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How Microsoft is Empowering Game Creators in Everything We Do

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Here at Microsoft, our mission is simple: we want to bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet. Ultimately, we aspire to empower everyone to play the games they want, with the people they want, anywhere they want. While most people know about our gaming business in Xbox, not everyone knows about our offerings and technologies in the world of game development. In fact, game development is in Microsoft’s DNA, with over 40 years of experience building games for Windows and console, our open ecosystem reaches virtually every endpoint between console, PC, mobile, and the cloud.

As we see it, we must empower developers not just to create great games for our platform but for all platforms. We are committed to helping all developers in an effort to enrich the entire game-development ecosystem. Game development has always been on the cutting edge of technology, whether it’s pushing the boundary of graphics, creating massively multiplayer experiences, or combining the real-world with the digital – gaming is largely seen a vanguard for other industries.

This week, at the annual Game Developers Conference, we shared more of our vision for the future of game development, delivering 27 technical talks addressing topics spanning across Graphics, Performance optimization, Cloud development/production, Accessibility, and more. There’s also a fireside chat between CEO of Xbox Phil Spencer and Sarah Bond, Head of Xbox Creator Experience that is a must-watch for anyone interested in game development. Head over to the new and improved Microsoft game development website to watch it at aka.ms/GDC. Our own Major Nelson rounded out the week by interviewing Sarah Bond for the Official Xbox Podcast (which you can watch above).

Last but certainly not least, we also shared demonstrations of nine different solution areas using Microsoft technologies that support game creators at each stage of their game’s lifecycle – whether that’s building, running, or growing their game. Let’s take a closer look at those demos to see what we can offer game creators.


Forza Horizon 5 (Azure PlayFab Data Platform)

Playground Games and Turn 10 are deeply committed delighting fans of Forza Horizon 5. To best understand player behavior, the teams at Playground Games and Turn 10 leveraged the Azure PlayFab Data Platform to run integrated, self-service custom analytics for optimized performance.

As Satya Bobba, Senior Software Engineer at Turn 10 put it: “We love how PlayFab fully manages our data ingestion into Azure Data Lake so our engineers can focus on making the game better for our players rather than managing the pipeline.”

By using the Azure PlayFab Data Platform, the teams were able to take advantage of real-time actions, optimize performance by controlling which events to analyze, and open new avenues of integration between PlayFab and their pre-existing analytics solutions.


Halo Infinite (Simplygon)

Halo Infinite (Campaign) – December 8 – Optimized for Xbox Series X|S – Xbox Game Pass

While developing Halo Infinite, the developers at 343i knew that they needed to optimize and render the game’s vast world quickly, smoothly, and efficiently. To do that, 343i utilized Simplygon to optimize the massive environments in Halo Infinite to ensure the game renders the world perfectly, while running smoothly at the target frame rate on any platform.

“It’s hard to imagine how we could have built this game without Simplygon,” said Kurt Diegert, Environment Technical Art Lead at 343i. “Simplygon allowed us to focus our time and energy on building quality assets and gave us the tools we needed to reduce and optimize our content for our target platforms.”

Simplygon allowed the team to ensure more efficient content production by integrating into existing content production pipelines while also working quickly and iteratively, building content in less time and lowering the cost of making content changes. Finally, Simplygon let the developers at 343i scale Halo Infinite’s performance requirements and hit its performance goals on different target systems.


Microsoft Flight Simulator (Azure PlayFab UGC)

Microsoft Flight Simulator

By actively incubating its creator community over the years, Microsoft Flight Simulator has made its mark by offering fans one of the world’s most engaged and vibrant marketplaces of user-generated content. With the release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator last year, the team at Asobo and Xbox Game Studios Publishing helped grow creator revenue by integrating the Azure PlayFab UGC platform and supercharging the volume of assets creators had to work with.

“PlayFab supports our goals of offering a flexible, open and vibrant marketplace for creators that allows them to reach the entire Flight Simulator audience,” said Jorg Neumann, Head of Partner Production at Xbox Game Studios.

Using Azure Playfab UGC offered the teams an off-the-shelf solution to build a best-in-class creator marketplace, ultimately saving time, money, and resources. On the content front, a streamlined content management system allowed them to catalog to store and manage content while an easy-to-use content search let players quickly find interesting content to use in-game.


