Ubisoft has announced its new technology called Scalar. This is a new cloud computing-focused company spearheaded by Ubisoft Stockholm. Several key members of Ubisoft staff, including Per-Olof Romell (Product Director of Scalar), Patrick Bach (General Manager of Ubisoft Stockholm) and Christian Holmqvist (Technical Director of Ubisoft Scalar) spoke at length about the new technology of development and its implications for game designers and gamers. .
As of the second half of 2017, Ubisoft Stockholm had several questions guiding its creation of Scalar. Between Bach and Holmqvist, the duo said they had a “mandate to push the boundaries of game development and technology”. To make such efforts, they asked, “How could we reimagine what games could and should be in the future, and how can we build in that direction?” Their response centered on the What that they used to create games. Hardware has been seen as a limiting factor in video game development, “for as long as we’ve been making games,” Romell said. To break away from hardware limitations, Ubisoft’s Scalar was born.
To avoid confusion and clarify the purpose of Scalar, Romell detailed the difference between cloud streaming, which is associated with game streaming, and cloud computing, which is Scalar. Romell explained, “We’re not talking about game streaming. This is the difference between cloud streaming and cloud computing. Cloud streaming is a distribution model; it improves people’s access to games, but it doesn’t, in essence, change what games are or how good they are. The game is still running on a remotely placed single-processor machine, then streamed through the cloud to your screen. It’s a bit like having a console placed far away, and your internet connection replacing a very long HDMI cable to your TV. Ubisoft Scalar focuses on cloud computing. Cloud computing – which Ubisoft Scalar enables – means that a game’s processing power is not tied to a single machine, but to a decentralized computing system. The processing takes place in the cloud. This has eliminated local hardware limitations for gamers, improves the quality of games, and opens up new possibilities for game developers.
Different from a game engine, but able to work with engines like Anvil and Ubisoft’s Snowdrop, “Scalar is a production tool.” Holmqvist explained that with this new tool, developers can have “the ability to break down each function of the game engine into its own microservice. This gives the ability to work on just one piece without having to worry about having all the other parts on your machine. This greatly speeds up the iteration speed and how quickly you can test your changes. It also makes it easier to share your changes with others. It really keeps all the things we’re already used to and gives them more space to grow and change, to open up more possibilities.
The possibilities offered to players by Scalar are a greater number of players in worlds that are, “on a scale and complexity that we have never seen before”. A game created with Scalar is currently in development at Ubisoft Stockholm. Speaking of the game, Bach said, “It’s a little too early to go into the details of this project, but we at the studio can’t wait to show the world what we’re up to!”