At the 2014 Microsoft Build Conference, Microsoft finally demonstrated the benefits that their cloud computing service can bring to gaming.

Running up to the launch of Xbox One, Microsoft executives were touting the Azure Cloud as a killer feature. We heard about how we would see living persistent worlds, and how performance of the console could be improved. Xbox Corporate Vice President said “It’s also about cloud processing and AI. This is where some of the computational effort of a game can be offloaded to the dedicated CPUs on the cloud, to make your experience even better, better graphics, better lighting, better physics.” All of this was accompanied with little proof, with the exceptions of Forza Motorsport 5 and Titanfall.


Forza uses the cloud for “Drivatar” Technology, where a the cloud is used to program a Drivatar based on how you drive


Titanfall uses the cloud for AI programming and dedicated servers

Titanfall uses the cloud for AI programming and dedicated servers

Five months on from the Xbox One launch, Microsoft have started to prove how their Azure Cloud service truly could be a benefit to games that run on the Xbox One. At Build 2014, Microsoft’s John Shewchuk showed an interesting demo on stage of an exploding building. One window showed the building running fully on a “high end” PC, while the other window showed some of the computations and programming happening in the cloud. You can see the video below:

The video shows the 32,045 particles and chunks of debris as they fall from the building. The first window, of all of the rendering is happening off of the PC hardware showing the frame rate dipping to less than 10 frames per second because it is too much for the hardware to handle. However, when some of the calculations are done in the cloud, the destruction stays at a steady 32FPS. This is exciting because it could lead to be more cinematic, realistic experiences especially in single payer games.. This could add to the already shown multiplayer benefits such as Drivatar AI and dedicated multiplayer servers.

If Microsoft can get developers behind the cloud for programming calculations, Xbox One games could have the potential to be unparalleled in terms of physics and realism. Whether this ever comes to fruition is yet to be seen, but if Microsoft’s Build 2014 demo is to be believed, it could be time to get optimistic.

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1 Comment

  1. This is actually a very framed comparison. Two big things come to mind right away. First, this simulation probably has very little, if any, optimization. Second, they are probably running all the physics through the CPU, and that is simply dumb; physics calculations are more and more being routed through the GPU instead of the CPU, because the GPU has so many cores available at any given time. While it is really cool, especially for XBONE users, that the Azure cloud service can do all the calculations in real-time, I think this demo is very misleading.

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