Bethesda is getting into on-demand streaming, but it's coming at the business from a new angle.
In a pre-E3 briefing, the company hosts us along with journalists from two other outlets at its Rockville, Maryland headquarters to show off Orion, a new technology it says will allow developers to make their games perform better through on-demand streaming no matter the service provider.
Orion is essentially a collection of software techniques that Bethesda is putting together in a unified software development kit. The company says that by incorporating them into any game engine, developers can significantly reduce a title's latency, bandwidth requirements, and required cloud computing power in a streaming environment. Orion is the product of id Software's id Tech team in Dallas and Frankfurt, and Bethesda director of publishing operations James Altman says the group has been working on streaming for years.
Altman says there are two primary challenges for on-demand game streaming: latency and computing power.
To date, on-demand streaming companies have been addressing the latency issue as a hardware problem, he says, attempting to "brute force" the solution by building out infrastructure to reduce customers' distance to cloud servers (and thus cut down on latency) or building optimized video encoding and compression into the hardware to reduce bandwidth required.
The problem, according to Altman, is that these sort of efforts to improve the streaming experience only begin after the game running on a remote server has already rendered any given frame.
"We believed we could achieve significant savings and significant improvements and enhancements to the player experience by starting our optimizations at the very earliest literal possible point, which is on the game engine level," Altman says.