Announcing a new partnership today, UK-based startup Improbable and tech giant Google have revealed a joint videogame developer initiative called the SpatialOS Games Innovation Program, utilising the Google Cloud Platform.
What the two companies want to encourage is innovation by providing subsidised access to Improbable’s world-building tech, SpatialOS, to qualified game developers. “We set out to build SpatialOS because we saw what developers wanted to do, but were held back from achieving,” said Herman Narula, CEO and co-founder of Improbable.”Since we founded Improbable, we have talked to many developers who have amazing ideas for new kinds of games they can’t currently realise. Like them, we want to create and inhabit realistic worlds where players’ actions have real consequences – but technical limitations have stifled innovation in gaming.”
In the lead up to the full launch of the Games Innovation Program and the beta of SpatialOS in Q1 2017, Improbable has launched its Game Developer Open Alpha for SpatialOS. This allows any videogame developer access to the SpatialOS platform and its development tools, to test and experiment with the software.
SpatialOS enables any developer to define and build simulated virtual worlds which can accommodate thousands of simultaneous players at the same time, exceeding the usual limits of what a conventional game server can do. These simulations are persistent and support the kind of complex computation needed to bring new game ideas to life, while enabling a development methodology that supports extremely rapid iteration.
“Imagine a virtual city populated by players, who can make lasting changes to its social structure or its economy through their actions,” said Narula. “Or a battle between thousands of players, played out in real time over days or weeks. These are possibilities that demand a totally different approach. We’re particularly excited that both the partnership program and our open alpha will make it easier for small core teams, regardless of studio size, to create new game ideas involving worlds built on this scale. So much innovation in games comes from small core teams, so one of our priorities is enabling teams to build a product they could immediately deploy, scale and grow, with players involved from the early stages. These teams can use SpatialOS, backed by the power and stability of GCP, to iterate an ideas rapidly and test them early.”
Both virtual reality (VR) developers and standard videogame studios can utilise SpatialOS. Back in July VRFocus reported on HelloVR utilising the software for its social experience MetaWorld, putting players in nearly 10,000 square miles of virtual environment. Two other early examples (non VR) are Worlds Adrift from Bossa Studios and Lazarus from Spilt Milk Studio.