Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Predictive Modeling To Increase Responsivity of Streamed Games

Unknown Lamer posted about a month ago | from the so-predictable dept.

Networking 120

jones_supa (887896) writes Streaming game services always bump up against a hard latency limit based on the total round-trip time it takes to send user input to a remote server and receive a frame of game data from that server. To alleviate the situation, Microsoft Research has been developing a system called DeLorean (whitepaper) using predictive modeling to improve the experienced responsiveness of a game. By analyzing previous inputs in a Markov chain, DeLorean tries to predict the most likely choices for the user's next input and then generates speculative frames that fit those inputs and sends them back to the user. The caveat is that sending those extra predictive frames and information does add a bandwidth overhead of anywhere from 1.5 to 4 times that of a normal streaming game client. During testing the benefits were apparent, though. Even when the actual round-trip time between input and server response was 256 ms, double-blind testers reported both the gameplay responsiveness and graphical quality of the DeLorean system were comparable to a locally played version of the game.

cancel ×

120 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

There is no way this could work for me when I play (5, Insightful)

He Who Has No Name (768306) | about a month ago | (#47753967)

Nobody can predict when I will suddenly chase a mammoth with a fork while buck naked.

Nobody.

Re:There is no way this could work for me when I p (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47753975)

It can't predict all three at once, I'll grant. But if you've already given the commands to strip naked and wield a pitchfork, then of course it can speculatively run the choice for pushing the joystick toward the mammoth.

Or vice versa.... (1)

schlachter (862210) | about a month ago | (#47756901)

If you've already pushed your joystick towards the mammoth AND are known to frequent slashdot, one could speculate that you will be crazy enough to strip down and wield a pitchfork.

Wait, you said fork. Hmmm..that's a tough one.

Re:There is no way this could work for me when I p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754275)

You'd be amazed how many gamers have that primordial need while playing FarmVille.
Sorry to dissapoint you but you might not be that exceptional as you think...

Re:There is no way this could work for me when I p (1)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | about a month ago | (#47754319)

When did they add pitchforks to Skyrim? Or is this in Elder Scrolls Online?

Re:There is no way this could work for me when I p (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a month ago | (#47758587)

I'm sure there's a pitchfork mod. If not now, within the next ten minutes at least.

Re:There is no way this could work for me when I p (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754461)

I tried, but the giants doesn't take it lightly when you hurt their mammoths :-(

Re:There is no way this could work for me when I p (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a month ago | (#47754477)

they pretty much only need to guess what happens if you pressed lmb.

of course, if they were testing with something with only digital on/off inputs, the whole thing becomes much more easier than sending 100 different frames for 100 different possible mouse moves(and calculating those frames at the server end too! it doesn't only need more bandwidth it needs the game that is being streamed do a lot more.. and have it's engine rewritten too... which makes this a lot less appealing).

it's the analog inputs that make this a fubared concept... of course they can guess that if you're moving the mouse at one frame to one direction you might be doing the same thing the next frame.

Re:There is no way this could work for me when I p (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a month ago | (#47754519)

Of course they can - you do it all the damn time!

Re:There is no way this could work for me when I p (1)

GeekWithAKnife (2717871) | about a month ago | (#47754717)


Assuming you can do just about anything in a game, yeah nobody can predict that.

On the other hand, in a game, with an "open world" design that actually has a corridor structure, yes they can predict a lot of movement, choices etc.

The system may backfire if you intentionally do things unrelated to game advancement but that's a different story.

Re:There is no way this could work for me when I p (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a month ago | (#47756691)

Quakeworld had limited prediction as an "improvement" over original Quake. It had a tough time with rocket jumping. More often than not the screen would freeze and a few seconds later, you'd find yourself running in a corner, the jump never having occurred, or missed badly.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47753969)

Why on earth would you want to do this? Run the damned thing locally and be done with it. If it aint broke...

Re:Why? (5, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47753991)

Why on earth would you want to do this? Run the damned thing locally

Let me count the guesses: A publisher paranoid about prohibited copying may be willing to license its game at a lower price if the game program never leaves the server. Or it might be cheaper and faster to send a video stream than to send sufficiently powerful hardware and 50 GB of game at once. Or sufficiently powerful mobile hardware might not even exist. Or it might want to ensure that all players connected to the same server have comparable lag and the same inability to install cheat mods.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754007)

None of those would be why a player would choose this which was what their question was asking.

Re:Why? (2)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47754073)

The player would choose this because he game he wants to play is otherwise unavailable.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754109)

The customer WILL buy our car because otherwise, he won't be able to drive.

I assume this is where Xbox will head in the future, but that doesn't mean there won't be other "car manufacturers" offering better deals elsewhere.

IMO this tech will go the way of 3D-enabled games - a nice footnote, but not what's going to actually sell games, and to a publisher, what other metric matters?

Substitutability (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47754149)

The customer WILL buy our car because otherwise, he won't be able to drive.

Video games are less substitutable [wikipedia.org] than passenger cars. Someone who wants Super Smash Bros. 4 isn't going to be satisfied with Destiny nor vice versa.

