the "magic" Azure - which has proven itself to be THE virtual server platform of choice. Darn-near bulletproof reliability, bidirectional scalability, and a pricing structure that almost anyone (whether business OR individuals) can afford. While Amazon EC2 was there first, it still has reliability issues - just ask EA. While EA did use EC2 for the Simcity reboot, they didn't for BF3, BF4, or Crysis 2 or 3 - which game has had the most MP-specific issues?

Scalability - and especially bidirectional stability - is important to a game publisher, and is equally important to gamers themselves - how much grief have we spewed forth when game servers shutter, typically when game playing drops to a certain point? Azure is bidirectionally scalable in a way that no other server service is. (Yes - Hyper-V, which is Azure's foundation, is exactly the reason for it.) Instead of shutting MP down, an Azure-based virtual server farm can simply downscale. (It is also why Azure can be even sold to individuals at darn-near-commodity prices - since when has this been true of anything greater than Web hosting?)

Platform neutrality - Azure is completely, utterly, and provably platform-neutral - XB1/XB360 and Windows are far from the only platforms that have Azure-based services, or have we forgotten about Apple (iTunes and their App Stores)? Name any other platform-neutral SaaS (servers as a service) with simply the rock-solid reliability that Azure proves day-in and day-out, let alone the rest of the Azure feature set.

If you go back and read some of the stuff respawn has said about the cloud its pretty obvious the main reason MS got the exclusive is because respawn told sony and ms about what they needed and it was ms that said they had a solution and the reason they built all those massive data centers they talked about. All the grunt AI and titan AI and more are being handled by the servers and not the players xbox which is one of the main reasons multiplayer has always been downscaled compared to single player modes graphics wise.

PGHammer said,
They call the "magic" Azure - which has proven itself to be THE virtual server platform of choice. Darn-near bulletproof reliability, bidirectional scalability, and a pricing structure that almost anyone (whether business OR individuals) can afford. While Amazon EC2 was there first, it still has reliability issues - just ask EA. While EA did use EC2 for the Simcity reboot, they didn't for BF3, BF4, or Crysis 2 or 3 - which game has had the most MP-specific issues?

Scalability - and especially bidirectional stability - is important to a game publisher, and is equally important to gamers themselves - how much grief have we spewed forth when game servers shutter, typically when game playing drops to a certain point? Azure is bidirectionally scalable in a way that no other server service is. (Yes - Hyper-V, which is Azure's foundation, is exactly the reason for it.) Instead of shutting MP down, an Azure-based virtual server farm can simply downscale. (It is also why Azure can be even sold to individuals at darn-near-commodity prices - since when has this been true of anything greater than Web hosting?)

Platform neutrality - Azure is completely, utterly, and provably platform-neutral - XB1/XB360 and Windows are far from the only platforms that have Azure-based services, or have we forgotten about Apple (iTunes and their App Stores)? Name any other platform-neutral SaaS (servers as a service) with simply the rock-solid reliability that Azure proves day-in and day-out, let alone the rest of the Azure feature set.

How does SimCity issues reflect on the scalability of Amazon cloud hosting? Scalability has to be be built into the application... It isn't "magic"... If Amazon was unable to scale I don't see how Netflix would be able to use them... Netflix uses over 25% of the aggregate bandwidth of the Internet and they are on Amazon. So I don't think any other service has to scale of Amazon...

All Virtualization platforms support programmatically spinning up and down virtual machines. This can be done on Azure, Amazon, or "private cloud" setups running VMWare ESXi. The key is to appropriately architecture the application such that you can dynamically adjust it properly.

This is just where web hosting is going in general. Virtualization is a great technology and will ultimately move shared hosting into this model. For obvious reasons.

LogicalApex said,
.....

Go and read up on the features of Server 2012R2 and its corresponding Hyper-V realease.
Then look at System Center 2012 R2 feature set.
Then read up on MSOpenTech's recent contribution to the OpenCompute project.

This is what Azure is built on. Azure scales in a granular way at each point in the stack due to this rich infrastructure that no other host has been able to realize.

Everything from Software Defined Networks, VMs up to websites all controlled automagically. The power of the platform provides a lot of the underpinnings of scalability that the Software devs utilizing the platform just need to ensure they embrace the features, rather than re-inventing an inferior implementation.

To say Azure and Cloud is just another way to say dedicated servers is a misnomer at best. That's what I thought when Azure was in Alpha and it was indeed true.
Today, Azure defines cloud, imo.

deadonthefloor said,

Go and read up on the features of Server 2012R2 and its corresponding Hyper-V realease.
Then look at System Center 2012 R2 feature set.
Then read up on MSOpenTech's recent contribution to the OpenCompute project.

