GOOGLE is teasing a huge announcement on the “future of gaming” it plans to make at next week’s Game Developers’ Conference.
A short video promoting the announcement shows a bunch of gorgeous high-def scenes that would not look out of place at the start of games, including a football tunnel, an F1 pit garage, a cave entrance, the rear of a transport aircraft, and some sort of sci-fi hangar bay opening.
We don’t know exactly what Google plans to announce, but there are several obvious candidates.
The tech firm has been testing a new service called Project Stream that sees it running games on its super-powerful computers as you play them in your browser.
The technology means all the heavy lifting traditionally done by a super-expensive gaming rig is done in a Google data centre somewhere, and all your PC needs to handle is showing what’s on the display and sending over the inputs from your controller or keyboard.
But that’s not all they have up their sleeves.
Google are reported to be working on a new games console that will plug into your TV, known as Project Yeti.
This could be a souped-up version of the company’s tiny Chromecast devices that bring Internet video and whatever is on your phone onto your TV easily, and packaged with a controller and running the software needed for whatever Project Stream turns into.
Whatever it is they have planned, we’ll find out more next week.
Google has one of the headlining spots at the Game Developers Conference where they are promising to “unveil Google’s vision for the future of gaming.”
The reveal will be streamed online from 7p.m. UK time next Tuesday, March 19.
The teaser comes days after a Google patent was revealed showing off new technology built into a gaming controller.
The internet giant has submitted plans for a totally new games controller with some built-in tricks we haven’t seen anywhere before.
The main on is the ability to launch specific games directly from the controller.
To do this, according to the patent, you’ll press the main button on the controller along with another, such as a direction on the d-pad, and the device the controller is connected to will launch a specific game.
The controller will have the ability to give you notifications, launch games, and more
In response to the patent, Sarang Sheth of Yanko Design has created a bunch of renders showing what the controller might look like, based on Google’s own drawings.
Currently with Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo controllers there is often a power button that will remotely turn your system on, but you’ll then have to use the interface to select a game manually.
The new controller also has a built in notification system.
As well as simple things like letting you know it has indeed just launched the game it asked you to, it will be able to let you know about various online events in the game world when the game itself isn’t live.
This could be a notification that you’ve been usurped on an online leaderboard, that a friend is inviting you to play, or that you have a new message.
You could then use the controller in conjunction with a console, browser or even your phone to potentially act on that notification.
Play anywhere, on anything?
The controller patent describes it as working with a whole host of different devices, and also being able to store user data.
This means you could set up the controller with your account and gaming info, then use it to automatically log in to any system.
The renders (left) imagine what the patented design (right) might look like in real life.[/caption]
In theory, this would allow you to pick up your progress on any other machine as well as carry across any controller settings and the like.
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All the heavy lifting for the game’s graphics and the like were done in one of Googles many data centres.
Microsoft’s Project xCloud works on very similar principles, and Amazon is also reported to be working on something very similar.
Google, Amazon and Microsoft between them provide the lion’s share of cloud computing resources across the world — anyone, including Sony or Nintendo, looking to offer a competing service at the moment would realistically have to piggyback on their services.
Video game streaming – how does it work?
We explain it all…
- When you watch a movie, the images you see are already prepared
- That’s why very unsophisticated computers inside your TV, DVD player, or computer can playback film footage
- But video games render the visuals in real-time, because a game never knows what you’ll do next
- That means you need much more computing heft to produce game visuals, compared to a standard movie
- So if you want amazing 4K PC-style graphics, you’ll need to fork out for an expensive computer
- Alternatively, you could use game streaming technology
- The idea is that a company like Microsoft or Sony would handle the generation of the visuals on powerful computers at its own HQ
- Then it would send what’s effectively a video of that game to your smartphone
- You tap and play, and those commands get sent back to Microsoft or Sony, which then inputs them into the game, and sends you the visuals again
- Because modern internet connections are so fast, this all happens in milliseconds
- The resulting effect is 4K PC-style graphics on a smartphone – which is only possible because it’s not the phone itself rendering the graphics
- It also means that you could potentially be playing an Xbox or PlayStation game on your console, and then leave the house and carry on playing using your iPhone
- This sort of technology could eventually kill off gaming consoles for good, because all you’d need is a TV with game-streaming tech built in, and a controller to play with
- But game streaming hasn’t had any great successes thus far
- Sony bought a game-streaming called OnLive, but shut it down in 2015
- And Nvidia has its own game-streaming service, but laggy performance has prevented it from becoming a mainstream choice
It’s worth noting that Microsoft’s online-only Xbox One, which we might get to see next month, seems unlikely to feature much streaming at launch. It will focus on games sold through the Xbox Store or downloaded via Game Pass and still run on the box itself.
If you’re looking forward to more traditional next-generation gaming hardware, though, never fear. The PS5 is just around the corner, and so is the Xbox 2. We’ve even rounded up the differences and similarities around the two for you.
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