Re:Substitutability (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47754353)

We just had the discussion yesterday how game makers are more and more copycats who latch on whatever area of video gaming seems to promise a sale. It might not work for certain franchises, but do I really care just which zombie shooter I'm playing?

Re:Substitutability (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a month ago | (#47754537)

That's because up until a couple of years ago, game budgets were getting bigger and bigger. They hit the same problem as hollywood: When your next release is going to cost many millions of dollars to make, you can't risk that kind of money on something new and untested. You have to go for something with a history of market success, like a sequel or a franchise installment. That's not so much of a limit in games now because of the rise of mobile games and electronic distribution (Thank you, Steam), both of which provide an area in which lower-budget and independent games can achieve exposure and thus success that were denied to them back when buying a game meant you were limited to what the local shops stocked.

Re:Why? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a month ago | (#47754117)

and they stop playing after they see the bandwidth bill also what about people who's only HSI is satellite?

People with download caps as low as 10GB? even 50GB is low for something light this. The lag on satellite is to high for something like this as well.

Satellite is a rounding error (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47754143)

A video game publisher is likely to view people stuck on satellite as a rounding error. For one thing, satellite players are already locked out of online multiplayer due to latency. For another, a publisher might be under the impression that people who can afford to live in the city are likely to buy more games and/or subscribe to a game longer. It's the same reason that many apps hit iPhone and iPad before Android: studies show that iOS users tend to spend far more online per capita than Android users.

Australia is a rounding error (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a month ago | (#47755191)

Publishers treat the entire continent of Australia as a rounding error!

250ms ping to a US/EU server is about average since very few of the major titles have servers in Oz, SE Asia or Hawaii is normally is good as it gets from the arse end of the Earth. You know you have a really clean connection if it's under 200ms.

The lag from Oz to anywhere else on the planet is largely a true physical limit imposed by the speed of light, no amount of bandwidth will fix it. Anything that "tricks the users brain" into not perceiving that lag would be welcome, 4X the data for a game won't be noticed with the average data cap we have here these days. OTOH since the birth of online gaming I've been trained by experience to lead my shots, so it does mean I would have to significantly adjust my playing style to take advantage of a lower ping.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754667)

And what about people without computers or electricity? How does this take them into account?

Or maybe the intended audience are the folks with electricity, computers and appropriate Internet connectivity?

Car analogy: I don't own a car, so nobody should build highways.

Limiting the market (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47756785)

I think the point was that additionally requiring "appropriate Internet connectivity" limits the market for the product too much compared to requiring only electricity and a computer. The same is true of requiring a bleeding edge computer instead of the computer one is more likely to already own.

Re: Why? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a month ago | (#47754677)

There are still people with bandwidth limits?
Are you sure you don't live in the past?

Re: Why? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a month ago | (#47754681)

Download limit rather.

Download limits are very much still a thing here (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47756751)

There are still people with [download] limits?

Yes. Comcast still has the 300 GB per month limit in many markets, and cellular has a cap two orders of magnitude smaller than even that.

Are you sure you don't live in the past?

For someone born in a country whose home Internet pricing expectation is stuck in the past, such as the United States, Canada, or especially Australia or New Zealand, it can be expensive and a pile of red tape to relocate to a country in the present.

Re:Why? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47754341)

Then I guess I'll have to deal with it the way I deal with "always online" DRM:

I'll have to abstain.

Re:Why? (1)

BoberFett (127537) | about a month ago | (#47754103)

A publisher paranoid about prohibited copying may be willing to license its game at a lower price if the game program never leaves the server.

*stifles laughter*

Re:Why? (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47754183)

Let me clarify: It's the difference between a game being available to players for rental over this sort of streaming service and a game not being able for rental at all.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754495)

"A publisher paranoid about prohibited copying may be willing to license its game at a lower price if the game program never leaves the server."

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

That's a good one.

Re:Why? (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about a month ago | (#47756183)

I think your very last point is one of the biggest ones - the inability to cheat is a big reason why lots of games are pushing parts online. It has the downside of requiring a more powerful server (and puts full trust in the server), but it can prevent many cheats right off the bat and makes it easier to block others. Players like this because cheating sucks.

Re:Why? (1)

Kunedog (1033226) | about a month ago | (#47757353)

This is how I always explain streaming games to people who can't immediately see the horrible problems with it:

Imagine if the Ubisoft always-on DRM were an inherent, unremoveable aspect of the game system rather than just something tacked on to a few individual games after the fact, such that Ubisoft couldn't even begrudgingly neuter it in a patch. Well, a streamed game is even worse than that would be.

All you get is streaming video/audio and all the lag you'd expect (including controller lag), which is a recipe for disaster in North America. And any interruption in the connection that lasts more than a few tenths of a second is going to be behave like the equivalent of a "freeze" or "hang" that you'd NEVER tolerate in a properly local-hosted game. Not even the most twitchy DRM existing today has that problem.

Some people consider IPS monitors unsuitable for games requiring fast reflexes (i.e. FPSes) due to their double-digit response times. Internet latency is often worse and certainly more unpredictable than LCD monitor response time, and with Onlive, etc. it applies to audio and keyboard/controller/etc input too.

