UBISOFT have announced an advanced software development system, known as Ubisoft Scalar, which they say “promises to change the way developers make games”.
Announced at the 2022 Game Developers Conference and described by the company as “new foundational technology that enables Ubisoft titles to utilise the power of the cloud to ensure that developers aren’t limited by time or hardware, but by their imaginations”, the idea behind Scalar is to help harness the enormous processing power that cloud computing offers to create bigger and better game worlds.
Ubisoft Stockholm are leading the development, with managing director Patrick Bach emphasising Scalar is not a game engine in of itself, but designed to work alongside existing engines to get more out of them.
“Ubisoft Scalar is a technology that can work in concert with our existing game engines such as Anvil and Snowdrop to open up new possibilities,” he said.
While it is cloud-assisted, it’s also not a cloud streaming service a la Project XCloud or Nvdidia GeForce Now, Mr Bach clarified.
“It can be confusing, but we’re not talking about game streaming,” he said.
“It’s the difference between cloud streaming and cloud computing. Cloud streaming is a distribution model; it improves people’s access to games, but it doesn’t change, in essence, what games are, or the quality of them. The game is still being run on a single-processing machine placed remotely and then streamed via the cloud to your screen. It’s a bit like if you had a console placed very far away, and your internet connection is replacing a very long HDMI cable to your TV.
“What Ubisoft Scalar is focused on is cloud computing. Cloud computing – what Ubisoft Scalar enables – means the processing power for a game isn’t tied to a single machine, but a decentralized computation system. The processing is taking place in the cloud. This eliminated the limits of local hardware for players, improves the quality of games, and opens up new possibilities for game developers.”
I’m still not entirely clear how Scalar will aid developers – from what I can tell, I see potential for games to be updated without needing to have patches downloaded to every single system running the game, and a lot of procedural generation stuff in large open worlds to be offshored to a cloud data centre instead of the user’s PC – but it certainly sounds intriguing so I’m keen to hear more about what Ubisoft have in store with the tech.
In the meantime, the official Ubisoft news page has an interview with some of the team from Ubisoft Stockholm on Scalar, which is well worth a read: https://news.ubisoft.com/en-us/article/6mEL7uExWMczw4HpZSCg6v/ubisoft-scalar-promises-to-change-the-way-developers-make-games