Once Cyberpunk 2077 was released, it has continuously become the first place on the lunch break topic list in the past few days. Everyone in the office shared their personal experience and exchanged experience in solving bugs.
"Are we going to use consoles to play games in 2077?" The serious questions that my colleagues suddenly throw out caught people off guard, but they were also worth pondering.
The game depicts a black technology world full of artificial humans and a combination of humans and machines. Players can realize most of the operations by connecting to the Internet. There is really no host to play the game. For entertainment, you only need to connect to the game through the network. "Super Dream System".
Back to reality, if we want to achieve this kind of cloud gaming experience, we may not have to wait until 2077.
Play experience from the cloud
With the improvement of network equipment infrastructure, network transmission rates have gradually caught up with local data transmission in recent years. Major game manufacturers and platform vendors have announced the launch of corresponding cloud game services. Tencent’s START platform is one of the best.
It has been more than a year since the START platform started testing. At present, judging from the user response on the PC side, the START platform is satisfactory in terms of screen and delay control. The START platform was officially opened for testing on the TV platform on December 12, and I also downloaded the application experience on TV for the first time.
Getting started with this "cloud host" is probably the easiest experience in my years of gaming career:
There is no data cable connection, no need to wait for a long game download process, just download the START cloud game in the application store, select the game you like and click to play. From opening the app to entering the game screen, the whole process only took 3 minutes, which is faster than the update of general mobile games.
"Gu Jian Qi Tan San" is the first game I have experienced. With its exquisite graphics, it is expressed in the unique elegant art style of Xian Xia. Once it was launched, it was hailed as the masterpiece of the domestic Xian Xia game. So I am very curious about the performance of this stand-alone masterpiece known as the "Landscape Simulator" on the START platform.
After finishing the teaching of the novices I met for the first time, I started to look closely at the bright sunny field. I also visited this place when "Gu Jian Qi Tan San" was first launched on the PC side, but I felt that I was on a larger screen TV. Quite different:
The sea of wheat swaying in the wind, the exquisite clothing styles, and the maple forest dancing like wildfires are still as exquisite as the PC side in terms of picture quality, but from the look and feel, the large screen picture brings a sense of shock Much better than PC.
Being alone is not as good as others. After seeing a colleague who is greedy for my controller, I also want to share the joy of playing games with pay. The "Just Great Adventure" on the START platform is very suitable for multiple people. Screen play.
"Only Adventure" is very friendly to multiplayer games in terms of operation. As long as you take out your phone and scan the QR code on the screen, the phone can be used as a virtual controller, even if there is only one game controller at home, it will not play. Stop sharing interest.
It is not difficult to see from the lovely style of painting that Only Big Adventure is a game that focuses on a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere.
Just like the game's slogan "Make friends with your heart, play with your feet", two players need to control the robot's feet with a joystick to pass the level. The game has many scenes that require two-person cooperation. The two people awkwardly use their feet to communicate constantly (Blame) Let the relationship heat up quickly.
Of course, if there is not enough understanding between two people, the relationship can easily overheat. At this time, there is nothing better to solve the problem than a fight-I mean a fight in "The King of Fighters 14."
"The King of Fighters 14" is the most challenging fighting game for timely response. After actually experiencing it, I feel that the delay performance of the START cloud platform is very good, and the network delay is basically controlled at about 5ms.
It is difficult to detect the operation delay when rubbing moves, and more often I will forget that this is a streaming video and immerse myself in the fighting world.
It is worth mentioning that because everyone's network environment is different, and the performance of delay is also different. The network condition I used in the test is the 89 Mbps rate of the wired connection. The START platform said that a 50 Mbps wired network can be played with low latency. Friends who want to try it can be used as a reference.
All for the player
After the demo experience, I always feel a sense of dislocation:
Cognitively, I clearly know that what is displayed on the TV are real-time streaming images, but whenever I press the handle button, I see the character react instantly, which is the same as running a host game locally. It is difficult Find the network transmission traces of cloud games.
This sense of misalignment is not without reason. The low-latency, high-quality game performance of the START platform is very close to the level of the console running games. According to the data measured by Tencent Labs, from the time the handle is pressed to the display on the TV screen, the START cloud game can even run 30ms lower than the host.
Prior to this, many smart TV manufacturers have already entered the TV cloud game market, wanting to build a home theater into a living room entertainment center, but from the final delay performance and picture performance, the results are mostly unsatisfactory.
▲ Picture from: Digitaltrends.com
To explore the reasons, we must have a deeper understanding of the principles of cloud games. When a player runs a cloud game, every operation will be transmitted to the processor in the cloud through the network, and after calculation and rendering in the cloud, the real-time game screen will be streamed to the terminal for display.
In this process, the first and second steps do not involve the display of the picture. As long as the data transmission and processing rate is fast enough, it will basically not affect the picture delay.
The picture delays and freezes that players perceive in cloud games basically come from the cloud returning to the transmission picture and the terminal display picture.