Psychonauts 2 (Visual Studio 2022)

Psychonauts 2

Double Fine has always been known for its focus on innovation, creativity, and storytelling. The studio’s development team honed that focus more than ever while creating Psychonauts 2, a strategy that paid off with more than 60 industry awards. A big part of their success was the ability to move and iterate quickly using Visual Studio, which helped reduce the time spent on build iteration.

“As Tech Director, I switch between many of our game projects throughout the day to compile and review the latest code,” said Chad Dawson, Technical Director at Double Fine. “The improved project load times and faster link times in Visual Studio 2022 are exciting and will be a welcome improvement to my workflow.”

The benefits of embracing Visual Studio were clear to the team at Double Fine, including faster build iteration, stable and efficient debugging to elimination frequent debugger crashes and have a streamlined experience, and a much faster and smoother editing experience that reduced inefficiencies.


NBA Clash (Azure PlayFab Live Ops Services)

Launching a new game is tough, especially when you need to use data to make confident decisions about how to grow your game. When NBA Clash launched on mobile platforms, the developers at Nifty Games knew they needed to successfully release a new Starter Pack. To make that happen, they turned to Azure PlayFab Live Ops Services to help them easily configure and manage experiments to test the content against targeted player segments.

“PlayFab has made a big difference for us – it has driven measurable efficiencies around our experiment management and analysis,” said Jonathan Bach, Head of Central Product at Nifty Games. “PlayFab continues to improve, and we look forward to continued collaboration.”

Using Azure PlayFab Live Ops Services allowed Nifty Games to make confident, data-driven decisions based on insights into player behavior, run A/B tests and experiment with variable gameplay experiences, and deploy player-targeted experiments concurrently to optimize the rollout of new game flows.


No Man’s Sky (Azure PlayFab Multiplayer Services)

From the beginning of the game’s development, Hello Games set out to create an epic adventure in No Man’s Sky. They also strongly believed that the experience would be enriched by having all players – regardless of platform – enjoy the game together. Using Azure PlayFab Multiplayer Services allowed the team to have gamers on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC playing together. What’s more, the team’s insights into creating cross-platform games were highly valuable in shaping Azure PlayFab Matchmaking to include real-time notifications and a Lobby feature to group players across their user base.

Iain Brown, Server/Multiplayer Lead at Hello Games, summed it up best: “PlayFab allowed us to realise our vision of a single shared universe for all our players to explore together.”

Unify players across platforms with matchmaking allows developers to connect their communities, while allowing them to create, find, and join searchable lobbies offers the type of custom multiplayer experiences gamers have come to expect. All of this and more is available through the use of Azure PlayFab Multiplayer Services.


DOOM Eternal (Azure PlayFab Multiplayer Servers)

Doom Eternal

During the game’s development, id Software was laser-focused on making DOOM Eternal a unique experience for gamers all over the world. By taking advantage of Azure PlayFab Multiplayer Server features to save time and money, the team could reduce overhead and focus on what they do best: making a best-in-class shooter.

“The way Azure PlayFab delivers online features and functionality aligned with our ideas for next-generation game technology,” said Travis Bradshaw, Principal Program Manager at Microsoft and the former Lead Services Programmer at id Software. “That synergy gave us confidence.”

To ensure players get matched to the best, lowest latency servers around the world, id Software used Azure PlayFab Multiplayer Servers automated latency and QoS monitoring features. And because Azure has a multitude of regions for hosting servers, players are matched to their first-pick server regions quickly and frequently.


Rogue Company (Game Production in the Cloud with Azure)

Rogue Company

The last few years have changed everything in the world of game development. While game production had always been a highly centralized activity, hybrid work models forced development teams like Hi-Rez Studios to pivot. The developers at Hi-Rez moved quickly to shift development of Rogue Company’s post-launch updates to the cloud. By using Perforce and Incredibuild in the cloud, the team was able to enact cloud-powered game production workflows, successfully operating remotely while keeping a tight, fast iteration loop.

“The speed and efficiency we gain by having the ability to spin up hardware through automation is a game-changer,” said Matt Smith, Lead Tools Engineer at Hi-Rez Studios.