This is what Azure is built on. Azure scales in a granular way at each point in the stack due to this rich infrastructure that no other host has been able to realize.

Everything from Software Defined Networks, VMs up to websites all controlled automagically. The power of the platform provides a lot of the underpinnings of scalability that the Software devs utilizing the platform just need to ensure they embrace the features, rather than re-inventing an inferior implementation.

To say Azure and Cloud is just another way to say dedicated servers is a misnomer at best. That's what I thought when Azure was in Alpha and it was indeed true.
Today, Azure defines cloud, imo.

These things don't exist in a vacuum... Yes, Micrsooft is making heavy changes to Windows to make it more virtualization aware and to leverage it. This same work is pushed out to the on premiss or private clouds as well. VMWare has also been doing similar investments to years and continues to do so... Linux has also made deep investments as well...

The major win for Azure is it might allow Microsoft to be taken seriously in the hosting space. What remains to be seen, over the longterm, is will they end up being used as a commodity host primarily selling Linux compute resources...

alwaysonacoffebreak said,
So basically they are talking about dedicated servers which PC gaming has had...since I can remember. They just decided to call that "magic" Cloud.

You might want to do some research on how Azure works, because it isn't dedicated servers anywhere. The way they can scale up our out and do so quickly is pretty damn slick and they can do so based on regional demand.

You could also do this by streaming precalculated data off the disc and introducing a few variables... You could probably do more random things with the "cloud" version but this is hardly a game changing advantage, and even then, not something exclusive to Microsoft's platform, other games have servers too.

The article is about Azure and what it brings specifically to multiplayer gaming. OS number two in my triple is Windows Server 2012R2 - while it's merely the Standard Edition, Hyper-V is standard, and Azure (via System Essentials) is a plug-in. The uses for merely Standard Edition go from small enterprises all the way down to home usage. Even without Azure, Standard Edition threatens to be overkill for most server-typical uses. WITH Azure? It's not what can you do, but what CAN'T you do. Lastly, as I pointed out earlier, it's a plug-in - and it's not even all that pricey. Titanfall's beta was Azure tackling their last remaining frontier - it's proven itself everywhere else it's been deployed. And gaming certainly NEEDS a service like Azure, just in terms of gaming-server reliability, not to mention scalability - how much griping has there been merely in Computer Gaming - and especially in terms of EA's games - about server shutdowns? The other reason that Azure makes sense is that SaaS (Servers-as-a-Service) allows the outsourcing of the single biggest ongoing generated expense for any MP game - running and operating the servers - which is the why behind gaming server shutdowns - and in a reliable and platform-neutral fashion. (Ask Apple.) Hating Microsoft as a company may be cool - however, give them credit when they are due it, please.

PGHammer said,
They call the "magic" Azure - which has proven itself to be THE virtual server platform of choice. Darn-near bulletproof reliability, bidirectional scalability, and a pricing structure that almost anyone (whether business OR individuals) can afford. While Amazon EC2 was there first, it still has reliability issues - just ask EA. While EA did use EC2 for the Simcity reboot, they didn't for BF3, BF4, or Crysis 2 or 3 - which game has had the most MP-specific issues?

Scalability - and especially bidirectional stability - is important to a game publisher, and is equally important to gamers themselves - how much grief have we spewed forth when game servers shutter, typically when game playing drops to a certain point? Azure is bidirectionally scalable in a way that no other server service is. (Yes - Hyper-V, which is Azure's foundation, is exactly the reason for it.) Instead of shutting MP down, an Azure-based virtual server farm can simply downscale. (It is also why Azure can be even sold to individuals at darn-near-commodity prices - since when has this been true of anything greater than Web hosting?)

Platform neutrality - Azure is completely, utterly, and provably platform-neutral - XB1/XB360 and Windows are far from the only platforms that have Azure-based services, or have we forgotten about Apple (iTunes and their App Stores)? Name any other platform-neutral SaaS (servers as a service) with simply the rock-solid reliability that Azure proves day-in and day-out, let alone the rest of the Azure feature set.

The simcity reboot was a failure because maxis/ea didn't know what the hell they were doing in regards to the server side aspect. It had very little to do with anything technical (IMO), and more to do with shear incompetence. Which I mean it's EA, so incompetence of some degree is expected.

When it comes to cloud gaming, for now at least, Microsoft holds an advantage with their Azure platform that has almost limitless server power available to any game/program written for it. The fat lady is singing people.

windows games live was free online (like Halo2). There won't be a charge to play online. I'm sure that would kill their chances at the pc market. Also good news for us pirates.

MASTER260 said,
I assume they're talking about the version of Xbox Live that was introduced with Windows 8, right?

