PS4 Architect: Cloud Computing Won't Make Graphics Better

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PS4 Architect: Cloud Computing Won't Make Graphics Better

PlayStation 4 lead architect Mark Cerny says he utilizes the cloud, but it's not the miracle technology some have made it out to be.

There are a lot of pseudo-technical buzzwords surrounding the upcoming console generation, and one of the most ill-defined is cloud computing. Both Sony and Microsoft have hyped their usage of the Cloud with the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but it's never been clear how that will work or how much of a difference it will really make. Mark Cerny, lead systems architect for the PS4, recently explained how Sony is making use of cloud technologies, and how some of the claims surrounding it might not live up to the hype.

"To the extent that it's possible to do computing in the Cloud, PlayStation 4 can do computing in the Cloud," Cerny says. "We do some things... matchmaking is done in the Cloud, and it works very well. If we think about things that don't work well... trying to boost the quality of the graphics, that won't work well in the Cloud."

Some have advertised that the Cloud will be able to offload processing power in handling game elements like lighting, physics, and even AI. Anything's possible to some level, but it remains to be seen if developers will be able to use cloud computing to any noticeable effect. For now it looks like Sony is treating the Cloud like just another minor tool at its disposal, rather than assuming it'll be a game-changer when it's too early to say for sure.

Source: IGN

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If you require Cloud Computing to get your game to run a certain way. And lets say the internet of a gamer goes down.. doesn't that strips out allot of functionality from the game?

How more you off load how more is broken!

And will there be games that are utterly broken if it can't run the cloud?

In short what I ask is simply yes using the cloud to do things the current next gen hardware can't optimally will extend its life. And make it more powerful. But where is the fall back point?

If a game requires the cloud to run 50% of its functionality isn't it technically broken?

Short answer: Cloud computing is utterly useless. Not only is it inefficient to outsource any kind of calculations to another machine, it has latency issue. They love this buzz word, but I'm tired of hearing it. It's not the wave of the future. Anyone who has ever played an MMO will tell you that it has never offered the best experience. The more that can be done locally, the better off you are. And it sure as shit isn't a remotely good idea to put lighting calculations a data stream away.

masticina:
If you require Cloud Computing to get your game to run a certain way. And lets say the internet of a gamer goes down.. doesn't that strips out allot of functionality from the game?

How more you off load how more is broken!

And will there be games that are utterly broken if it can't run the cloud?

In short what I ask is simply yes using the cloud to do things the current next gen hardware can't optimally will extend its life. And make it more powerful. But where is the fall back point?

If a game requires the cloud to run 50% of its functionality isn't it technically broken?

No, the game just runs worse/slower.

Cloud allows you to offload certain processes/tasks, so that your console can focus it's own processors on certain processes/tasks so those processes/tasks can run faster/better.

Because the console processors have limited resources to spend amongst processes/tasks. And if they don't have to deal with certain processes/tasks themselves then they can spend more resources on the remaining ones.

If there is no cloud the console processors do all processes/tasks themselves, which is worse/slower.

Of course if you have no internet connection you do loose any extra cloud based function (like cloud saves). But these are not essential to playing the game.

That is the idea anyway, of course you have to take things like latency into account which theoretically could actually make cloud processing worse/slower.

Not sure if Mark Cerny is a legitimately cool guy...

... Or he's just been browsing threads to find out what we've been complaining about the most

Regardless, at least he's not telling us bullshit. Streaming and cloud services can give us cool things like cloud saves and streaming games instantly. It'll be useful for things like demoing games because who has the patience to download a game you're going to test for 15 minutes? Microsoft's calculation magic has already been proven physically impossible because of bandwidth

I would think the inherent latency of the Internet would make real-time Cloud enhanced computations not as practical as one may think. Then again, I'm just guessing on that, so I could be wrong.

Regardless, in my opinion, we've long passed the point of needing better graphics. We need better overall game design and implementation, in my opinion.

I've always thought that cloud computing in games would only really be useful in certain processes. I can see an RTS using the cloud for a particularly complicated overall-strategy AI that doesn't need a quick response time, while running the individual unit/local squad AI on the machine itself. As far as I know, graphics need a fairly quick response time, so don't respond well to latency.

See Microsoft? This is how you tell people about what your console does. You wheel out the technical people who made it to do insightful interviews and answer questions straightforwardly.

What you don't do is let Don Mattrick open his mouth and scream buzzwords and "its the future and we're taking you with us" at interviewers.

