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Thursday, September 13, 2007
The Thousand Player Death Match?
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 9 comments

A recent Microsoft research paper analyzed the possibility of dramatically increasing the possible number of players in an FPS death match. Using a methodology dubbed "Donnybrook," the researchers suggested a variety of techinques to squeeze the most out of the bandwidth available, potentially allowing for a thousand players to wage war on the same map.

Donnybrook, which is also an Irish euphemism for a large brawl or fracas, seeks to enable massive simultaneous gaming through two techniques. Focus Sets devotes bandwidth to the things you're paying attention to (while draining it away from the things you aren't), and Guidable AI periodically replaces remote players that you aren't paying attention to with local bots.

All of Microsoft Research's testing so far has been conducted with Quake III on PCs with no mention of implementation on consoles. If the technology works as well as it seems to this early in its development, it may well be the beginning of a new standard in online gaming architecture for both PCs and consoles.

Microsoft Research claims that this technology should scale infinitely with the upload bandwidth of players (see picture) and should be relatively easy for game developers to implement.
The full research paper is available at the link below. Check out Ars Technica's article for an overview of the findings.

Scaling Peer-to-Peer Games in Low-Bandwidth Environments
Ars Technica: Thousand Player Deathmatch

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