Then there are the bandwidth requirements.

Let's say you're lucky enough to have a 30mb/s connection. Why would you want to use it to transfer your game's video instead of, uh, a DVI cable, which is capable of 4 Gb/s? The people who developed DVI apparently understood that that 1920 x 1200 pixels w/ 24 bits/pixels @ 60Hz results in bandwidth well over 3 Gb/s. The people who developed streamed games seem very, very confused (at best).

Those of us who know anything about bandwidth and compression and (especially) latency can see the enormous technical obstacles facing a service like this, and Onlive never did anything to explain how they intended to solve them. Instead, they ded everything they could to lock out independent reviewers with NDAs and closed demonstrations. A friend of mine described it as the gaming equivalent of the perpetual motion scam, and IMO that's spot on (except that Onlive would still have the draconian DRM issues even if it worked perfectly).

Streamed games appear designed from the ground up to benefit the game publishers and fuck the customers, exactly what you'd expect from any DRM system.

Re:Why? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a month ago | (#47758635)

Publishers want to rent you a game, not sell you one. Renting is lower up-front cost so it gets more people looking at the game (no one makes demos anymore), and those that get hooked on the game spend much more than the normal $50 price.

I think these are all single player games, so lag vs fairness wouldn't matter so much.

Re:Why? (1)

beelsebob (529313) | about a month ago | (#47753997)

Because it's easier to extract money from people continuously if you can deny them their crack^Wgame at will.

Re:Why? (1)

MildlyTangy (3408549) | about a month ago | (#47754417)

Why on earth would you want to do this? Run the damned thing locally and be done with it. If it aint broke...

Ummm......online gaming?

Or do you honestly expect Microsoft, Sony et al to put their servers in your livingroom?

Please RTFA or at least RTFS before you hit the Post button....

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754595)

You're talking about where the servers are.
Everyone else is talking about where the client is.

Re:Why? (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | about a month ago | (#47755105)

Regular online games don't have this problem as frames are rendered locally. Only streamed games will benefit benefit, and that's what the question was referring to. His question isn't addressed in the article, so your call to read it is completely irrelevant.

Re:Why? (1)

Nemesisghost (1720424) | about a month ago | (#47755949)

Where I see this as highly beneficial is WebGL based games. You can construct most of each scene on the server, ship it to the browser & have the browser do the final rendering. But to do the scene construction, you'll need to know each player's actions. If you can predict this, then you can ship several different based on your predictive algorithms, then have the browser render the one that closest matches what was actually done. Since DeLorean includes a corrective depth & rotation matrix, you can avoid some of issues with mis-predictions.
I kinda want to see how they implement it so that I could play with it. Plus, I wonder if it could be applied to other branching activities.

Re:Why? (1)

pantaril (1624521) | about a month ago | (#47755027)

Why on earth would you want to do this?

For example to stream windows only games from my basement server to lightweight linux-based HTPC in my living room.

Re:Why? (1)

bondsbw (888959) | about a month ago | (#47757059)

Selling a million game consoles will produce less benefit to fewer users than taking the equivalent hardware and putting it into a server farm.

A console in the average game console owner's home sits unpowered for the vast majority of the day. That hardware in a server farm will be used 100% of the day, meaning more hardware will be available for more people.

A server farm can be far more energy efficient than a million consoles.

Obviously there are tradeoffs, but to dismiss the concept outright is not helpful.

use an DeLorean to go back to stop window 8 from (-1, Flamebait)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a month ago | (#47754005)

use an DeLorean to go back to stop window 8 from being made.

We due not need you to mess up gameing and then try to make it go on line only.

Re:use an DeLorean to go back to stop window 8 fro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754023)

Yes Wii do.

Re:use an DeLorean to go back to stop window 8 fro (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754435)

Fuck you. I like Windows 8. I had no problem adapting to the new Start Screen and now prefer it over the tired old Start Menu that people like you never even bothered to customize. The problem is you.

Re:use an DeLorean to go back to stop window 8 fro (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a month ago | (#47754621)

Girls, girls. You're both idiots.

Branch Prediction (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754025)

So...branch prediction. Yea, that does seem like an interesting idea. Take it to the next step and you can render n-frames ahead based on all probable inputs and try your best to continuously pair down future paths as you get actual user input. But realistically that'd increase the bandwidth requirements 1000% or more which in most circumstances will make the situation worse. Not to mention the difficulty of actually writing games/environments to deal with these speculative paths or the generally choppiness whenever you diverge away from expectations--something which I've seen happen even on local games which were apparently profiled on set paths.

So, again, interesting. Now, if latency were closer to the 33ms range, bandwidth was plentiful, and this was trying to edge towards smooth 60fps playback...

Re:Branch Prediction (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a month ago | (#47754255)

Precisely. It's branch prediction, and they've effectively already taken it to the "next step" you outlined, since that's precisely what they're doing, with the frames from the predicted paths being sent to you ahead of schedule so that the moment you provide input they can display the frames that correspond to that input, rather than having to wait for the round trip to the server. One interesting technique they noted is that they can send some additional data along with the frames, allowing your local PC to make tweaks to the frame to account for slight differences in inputs (e.g. a minor change in camera angle). This seems to suggest that the frames may not be getting sent back as purely still images, but rather in some other format.

