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Microsoft Research TechFest - Using P2P to speed up multiplayer gaming (and other things)

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Had some technical difficulties with posting this video yesterday, but we seem to be back online and working.

That's a good thing - this another video in the TechFest series, but it isn't especially business oriented.

Imagine if part of your job was to learn how to play Quake III.

Yeah.

Now imagine that part of your job was to improve Quake III's networking to the point that you could potentially have a game with hundreds of players rather than just sixteen or so.

That's what these guys are doing.

The technology, of course, isn't confined to Quake III. That's just the testing ground. It was an easy choice because the source for Quake III is freely available.

In the end, despite the emphasis on game playing, the subject here is really optimization of P2P networking, and an amazing job was done here.

I'll be back on Monday to post another video in this series, and you really, really won't want to miss it. I'm not going to get into any details here, but it's something pretty special. It'll improve your Monday, anyway Smiley

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  • RevFryRevFry Rev
    I hope you get this sorted out.. I'm interested in seeing this.
  • A first for Channel 9: excellent sound, no picture.

    Rory, did you forget to take the lens cap off?

    It happens to everybody.

    About a month ago, I made this mistake for about 30 seconds.

    LOL

    Cool
  • Deactivated UserDeactivated User
    This makes me very excited.

    Wish I could see it.
  • RoryRory Free Tibet While Supplies Last
    Argh.

    It was working before I left Redmond (in Portland now).

    Argh, argh, argh...

    Is it working for anyone?

    HEY - EVNET GUYS - MAKE TEH INTARWEBS WORK!!!!1111!!
  • Rory wrote:
    Argh.

    It was working before I left Redmond (in Portland now).

    Argh, argh, argh...

    Is it working for anyone?

    HEY - EVNET GUYS - MAKE TEH INTARWEBS WORK!!!!1111!!


    The download works perfectly, its the streaming one thats barfed.

    Excellent interview, though what about NAT related P2P issues? Most people don't have inbound ports opened, so how do you get around that?
  • ChadkChadk excuse me - do you has a flavor?
    Rory wrote:
    Argh.

    It was working before I left Redmond (in Portland now).

    Argh, argh, argh...

    Is it working for anyone?

    HEY - EVNET GUYS - MAKE TEH INTARWEBS WORK!!!!1111!!

    Nope - its broked!

    But if you stream the download version, it works! Smiley

    Seems like the video is speeded a bit up tho. BUt not that it matters!

    Btw. we already have MASSIVE multiplayer games. Eve online have up to 33k players online at peak times. Its really amazing.

    But if objects are managed by the conneted peers, wouldnt there be a potetional problem where the unit would change the actual location of the object that it manage, giving the player an unfair advantage?

  • prencher wrote:
    
    The download works perfectly, its the streaming one thats barfed.

    Excellent interview, though what about NAT related P2P issues? Most people don't have inbound ports opened, so how do you get around that?


    Haza!  That's where Vista can comes in with it's Teredo technology, which is an ipv4 to ipv6 transition technology.  It allows for automatic NAT traversal if you are hooked up to an IPv4 gateway.  If you have Vista you can try this out in the Window Meeting Space application.  It's a p2p app that uses teredo and lets you transfer files and also share desktops directly without needing to configure the NAT.

    I thought the focus groups where really smart.  People complain a lot that they're getting killed because their connection sucks.  If the bots are utilized to much people might say the game is somewhat unfair.  The focus group is a great way to fix the problem. 

    I just though of something that could apply to distributed gaming too.  In my networks course we were talking about multicasting that is in development for applications like IPTV.  With something like IPTV with traditional unicasting the TV server would need to send the video to each and every client.  If there are millions of clients, the server upload bandwidth quickly becomes the bottleneck.  One solution is IP Multicasting where there is packet replication and branching at the network level.  Essentially a tree is constructed where the server is the root, internal nodes are routers and the leafs are clients.  The root server would send video to a few routers, these routers would further send to other routers and eventually this branching tree would get to the client.  More packet duplication occurs starting the periphery of the network so the overall bandwidth is more evenly distributed.  I can see this applying to multiplayer games really well since it seems the upload capacity is the bottleneck.  If a player is sending state update info to everyone there is a large unessecary duplication of packets at the source when this duplication could be done closer to the clients at different routers.  Combining this with the type of technology mentioned in the video  it would seem you could have even larger sets of coexisting characters while also relying less on bots.  Too bad multicasting seems so far away in terms of depoloyment.  Well at least people can look forward to the tech mentioned in the video.
  • Chadk wrote:
    
    Btw. we already have MASSIVE multiplayer games. Eve online have up to 33k players online at peak times. Its really amazing.

