Microsoft has made changes to its upcoming streaming service Project xCloud to accommodate developers who are still unable to return to their offices due to the COVID-19 lockdown (via GI.biz).
In a blog post aimed at developers, Microsoft announced that they have reallocated resources in order to create a PC app for developers. The PC Content Test App will allow them to access their Xbox development kits remotely, as well as “allowing them to test, play and iterate as if they were in the office. It also prevents them from having to download daily builds to local hardware in the home, which can often take hours.”
The current Xbox remote access tools are designed to be used in an office environment, as developers are unable to take developer kits home, something Microsoft themselves acknowledge in the post:
“Many developers are unable to access their Xbox development kits. By not having access to their usual tools, game developers, artists, and designers may not be able to maintain the rapid iteration cycles needed to turn out new content for gamers. Many of the traditional Xbox remote access tools are designed to be used within an office environment; bringing developer kits home is often not an option and activities like playtesting and gameplay tuning require high frame rates and minimal latency.”
A number of Microsoft-owned studios are already using the PC Content Test App, including Eidos-Montréal, Infinity Ward, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, Rare, Turn 10 Studios and Undead Labs.
Microsoft shared feedback from studios working with the app, including Sean Davies, technical director at Rare, who stated:
“Our transition to work from home introduced some significant hurdles into our QA and development process. We went overnight from being able to test 2-3 builds daily to being limited to one build for the whole team, downloaded overnight. This was especially painful if that build failed in any way and could wipe out whole days. Using the PC Content Test app enables us to bring back our old workflows wholesale. Installs to kits on-site are now minutes rather than the hours it takes to download remotely, and we have the flexibility to react when something goes wrong.”
Developers interested in the PC Content Test App should contact their Microsoft Program Representative who will provide access.