Regarding bandwidth, the reason it's not 1000% is because of one simple fact: most of the predictive frames are very similar to one another (as we'd expect), allowing for some rather significant compression to occur, which is why the bandwidth ends up being more around 150%.

As for the difficulty in programming it, in that regard, you are quite right. They were apparently using custom builds of Doom 3 and Fable 3 in their tests. But what you're essentially doing is forcing the server to process the same scene for the most likely sets of inputs that will occur up to the RTT into the future. Doubtless, most of the resources and computations could be shared between those paths, but even if it's just having to process four possible paths, things can diverge quite substantially during a typical RTT.

As for choppiness, at worst, it would be as bad as current game streaming services are (which is quite bad, in my opinion, but isn't the end of the world), and that would only last until it could reestablish the predictive paths.

For me, this is exactly the sort of thing that game streaming needs before it becomes interesting. I don't consider the current iterations to be in any way viable, simply because I have a basic understanding of physics and how the RTT impacts input latency. If they can do an end-run around the round-trip via a method like this while also making it simpler for developers to implement (e.g. some APIs to weight the predictive models and some ways to block out sections of code to run in parallel in multiple instances (I seem to recall hearing of Obj-C having a feature like this beyond your everyday multithreading, though I've never used Obj-C, so I couldn't say for sure)), I'll definitely be sitting up and taking note.

Re:Branch Prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754475)

If they can do an end-run around the round-trip via a method like this while also making it simpler for developers to implement (e.g. some APIs to weight the predictive models and some ways to block out sections of code to run in parallel in multiple instances (I seem to recall hearing of Obj-C having a feature like this beyond your everyday multithreading, though I've never used Obj-C, so I couldn't say for sure)), I'll definitely be sitting up and taking note.

Except you really can't do an end-run around it. Realistically, this is all a very obtuse way of turning a game that uses 2GHz locally on one CPU and making it something that non-locally requires 4 or 8 2GHz CPUs and it *still* has choppiness issues. That's why I mentioned the point about the having 33ms latency and sufficient bandwidth. This technique would help deal with the patchiness of internet traffic and provide another form of predictive movement to reduce or remove jitter on borderline cases (or to figuratively prevent video tearing). At the 256ms mark, this at best makes something that looks like crap look less like crap. And it uses a ton of CPU power to do it.

But then I imagine their example was chosen because (1) 33ms latency is unlikely to be a common reality, (2) at 33ms latency their technique would be much harder to notice for most people in a double blind test, and (3) it doesn't sound nearly as impressive to smooth out rough edges than to make great leaps that make it sound like the latency issue has been solved or is solvable. In the end, the physics of it still persist. If you have 9 bits of input and 256ms between round trips, then you're going to have upwards of 15 predicted frames being pushed on ahead with obviously rather horrible results* if you're way off on the ~15 key presses that occur.

*If you've ever played on a real high latency link on a Q3 engine game, you'll get ridiculous behavior like your character being pulled backwards, actions being echoed repeatedly, etc. In the scope of only showing possible future moves, if the server is way off you're looking at 1/4th second of stutter/freeze-frame followed by a few seconds of semi-stutter as the game engine has to dump all the predictions it had made and then play back your actual moves and then further try to catch up with more predictions (which may again be way off). At that point, you're almost better off with the horrible direct latency because then you'll know ahead of time how bad it is (ie, it won't be hidden from you during the good prediction phases) and probably choose to avoid it instead of becoming increasingly frustrated. Although, I'd find it rather amusing if you combined this technology with "ghost play" on something like Candy Crush Saga to show you that the prediction engine plays better than you do. :)

Re:Branch Prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754591)

*If you've ever played on a real high latency link on a Q3 engine game, you'll get ridiculous behavior like your character being pulled backwards, actions being echoed repeatedly, etc.

Interestingly enough some of those problems can be removed by streamed games.
This removes the problems with synchronizing 32 players on different connections with each other. All movements and all physics are calculated locally on the server. Rendering is distributed and that dude on a 56k modem wont appear to teleport around anymore, he won't be able to respond very well to what happen but that will be his problem rather than a nuisance for everyone else.

I can see streamed games enabling multiplayer games with really insane number of players.

Re:Branch Prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47755827)

Except you really can't do an end-run around it. Realistically, this is all a very obtuse way of turning a game that uses 2GHz locally on one CPU and making it something that non-locally requires 4 or 8 2GHz CPUs and it *still* has choppiness issues.

This is a great point, this is the biggest problem: if it's a multiplication of the resources to run the game, render the game and encode the video. A multiplicative increase in hardware costs is not happy news for streamers. At some point (number of future predictions), it will cancel out the advantage streamers have due to being able use their hardware 24/7

Re:Branch Prediction (0)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a month ago | (#47758717)

I suspect from the description that these are not your normal open 3D games, but perhaps games with the dreaded evil quick time events (QTE). Otherwise there are just to many variables to base a prediction on. 3 axes of freedom, an inventory full of weapons and tools, 10 dialogue choices... You could have thousands of branches to choose from.