Cognimancer:
Some have advertised that the Cloud will be able to offload processing power in handling game elements like lighting, physics, and even AI.

I assume by some you mean Microsoft because I haven't seen anyone else stupid enough to make that claim and actually expect people to believe it.

vallorn:
See Microsoft? This is how you tell people about what your console does. You wheel out the technical people who made it to do insightful interviews and answer questions straightforwardly.

What you don't do is let Don Mattrick open his mouth and scream buzzwords and "its the future and we're taking you with us" at interviewers.

Don't forget about Major Nelson, whose claims that it was impossible to remove the DRM when interviewed by Angry Joe showed how little he knew about his own console. XD

OT: Honestly whenever I hear "the cloud" I instantly think of Fallout New Vegas' Cloud from the Seirra Madre. A poisonous cloud that preserves the past but kills the present and possibly the future...just like Microsoft has been doing when advertising their console. XD

Anyway, I found this Eurogamer article talking about Microsoft's cloud gaming to be really informative.
http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-in-theory-can-xbox-one-cloud-transform-gaming

Vivi22:

Cognimancer:
Some have advertised that the Cloud will be able to offload processing power in handling game elements like lighting, physics, and even AI.

I assume by some you mean Microsoft because I haven't seen anyone else stupid enough to make that claim and actually expect people to believe it.

EA tried it with Sim City, and they managed to get away with it until people actually had a good play around with it and found that they were so full of shit you could use them as fertiliser

Neronium:

vallorn:
See Microsoft? This is how you tell people about what your console does. You wheel out the technical people who made it to do insightful interviews and answer questions straightforwardly.

What you don't do is let Don Mattrick open his mouth and scream buzzwords and "its the future and we're taking you with us" at interviewers.

Don't forget about Major Nelson,

Major Nelson is basically a US community manger, he has no direct power or knowledge of anything really. He does however have a direct line to actual people that do have power or knowledge, but they don't really tell him anything unless it information they want publicized.

He's a monkey Microsoft has sit between themselves and the US xbox community so someone can talk to them "on their level", and attempt to generate goodwill toward Microsoft (other countries such as the UK have their own version of him, and some have no one because they are not important enough to Microsoft).

glad someone with the credetials to back the statement up has finally come out n said what we all suspected

Angelous Wang:

No, the game just runs worse/slower.

Cloud allows you to offload certain processes/tasks, so that your console can focus it's own processors on certain processes/tasks so those processes/tasks can run faster/better.

Because the console processors have limited resources to spend amongst processes/tasks. And if they don't have to deal with certain processes/tasks themselves then they can spend more resources on the remaining ones.

If there is no cloud the console processors do all processes/tasks themselves, which is worse/slower.

Of course if you have no internet connection you do loose any extra cloud based function (like cloud saves). But these are not essential to playing the game.

That is the idea anyway, of course you have to take things like latency into account which theoretically could actually make cloud processing worse/slower.

SO this means, a point I want to go to, that the ability to off load things to the cloud would still be limited. It could not be used to give the consoles as they get older magically a boost by taking over big processes. Instead to make sure that the off line modes would not break there would be a limit on what you could off load.

In short as the interview points out.. it won't make the console immortal. In short due to the reality of internet being 100% awesome everywhere, even in the richer countries, off loading won't offer that much.

Lets see how long it takes before we get "the cloud keeps track of the players in this 64 versus 64 match"... yeah that isn't cloud computer that is just running a server. Something that we have been doing for more then 15 years!

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-in-theory-can-xbox-one-cloud-transform-gaming

Look at that it is about Microsofts Idea about The Cloud and how it would effect gaming.

Vivi22:

Cognimancer:
Some have advertised that the Cloud will be able to offload processing power in handling game elements like lighting, physics, and even AI.

I assume by some you mean Microsoft because I haven't seen anyone else stupid enough to make that claim and actually expect people to believe it.

While Microsoft's claims have been on the absurd end of the optimism scale, certain non-critical elements could be handled off of the client. Imagine if Oblivion's Radiant AI had worked as originally hyped. You could have AI routines for non-visible actors running on the cloud to make the world react in a manner that made it feel more real. Then, should you lose connection, the important parts of the game still run as intended, with the only thing lost being something that only affects the game indirectly anyway.

Granted, there's no reason the same couldn't be done over LAN with a PC, but sadly that's kind of a dirty acronym for most devs these days.

Anytime I hear the phrase ~*the cloud*~ during a press conference or anything, my brain immediately replaces it with "GODDAMN WIZARDS" because it's essentially the same.