I'm not sure what your talking about. Are talking about the win 8 app called "Games"? if so that if basically just another store but for games with some other features. Xbox live is a service for online gaming. it is confusing... but the games app isn't really Xbox live it is still the windows game store. It doesn't really matter its just branding the products.

But there is no paid Xbox live service for windows that is only for Xbox.

tytytucke said,

I'm not sure what your talking about. Are talking about the win 8 app called "Games"? if so that if basically just another store but for games with some other features. Xbox live is a service for online gaming. it is confusing... but the games app isn't really Xbox live it is still the windows game store. It doesn't really matter its just branding the products.

But there is no paid Xbox live service for windows that is only for Xbox.

Well, the Games app is a part of Xbox Live on Windows 8, but it's not the entire thing. For example, there are, "Xbox Live-enabled," games you can get on the Windows Store. You can sign into those games with your gamertag & you can get XBL achievements that get added to your Gamerscore, just like you can on an Xbox.

Games for Windows Live was axed because Windows 8 introduced a more complete service slightly closer to what their consoles had.

Also, technically Smartglass is a part of Xbox Live on Windows 8 because it gets stuff from your gamertag as well.

Slightly off topic, I actually got some Gamerscore from Rayman Jungle Run on my tablet. After playing that & the Rayman Legends Challenges App on my Wii U, I honestly believe that Ubisoft got the winning formula for touchscreen platforming. But, whatever.

MASTER260 said,

Well, the Games app is a part of Xbox Live on Windows 8, but it's not the entire thing. For example, there are, "Xbox Live-enabled," games you can get on the Windows Store. You can sign into those games with your gamertag & you can get XBL achievements that get added to your Gamerscore, just like you can on an Xbox.

Games for Windows Live was axed because Windows 8 introduced a more complete service akin to what their consoles had.

Yeah, this is Microsofts problem they tend to screw up something as simple as improving or creating software, they try and flip it. different doesn't mean better. Just make a stable, simple, popular, platform without rebranding it and screwing it all up and trying all over again to screw it up some other way.

KIn, Windows live, games for windows, zune, skydrive*, windows?, etc R.I.P.

luckily they haven't tried anything drastic to the surface.

Edited by tytytucke, Mar 6 2014, 10:08pm :

tytytucke said,

Yeah, this is Microsofts problem they tend to screw up something as simple as improving or creating software, they try and flip it. different doesn't mean better. Just make a stable, simple, popular, platform without rebranding it and screwing it all up and trying all over again to screw it up some other way.

KIn, Windows live, games for windows, zune, skydrive*, windows?, etc R.I.P.

luckily they haven't tried anything drastic to the surface.


Skydrive didn't go anywhere. It still exists under the name onedrive. They were forced to change the name because some retarded ISP in the UK thought the name Skydrive was ripping them off.

Though I don't get why you're lumping those last to products in with with crap that failed. They haven't failed at anything.

Sky are bigger than just being an ISP! BSkyB owns quite a lot of things, I don't agree that MS had to change their name but they decided to willingly so they must have thought they didn't have a case.

Alera said,
Sky are bigger than just being an ISP! BSkyB owns quite a lot of things, I don't agree that MS had to change their name but they decided to willingly so they must have thought they didn't have a case.

None of which seems to have anything do with file storage. Hence the comment about them being retarded. There was no willingness involved. Sky sued and one..so yea.

SharpGreen said,

Skydrive didn't go anywhere. It still exists under the name onedrive. They were forced to change the name because some retarded ISP in the UK thought the name Skydrive was ripping them off.

Though I don't get why you're lumping those last to products in with with crap that failed. They haven't failed at anything.

I'm just disappoint in skydrive and windows with the speed and direction they are at and (were) headed. I just see them being more successful if they make their software more like the competition. Instead of making a kinda mobile software they need to go full force with it or make an new OS for mobile. The updates for win8 are slow and they are just losing valuable time. They should of been focusing on mobile like Satya Nadella plans to do.

SharpGreen said,

None of which seems to have anything do with file storage. Hence the comment about them being retarded. There was no willingness involved. Sky sued and one..so yea.

It's funny because didn't Canonical say they wanted to sue over the OneDrive name? I mean, they actually have a cloud storage service named Ubuntu One, ya know?

TBH, I guess they just didn't go through with it...

They willingly gave it up, they could have appealed and proved that public confusion wasn't actually as Sky said it was but they didn't, they decided not to. Instead, changing the name worldwide and now causing it to happen again.

The comment about them being retarded for this reason can be said of any big company with something to lose, most of which are American by my reckoning, who zealously guard their company names against any "incursion", even if the rival company has nothing to do with their business sector, image or even prior creation. The system allows them to do this, most of those companies will go through anything to keep the trademark, after all, if you allow it once, who knows... you might just lose it.