My guess is that the game predicts you'll buy the DLC to enable the quest that the NPC is offering you, and so is predictively entering in your credit card number (curse you dragonage!).

60fps is much higher than most games need. I do quite well with 30 most of the time, and you don't notice anything unless you're rapidly moving your view left to right. People do just fine in many MMOs with only 20fps with 30ms latency, even in pvp.

EA better not make games streaming only as there (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a month ago | (#47754027)

EA better not make games streaming only as there simcity must be on line only not only was a lie the game also sucked big time.

Problems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754039)

1) How much more will this add to the servers processor overhead trying to predict that much for some many people?

2) How badly does it show when it predicts the wrong actions and notices after it all catches up? How will the game react? How well do you think they players will take it when they lose or win a game due to a miss-predict based on this?

3) If it bases its predictions on the players past actions (Haven't RTFA) wouldn't that fall apart for the times where you have 2 or 3 players who switch mid-game? I know me and a friend did that on the old Fight Night when playing on line as I was the one who was strategic and would sit on the outside and wear them out and frustrate them while my friend was the bulldog who just plowed in and we actually would trade off at times. Really throws the other guys expectations off and would do so for this as well.

Re: Problems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754453)

How much of this will explode when the servers and are DDoS-ed... (because from what I've seen recently this trend is only going to continue)

Sounds to me like this would go from; gee, I can't play this game online right now... to a complete non-starter. Complete with reimbursement to those customers unable to reach the service they've paid for...

On second though... I hope this becomes the latest thing and the above happens on a regular basis. Couldn't happen to a more deserving industry.

I thought it was bad (-1, Troll)

mjwx (966435) | about a month ago | (#47754041)

I thought Bioshock was bad when they made a game that you literally could not lose at. It was impossible to die or fail.

Now they want to make games essentially play themselves. What happens when the player produces input the software does not expect? can it backtrack, will it backtrack or just keep going with what it thinks the player should be doing.

The really sad part is I can see this succeeding. Few gamers want to play games any more, they just want instant gratification trophies. There's more focus in achievement trophies in modern games (especially AAA games) than there is on actual gameplay.

Re:I thought it was bad (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754079)

"I have no clue what I'm reading about but am angry about it none the less!"

- Random internet commenter

Re:I thought it was bad (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about a month ago | (#47754127)

Now they want to make games essentially play themselves.

No, they don't. Read what this is about.

What happens when the player produces input the software does not expect?

If it matches none of the speculated actions then the speculative frames are discarded or it can use what they call a "misprediction compensation technique" to build the correct frame from the speculated frames. How about reading what this is about and then asking specific questions about it?

Few gamers want to play games any more, they just want instant gratification trophies. There's more focus in achievement trophies in modern games (especially AAA games) than there is on actual gameplay.

What is that based on? For years we had the promise that one day the level of immersion and the quality of the output would be such that it would be able to produce a sort of "interactive movie" experience, that is what you get from games like Call of Duty and while they are wildly popular they don't supplant more traditional games and those who enjoy one aren't excluded from enjoying the other.

Re:I thought it was bad (1)

westlake (615356) | about a month ago | (#47754375)

I thought Bioshock was bad when they made a game that you literally could not lose at. It was impossible to die or fail.

It worked out quite well for Ron Gilbert and Monkey Island in 1990.

The pleasures to be found in playing a game like The Dig or Grim Fandango lie in exploring the worlds their authors create.

If you begin with something as richly imagined as Rapture or the airship city Columbia the mistake is trying to shoehorn the game into the narrow confines of a first person shooter,

Re:I thought it was bad (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a month ago | (#47754543)

Bioshock games are story-driven. You fight to bring a sense of immersion and interaction, but a fight on which the player can be stuck for hours would become a barrier to the story rather than a way to draw them in.

Re:I thought it was bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47755041)

Additionally, all the features that make the game "impossible to lose" can be disabled in the settings and by playing at the hardest difficulty.

Microsoft's responsibility (1)

EzInKy (115248) | about a month ago | (#47754095)

Does this mean that Microsoft will assume responsibility for creating unresponsible persons?

Just like QuakeWorld in 1996? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754121)

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quakeworld :

"Player prediction allowed QuakeWorld clients to compensate for high latency, thus allowing dialup users to move around in the virtual world without being affected by the disorienting effects of latency."

Living in Seattle and being stuck on dial-up means I still play QuakeWorld every so often. It's the only multiplayer game I have that works well with the typical slow connections around here.

Re:Just like QuakeWorld in 1996? (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about a month ago | (#47754315)

Similar in many regards, yes. Quakeworld, from what I understand and recall, focused on two things: predicting where you were going so that it could prepare those parts of the world in advance, and predicting where others were going so that it could draw them as accurately as possible on your screen even if the connection was slow (I may be incorrect about Quakeworld having this feature, where a predictive bot run locally on your machine effectively replaces the other players for a few ms at a time, but I know it's been in a number of other games as a feature to help smooth out visible lag). The difference, however, is that Quakeworld made a single guess, and wouldn't know if it guessed correctly until it heard from the input source again, so there could be some significant discrepancies between what was displayed as a result of a prediction and what the reality of the situation actually was.

