Scalar, Ubisoft’s cloud technology that wants to revolutionize video games

business news Scalar, Ubisoft’s cloud technology that wants to revolutionize video games

Lately, if Ubisoft has made the headlines of specialized sites, it’s more for its criticized positions in favor of NFT than for its real creative proposals. As the French publisher is one of the historical giants of video games, players and developers alike expect the company to take risks and be a driving force for the industry. Ahead of GDC 2022, Ubisoft is presenting Scalar, a technology based on cloud computing that could redefine the way to create virtual universes but also to play our video games.

From local to micro-service

It is through a small video in motion design that the problem exposed by Ubisoft was presented to us. This video demonstrates that over time games have become bigger and more interactive, but they are still limited in one way or another by the hardware. Indeed, both players and developers have always had hardware restrictions, whether to play or to create. “What if this restriction was a thing of the past?” then said the voiceover. This is where Ubisoft Scalar comes in, a technology that exploits the possibilities of cloud computingthought to give “more freedom, scalability and flexibility” to the developers.

We started from the point of view of game creators rather than thinking as usual: “here’s what we have, maybe we can improve a little this or a little that”. Christian Holmqvist, CTO of Ubisoft Scalar

To understand what Ubisoft is trying to do with Scalar, you must first dive into the daily lives of developers. They have been shaping virtual universes through game engines for many years, whether they are “House” or from third parties (Unreal Engine, Unity, etc.). The problem is that these engines have become gas factories over time despite many orchestrated efforts to improve the user experience. The fact that they manage everything that is essential to produce software (physics, gameplay, animation, sound, etc.) has made teamwork more complex, especially when the latter is made up of hundreds of artists sometimes scattered over several continents. . “We wanted to break free from that and build something more ambitious” says Patrick Bach, General Manager of Ubisoft Stockholm.

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Scalar, Ubisoft's cloud technology that wants to revolutionize video gamesScalar, Ubisoft's cloud technology that wants to revolutionize video games

With Scalar, Ubisoft wants to turn the locally managed features of existing game engines into services. Thus, by splitting each of the roles of a game engine into several micro-services in the cloud, artists can work on a given aspect without affecting the other cogs of the machine. In addition, computing power from local machines is moved to the cloud. “We find everything we already know, but everything is no longer in one block” confirms Christian Holmqvist, technical director of Ubisoft Scalar. It’s about a “technological foundation” which can be seen as “a production tool”, according to Per-Olof Rommel, product director of Ubisoft Scalar. This allows Ubisoft titles to exploit “the power of the cloud” for “remove limits completely” game engines and “traditional material barriers” that users encounter. He adds : “it raises a number of new challenges, because you can’t rely on what you know. We must relearn and rethink the way we create games”.

We tried to imagine what games would be like in ten years, what they could become and also what we could expect from them and how to develop them. Per-Olof Rommel, Product Director of Ubisoft Scalar

Scalar, Ubisoft's cloud technology that wants to revolutionize video gamesScalar, Ubisoft's cloud technology that wants to revolutionize video games

Bigger, more accurate games with unlimited players

In the making since the end of 2017 at Ubisoft Stockholm, Scalar is not a game engine, but a tool compatible with all platforms that current engines can use to exploit cloud technologies.. And we’re talking about cloud computing, not streaming. “One of Ubisoft’s founding specialties is the creation of worlds. We will have the possibility of shaping even larger worlds” rejoices Patrick Bach, director of Ubisoft Stockholm. The stated ambition is to build “gigantic universes“populated by”unlimited number of players” with “unparalleled precision” in physics and artificial intelligence. Of course, right now it’s hard to verify what Scalar is really worth. But according to the publishing giant, its services will evolve with updates that add functionality, and games can be updated without requiring any special maintenance, and therefore without requiring players to disconnect or download a patch.

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Precisely, since we are talking about the games, where are they in all this? The French publisher has for the moment preferred to kick in touch. Yes, Ubisoft is currently developing titles with Scalar, but no names have been made at this time. We just know that in addition to Ubisoft Stockholm, studios in Kyiv, Malmö, Helsinki and Bucharest are working on the project. At the time of writing these lines, Scalar is not currently intended to leave Ubisoft studios.. But then, what is all this communication about this technology for? Quite simply to recruit developers who would like to join the company in order to create titles using Scalar. “This technology will allow us to create massively multiplayer social gaming experiences and unlock the full potential of our development process by facilitating collaboration on a global scale.” repeats the company.

Scalar, Ubisoft's cloud technology that wants to revolutionize video games

Ubisoft Scalar is a technology developed by the recently created Production Technologies department. This department brings together more than 500 experts whose mission is to develop the best tools and technologies to help Ubisoft studios bring their projects to life.” specifies the official press release published by the publisher. The least we can say is that the video game giant firmly believes in its new technology, which it qualifies as “major step forward for the video game community”.

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