Ubisoft unveils Scalar: cloud-based technology for creating extremely large-scale virtual worlds


What just happened? Ahead of the Game Developers Conference, Ubisoft has announced Scalar, a new cloud-based technology for game development and gameplay. Scalar increases the flexibility and power for Ubisoft’s game engines, reducing dependency on end-user hardware. It also provides developers with new opportunities for developing games and improving the player experience.

Ubisoft Scalar aims to establish a unique, platform-agnostic game development framework that allows seamless world-building within the ongoing game environment. Imagine having content delivered without downloading and installing of DLC. Instead, content suddenly appears since development and the player experience are happening simultaneously in the cloud.

Ubisoft Scalar is built on a microservice architecture. Each component and system of traditional game engines are modularly in the cloud (AI, audio, physics, etc) across multiple machines. This aspect vastly improves scalability.

“Games using this technology can, therefore, leverage a virtually infinite amount of computing power to push the envelope on all aspects and run anything from vast virtual worlds to extremely deep simulations and environments that were previously unachievable,” said Ubisoft in an invite-only presentation.

Additionally, Scalar uses an on-demand philosophy. It can dynamically start and stop services based on players’ and developers’ activities at any given time. In this way, intensive compute tasks are cached and distributed globally, removing the need to recompute calculations.

“This is a major moment in our careers as game developers,” said Christian Holmqvist, technical director at Ubisoft Stockholm. “We feel that same inspiration and freedom as when we first started using our home computers as teenagers–that feeling that you can do anything by fully tapping into the power of cloud, for the first time in gaming.”

Scalar also allows for a persistent game world where changes affected by one can be experienced by all players. For example, if someone builds a skyscraper, thousands or even millions of other players can visit it without quitting and joining a different instance of the world.

Ubisoft is gradually rolling out Scalar to all Ubisoft studios with future cloud-capable projects in development. Ubisoft Stockholm is already using it for an upcoming, unannounced IP. The developer was tight-lipped with the details but said it is leveraging Scalar’s full potential to deliver an experience at a scale never seen before. Ubisoft promised more information on the project at a later date.

“Ubisoft builds on 35 years of continued investment in R&D and proprietary technologies, because technological independence is a critical differentiator,” said Ubisoft’s VP of Production Technology Guillemette Picard. “Ubisoft Scalar is in line with that spirit, enhancing both our creativity and our unique co-development model with new, seamless ways to collaborate at a global scale. It marks a step forward and an exciting milestone for the gaming community”.

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