Xbox One – Dedicated Servers – Smart Match Matchmaking UPDATE
Now that Microsoft has established a set of policies that are identical to Playstation 4’s DRM and Used game policy, we can now begin to compare and highlight features that stand out for each console. It is hard to argue with the fact that Xbox Live has been a very popular service for millions of gamers throughout the years. The service that moved a connected community forward is getting a lot better with the next gen Xbox One. Let me introduce Xbox One Smart Match.
Have you ever had a game that you love playing, but isn’t that popular? I remember loving Tom Clancy’s Endwar, long after it had lost its popularity and the servers were low. This was pretty frustrating, because I would sit in a lobby forever before finding a match. The new Xbox One system allows you to search for a multiplayer match and can give you an estimated wait time. As the system is preparing the match, the player is free to go watch TV, browse the internet, listen to music, or go play another game. No more waiting for your friends to show up in the lobby, or peddling around while you wait on a match to begin. Once the server has found a match and the game is ready to start, then the player can jump right into the action.
Players can also search for games based on a number of different criteria. Major Nelson’s blog mentions that some games may feature searches for matches based on Skill, language, and even find players of similar age.
Are you sick of being matched up with players who spew hate and racist remarks? Idiots who scream or sing into the mic? How about players who drive backwards in racing games?
The new Xbox One features a Smart match reputation system that rewards you for good behavior. The more time you spend online without people complaining or muting you, the higher your reputation will be. You will be placed in matches with players of similar reputation. Players who enjoying raping ear drums will be matched with each other and so on. With the power of the cloud, reputation is calculated in real time and can be evaluated based on individual titles. Microsoft assures players that they don’t have to worry about having a few games where people abuse the system and report them for no good reason – the system will measure the player based on overall experience.
Major Nelson Smart Match: http://majornelson.com/2013/06/11/xbox-one-smart-match/
Possibly the biggest feature that stands out to me as a gamer is the fact that all Xbox One games will have Dedicated Servers for multiplayer. At least – That is what it sounds like if the article from Wired is correct. That means, no more peer-to-peer hosting games where the host has an advantage, no more host leaving session – server migration – no more rubber-banding. The games should run smoothly and also support as many multiplayer players in games as the developer can.
Wired: Inside Xbox One: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2013/05/xbox-one/
UPDATE: I contacted the author of the Wired article – Peter Rubin and asked him to verify this statement about dedicated servers. Here is what he said
“Microsoft is subsidizing cloud utility for developers—essentially, it will cost developers nothing to build on/access the Azure platform. So while I don’t believe it’s mandatory for a title to offer dedicated servers, there wouldn’t be any investment on the dev side to do so, which means…
Yup, dedicated servers for everything. (Certainly for marquee MP experiences like BF3/4, COD, Titanfall, Destiny, etc). This is a huge part of why “persistent online world” was such a buzzphrase at E3 this year.”
Interview by Giantbomb discussing the cloud and dedicated servers with the developers of Titanfall:
When you look at it. Microsoft and Google are really the only two people who have a “Cloud”. A technical description of a cloud. They have data centers all over the world with tons of fast machines in them and they can slice them up however they want and turn them into virtual machines. And what they have done is exposed that in a very awesome way for Xbox One games. So if you’re in Connecticut and you want to play a game, we can say okay, here is the data center that you are going to go to because its the closest one and you have a 30 ping to it. And there’s no empty servers, so lets spin one up for you in 5 seconds and off you go.
We don’t have to provision hardware, we don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of servers and rack them in different places, it’s just there. It’s easy. It gets rid of all that fear of how this is all actually going to work. We have that available to use.
Let’s get crazy here and say it (Titanfall) gets popular in Japan. If we didn’t think it was going to be popular there and we didn’t buy a bunch of servers to put there, we would be screwed. (Cloud) Helps alleviate those types of problems.
– You couldn’t make this game without the dedicated server support
So what do you do on the PC? Do you have to replicate elements of that structure for your version or do they have something you can use?
We won’t get all the niceties on PC that you get on Xbox One. There will have to be some engineering of things
Respawn also just posted up a lengthy article from one of its engineers that explains exactly why Microsoft’s Cloud was chosen.
Here is an excerpt from that article:
But it costs a LOT of money.
This is something I have worked on for years now, since coming to Respawn. A developer like Respawn doesn’t have the kind of weight to get a huge price cut from places like Amazon or Rackspace. And we don’t have the manpower to manage literally hundreds-of-thousands of servers ourselves. We want to focus on making awesome games, not on becoming giant worldwide server hosting providers. The more time I can spend on making our actual game better, the more our players benefit.
I personally talked to both Microsoft and Sony and explained that we need to find a way to have potentially hundreds-of-thousands of dedicated servers at a price point that you can’t get right now. Microsoft realized that player-hosted servers are actually holding back online gaming and that this is something that they could help solve, and ran full-speed with this idea.
The Xbox group came back to us with a way for us to run all of these Titanfall dedicated servers and that lets us push games with more server CPU and higher bandwidth, which lets us have a bigger world, more physics, lots of AI, and potentially a lot more than that!
Read the entire Respawn: Let’s Talk about the Xbox Live Cloud
Read the Next Article: Is Xbox One’s Cloud a PR Gimmick??