Best of all, Azure offers more flexibility than ever before. Teams can control when and which pieces of the production pipeline migrate to the cloud, all based on a studio’s individual needs. A development team can move a single process, incrementally retool a pipeline, or fully migrate to the cloud. Low latency VMs on Azure’s global network allow teams to work anywhere, with the same build speed they would get in the office.


Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Touch Controls for Xbox Cloud Gaming)

Yakuza: Like a Dragon

In an effort to maximize the reach of their hit game Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio embraced Xbox Cloud Gaming to bring the experience to more players in more parts of the world. The Xbox Cloud Gaming APIs and the Touch Adaptation Kit allowed them to bring the full HD version of the game to smartphones and tablets, implementing scenario-based touch control layouts that dynamically changed on-screen based on what the player is doing in-game. The results were groundbreaking, with all new audiences now able to enjoy the award-winning title.

“We used the Xbox Cloud Gaming Touch Adaptation Kit to easily place buttons and icons proactively in a way that was intuitive, making actions in each scenario easy to understand,” said a representative of Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio.

The Xbox Cloud Gaming APIs and the Touch Adaptation Kit ensures that players get the best experience in every part of a game with context sensitive touch layouts that feel mobile-native. Most importantly, they also allow developers to create an immersive experience with custom controls that match the game’s art style.





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Monster Hunter Rise Ascends to New Heights on Xbox

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Monster Hunter Rise Ascends to New Heights on Xbox

Summary

  • Coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, and with Game Pass on January 20, 2023.
  • In Monster Hunter Rise, you’ll combine the series’ signature hunting action with exciting new acrobatic combat.
  • Enjoy enhanced visual options on Xbox Series X, plus content from the previously released title updates (up to version 10), and more to come with Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak in Spring 2023.

Welcome, new hunters! We’re excited to share that Monster Hunter Rise is coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, plus Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass, on January 20, 2023!

In Monster Hunter Rise, you’ll combine the series’ signature hunting action with exciting new acrobatic combat

Enjoy silky smooth action on Xbox Series X with the choice between 4K resolution and up to 60 FPS, or 1080P resolution with up to 120 FPS. Get lost in the atmosphere of the hunt with immersive 3D audio on both Xbox Series X|S systems. It’s a great time to jump in for Game Pass subscribers, and you can even continue hunting via Game Pass Cloud. You can also join the hunt by purchasing the game digitally starting at $39.99, with preorders (including a sweet bonus!) available now.

In Monster Hunter Rise, you’ll encounter a slew of new monsters inspired by Japanese folklore, like the flagship Wyvern of Malice, Magnamalo. Of course, iconic and beloved monsters from past titles also return, rounding out a roster of fearsome beasts that are sure to test your skills.

Through the game’s story, you’ll travel to the serene Kamura Village, home to everything you’ll need as a hunter. Unite with a colorful cast of characters as you become the village’s foremost hunter, some of which you’ll team up with to face the encroaching Rampage – a catastrophic event where hordes of monsters descend upon the village. Uncover the mystery behind the Rampage as you strive to forge a future for the people of Kamura.

Monster Hunter Rise

Seasoned hunters experienced with Monster Hunter World and Iceborne will feel right at home with the signature gameplay experience the series known for. Choose from 14 weapon types, each with their own unique playstyle and deep and rewarding mechanics to master. Defeat powerful monsters, and use materials carved from them to craft more and more powerful weapons and armor as you rise through the hunting ranks.

Monster Hunter Rise introduces several new unique elements to the hunter’s toolkit, with an emphasis on being more maneuverable and agile than ever. Wirebugs let Hunters shoot a special silk to unleash special attacks unique to each of the 14 weapons. Hunters can use them quickly zip up into the air and up walls, recover more quickly from impactful hits, maneuver into the right position to nail that perfect hit, and dodge a devastating hit just in the nick of time. Wyvern Riding is another unique Wirebug ability, where you can wreak havoc by controlling a monster, temporally turning one into an ally!

Monster Hunter Rise

The familiar Palico Felyne friends are back to lend their support, but this time they’re joined by the new Palamute Canyne companions. They’re a hunter’s best friend with their own set of special abilities, and you’ll be able to ride on Palamute’s back to quickly get around during a hunt. And yes, you can pet them!

Monster Hunter Rise

Choose to go it alone, or team up with up to three others online for cooperative hunts. You’ll be able to hunt together and continue your progress whether you’re hunting on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, or via the Xbox app for Windows PC.

