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New Project xCloud Details Revealed by Microsoft at GDC 2019: Controls, Servers, and More

Project xCloud
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New Project xCloud Details Revealed by Microsoft at GDC 2019: Controls, Servers, and More

Microsoft hosted a panel at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco showcasing some interesting new details about the service.

Those details were shared on Twitter by Easy Allies’ Daniel Bloodworth and Windows Central’s Russell Holly. The panel was an interesting dive into how developers will be able to implement xCloud into their games with minimal or no effort at all. Yet, they will also be given the tools to create bespoke controls and features in order to make their games more cloud-friendly if they so choose.

The mission and strategy of the service are to allow players to play the games they want, with the people they want, on the devices they want.

Below you can see a map of the datacenters, which include 54 Azure regions, over 161 km of fiber, and 135 over Edge sites.

The project aims to be seamless in the way that it doesn’t require developers to modify their code to support it. Touch controls and overlays will be implemented with the Touch Adaptation Kit, and those who do want to make dedicated implementations to support the cloud will have the tools to do so, instead of using the generic ones.

Below you can see the default touch setup, but this may not work for every game, so developers can create their own schemes.

Here is a look at customized control layouts created for Dead Cells, Cuphead, and Forza Horizon 4.

The system can also detect when the game is played in the cloud, and enable custom elements set by the developers to make it more friendly to that environment. For instance, temporary save games can be implemented to counter possible disconnections, but they would be automatically deleted when the user reconnects in order not to influence difficulty.

Menus can also be adapted to touch controls that are easier to use on mobile platforms.

Developers can set up multiple layouts. For example a Halo game can have a setup for FPS gameplay, one for mobile, one for the back for the Warthog, and more. Every layout can be activated when developers want players to be able to use it.

Azure can also help with matchmaking. Users on the same server can be matched with each other. If that isn’t available, users closer in location will play together.

Developers will also be provided latency-measuring tools to fine-tune the experience and test their games in extreme situations.

Interestingly, while Xbox One games are the initial focus, the server can also be used to play high-end PC games on low-performance devices.

Last, but not least, we learn that xCloud hardware is currently being shipped to the datacenters.

If you’re not familiar with Project xCloud, it’s a service in development at Microsoft and based on its Azure infrastructure to provide Xbox games on additional platforms, including PC, mobile, and possibly more. It will enter public trials later this year.

If you want to see it in action, you can take a look at a demo showcased during the latest episode of Inside Xbox.

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