Dont care about cloud, just another buzz. I dont care about the graphics i just want good games.Thing is, i have no interest in the PS4, the exclusives dont interest me. But it seems they are continuing to beat the "MS is doing this, we are not" drum. Its pathetic. Sony have yet to sell me on anything they are doing.

The latency from console to server is way to long be of any use to the local hardware. In the time it takes the console to send the data it needs processed to the server, have the server process it and send it back the console could have done it much, much faster and way more reliably. Also you would need enormous speed and bandwidth. The internal connections between the CPU, GPU and RAM all measure in gigabytes per second where as internet speed it measured in megabits per second. The two units are several orders of magnitude a part. Cloud computing to offload stuff like graphics, AI or physics is so impractical it makes no sense to even consider it.

SonOfVoorhees:
Dont care about cloud, just another buzz. I dont care about the graphics i just want good games.Thing is, i have no interest in the PS4, the exclusives dont interest me. But it seems they are continuing to beat the "MS is doing this, we are not" drum. Its pathetic. Sony have yet to sell me on anything they are doing.

For me, the big theme of the PS4 is "we have learned from our mistakes." The controller is improved, the hardware is standard architecture, and they seem to be shying away from the anti-consumer stance they held in the PS3 era. It's not enough to make me buy at launch day, but it is enough that I probably will pick the console up when the game catalogue is a bit more expansive.

shameduser:
The latency from console to server is way to long be of any use to the local hardware. In the time it takes the console to send the data it needs processed to the server, have the server process it and send it back the console could have done it much, much faster and way more reliably. Also you would need enormous speed and bandwidth. The internal connections between the CPU, GPU and RAM all measure in gigabytes per second where as internet speed it measured in megabits per second. The two units are several orders of magnitude a part. Cloud computing to offload stuff like graphics, AI or physics is so impractical it makes no sense to even consider it.

I would say that depends on the type of game. FPS? Not a good idea. Turn based strategy? Much more plausible, though one wonders why you would need to. I think my Oblivion example is a good happy middle for this sort of thing. Don't use the cloud to handle the stuff happening on screen, but rather to calculate AI and simulation stuff that you can't see, yet can see the effects of.

Imagine a Dwarf Fortress game that had modern graphics(blasphemy, yes I know) without having to sacrifice its exhaustive detail in simulation. Some very few might have systems beefy enough to handle that, but most PCs(and all consoles if you were to somehow port the game) would need some of the work handled off client. Again, that wouldn't have to mean the cloud; a networked Raspberry Pi would likely be enough to augment the processing load. But off client processing could have a place in the gaming world.

Just not the place Microsoft wants you to think it does.

It's kind of amusing how the proper Escapist comment threads, which are usually hidden from the frontpage, is filled with rather reasonable opinions. While the Facebook plugin comments tend to gather people with noticeably stronger biases in whatever direction you care to look. I'm not sad Facebook is going into decline, it's a little annoying.

I don't really have a horse in the console race, being primarily a PC gamer, but I like how Sony's people have repeatedly given people straight talk rather than buzzwords and decisions made at a strategic level show that they're going in without making any assumptions as to whether or not they've already won. Sony suffered from that last generation, and now Microsoft fell victim to the same.

SonOfVoorhees:
Dont care about cloud, just another buzz. I dont care about the graphics i just want good games.Thing is, i have no interest in the PS4, the exclusives dont interest me. But it seems they are continuing to beat the "MS is doing this, we are not" drum. Its pathetic. Sony have yet to sell me on anything they are doing.

I wouldn't say it's pathetic, it's simply just being smart. Compare this to the PS3 launch, which we can all agree was as pathetic as we all remember. They're not being contrarian for the sake of it, they're keeping a finger on the public pulse and making sure they don't get caught flatfooted the way MS was. This cloud announcement? It's just the PS4's lead dev explaining that, no, the Cloud isn't a magic bullet, especially since the PS4 uses cloud computing too.

MS is doing a lot less to sell the Xbox One than Sony is to sell the PS4, and I have even less reason to pick up an Xbone than a PS4. There's no real exclusives between them besides Forza and Halo on one side and niche Japanese products on the other, and any game that I'm actually interested in will come to PC after their timed exclusivity periods are over. The Kinect would be interesting for casual audiences, but even in office buildings there's a lot of negative scuttlebutt about it in the post-PRISM political landscape. A decent number (not overwhelming, but noticeable enough to comment on) of Xbox players I know are tired of Microsoft sidelining gaming in favor of turning their console into "home entertainment boxes," with inconvenient UIs, advertising, and recent marketing pushes that show that gaming is not the highest priority when designing their game-playing devices--trends that appear to continue into the new console generation. There's a lot of little things that bother people about Microsoft and they've been adding up for a long time now, this recent kerfluffle with the Xbox One being just one part of it.