At launch on Jan. 20, the game will come equipped with content and Event Quests from the previously released title updates (up to version 10), offering dozens of hours of intense hunting action and plenty of rewards to earn. This includes a number of fun collaborations quests from other series, where you’ll take on special themed quests to earn gear themed after Street Fighter, Okami, and Mega Man, just to name a few.

Monster Hunter Rise

In Spring 2023, the hunt gets even bigger with the launch of the Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak massive expansion, taking hunters on a journey to the kingdom to become a Master Rank Hunter and battle new threats, like the bloodthirsty Malzeno.

For the latest information on Monster Hunter Rise, keep an eye on the official Monster Hunter Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Happy hunting, and see you in Kamura!

Xbox Live

Monster Hunter Rise

CAPCOM CO., LTD.

$39.99

Pre-order bonus
– Palamute Retriever Costume layered armor
– Palico Forest Cat Costume layered armor
– Novice Talisman for some extra assistance in the early stages

Rise to the challenge and join the hunt! In Monster Hunter Rise, the latest installment in the award-winning and top-selling Monster Hunter series, you’ll become a hunter, explore brand new maps and use a variety of weapons to take down fearsome monsters as part of an all-new storyline.

Ferocious monsters with unique ecologies
Hunt down a plethora of monsters with distinct behaviors and deadly ferocity. From classic returning monsters to all-new creatures inspired by Japanese folklore, including the flagship wyvern Magnamalo, you’ll need to think on your feet and master their unique tendencies if you hope to reap any of the rewards!

Choose your weapon and show your skills
Wield 14 different weapon types that offer unique gameplay styles, both up-close and from long range. Charge up and hit hard with the devastating Great Sword; dispatch monsters in style using the elegant Long Sword; become a deadly maelstrom of blades with the speedy Dual Blades; charge forth with the punishing Lance; or take aim from a distance with the Bow and Bowguns. These are just a few of the weapon types available in the game, meaning you’re sure to find the play style that suits you best.

Hunt, gather and craft your way to the top of the food chain
Each monster you hunt will provide materials that allow you to craft new weapons and armor and upgrade your existing gear. Go back out on the field and hunt even fiercer monsters and earn even better rewards! You can change your weapon at any of the Equipment Boxes any time, so the possibilities are limitless!

Hunt solo or team up to take monsters down
The Hunter Hub offers multiplayer quests where up to four players can team up to take on targets together. Difficulty scaling ensures that whether you go solo or hit the hunt as a full four-person squad, it’s always a fair fight.

Enjoy an exciting new storyline set in Kamura Village
This serene locale is inhabited by a colorful cast of villagers who have long lived in fear of the Rampage – a catastrophic event where countless monsters attack the village all at once. 50 years after the last Rampage, you must work together with the villagers to face this trial.

Experience new hunting actions with the Wirebug
Wirebugs are an integral part of your hunter’s toolkit. The special silk they shoot out can be used to zip up walls and across maps, and can even be used to pull off special attacks unique to each of the 14 weapon types in the game.

Buddies are here to help
The Palico Felyne friends you already know and love from previous Monster Hunter adventures are joined by the brand new Palamute Canyne companions!

Wreak havoc by controlling monsters
Control raging monsters using Wyvern Riding and dish out massive damage to your targets!

Fend off hordes of monsters in The Rampage
Protect Kamura Village from hordes of monsters in an all-new quest type! Prepare for monster hunting on a scale like never before!

*This content is also available as part of one or more bundles. Please check your previous purchases to avoid duplication.

Xbox Live

Monster Hunter Rise Deluxe Edition

CAPCOM CO., LTD.

$49.99

Pre-order bonus
– Palamute Retriever Costume layered armor
– Palico Forest Cat Costume layered armor
– Novice Talisman for some extra assistance in the early stages

Includes Monster Hunter Rise and the Deluxe Kit content in one package!

Main game “Monster Hunter Rise”
– “Kamurai” Hunter layered armor set
– “Fish Collar” Palico layered armor piece
– “Shuriken Collar” Palamute layered armor piece
– “Jump” gesture set
– Samurai pose set
– “Kabuki” face paint
– “Izuchi Tail” hairstyle



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