Saturday 30 August 2014

Microsoft Research Invented Video Game Time Travel to Repair Cloud Gaming

Cloud Gaming
In spite of huge efforts from companies like OnLive and Nvidia, the cloud based gaming still seems to be difficult dream to be fulfilled. Even though there are latency issues, remote server based games are now making more sense at a time when low power Smartphone’s and tablets are continuing to grow. Microsoft’s research team seems to have got solution in video game time travel. They are calling it DoLorean.

Existing cloud gaming platforms might have to strike a balance between value and latency. Based on the user input and the data transfer over internet before you can get the end result seem to be causing quite a long delay. This is basis for the frame to get rendered. To keep the round trip time (RTT) sensible, Cloud gaming will have to rely on rough compression and low resolutions. DoLorean has been developed keeping all these factors on mind.

How DoLorean works? 

It actually performs four tasks which have been developed to improve response and lower the RTT. The tasks are

1. Future input prediction

2. State space sub sampling

3. Mis-prediction compensation, and

4. Bandwidth compression

These tasks will improve and eliminate the lag upto 250ms and it will be cloud based game accessible even on mobile connections example being Doom 3 and Fable 3. Let’s say if a person is playing a cloud based shooter game, before anything can be done, DoLorean based server will be able to initiate three of the slaves in one instance. These are used for rendering frames as you progress in the game. These are all saved in the main server and it will send the correct frame whenever there is an input sent from the player’s end. Depending on the past behaviors, algorithm method has been used to make this as accurate as possible. The space sub sampling along with GPU computation play a significant part.

What to expect? 

If only few known instances of the cloud game, DoLorean seem to unable to deliver all likely future. Mis-prediction compensation comes into existence if the prediction of the future is no correct but it is close to the correct answer. DoLorean can use the interpolation to match the output with the rendered frame. This is very fast when compared to rendering on frame from initial point. It can also opt to compression of bandwidth to maintain a lower latency. According to Microsoft, video encoding system can get this job done even with fewer artifacts. 

Very high end software was being used by Microsoft to get the DoLorean running. This server comprises of quad-core Intel Core-i7, RAM of 16GB and Nvidia GTX680 along with VRAM of 4GB. In order to get the game running on DoLorean, the server was manually configured to artificially develop delays; a slight change might be required though. But still the future of gaming might be lying on this at the moment.

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