Player hosted-servers 'holding back online gaming', says Titanfall engineer

Respawn: Xbox Live cloud more than just dedicated servers

Microsoft’s cloud services for the Xbox One are more than just dedicated servers for multiplayer games, says Respawn engineer Jon Shiring.

In a blog post on the official Respawn Entertainment site, Shiring discussed the issues of player-hosted servers, in which a game runs many extra functions from a single CPU and internet connection. He said this can cause issues of latency and result in different experiences for each player depending on their bandwidth and who’s hosting.

Shiring said however, during the development of multiplayer FPS Titanfall, the studio spoke to both Microsoft and Sony before settling on bringing the game as an exclusive to Microsoft consoles and PC.

Shiring explained that Microsoft understood player-hosted servers “are actually holding back online gaming”, and offered to run dedicated servers for TItanfall through its Azure cloud servers.

“The Xbox group came back to us with a way for us to run all of these Titanfall dedicated servers and that lets us push games with more server CPU and higher bandwidth, which lets us have a bigger world, more physics, lots of AI, and potentially a lot more than that,” he said.

Other benefits of using Microsoft’s cloud services include being able to host game servers on other platforms, such as on PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. And as Shiring explained, games such as Forza 5 are also using the technology to study a player’s driving style to create custom AI that behaves similar to the user.

He added that the Xbox Live Cloud helps provide a “consistent, low latency connection”, and was more affordable than other hosting options for many developers.

“This is a really big deal, and it can make online games better,” said Shiring.

“This is something that we are really 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.”

Yesterday the Iowa Economic Development Authority Board approved $20m in tax credits for Microsoft as the computing giant sets out to invest $700m into its local data centre.

Likely to be added on to its existing facilities in the region, the expanded operations will help support Xbox Live, offering developers more servers to run their games on and offload computing processes to.

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