In contrast, what Microsoft is doing here is making numerous guesses regarding which choice you'll make, generating the frames for each of those choices in advance, sending them all to you in advance so that they can be buffered, and then instantly displaying the correct one as soon as it gets your input to know which one it is. It's like loading frames for the next 200ms from a handful of alternate futures, and then selecting the correct 200ms once we know which potential future ended up being the actual one. Which is to say, the one it's displaying is always exactly correct, whereas in games that implement the predictive bot I mentioned above, people have been able to take advantage of the high latency and predictive modeling to invent new strategies, such as changing one's direction frequently so that the character model showing up on other's screens is rarely in the correct spot where the player is actually located.

Re:Just like QuakeWorld in 1996? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754645)

Stop posting greenwow. We know your kind hates games and wants to see people that play them put to death. As you always say, "it's the way of their kind."

Seriously, go kill yourself.

Re:Just like QuakeWorld in 1996? (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | about a month ago | (#47756631)

You have problems with consistent client behavior over 140 ping. This research document supposedly went up to either 200 or 400, depending on what RTT means.
Here is the real problem: What happens if you introduce random packet drop to the system? Over mobile broadband, shitty long line connections, Australias landline, and more, you get packet loss. A small amount with a random amount added.
Does this research paper even touch on the subject?

Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754131)

Does this mean I can expect 88ms?

Re: Awesome! (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a month ago | (#47755083)

Pff you dont get it.

Microsoft will be going all the way to 200 MS with this amazing new technology!

Your move Apple and Google.

ISP don't like the streaming (2)

Nyder (754090) | about a month ago | (#47754159)

The biggest problem for streaming games is going to be the ISP.

They don't like it when people use netflix, think about something like a game, where you are sending more stuff, not to mention upstream is being used more on these.

Streaming games would kill any download limits you have on your ISP and pretty much all of them have some sort of limit in place.

But what is the good of this if your ISP cuts your account, or nutters the connection so you can't play because you went over the 200-400gb limit for the month?

Re:ISP don't like the streaming (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47754191)

I guess you'd stream a game for about three days to see if you like it, after which you'd buy your own copy. But wouldn't buying your own copy run up a 30 GB bandwidth bill by itself, now that console games ship on BD-ROM and PC games are BD-ROM-sized downloads?

Re:ISP don't like the streaming (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a month ago | (#47756815)

even so you can download an game off peak when some ISP are cap free and you can say download an game / parts of it at places with free WiFi.

Shame in free Wi-Fi for a desktop? (1)

tepples (727027) | about a month ago | (#47757845)

even so you can download an game off peak when some ISP are cap free

If you plan to go this route, satellite is in my experience far more likely to include unmetered off-peak use than cellular.

and you can say download an game / parts of it at places with free WiFi.

If your computer happens not to be a laptop, which is likely for a gamer because laptop GPUs tend to be underpowered in both senses, watch people point and laugh at someone bringing in a desktop computer to download a game. That's the vibe I get from Not Always Right [notalwaysright.com] , Geekologie [geekologie.com] , and Paradoxoff [paradoxoff.com] .

Re:ISP don't like the streaming (2)

Dan Askme (2895283) | about a month ago | (#47755047)

think about something like a game, where you are sending more stuff, not to mention upstream is being used more on these.

Its not "that much", let me explain:
- 4x keyboard inputs = 4x char (4 bytes)
- 2x mouse inputs X/Y = 2x float (8 bytes)
- Thats only a total of 12 bytes for client inputs that needs to be sent.

The issue is the update rate or "tick rate".
Ideally you need to match the update rate to the framerate being received for smooth input response. In standard practice, its wise to update the input loop outside of the code loop. On standard games installed on a system, this can actually provide more input updates than actual "game" updates.

No doubt 30 updates will be standard on streaming games. So essentially 360bytes a second of upload data for 30 client input updates a second.

The packet size can be further reduced by using compression on the packet before its sent. Eg: 50% = 180bytes/second

So overall, the upload of client data is not really that much, if streaming games is done the way it should be.

Re:ISP don't like the streaming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47755653)

Using the word "you" was a lazy use of language, but, given the context, the GP obviously meant that the company providing the service (Netflix, Gaming Company) is sending more data to the user.

Care to redo your calculations with 90-240 (60 fps * [1.5 to 4]) frames of 1080p video/second?

Re:ISP don't like the streaming (1)

Dan Askme (2895283) | about a month ago | (#47757301)

Care to redo your calculations with 90-240 (60 fps * [1.5 to 4]) frames of 1080p video/second?

I'am assuming you want the calculations for the video bandwidth at 60fps for 1080p?:
1920x1080 = 2,073,600 pixels
3x 4byte float for RGB channels per pixel = 24,883,200 bytes, per frame
60 frames a second = 1,492,992,000 bytes/ second
With prediction (*4 maxium value), upto = 5,971,968,000 bytes/second

No doubt they will be compressing that data. Probably adding extra latency to group frames into the compression ;)

"Responsivity?" Really? (1)

tyme (6621) | about a month ago | (#47754189)

Such creativeness with the language.

