As part of the Game Developers Conference (GDC), Ubisoft has unveiled a new cloud-based technology to enable “unprecedented freedom and scale” for future titles. Tagged – ‘Scalar,’ the concept is aimed at removing technical constraints for game developers by offering a virtually unlimited amount of computing power.
The technology is spearheaded by Ubisoft Stockholm, which plans to overcome the limitations created on the hardware side. This includes a lack of collaborative options and decent processing power – both on the developer and player sides.
Ubisoft Scalar, however, serves as a production tool or engine that relies on the cloud. All the assets, animations, audio, and renders are included in the package, setting game makers free from the restrictions of single machine computing and turning them into distributed services.
Not to be confused with streaming services like Xbox Cloud or Stadia, Scalar allows for seamless world-building through an ongoing recreation setting. Titles built on the platform will “always be running” with live updates that are enabled on the go, thanks to its microservice architecture. Players will not be forced to quit the game to download a patch, and see changes as they get rolled out simultaneously.
“Developers can create very rich worlds, which can develop and evolve, and change as the players are actually playing them. So, it should bring a much closer connection between players and the creators of those games,” said Christian Holmqvist, Technical Director at Ubisoft Scalar, during an invite-only presentation.
The studio never addressed how the technology would react when encountering any glitches or crashes. But going by their statements, every player should face a similar incident. Meaning, if a change in game code creates a bug, it will affect everyone at the same time. Alternatively, if one builds a virtual structure, millions can explore it without having to join a separate instance.
The interlocking functions of a traditional game engine have also been separated. This prevents any butterfly effect, where changing variables in one area will have no repercussions on other aspects of the project. “We changed the playing field quite a bit by separating each role of a game engine into some service. What this gives us is the possibility of working only on a single piece, without necessarily having all of the other pieces on your machine,” he said.
Holmqvist claims that it has a huge impact on the iteration speed, testing, and makes it relatively easy to share the service or any modifications. “So it really keeps all the things that we were used to – it just puts them a little bit wider apart.”
Ubisoft Stockholm is currently working on a new IP that is developed in tandem with Scalar, but is tight-lipped about the details. The technology is being built by a decentralised workforce, with teams hailing from Kyiv, Malmo, Helsinki, and Bucharest. The studio is also actively looking to expand their team, for which, they have some open positions listed on their website.