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News How Project xCloud is helping game developers stay connected | Game Stack

Bernkastel

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We know firsthand the challenges that working from home presents. Specifically, 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.

We've set out to solve these remote access challenges by re-allocating our Project xCloud resources; going beyond mobile and creating a PC app experience for developers that runs a low-latency 60fps gaming experience that allows for continued game development. By giving developers access to our PC Content Test App (PC CTA) they can remotely connect to their Xbox Development Kits from their PC, 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.

To date, developers across many of the biggest gaming studios have used the PC CTA to significantly improve their remote-working environment. We have received great feedback on the overall quality from those within Xbox Game Studios as well as from several of our third-party partners, including:
  • Eidos-Montréal
  • Infinity Ward
  • Ninja Theory
  • Playground Games
  • Rare
  • Turn 10 Studios
  • Undead Labs
Many of our partners were early adopters of this solution and shared this with the team:

"xCloud will give the opportunity to dev teams and also internal and external QA teams to put their hands on our latest game builds from everywhere minutes after their release. By allowing the teams to connect remotely to their devkits and take advantage of the high bandwidth LAN network from our various office locations, xCloud will also add another layer of security as the content created will stay on our corporate network." - Guillaume Le-Malet, Infrastructure Director – Eidos-Montréal
"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." - Sean Davies, Technical Director – Rare

Microsoft's key principle is enabling people to achieve more, and our goal in Xbox has always been to bring gaming to more people. Whether it's by offering up the latest games on a diverse set of platforms or enabling developers to work more effectively at home, we are always looking at ways to help our partners achieve more. We recently announced a new initiative from Azure to create a fast and secure build transfer solution for game developer working remotely, and now we're offering even more ways to work remotely by using Project xCloud technology.

For Xbox developers interested in utilizing the PC CTA, start by contacting your Microsoft Program Representative who can grant you access. Once you have installed the application you can use the Direct Connect functionality to remotely access your Xbox Development Kit. From here you can use all the developer tools needed to develop your game such as performance simulations, network testing, system resource monitoring and general trouble shooting

 
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ZywyPL

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The power of the cloud!

Finally! Took them some time ;p


But what does that mean for us, the end consumers? I'm hoping for 60FPS streaming, at lease somewhere in the near future, even for 30FPS titles, so the end result on our TVs looks great and fluid.
 

hybrid_birth

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Interesting read. I was wondering what had to change development wise for developers during covid.

Hopefully other platforms have something similar in place. I'd hate to see games take longer to make when they take awhile to make already.
 
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LeftThumbstick

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Finally! Took them some time ;p


But what does that mean for us, the end consumers? I'm hoping for 60FPS streaming, at lease somewhere in the near future, even for 30FPS titles, so the end result on our TVs looks great and fluid.
Not entirely sure at this point. IMO they announced and advertised xCloud way too early. Seemed like a reactionary response from them because Xbox One was being slaughtered at the time.

That said, I thinks it main use will be for things like FS 2020 where they are using it to load and render photorealistic environments while leaving the CPU & GPU mostly free to do everything else like physics and gameplay.

Hopefully that should allow for 60fps at least with very high quality assets. By the way, if you take a good look at the hellblade trailer, the textures looks god damn photorealistic in my opinion, especially the Ariel shots when you see the landscape and the close ups on the mud and skulls.

If they are planning what I’m describing then they could have a real game changer with this, but I’ll remain cautiously optimistic based on Crackdown 3 although they were using it for different purposes.
 

Bernkastel

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Not entirely sure at this point. IMO they announced and advertised xCloud way too early. Seemed like a reactionary response from them because Xbox One was being slaughtered at the time.

That said, I thinks it main use will be for things like FS 2020 where they are using it to load and render photorealistic environments while leaving the CPU & GPU mostly free to do everything else like physics and gameplay.

Hopefully that should allow for 60fps at least with very high quality assets. By the way, if you take a good look at the hellblade trailer, the textures looks god damn photorealistic in my opinion, especially the Ariel shots when you see the landscape and the close ups on the mud and skulls.

If they are planning what I’m describing then they could have a real game changer with this, but I’ll remain cautiously optimistic based on Crackdown 3 although they were using it for different purposes.
They announced it for the preview program.
 

ZywyPL

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Not entirely sure at this point. IMO they announced and advertised xCloud way too early. Seemed like a reactionary response from them because Xbox One was being slaughtered at the time.

Well no one has the results/benchmarks other than MS themselves, so far they have been testing it, they have been very vocal that it's a work in progress, maybe the results are indeed great and they decided to release the tech/service to the public soon, by the end of the year we should know how it really performs.
 

Clintizzle

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That said, I thinks it main use will be for things like FS 2020 where they are using it to load and render photorealistic environments while leaving the CPU & GPU mostly free to do everything else like physics and gameplay.

Dude. I forgot FS is doing the whole streaming wizardry. Imagine car racing games.

The car and track physics and handelled locally but the actual environment around you is streamed in.
 

ZywyPL

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Dude. I forgot FS is doing the whole streaming wizardry. Imagine car racing games.

I don't think it would work. FS is so sloooooooooow it looks fluid even at 20FPS, no joke, so there's plenty of time to stream in the scenery that's miles away even through an internet connection, but in racing games, at 60FPS or more, where at 200-300KM/h every pixel lasts on the screen for not even half a second, so I don't think it will be ever possible. Racing tracks or city courses can easily fit into ram, or at worst be streamed from the local drive, but not from the cloud.
 
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Sony

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But what does that mean for us, the end consumers?

This article is about helping developers to continue working on their game in times of Covid-19/ from a distance. In the end, helping developers will help consumers.
 
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LeftThumbstick

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Well no one has the results/benchmarks other than MS themselves, so far they have been testing it, they have been very vocal that it's a work in progress, maybe the results are indeed great and they decided to release the tech/service to the public soon, by the end of the year we should know how it really performs.
I’ve got it too you know... it’s in beta and I’m in the insider program. I’m not talking about what they’re doing here in this article I’m talking about the playing full games over the cloud which for me wasn’t as smooth as I expected.

The caveat is though that I was using wireless from a room downstairs in my home but it was a 5ghz connection from a 200mb line, far more than enough speed and bandwidth to handle it yet it struggled to even start the games sometimes.

No criticism either I fully understand it’s a beta and my situation may not have been ideal although I think it should have been. I’m excited for it and can see the huge potential of this if they make a breakthrough in latency reduction etc

Plus even if it doesn’t work out 100% for gaming it still has many applications to be used to further gaming as a whole with the use in the article being a prime example.

In my eyes, Xbox and Microsoft don’t get nearly enough recognition for how much they try to advance gaming in non-conventional ways.