If I were to dip into this new generation, and I find it hard to count the Wii U, I'd probably go with the PS4 unless an Xbone price cut were to undercut it by about a hundred dollars.

This is why I love Mark Cerny and have high hopes for PS4. No bullshit.

Cloud is great for stuff like the Driveatars (as stupid as that name is) or changing the world in the background. It is not, for the foreseeable future at least, going to be any use for anything realtime. Certainly not as long as AT&T, TWC, and Comcast are your ISPs.

Wow, is this guy just reading all the right stuff off a sheet or something? It's so weird to see someone this senior so down to earth. From what he's said, they've struck the right balance with the cloud. It's used to offload some tasks that are not particularly time sensitive so the PS4 can concentrate on more important things.

And that's fine, baby steps. We can see more implementations of cloud computing as and when internet connections become faster and more robust.

My best examples of seeing how it would work is when I play on a 32 person server then load up my own 31 bot server of some game.

The 32 person server ran perfectly when I played on it but the 31 bot server running on my own machine ran at about 60% FPS. Clearly AI requires processing power and if that can be off-loaded to another location it can cause the immediate machine to run faster.

I, however, do not like the idea of my computer relying on another computer for a single player game. That's all Cloud computing is, making your single player game a multiplayer game without multiple players. We had a really shitty version of that attempted recently, it was called Sim City.

I wonder how much a company will be able to lie and say "Cloud Powered" when really next to nothing is cloud powered and the game is just using another form of invasive DRM... on the XBone with your always on Kinect.

Tinfoil hat, sure... but I've learned you give these corporations an inch they'll piss all over it then try and feed it to you.

PoolCleaningRobot:
Not sure if Mark Cerny is a legitimately cool guy...

... Or he's just been browsing threads to find out what we've been complaining about the most

Regardless, at least he's not telling us bullshit. Streaming and cloud services can give us cool things like cloud saves and streaming games instantly. It'll be useful for things like demoing games because who has the patience to download a game you're going to test for 15 minutes? Microsoft's calculation magic has already been proven physically impossible because of bandwidth

The guy joined Atari at 17 because he loved games, and he's in the industry for 31 years. The impression I get from Mark Cerny is that he still loves games and will listen to evidence and opinion about games. Just a quick Wikipedia link to his portfolio of games, below. He clearly knows game design which sort of mandates knowing gamers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Cerny#Significant_games

Abomination:
My best examples of seeing how it would work is when I play on a 32 person server then load up my own 31 bot server of some game.

The 32 person server ran perfectly when I played on it but the 31 bot server running on my own machine ran at about 60% FPS. Clearly AI requires processing power and if that can be off-loaded to another location it can cause the immediate machine to run faster.

I, however, do not like the idea of my computer relying on another computer for a single player game. That's all Cloud computing is, making your single player game a multiplayer game without multiple players. We had a really shitty version of that attempted recently, it was called Sim City.

I wonder how much a company will be able to lie and say "Cloud Powered" when really next to nothing is cloud powered and the game is just using another form of invasive DRM... on the XBone with your always on Kinect.

Tinfoil hat, sure... but I've learned you give these corporations an inch they'll piss all over it then try and feed it to you.

Too slow. You have AI partially thrown into the cloud then you're going to be uploading all of the variables and downloading all of the process information. Wouldn't work cohesively; internet is too slow.

Griffolion:
Wow, is this guy just reading all the right stuff off a sheet or something? It's so weird to see someone this senior so down to earth. From what he's said, they've struck the right balance with the cloud. It's used to offload some tasks that are not particularly time sensitive so the PS4 can concentrate on more important things.

And that's fine, baby steps. We can see more implementations of cloud computing as and when internet connections become faster and more robust.

He's not an executive. He designs games and he's been doing it for over three decades. You can't design games without knowing the gamers that are your audience. On top of that, he designs a lot of platformers, one of the most fun and creative genre of games. I think Mark is legitimately just a great guy.

nathan-dts:

Griffolion:
Wow, is this guy just reading all the right stuff off a sheet or something? It's so weird to see someone this senior so down to earth. From what he's said, they've struck the right balance with the cloud. It's used to offload some tasks that are not particularly time sensitive so the PS4 can concentrate on more important things.

