Bethesda’s most exciting E3 2019 announcement wasn’t a game

It takes some serious balls to dedicate a portion of what precious little time you have at E3 to talk about something that isn’t a game. It takes even bigger ones to then have someone come out on stage whom isn’t a one-person-hype machine and can speak to the tech behind what I believe to be Bethesda’s most exciting announcement, Orion.

Described as a “collection of software technologies” the patented Orion framework has been designed  to enhance game-engines streaming capabilities. Rather than focusing on competing in what’s already a rapidly crowding cloud-streaming market the engineers at id Software have developed new tech that promises to dramatically reduce latency by up to 20% per frame and save up to 40% in bandwidth.

The genius of their work is in making Orion both game-engine and platform agnostic. Developers can  easily incorporate the Orion SDK into their game, which then automatically enhances its online streaming capabilities regardless of its engine.

id Software’s CTO Robert Duffy (Left)

The Orion tech doesn’t replace the need for high quality, reliable internet but it does go a long way to extending its reach. Gamers who’d previously been beyond the geographical reach of game streaming services are now be afforded the option to at least try with Orion enabled titles.

A recent demonstration of Orion involved running Doom 2016 from Maryland connected to three Amazon data centres at varying distances. One was in the same city around 50km away, another in Virginia over 450km away and the last in Germany a long, long f#$king way away.

Close to home the game ran perfectly, as you’d expect, but even still differences between the game streaming with Orion enabled and not were vast. In total there was a 30% reduction of bandwidth and on the hardware in the data centre, 30% less GPU time & 22% faster video encoding.

The Virginian connection represents a more likely distance scenario for most folks. Normally a game streaming at that distance is borderline unplayable, but with Orion enabled was reportedly identical to its Maryland counterpart.

Germany was of course a pipe-dream, meant to showcase more that it could be attempted rather than successfully played. Sorry folks, Australia isn’t going to be streaming from the US or Singapore, but we do have AWS in Sydney & Microsoft Azure (in different capacities) in Melbourne, Canberra & Sydney.

Of course Bethesda’s E3 showcase wasn’t entirely about streaming and beyond the expected updates and assurances that Starfield and ES6 are definitely being worked on (but likely to land on next-gen consoles), they surprised us with not one but two new IPs.

Both Deathloop, a first-person time looping shooter from Arkane Lyon and Ghost Wire: Tokyo an action-adventure game from Tango Gameworks, look incredible. Details surrounding them are scarce though meaning that for now, we’ll have to let their trailers speak for themselves.

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