Tag Archives: who’ve

Inside Xbox One X Enhanced: Shadow of the Tomb Raider – Xbox Wire

Many of gaming’s most compelling stories come from those who’ve helped to create our favorite Xbox One games. In our Inside Xbox One X Enhanced series, these creators will share the behind-the-scenes accounts of the work involved in enhancing these epic games for Xbox One X, how they’ve helped chart the course of the world’s most powerful console, and what that means for the future of gaming. Today, we’ll be chatting with Eidos-Montreal Programming Director Frédéric Robichaud on the highly anticipated Shadow of the Tomb Raider which sees Lara Croft’s defining moment as she becomes the Tomb Raider.

What specifically is your development team doing to enhance Shadow of the Tomb Raider for Xbox One X?

To ensure that Shadow of the Tomb Raider looked crisp and amazingly polished on Xbox One X, we have worked incredibly hard to fully support HDR mode. We’ve revamped the entire pipeline to be HDR from the get go: realistic lights intensity calibration, HDR textures and global illumination energy conservation.

In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, we offer two modes for players: High Resolution and High Framerate mode. With the GPU power of the Xbox One X, we were able to get 4K at a constant 30 FPS and with the CPU boost, we are targeting 60 FPS with full HD (1080p) in High Framerate mode.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Screenshot

We’ve been able to improve the quality of certain algorithms on the Xbox One X like stochastic screen-space reflections and atmospheric effects. With the extra memory, we have increased the shadow maps and texture resolution to enhance the visual quality.

Audio wise, we are fully supporting Dolby Atmos to create real 3D audio immersion.

How do these enhancements impact the gaming experience, and why did your development team choose to focus on these enhancement areas?

The recent Tomb Raider games are known for their high quality graphics and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, as the final entry in the origin trilogy, pushes the visual boundaries more than ever before. Supporting 4K was mandatory for us. Players that do not own a 4K TV will still see the visual improvements, mostly with less aliasing and more details in the image.

If the player chooses the High Framerate mode, they will enjoy the fluidity and reactivity of the controls in a seamless gameplay experience.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Screenshot

The audio immersion is perfect with Dolby Atmos, especially in the jungle areas which are dense with wildlife like the locusts below and birds above. Spatial audio is best experienced with a home theater system; however, all players will still hear those effects and an overall increase in audio fidelity.

How do you expect fans of Shadow of the Tomb Raider will respond to playing it on Xbox One X with these enhancements?

Those playing Shadow of the Tomb Raider on the Xbox One X will be blown away by the visual quality in High Resolution mode or the fluidity if they choose the High Framerate mode. Players will not want to go back to the previous generation of consoles!

What enhancement were you most excited about to explore leveraging for Shadow of the Tomb Raider on Xbox One X?

Without a doubt, High Framerate mode. Maximizing the CPU power to target 60 FPS with a huge, living crowd like in the Cozumel café or Paititi was an interesting challenge. A lot of optimization to our engine was done to achieve these stunning results.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Screenshot

What does 4K and HDR mean for your game, games in the future and development at your studio?

We completely revamped our pipeline to integrate HDR from the beginning of production. Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks more real and better than ever before because of 4K and HDR. Better resolution, less aliasing, more intensity and more nuance.  We hope that players are blown away by the visual fidelity of the most recent edition to the Tomb Raider franchise.

It is only the beginning; 4k and HDR will become standard to all the games, especially when all developers begin to follow a common HDR standard.

Thanks to Frédéric for taking the time to chat with us about Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which releases on September 14. We’ll bring you more interviews with more developers in the future, as well as more on Shadow of the Tomb Raider, so stay tuned to Xbox Wire!

Inside Xbox One X Enhanced: Halo 5

Many of gaming’s most compelling stories come from those who’ve helped to create our favorite Xbox One games. In our Inside Xbox One X Enhanced series, these creators will share the behind-the-scenes accounts of the work involved in enhancing these epic games for Xbox One X, how they’ve helped chart the course of the world’s most powerful console, and what that means for the future of gaming. Today, we’ll be chatting with 343 Industries’ Chris Lee, Studio Head of FPS Games, about the action-packed shooter Halo 5: Guardians.

What specifically is your development team doing to enhance Halo 5: Guardians for Xbox One X?

The Xbox One X provides a ton of additional power that we’ve used to lift the Halo 5: Guardians resolution to 4K Ultra HD while maintaining the smooth 60fps gameplay experience. Additionally, the team was able to go in and change some level of detail settings so we can render more detail further away from the player.