Re:"Responsivity?" Really? (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | about a month ago | (#47755145)

Yeah [merriam-webster.com] . And yes, language is meant to be used creatively.

Streaming is the ultimate DRM... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754199)

... this is just DRM bullshit, lets just call it what it is already. Even worse then always online where a small part of the game code is taken hostage like in diablo 3.

Additional "benefit" (3, Insightful)

Loki_666 (824073) | about a month ago | (#47754253)

Its even easier to pull complete support for the game when it depends on their servers!!! This way they can sell Super Mega Game X+1 to those who used to play Super Mega Game X, forcing them to pay for the new shiny versions, which is really almost identical, with no compelling new features, except maybe slightly better graphics and a +1 to the title.

I now stay 100% away from any games which demand an internet connection to play. If a game is online only, but supports local server or can be emulated via Hamachi or something, then i'm cool with it. Otherwise no.

If this means i can't play game X, then i won't die from the lack of it. Plenty of other games out there which I can play, and play how i want.

Re:Additional "benefit" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754573)

I now stay 100% away from any games which demand an internet connection to play. If a game is online only, but supports local server or can be emulated via Hamachi or something, then i'm cool with it. Otherwise no.

We're already screwed. Any game with DLC (i.e. pretty much all of them) depends on the console manufacturer to keep up their service for a particular console model. Guess what happens when the manufacturer eventually takes down service for a obsolete console?

Re:Additional "benefit" (1)

sound+vision (884283) | about a month ago | (#47754733)

I dunno how DLC works on consoles, but in the PC world, DLC is actually installed to your computer and is generally playable whether or not the developers are continuing to run some kind of server for the game. Even in those devilish games that do use "phone home" DRM dependent on an external server, there's always a crack available to remove that DRM. Even supposedly "unbreakable" DRM like Assassin's Creed 2, which stored your save games on Ubisoft's servers. IIRC it took about 1 week for a crack to be developed for that. In fact, I've never played it without a crack.

Re:Additional "benefit" (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about a month ago | (#47755317)

I dunno how DLC works on consoles, but in the PC world, DLC is actually installed to your computer and is generally playable whether or not the developers are continuing to run some kind of server for the game.

That's how it works on consoles too. The guy you're replying to is ill-informed.

allows for on demand gaming (1)

schlachter (862210) | about a month ago | (#47757379)

I would think one benefit would be that you can allow for a subscription service where people could try lots of different games or play portions of games without having to download hundreds of gigs of data for games they only play a few times or when they are only playing a specific mission and don't need all the maps or game modes available.

I'm not saying this is what everyone wants or that it works for all use cases, but I imagine this is one scenario.

Improved graphical quality? (0)

AAWood (918613) | about a month ago | (#47754407)

Hang on a minute:

"During testing the benefits were apparent, though. Even when the actual round-trip time between input and server response was 256 ms, double-blind testers reported both the gameplay responsiveness and graphical quality of the DeLorean system were comparable to a locally played version of the game."

Gameplay responsiveness, sure, but... graphical quality? If I was testing a system like this, I'd be asking about that as a way to identify people who were just agreeing it was better because they thought it was what I wanted to hear. Graphical quality should not be affected by how quickly the streamed game can respond. There's something fishy about this.

Re:Improved graphical quality? (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about a month ago | (#47754547)

Compression quality can increase with longer processing time. If they are pre-processing frames then they can spend a few extra milliseconds on compression encoding and decoding quality.

Re:Improved graphical quality? (1)

91degrees (207121) | about a month ago | (#47754551)

It is double blind so we can control for people being nice.

Graphical quality is subjective, so people are going to be influenced by whether they enjoyed it more. Chances are they'd also report better sound effects, and even a more enjoyable journey home.

Microsoft did something like this once before (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a month ago | (#47754445)

Back in the 1990s, Microsoft developed something similar. Their idea was to render frames in layers, with the more distant or less active layers rendered less often. if the viewpoint changed, the background layers were scrolled, rotated, or transformed to match, rather than being re-rendered immediately. It never caught on, because graphics hardware became fast enough to re-render everything on for each frame.

This new thing is similar. Mispredicted frames are viewpoint-warped as a temporary measure so the user sees something. The image is wrong, but close enough to look OK until a new rendered frame is sent. It looks OK for Doom, on which it was tested, because Doom is mostly about the shooter and the opponents moving; there's not much general activity in the background. GTA IV/V would probably look much worse than normal.

The whole concept represents a desperate attempt to make something "cloud-based" that shouldn't be.

Re:Microsoft did something like this once before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47755037)

Why shouldn't it be?

TV is. Music generally is.
Why are games so special?

It's not like it is a physics issue, just cheap-ass network operators not laying lines from this CENTURY, hell, technically even last, some seriously still use aluminium.

Would you play a game for free, or small payment (cable), if there was a small banner ad at some corner of the screen, as long as it wasn't some attention stealing seizure inducing thing?
Or just ads at loading screens, again, as long as it was instant (which it would be since it is based their servers)?
What about in-game advertising. Vending machines can work in lots of games. Music, TV, how about watching TV inside a game because screw you person that thought Inception. Obviously won't work well in some games. Hardly going to see Pepsi in the stupid ages.

