The Future Of Xbox Live Compute In The Eyes Of It’s Creator
John Bruno’s GDC Next discussion session yielded our exclusive story that the physical machines running Xbox Live Compute may be rebooted mid-session, without notice, when OS updates occur. This information caused a bit of a stir among the gaming community. Aside from that, Bruno also had some fantastic insights into where the Xbox Live Compute service may be several years from now.
First off Bruno envisions the ability to offer players individual, dynamic game modes for a premium price. Imagine a Call of Duty Elite or Battlefield Premium-like service that gives users the ability to create custom experiences that are shared across the platform based on the decision of the user. The possibility outlined by Bruno consists of,
“Being able to create configuration based game modes, one of the interesting things about the service is that maybe there’s one mode that had multiple iterations of the same map, you could split that into configurations and be able to offer personalized versions of game modes, possibly at a monetized rate.”
He also eluded to users being able to download and modify character or weapon skins and later upload them to share with their friends list or the community.
These types of opportunities made the lead program manager see great potential in the possibility of a dedicated console mod community. The kind that’s become popular within PC-centric circles. He didn’t elaborate as to whether a marketplace full of user-generated content would be a possibility, or not.
“Having that config based game modes could translate into user defined configurations, like PC mod-type games for the server, something I think hasn’t taken off with a lot of games, but could be something in the future that drives more engagement and freedom for the user.”
And lastly, as the service matures Bruno sees the possibility of more taxing computations being offloaded on XBLC. He notes that,
“Certainly from a pure horsepower processing perspective, I mean, the cloud machines are getting bigger and bigger all the time, and it’s not going to be far off before we start to see massive simulations and all sorts of cool compute offloading types of operations that this (XBLC) can bring to games on any device. The cool thing about pushing the cloud is the more people that adopt, the more it drives the economics down, and then there’s more horsepower in the long run at less cost.”
Ultimately the Xbox Live Compute service may offer a brand new assortment of engagement and monetization means for Microsoft and quite possibly the user. Our hope is that Bruno and his team are able to manage server resets the way many PC games do. If gamers are able to complete their session before a reset happens they’ll be no worse for ware. Considering the sheer number of servers at Microsoft’s disposal it’s very likely that the company will be able to have literally hundreds or thousands of machines on standby, or as Bruno referred to it “warm”, for such occurrences. Ideally, these types of procedures are meant to be done without the user ever noticing it. With XBLC being such a herculean undertaking, the service may experience a full range of growing pains, but maybe, just maybe, Bruno and crew can iron out the details in the next few weeks.
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