The Xbox One X update that enables 4K on Xbox One X is also the 11th free content release we’ve created for Halo 5: Guardians. Along with Xbox One X enhancements, the “Overtime” update includes the multiplayer game mode Oddball, support for the new “Halo 5: Guardians Local Server” app on Windows 10 that lets gamers use their Windows 10 PC into a local server for Halo 5 custom games, new in-game skins, and weapon tuning updates. These content updates are available to all Xbox One players!

How do these enhancements impact the gaming experience?

Playing Halo 5 in 4K shows off a ton of detail on our characters, weapons, and vehicles that was not possible to see in 1080p.  From the materials and stitches on our Spartan’s gloves to operator instructions on the ARs all the little details really shine. H5 4k is not only a visual treat, but the enhanced power of Xbox One X has the same smooth gameplay throughout campaign and multiplayer, especially in massive Warzone matches and frenetic campaign maps. The load times are also significantly faster (especially noticeable in campaign), and the in-game cutscenes look beautiful when viewing in full fidelity at 4k.

Why did your development team choose to focus on these enhancement areas?

When we built Halo 5: Guardians, the team spent a lot of time and effort to create beautiful textures and assets in the game that were not possible to fully appreciate at 1080p on Xbox One. Gamers saw some of these details in Halo 5: Forge on Windows 10, which supports running in 4K. We were immediately excited about increasing the resolution, so Xbox One X gamers can appreciate the full fidelity of our art assets.

During development we found that with the extra power of Xbox One X we could also increase the level of detail on objects at distances that are further away from the player. This helps with the way we transition between assets and creates a much better visual experience during gameplay.

How do you expect fans of Halo 5: Guardians will respond to playing it on Xbox One X with these enhancements?

The amount of visual detail that pops in 4K, from the texture of your Spartan’s glove holding a Magnum to the crisp details of the world of Sanghelios, really adds to the overall feel of the game. The amount of detail that players didn’t know was there will be a nice surprise.

How has the process been to get the game up and running on Xbox One X?

The process has been great. We wanted to get our hands on Xbox One X development hardware as soon as possible. From there our engineers in 343 and at our partner Skybox Labs started cranking to get things rolling in 4k.

SkyBox Labs has been a great partner co-developing Halo 5, Halo 5: Forge, and things like our “Overtime” update which includes adding Xbox One X support for 4K. They were instrumental in helping us deliver the Xbox One X enhancements, and I am excited to continue this partnership for our future projects!

What enhancement were you most excited about leveraging for Halo 5: Guardians on Xbox One X?

The ability to play Halo 5 at such high visual fidelity while also having faster load times and smooth 60fps gameplay is something I’m really looking forward to sharing with our community.

What does 4K and HDR mean for your game, games in the future and development at your studio?

The team is excited to think of new ways to leverage the power and fidelity of the Xbox One X. We have a lot of ambition for future projects. 4k lets us show a ton of detail in our assets. HDR is a great technology for a sci-fi game with vibrant color and FXs as a critical part of our gameplay sandbox. We are excited to get our hands on it so we create intense new visuals for our universe.

Thanks to Chris for taking the time to chat with us about Xbox One X Enhanced. We’ll be bringing you more interviews with more developers in the future, so stay tuned to Xbox Wire!

IT pros get comfortable with Kubernetes in production

IT pros who’ve run production workloads with Kubernetes for at least a year say it can open up frontiers for IT operations within their organizations.

It’s easier to find instances of Kubernetes in production in the enterprise today versus just a year ago. This is due to the proliferation of commercial platforms that package this open source container orchestration software for enterprise use, such as CoreOS Tectonic and Rancher Labs’ container management product, Rancher. In the two years since the initial release of Kubernetes, early adopters said the platform has facilitated big changes in high availability (HA) and application portability within their organizations.

For example, disaster recovery (DR) across availability zones (AZs) in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud was notoriously unwieldy with VM-based approaches. Yet, it has become the standard for Kubernetes deployments at SAP’s Concur Technologies during the last 18 months.

Concur first rolled out the open source, upstream Kubernetes project in production to support a receipt image service in December 2015, at a time when clusters that spanned multiple AZs for HA were largely unheard-of, said Dale Ragan, principal software engineer for the firm, based in Bellevue, Wash.

“We wanted to prepare for HA, running it across AZs, rather than one cluster per AZ, which is how other people do it,” Ragan said. “It’s been pretty successful — we hardly ever have any issues with it.”

