A Gaming Switch-up

By: enterflux
June 28th, 2011
7:17 pm

A Gaming Switch-up

Okay, so I know my title was horribly punny, but forgive me because you're going to like what I've got to say!

The Microsoft Research team recently released information regarding their new project: Switchboard. Switchboard is a matchmaking system for multiplayer mobile games, and MSR is going to release more official details at MobiSys 2011. A description of the project from Victor Bahl, the Mobile Computing Research Center at MSR director, is:

Originally Posted by
“Multiplayer gaming on smartphones is a very challenging technical problem,” he says. “Gamers move around, the wireless channel is hostile, the bandwidth you need is not always there, disconnections can happen, and smartphones are energy-constrained.
“If you just take a game and put it on a smartphone, it is not going to work.”
The key to Switchboard is that it works as a “matchmaker,” finding potential game players and assigning them to a group most similar for each player’s phone and network connection.
“Let’s say there are 20 candidates for a game,” Bahl says. “You might find that some have very low battery levels—even if they wanted to play the game, they would be able to play for only a few minutes. Others might be moving around so much that lots of handoffs [between cell towers] will happen, resulting in disconnections, and they will not enjoy the game. Or some might be located in highly congested areas where a lot of people are using phones and the available network bandwidth is low.”
Switchboard finds suitable game candidates by “pinging” their phones to estimate latency: the time needed to move a packet of data. Latency is important to gaming because a long lag time—in the hundreds of milliseconds—to move data can affect game play.
Switchboard points out very smart potential problems that could occur without it. I hadn't even thought about it, but then again I can't afford a smart phone! What do you guys think? Pretty swells? And do you now/do you think you will play multiplayer mobile games? Seems like a whole new chapter in the wide world of gaming!

SOURCE: "Microsoft Research Working On Smartphone Multiplayer Gaming" // WM Power User

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6 comments on "A Gaming Switch-up"

  • boohbah11
    June 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm

    I would, but I dont have a smartphone, and I don't think there is anybody else in my city that has a Zune...

    Pretty cool though

  • tnap
    June 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    It would be interesting...but hard to pull off.

  • J2800
    June 28, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Because when you have a ****ty connection you *totally* want to play with someone who has an equally ****ty connection.

  • Lanex
    June 29, 2011 at 1:25 am

    Well, we've had multiplayer games like 5 years ago on Java, they worked fine, so it is not supposed to be so complicated to make them on WM7. And Zune has multiplayer games.

  • Air King
    June 29, 2011 at 1:37 am

    A nice idea. I don't have a smartphone atm though.

  • enterflux
    June 29, 2011 at 6:53 am

    Originally Posted by Charlie Scene
    Because when you have a ****ty connection you *totally* want to play with someone who has an equally ****ty connection.
    Well, this way Switchboard could throttle down your connection so you both are running on equal speeds. Thus creating a smoother interaction (and the person with the "better" connection wouldn't be constantly experiencing lag.)

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