When it comes to gaming, we focus on the end product. We get excited about game launches, play games daily to our heart’s content, and are critical when our expectations aren’t met. In reality however, we are the beneficiaries of the end product of years of planning, coordination, and complex development. And with the current global pandemic, and tens of millions of developers having to work remotely in new environments, development is even more challenging than normal.
We’ve talked about Project xCloud rather extensively here along with Microsoft offerings like Game Core and Game Stack. This morning, Microsoft gave a few examples of how xCloud can be used to assist game development globally.
“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.”
Specific companies are called out as using the environment already and how it’s benefited them. In particular, quotes were shared from Eidos Montreal and Rare.
“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
If you are interested in development and don’t already follow Microsoft Game Stack on YouTube, we highly recommend it. There are some very insightful videos such as this one on Series X and xCloud:
There’s so much that goes into game development, our belief is that the more you understand of it, the more it benefits you in understanding games as you play them. Context is always a good thing and so we will continue to share insight into the technology and methods into the future.