    But if objects are managed by the conneted peers, wouldnt there be a potetional problem where the unit would change the actual location of the object that it manage, giving the player an unfair advantage?



    These massive multiplayer games aren't really massive because the players do not coexist at the same time in the same place.  It works because players don't reside in the same local place and also because the game root servers are run on large server farms that have much higher bandwidth than end systems.  With shooter games one of the clients acts as the server which means the server's processing power and bandwidth are the bottleneck.  Shooters can also use p2p like in the video, but then again the bottleneck is the upload of each peer and the amount of coexisting players.

    The problem with inconsistency came to my mind too.  It seems the focus groups does a good job fixing the problem by allocating more bandwidth to characters that are in focus.
  • Rory, buy your shirts a size bigger. Other than that, great interview Smiley

  • Richard Anthony HeinRichard.Hein Stay on Target
    Conceptually simple and beautiful ideas, great interview!  Big Smile




  • Hi,

    I am facing some difficulties in watching this video? (No Video streaming only audio!)

    Regards,
    Jadeja Dushyantsinh A.
  • jsampsonPCjsampsonPC SampsonBlog.​com Sampson​Videos.com
    funkster_smokey wrote:
    Hi,

    I am facing some difficulties in watching this video? (No Video streaming only audio!)

    Regards,
    Jadeja Dushyantsinh A.


    We pretty much all had that problem. If you copy the download location from the "Download" option, and paste it into Windows Media Player, it'll buffer and play with video and audio Smiley

    Rory is out of town right now, or else that strapping lad would have already gotten us taken care of I'm sure Smiley
  • RoyalSchrubberRoyal​Schrubber One. How many time travellers does it take to change a lightbulb?

    I
    WANT
    IT
    Big Smile


    Seriously, the joint of this technology and crysis would just rock.

  • Mike SampsonSampy And I come back to you now - at the turn of the tide

    Let me head over to the streaming server farm and kick the side of the box.

    That should fix it...

    Sampy
    Video Processing Guy

  • Mike SampsonSampy And I come back to you now - at the turn of the tide
    Fix'd

    I'm so smart Tongue Out
  • Sampy wrote:
    Fix'd

    I'm so smart


    Thanks for fixing it.

    Enjoyed video.
  • MassifMassif aim stupidly high, expect to fail often.
    The conversation reminds me that some friends of mine tried to play Quake 3 multiplayer using a serial modem.

    It turns out COM ports don't really provide a huge amount of bandwidth and aren't fast, so their ping was of the several second margin.

    Apparantly when you get shot the game would try to drag you back to the place you were when the other player shot you. They could even try and fight against it. This made for prolonged movie style "Nooooo" moments as they desperately tried to resist the dragging, and eventually when they arrived at their destination they'd explode.

    Quite funny really.
  • Interesting idea, but it doesn't sound that groundbreaking.  It's just advanced prediction, and advanced prioritization, right?

    BTW, you can skip the first 10 minutes of the video, which is too chatty, with little substance.
  • This isnt all that ground breaking and there are alot of things that need to happen to make peer to per networks even really usable for a ton of people. A similar idea was brought up by outback online (they were working on a virtual world on this premise) and was never really finished (they couldnt get things done at least as far as i know. The overall problem with a peer to peer network first is ping and then packet prioritization as well as bandwidth shortcomings (in the US and other places) for this to really be effective. 

     

    Another thing to note here is that Quake or any kind of first person shooter is a bad bad bad example. Most first person shooters run off a dedicated server setup and they are limited in game size for varying reasons not because you cant have 1000+ people running about the world if you had the proper server setup but because of overall map design and each server just being an instance of a single area and not a huge open world. They are locked to say 16x16 or 32x32 or whatever not because of network limitations but rather because of map and world limitations.

     

    As referenced by another FPS to use an example of just WHY something like this is bad, Modern Warfare 2 (or any of the free to play FPS games that are riddled about that use a peer to peer or person to person network) You went from a game that had larger battles that were less laggy with dedicated servers to games that relied on a matchmaking system and also host / user connections, A person lags almost everyone can tell etc.  Maybe just maybe if we get the Bandwidth in the US to match that of most other countries (higher uploads and all that jazz) peer to peer / person to person would be a better option but at this given point in time it end up just creating far more headaches for everyone involved.... (and yes i know this is an old old article)

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