And that's fine, baby steps. We can see more implementations of cloud computing as and when internet connections become faster and more robust.

He's not an executive. He designs games and he's been doing it for over three decades. You can't design games without knowing the gamers that are your audience. On top of that, he designs a lot of platformers, one of the most fun and creative genre of games. I think Mark is legitimately just a great guy.

He used to be the vice president and later president of Universal Interactive Studios which is why he helped to work on the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro games, but he left later on. He's also the lead architect of the PS4 so if anyone knows the console it'd be him. I do have to say he comes off as a really nice guy and his work speaks wonders for him. Can't wait to see how Knack does.

PoolCleaningRobot:
Not sure if Mark Cerny is a legitimately cool guy...

... Or he's just been browsing threads to find out what we've been complaining about the most

Maybe he's a legitimately cool guy because he's been browsing threads to find out what we've been complaining about the most? :P

Either way, I think Sony's PR method of playing down Cloud Computing is a good move. It seems like letting the lead architect do a lot of the talking about the PS4 is turning out to be a rather good thing for them, especially considering the PR meltdown that Microsoft had over on their side :P

nathan-dts:

Abomination:
My best examples of seeing how it would work is when I play on a 32 person server then load up my own 31 bot server of some game.

The 32 person server ran perfectly when I played on it but the 31 bot server running on my own machine ran at about 60% FPS. Clearly AI requires processing power and if that can be off-loaded to another location it can cause the immediate machine to run faster.

I, however, do not like the idea of my computer relying on another computer for a single player game. That's all Cloud computing is, making your single player game a multiplayer game without multiple players. We had a really shitty version of that attempted recently, it was called Sim City.

I wonder how much a company will be able to lie and say "Cloud Powered" when really next to nothing is cloud powered and the game is just using another form of invasive DRM... on the XBone with your always on Kinect.

Tinfoil hat, sure... but I've learned you give these corporations an inch they'll piss all over it then try and feed it to you.

Too slow. You have AI partially thrown into the cloud then you're going to be uploading all of the variables and downloading all of the process information. Wouldn't work cohesively; internet is too slow.

No, doesn't work like that. The player's position would be uploaded to the server and the AI on the SERVER would react to it, all calculations done there, then the RESULT of those calculations would be uploaded to your machine/game and you would see the result of the reaction.

It wouldn't have to send as much information as you predict, it'd be just like playing Starcraft II if all the bot commanders were on someone else's computer. The only lag would be the delay between sending the player information and the return of information from the cloud server.

It'd just be like playing a single player MMO online. The only thing your computer would have to handle is input and graphics.

In theory it would be great for games such as Skyrim with a massive world allowing the PS3 to focus more on the display rather than the mechanics, physics and all that rubbish - but there would still be a bit of latency lag as opposed to frame lag.

Whatever you think about cloud computing in games, the bottom line is that Microsoft is at least trying to make it work. There are studios making Xbox One games asking "how can we use cloud computing to make our game better." That's a good thing.

Cloud computing in the way of offloading processes to the cloud isn't something that's even remotely possible. What he's saying is the cloud calculations are the things that have always been cloud calculations, like matchmaking.

The cloud isn't some magical wonderland, it's a bunch of servers meant primarily for storage, hence cloud saving being the only logical use for the cloud until everyone has 1 TB/s internet. The use of buzzwords is starting to get me down, companies, please study the technical things of your buzzwords before using them.

Thank you Sony for being honest with us and for being technically accurate. Im not a console gamer but I might buy a PS4 just to screw Microsoft.

I don't see any reason why 2-3 years down the line you wouldn't be able to offload some basic graphical tasks like shadows or reflections to cloud computing. I would be surprised to find out that the Xbone had that technology, but I am certain that they couldn't possibly have something more than that. I'm thinking the equivalent of adjusting a single PC graphics setting up one notch, but Microsoft is selling it as running significant game assets and code.

Even if Microsoft could do what they claim, and even if it was stable and optimized well, developers would have no clue what to do with it. This whole hooplah is garbage.

When exactly did everyone stop calling them servers (i.e. what they actually are) and started referring to them as "the cloud" ?

Well, duh. Even if you have what would normally be decent latency (~50 ms) to whatever servers are doing your "Cloud Computing", that's still way too much delay to offload any of the graphics rendering without making things look really screwy. The most critical thing about rendering game graphics is that it has to happen fast; forcibly inserting any delay at all, let alone the massive one required to talk to a server, is absurdly counterproductive.

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