Likewise, modding and community won't be an issue.
I'm sure a lot of devs would love their games to be moddable. Only a few devs are scrubby scummy pricks that want to sell you all these DLC or watered down expansions that cost you a major unit of currency.
In fact, like what Everquest Next are attempting to do, the system could generate a financially stable modding community. Bad, rip-off mods would obviously fall to the bottom with voting systems in place. (official expansion packs or not)

It's not like it will cause the entire dev world to suddenly tell offline people to get fucked. They'll most likely still offer a way to get to the game.
People go on about DRM all the time, yet happily run things like Steam, WHICH IS DRM. It is a Good Version of DRM. Fair.
Even some indie devs will send you a physical copy out, usually on memory card these days.

Re:Microsoft did something like this once before (1)

LordVader717 (888547) | about a month ago | (#47755211)

TV is. Music generally is. Why are games so special?

TV and Music is a non-responsive, non-interactive recording.

It's not like it is a physics issue, just cheap-ass network operators not laying lines from this CENTURY, hell, technically even last, some seriously still use aluminium.

From a physics perspective the age and material of the lines are irrelevant. Signals travel at nearly the same speed. The latency is due to the physical limitations of the hardware and routing infrastructure. This is mitigated by placing the server closer to the client, which obviously costs the game provider much more.

Or just ads at loading screens, again, as long as it was instant (which it would be since it is based their servers)?

Actually, loading screens would be one thing that cloud computing might make economical to seriously reduce.

Re:Microsoft did something like this once before (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47757319)

It's not a bad idea in concept. It seems impractical now to have low latency gigabit links to every home but if we ever get there, rendering games on a server one state over and playing them on my tablet (With, say, a bluetooth controller) might be attractive.

If you asked me in the late 90s about streaming video I'd have told it you it would only every be a novelty and to buy stock in blockbuster.

Now you can get 4K HD video off of youtube for free..

cheap graphics hardware (1)

schlachter (862210) | about a month ago | (#47757399)

graphics hardware is so cheap these days. Even your $85 Amazon Fire TV can render some pretty awesome games...and it just keeps improving...so it seems like the real benefit isn't graphics per se but in AI and CPU processing, in maintaining massive worlds, and in enabling a uniform gaming experience across platforms/clients.

Re:Microsoft did something like this once before (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a month ago | (#47757917)

It never caught on, because

...they were trusting Cirrus Logics to put together two out of four chips, and they failed to execute in a timely fashion. By the time they had a prototype, the hardware was outdated.

a bit of lag.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754463)

Lag never hurt anyone and 0,5fps should be enough for anyone!

Interactive let's play (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754673)

So this is a Let's Play where you do the grunting noises yourself.

Amazon does something similar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754855)

its like Amazon's predictive modelling, where based on your past purchasing behaviour and current page visits, a prediction is made on what item you are likely to purchase next. this item is then pre-shipped to a delivery centre near your location so that the delivery time to you is reduced. What's coming next? Restaurants predicting if you are going to visit them today and if yes what you might order?

Games have had such features for a long time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47754921)

Works fine when your going straight and likely to keep going straight or turning and you likely will keep turning like you are (and there is little difference/consequences gamewise to correct the game if the prediction proves wrong).. Its when you suddenly do something significant to the situation outcome that has results and major effects on other objects where it will ALWAYS fall down. Suddenly adding back the split second effects that are supposed to make it all more realistic just ARENT split second and it will be as it already is now -- very visible delays and unrealistic events.

Unless the game is some really dim simplistic mechanism with very few options given to the players, NO prediction will work sufficiently for what the hype in the article is implying. As games get more complicated/more varying interactions and effects it just gets that much harder.

bad name (2, Funny)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a month ago | (#47755789)

Apparently the authors of this research have never actually driven a DeLorean. It was stainless steel, weight 3000lbs, and only has 130hp.

So basically it's a car the weight of a Buick with the engine of a Geo Metro.

Re:bad name (2)

neminem (561346) | about a month ago | (#47757121)

And apparently you don't know anything about pop culture, or else are being willfully obtuse? It's pretty clear they didn't name it after the car, but after a particular famous *use* of the car to travel through time. Doesn't matter how crappy your car is, if it's also a time machine.

Re:bad name (1)

mcrbids (148650) | about a month ago | (#47757603)

FYI: The larger Geo Metro 1.3 liter engine produced 70 HP. Cars in the 3,000 lb range fit in the "mid sized sedan" range which typically have 150-225 horsepower.

Yes, it was under powered, but it was not a "Geo Metro".

Quake 3 & Duke Nukem 3D (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about a month ago | (#47755883)

This has been around for a while now [wikipedia.org] , the only difference here seems that is it's being applied to streaming games and done on the server side for the player, instead of the player side.

Re:Quake 3 & Duke Nukem 3D (1)

Hsien-Ko (1090623) | about a month ago | (#47758493)

Duke Nukem 3D..... client-side prediction [wikipedia.org] .

[citation needed]

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>