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Improbable – The Future For Gaming

March 4, 2015

Improbable’s technology solves two key problems. The first is getting lots of players interacting in the same world in a truly scalable way. This has been achieved through the creation of a distributed system that can move seamlessly between servers, borrowing techniques from other industries where latency is key, including banking (in fact, Narula says that Improbable is responsible for “rehabilitating bankers”) and telecommunications — specifically, the way that mobile phones stay connected even when users move between cell towers. This means that game play is no longer limited by what can be achieved on one engine or a single server.

The second problem is how to model thousands of entities in the world efficiently, and this has been achieved by separating the graphics from the simulation. The simulation continues even when players are not around — you can view it using a web browser instead of a game engine should you so wish. Crucially, Improbable’s technology — developed in programming language Scala — plugs into existing game engines, including Unity, CryEngine and Unreal. …

…With this approach, Improbable promises to allow for online games in huge, living breathing worlds where every action has a universal consequence. An explosion on one side of the world caused by one player may mean that a shipping container falls out of the sky in another player’s game. A non-player character who gets knocked over in the street by a player won’t “forget” it seconds later — he will remain angry, and may tell his friends to avoid the player too. A dragon that one player slaughters won’t reappear minutes later to be killed by another. “This is the sort of emergent gameplay that comes from fully responsive, intelligent worlds. The idea that the reactions to what you are doing are intelligent and they feel intelligent. It just makes sense,” says Button-Brown.  Wired

I came across this article via reddit’s link to DayZ creator Dean Hall’s post about new game design. I want to highlight two things here. First, Dean Hall is now working with Improbable on his next game. Second, Improbable’s technology plugs into Unreal and CryEngine. Just stop and think about the implications of that. Oh, the possibilities!

The first game to use Improbable technology is Worlds Adrift, a collaboration between Improbable and Bossa Studios, embedded below – very lack luster, but it is the networking code behind the graphics that has me excited.

Omake: Gabe “Cookin’ Up Somethin’ Special” Newell made some big announcements this week, including that of Source 2 (apparently to be very community user-friendly), SteamLink (streaming PC games onto your TV – a much wiser solution to the vaporous “SteamBox”), the finalized Steam Controller, and Steam Lighthouse (VR calibrating equipment). VentureBeat.

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5 Comments
  1. Herandar permalink
    March 4, 2015 9:05 am

    Lackluster? Hmmm… The industry might have finally realized this past month that graphics alone aren’t enough (see The Order: 1886), but yeah, probably not. Sea changes are hard.

    Anyway, let’s focus on that clip: First, there’s zero hype. It’s not telling me to be amazed by the netcode. The interesting things are there if you pay attention. The cannon ball that is fired by the one ship doesn’t just disappear after a certain distance… It keeps going, ricocheting off the dock.
    Secondly, every second, aside from the title and end cards looks to be in-game footage. No pre-rendered video cutscenes, no story or the worst offender: completely irrelevant marketing footage (like having Kate Upton promote your mobile app by wearing fantasy boob armor.) [Bings “Kate Upton fantasy boob armor”… Nice.]

    Here’s how I saw that video: That game is like having an airship version of the Millennium Falcon. And that sounds awesome, doesn’t it? And Indiana Jones’ whip, to boot. I just appreciate the honesty in the offering.

    • March 4, 2015 5:49 pm

      Thank you for highlighting the cool points.

      I agree 100% about not needing the hype, or not promising the world. I won’t even read or watch anything put out by Molyneux, for example.

      I have a really difficult time stepping down below a certain threshold in graphics/art design. I wanted to like Minecraft, but for me, it was just too blocky. It was like trying to make people using generic Lego blocks, rather than using the body parts that they created long after my childhood Lego days were gone. Those little Lego bodies and heads are just enough, but it would be very painful to go back to the days without them.

      Speaking of hype,

      Reminds me a little of The Emperor’s New Groove. I like the art design.

      And also LevelCap has his impressions up on Overwatch. His impressions have rekindled my curiosity, and I will be following this game closely.

      http://us.battle.net/overwatch/en/

  2. Herandar permalink
    March 4, 2015 7:25 pm

    Okay, that art style is amazing. Let’s hope the rest of the game can match it.

  3. Herandar permalink
    March 5, 2015 2:43 am

    And it’s a MOBA… So let’s focus on Overwatch, m’kay?

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