Electronic Arts revealed the name of its in-progress cloud gaming platform, Project Atlas, and discussed more details about the service and those working on it via a Medium post from Ken Moss, EA’s chief technology officer.
EA revealed it was working on its own cloud gaming service back in June.
Moss also revealed that EA currently has more than 1,000 employees working on the project daily, as well as “dozens of studios around the world contributing their innovations, driving priorities, and already using many of the components.”
Basically, a cloud gaming service allows players to access games via a “connected, distributed system,” the game exists on EA’s server rather than on a player’s own device.
Players will access the games by installing a “thin client” that EA is developing that aims to allow users to “remotely process and stream blockbuster, multiplayer HD games with the lowest possible latency, and also to unlock even more possibilities for dynamic social and cross-platform play,” according to Moss.
Moss explained the breakdown of game development into two key priorities: the game engine and the game services.
A more recent consideration for the games industry is online game services, connecting players closely with the content and, ideally, with each other.
Moss describes a future in which gaming is the “most compelling form of entertainment.”
“You will be able to play games with your friends anytime, anywhere, and on any device,” Moss wrote. “Up until now, what I’m describing has been possible in nascent, fragmented ways. But we’re at an inflection point where major, complementary tech disruptors are falling into place.”
Some of the capabilities Moss acknowledges are necessary in regard to providing game services include:
- Socialization capabilities, including being able to form friendships and friend groups
- The capability to “capture, create, share, rate, and discover” moments and user content
- Matchmaking for multiplayer games that is both personalized and secure
- The ability to make an identity and form groups, to allow opportunities for players to connect with each other
- Personalized experiences made possible for all of the above, formed through “experimentation” and “machine-learning powered scenarios”
While some of these capabilities are already offered by EA or otherwise, Moss is describing a bold vision EA has for Project Atlas in which the games services and its Frostbite Engine will “seamlessly converge.” In the past, Moss notes that “features like cloud hosting, matchmaking, marketplace, data, AI, achievements, and social were separate from the development tools in the engine,” but this new project will “be able to implement all of these services natively within a unified solution.”
The AI learning in particular will allow for more personalized experiences.
“Leveraging AI and machine learning will also give game makers the ability to craft in-game interactions with non-playable characters or NPCs in a way that is virtually indecipherable from a human interaction,” Moss wrote. “So, instead of a pre-scripted, pattern-based logic for NPC behavior, this would make it possible for an NPC to engage in a way that is dynamic, contextual and absolutely believable.”
One of the key components of cloud gaming should be that players can play impressive games that look “hyper-realistic” without being limited by their own device’s capabilities.
“Previously, any simulation or rendering of in-game action were either limited to the processing performance of the player’s console or PC, or to a single server that interacted with your system,” Moss explained. “By harnessing the power of the cloud, players can tap into a network of many servers, dedicated to computing complex tasks, working in tandem with their own devices, to deliver things like hyper-realistic destruction within new HD games, that is virtually indistinguishable from real life — we’re working to deploy that level of gaming immersion on every device.”
Finally, Moss notes the importance of player creativity and security. On the creativity side, EA wants to allow players more options to create their oen content within its games and services by providing things like moddable assets.
“Players and developers want to create,” Moss wrote. “We want to help them. By blurring the line between content producers and players, this will truly democratize the game experience.”
On the security end, Moss acknowledges that connected services also means a larger exchange of user information, and this will mean Atlas should have the capability for game makers to easily add in security measures such as SSL certificates, data encryption, among others.
The game engine which allows such experiences and is specified in the post is EA’s Frostbite Engine, which powers popular titles like “Battlefield” and “FIFA,” and is used for the upcoming “Anthem.”
Some of the goals of Frostbite game engine on EA’s part to make the game worlds more immersive include rendering scenes that accurately model lighting (based on both the source of the light and the material the light source is hitting), more precisely portraying movement, using ” advanced 3D photogrammetry, big data, computer vision, and artificial intelligence” to create landscapes, and finally to provide the best and most innovative audio, cutscenes, and using resources to overall provide a better experience for the players.
The plan for Project Atlas is a bold, but exciting take from a major games company looking toward the future. At this time, it’s unclear exactly when Project Atlas will become a reality, but Moss noted that EA will give “regular updates” on the project.
Earlier this month, Microsoft revealed its Project xCloud, which has similar goals to unite players across devices.