Even with Steam sales and low-end PC builds, gaming isn’t a cheap hobby. For the last five years or so, different companies have been trying to lower the barrier to getting people into gaming with services like OnLive and Gaikai, but there are a few stumbling blocks in the way. Microsoft Research may have just tackled one of the big ones. According to a paper from Microsoft Research, the team has found a way to predictively render frames before an event occurs in a game and then, based on your inputs, deliver the correct frames. According to the paper, this can mask up to a quarter second of latency. The method combines a variety of technologies, including future input prediction, time shifting, and misprediction compensation, into a project they’re currently calling DeLorean.
When looking to the future of gaming, few concepts get people as excited as the mythical “Netflix for gaming.” It’s a concept that we’ve seen in multiple forms, from OnLive’s early efforts to Sony’s new PlayStation Now service. Serving up games from giant clusters of servers has several advantages over the traditional model of running a game on your own console or PC. It allows any device that can play streaming video to play high-def games; graphics can improve at a steady rate because improvements to a cloud architecture are easier to roll out than new console hardware; and games can be played instantly rather than waiting for ~20GB game downloads. While Microsoft hasn’t gone as far as Sony in releasing its own streaming game platform, it’s shown interest in the concept before. Just this April, Microsoft showed off how developers of big-budget Xbox blockbusters like Titanfall are taking advantage of the Azure cloud platform to include better AI and physics without reducing performance overall. Yesterday, Microsoft Research published a report that signals that the company is looking for ways that it could use its cloud expertise to create a unique cloud gaming platform at some point in the future. It discusses DeLorean, a “speculative execution engine” that makes it possible to delivery seemingly lag-free gameplay from the cloud despite the myriad sources of network latency between Microsoft’s Azure servers and a player’s device.