Written by Mat Kemp
4 min read
Why Cloud Gaming Is The Next Frontier Of Game Development
- Aether Engine
Cloud Gaming has been touted as the new frontier of personal entertainment, offering players access to new games with numbers of players and worlds that previously would have been unfathomable. However, the exact opportunities this offers developers has been brushed over without a lot of depth – let’s clear this up.
Previously, I touched on what Cloud Gaming meant to consumers – effectively offering players access to any game across any device – as hardware restraints become a thing of the past.
If you look at the market, the myriad of current market offerings predominantly work by using ‘Gaming on Demand’. This type of gaming, commonly called something akin to the ‘Netflix of Gaming’, allows direct video streaming of games to devices from a cloud network. In this instance, the game (including all necessary files) are stored, executed, and rendered remotely from the game developers’ server.
The next phase, however, moves far beyond simply offering players a variety of games to stream to their device. It’s a generational shift.
Imagine a game fully achieving the ambitions of Hello Games’ No Man’s Sky with billions of galaxies and a googolplex of planets in which to explore. However, instead of it being limited by a specific amount of flowers and animals – there are an infinite number of variations to see.
Or by contrast, take Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto but instead of an instalment being centred around a single city, it could be an entire country. Not just this, but instead of the whole game world being developed at first and then only changing it through incremental updates, the developers could throw out the world and start again quickly with new NPCs, vehicles, and buildings filling the world nearly instantaneously.
This is an opportunity we will see when games are developed on the cloud, for the cloud. Rather than being limited by outdated technology stacks, developers can use these new technologies directly within their development process allowing them to do more, deliver quicker, with less resource required.
This next phase isn’t just a pipe dream. It’s already happening today.
Developers can already increase the scope of their games and include bigger worlds with more players and higher levels of complexity, all whilst not sacrificing on the graphical fidelity.
There are two concerns that are usually highlighted by game developers, today:
- The disruption the new technology causing drastic implications including a slower delivery-to-market.
- The cost of this new technology being prohibitively expensive and only being accessible by larger studios.
In the context of our own technology, these worries can be dispelled immediately. Aether Engine is packaged as a Software Development Kit [SDK] and works directly with existing tools including Unreal Engine, Unity, and CryEngine. This direct compatibility means studios don’t need to revolutionise their development process, by contrast little change is needed.
Then comes the financial question; is the technology prohibitively expensive and therefore only accessible by larger firms? In short: no.
Traditional online games offer a limited and fragmented user experience. With users being artificially split by their server (usually based on location), players can be in the same place on the same map as their friend and yet due to the technical barriers of having to be in a separate game may not see each other or play together.
EVE Online, one of the few single-sharded games, has achieved some technical brilliance – including their World Record breaking Siege of 9-4. However, due to the technical limitations of the existing technology stack, it doesn’t give them room to grow here.
Aether Engine provides a way to bring this to life because it doesn't have a pre-imposed ceiling.
It lets your game scale to as large as it needs to get at any given time (and then scales it back down when it's not needed). Aether Engine will throw more resources into specific realms so the player experience never falters, always looking and feeling tip top, even as more players and NPC’s converge on specific areas.
This means that, instead of coming up with a game idea and whittling it down to fit in your technical constraints, you now no longer have to limit yourself.
As a player, technical jitters that take you out of the experience become a thing of the past. Instead of every studio being constrained by the same limits, you get to enjoy something rich, new, and innovative every time.
You’ll be able to enjoy a whole manner of new and exciting titles across any of your devices. Likewise, you won’t have to shell out for absurd levels of computing power because it won’t matter.
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So let’s be direct; Cloud Gaming has had a lacklustre launch because it’s not a true experience.
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