Before the Xbox One came out, Microsoft flaunted its upcoming cloud-rendering system as a killer app that would set its system apart from others this generation. For a while, it even seemed like a feasible justification for their original “always online” requirement for the system; a requirement that had given many a sense of unease. Since the console released, though, we have hardly seen any major usage of this technology, and skepticism over whether or not offloading a game’s graphics to a cloud is a viable technique at this point is an understandable stance. Microsoft has a chance to show the world what this technology can do with the upcoming release of Crackdown 3 . If they fail to do so, faith in services like Cloudgine could seriously suffer.
Cloudgine is a company that started working with Microsoft back in 2014. Their vision is to work closely with Microsoft and use their unprecedentedly large Azure server farm to distribute computing power to various resources in order to really push the capabilities of the Xbox One platform. Typically, when a developer is making a game, they must look at the hardware they are developing for and consider its limited resources. Then they need to cater specifically to those resources. With Cloudgine, developers should face fewer restrictions, assuming they know how to properly utilize its features.
Cloud based computing is inherently complicated and poses a bit of a learning curve for developers; it effectively shifts the paradigm of how studios think about computing. Worries over whether or not latency will make the whole idea moot persist, despite Cloudgine’s insistence that a 2-4 Mbps connection should be enough to utilize the service. According to Cloudgine, in an interview given to GamingBolt, other hurdles needed to be surmounted in the case of the upcoming title, Crackdown 3 ; a Microsoft published exclusive for Xbox One. For instance, how could they split the cost of a single physics simulation across multiple servers?
It seems, however, that they’ve managed to solve these issues, as the demo for Crackdown 3 proudly displays. When the game is released, fans should be treated to an unprecedented level of options when it comes to destroying their environment. Buildings have been structured inside and out, and crumble logically according to where and how they are damaged. In fact, a player carve out chunks of building with their weapon and throw the scrap around; a process that, in effect, creates a new object in the game’s world. These processes of recreating physics will allow for developers to get more creative with their games, and also offer more freedom to the consumer. The games should also, if all goes according to plan, look amazing in terms of graphics.
It’s possible that developers will now have to pay more attention to detail, as Cloudgine could potentially raise the bar for what gamers expect from games. If more is possible, then developers may have to adjust the way they make games. That is, of course, assuming the technology works and isn’t bogged down by any issues on the consumer end. How can you design a game optimized for Cloudgine if the connection speed is either subpar or unavailable for a good portion of the consumer base?
With so much effort put into the service, and so much flaunting of what will be possible, Microsoft really has to get the launch of Crackdown 3 right. They can either blow the skeptics out of the water or drown in their own hubris. Crackdown 3 could very well end up being a momentous launch for both the Xbox One and gaming. It can also go the way of VR if it doesn’t instill faith in gamers, and we’ll have to wait a while until developers and consumers are ready to try again.