This process is very similar to the streaming media transmission of watching a movie on Tencent Video or watching a live broadcast on Douyu. The difference is that when watching a video or live broadcast, the picture delay can be eliminated by caching a few seconds in advance. In the process, the response of all screens is instant, and even a 1s cache delay will greatly reduce the gaming experience.
To realize the high-definition picture transmission of cloud games, large bandwidth alone is not enough. More efficient compression algorithms and decoding technologies are the key to realizing cloud games. One of the reasons behind START's ability to balance latency and picture performance at the top level in the industry is that Tencent has applied its technology that has been deeply cultivated in the audio and video codec field for many years to cloud games.
▲ Picture from: Innerventur.es
In the case of a certain speed, the shorter the distance, the less time it will take to solve the network delay.
In order to reduce the delay from the cloud to the user, Tencent has server nodes in most provinces. In the future, it will ensure large-scale coverage and ensure that the distance between the node and the terminal is less than 300 kilometers, thereby using edge algorithms to greatly reduce the delay .
More importantly, Tencent has also cooperated with smart TV manufacturers to launch the START TV certification system to optimize the decoding technology of TV terminals from the chip level. Smart TVs that have passed the START certification can render and output images more efficiently, ensuring low-latency gaming experience for players from the hardware.
In other words, through the combination of hardware and software, START TV certification ensures the smooth experience of each player. This is what distinguishes the gaming experience of the START cloud gaming platform from other platforms.
In addition to the player's visual experience, the handheld experience is also the focus of START certification. Game handle manufacturers including Beitong and Xiaoji have participated in the START certification program. The certified handles not only have lower wireless transmission delay, but also enjoy exclusive discounts and free games when purchased on the START platform Duration activity.
For TV users who have not been exposed to console games, the threshold for trying high-quality games has never been lower:
Just add a START-certified gamepad, connect to the TV and play immediately. The traditional process of buying games, downloading games, and installing games is skipped, and playing games is as easy as listening to a song with headphones.
On the "cloud", the game restarts
Open START's game list and you can see that compared with the domestic cloud gaming environment with weak copyright awareness, START TV cloud gaming is definitely a clear stream.
All of the games on the START platform are genuine licensed boutique games, and they are all built specifically for large-screen games, rather than simply enlarging mobile games to a larger screen.
In the game library, there is no shortage of high-quality domestic works such as "Time of Portia" and "The Unbelievable Crown" that have been unanimously praised by players. This is undoubtedly a good thing for domestic game developers or players.
▲ Exclusive classic white screen advice for genuine games
The domestic stand-alone game industry has experienced a glorious era of fairy tales and the darkest moment of copyright chaos. Profitability has always been a difficult problem for game manufacturers.
Players have been pursuing a better gaming experience, and manufacturers must invest large costs in research and development in order to meet this expectation; but if they want to obtain substantial commercial returns, the unit price of the game is inevitably set in a higher range, which is expensive The cost of playing has hindered the scale development of host game players.
The START platform adopts the current more mainstream "content-platform-subscription" entertainment consumption model. Players can enjoy high-quality gaming experience at a subscription-based price. Game manufacturers, as content parties, will have more after revenue is secured. Funds can continue to be invested in game development.
It is worth mentioning that, in order to allow more players to have access to the convenience of TV cloud games in advance, the START platform is currently available for free in the first month. Even if there is no controller at home, you can immediately use the virtual controller to play with your family. Only a big adventure.
According to data from iiMedia.com, the number of cloud game users in 2019 is about 133 million, and it is expected that the number of users in 2023 will reach 658 million.
With the rapid development of cloud gaming, it can also drive more TV users to turn into gamers. It is foreseeable that the gaming industry is about to radiate new vitality.
Also vigorous is the smart TV market. According to the 45th "Report on the Development of China's Internet Networks" released by the China Internet Network Service Center, the proportion of Chinese Internet users who use TV to surf the Internet has reached 32%, an increase of 2.0% compared to 2018 .
Home life has stimulated people's home entertainment needs, and smart TVs that become the center of the living room need to carry more content and services.
In the past, smart TVs could only provide a single audio and video content, but the launch of START cloud games has brought more imagination to home entertainment.
In the past, we wanted to experience high-quality 3A masterpieces, and the cost was relatively high—we needed to buy a powerful and expensive PC or game console, and a game masterpiece that cost hundreds of dollars at every turn.
Once the freshness of playing games has passed, these expensive gaming devices can only be eaten by the TV, waiting for the next popular game to be released, or they will be listed on the second-hand trading platform and wait for someone to take over.
The high game threshold has deterred many light players who are interested in console games. Console game users and console game enthusiasts are separated by this tangible wall. The 2019 China Console Game Research Report released by NikoPartne shows that China’s The number of console players reached 11 million, far below the PC and mobile game markets.
The emergence of START cloud gaming is like a ladder, allowing more game lovers to easily access high-quality console games. This reminds me of a future scenario:
Pick up the phone and see that the favorite video owner has updated an interesting game video, then turn on the TV and pick up the handle to experience it immediately.
The advent of the cloud era allows us to embrace a more convenient life. As a brand new game mode, cloud gaming is worth the expectation of every player.
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