Ragan’s team seeks 99.999% uptime for the receipt image service, and it’s on the verge of meeting this goal now with Kubernetes in production, Ragan said.

Kubernetes in production offers multicloud multi-tenancy

Kubernetes has spread to other teams within Concur, though those teams run multi-tenant clusters based on CoreOS’s Tectonic, while Ragan’s team sticks to a single-tenant cluster still tied to upstream Kubernetes. The goal is to move that first cluster to CoreOS, as well, though the company must still work out licensing and testing to make sure the receipt imaging app works well on Tectonic, Ragan said. CoreOS has prepared for this transition with recent support for the Terraform infrastructure-as-code tool, with which Ragan’s team underpins its Kubernetes cluster.

CoreOS just released a version of Tectonic that supports automated cluster creation and HA failover across AWS and Microsoft Azure clouds, which is where Concur will take its workloads next, Ragan said.

“Using other cloud providers is a big goal of ours, whether it’s for disaster recovery or just to run a different cluster on another cloud for HA,” Ragan said. With this in mind, Concur has created its own tool to monitor resources in multiple infrastructures called Scipian, which it will soon release to the open source community.

Ragan said the biggest change in the company’s approach to Kubernetes in production has been a move to multi-tenancy in newer Tectonic clusters and the division of shared infrastructures into consumable pieces with role-based access. Network administrators can now provision a network, and it can be consumed by developers that roll out Kubernetes clusters without having to grant administrative access to those developers, for example.

In the next two years, Ragan said he expects to bring the company’s databases into the Kubernetes fold to also gain container-based HA and DR across clouds. For this to happen, the Kubernetes 1.7 additions to StatefulSets and secrets management must emerge from alpha and beta versions as soon as possible; Ragan said he hopes to roll out those features before the end of this year.

Kubernetes in production favors services-oriented approach

Dallas-based consulting firm etc.io uses HA across cloud data centers and service providers for its clients, which it helps to deploy containers. During the most recent Amazon outage, etc.io clients had failover between AWS and public cloud providers OVH and Linode through Rancher’s orchestration of Kubernetes clusters, said E.T. Cook, chief advocate for the firm.

“With Rancher, you can orchestrate domains across multiple data centers or providers,” Cook said. “It just treats them all as one giant intranetwork.”

In the next two years, Cook said he expects Rancher will make not just cloud infrastructures, but container orchestration platforms such as Docker Swarm and Kubernetes interchangeable with little effort. He said he evaluates these two platforms frequently because they change so fast. Cook said it’s too soon to pick a winner in the container orchestration market yet, despite the momentum behind Kubernetes in production at enterprises.

Docker’s most recent Enterprise Edition release favors enterprise approaches to software architectures that are stateful and based on permanent stacks of resources. This is in opposition to Kubernetes, which Cook said he sees as geared toward ephemeral stateless workloads, regardless of its recent additions to StatefulSets and access control features.

It’s like the early days of HD DVD vs. Blu-ray … long term, there may be another major momentum shift.
E.T. Cookchief advocate, etc.io

“Much of the time, there’s no functional difference between Docker Swarm and Kubernetes, but they have fundamentally different ways of getting to that result,” Cook said.

The philosophy behind Kubernetes favors API-based service architecture, where interactions between services are often payloads, and “minions” scale up as loads and queues increase, Cook said. In Docker, by contrast, the user sets up a load balancer, which then forwards requests to scaled services.

“The services themselves are first-class citizens, and the load balancers expose to the services — whereas in the Kubernetes philosophy, the service or endpoint itself is the first-class citizen,” Cook said. “Requests are managed by the service themselves in Kubernetes, whereas in Docker, scaling and routing is done using load balancers to replicated instances of that service.”

The two platforms now compete for enterprise hearts and minds, but before too long, Cook said he thinks it might make sense for organizations to use each for different tasks — perhaps Docker to serve the web front-end and Kubernetes powering the back-end processing.

Ultimately, Cook said he expects Kubernetes to find a long-term niche backing serverless deployments for cloud providers and midsize organizations, while Docker finds its home within the largest enterprises that have the critical mass to focus on scaled services. For now, though, he’s hedging his bets.

“It’s like the early days of HD DVD vs. Blu-ray,” Cook said. “Long term, there may be another major momentum shift — even though, right now, the market’s behind Kubernetes.”

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for TechTarget’s Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. Write to her at [email protected] or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.