Real Time Communications Featured Article

Enhancing Gaming with RTC

July 31, 2015

Windows 10 is out and with it Microsoft Edge, the company's shiny new high-speed low-drag browser with WebRTC support. Consider Microsoft wants to run XBox games on the PC and PC applications on the XBox.  WebRTC is already on the XBox, providing designers with yet another way to put a game on multiple platforms.   But there are plenty of opportunities for WebRTC in the gaming world beyond Microsoft's new operating system push.




Starting with the basics, WebRTC provides an in-browser method to add voice and video to any web page.  Since voice and video are "baked in" to the browser, there's no need for additional code or downloads to support voice and video, with HD quality audio supported through the Opus codec. 

How good is Opus? It's good enough that it's being tapped to support music education and collaboration over at booth.fm. If is good enough to be used for tutors and collaborative jam sessions, it is plenty good for in-game trash talking and even adding background music to real-time game play. 

As demonstrated through Google Hangouts, WebRTC can easily support multi-user/multi-player conferencing if you have the appropriate server configuration.  Gamers can coordinate strategy and trash talk amongst themselves in a multi-player environment.

Video usage for gaming is a bit more interesting.  Certainly, it can be used for the above-mentioned strategy coordination and trash talking, with some bonus functionality throw in by using WebRTC's ability to screen share to show screen shots and what individual players are looking at to a group. With a few tweaks, RTC video can also be used to record game play for in-game strategy and post-game highlight reels.

Data channels are the underdog of WebRTC technology.  Typically associated with support for instant messaging (IM) and multi-room chat, data channels can be used to share files, conduct low-latency networking between browsers without going through servers, and exchange data between servers, browsers, and devices. Low-latency networking is highly desirable for one-to-one and localized small group play, with accruing benefits if players are geographically (and network) distant from one another.

One of the most well-known implementations of WebRTC data channel in gaming is last year's roll out of "A journey through Middle-earth" game in conjunction with "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" movie.   The game servers use many parallel game rooms to support a large number of game players, with WebRTC providing a signaling service to get two matched players talking to each other and starting a peer connection.

shutterstock

Two different technologies, one new and one past, will ensure more use of WebRTC in gaming for the future.  Virtual reality is the hot ticket these days, despite the off-putting look and sometimes nausea-inducing headsets.  Gamers can get a full blown immersive 3-D experience, with views presented and tracked through head movement.  GENBAND recently demonstrated how WebRTC and virtual reality can be used to create a fully immersive conference room, but the same techniques and technology are equally applicable to multi-user gaming.

Adobe's Flash technology, once a necessity in the web world, is at a tipping point. Developers are frustrated at a closed system and near-weekly security updates, along with no support on Apple platforms.  The move is on to migrate to "pure" HTML5 implementations.  As designers port and rewrite games for HTML5, the opportunities to inject voice and video as part of a refresh increase dramatically with the simplicity of WebRTC API calls.

For all these reasons, WebRTC is set to play a key role in gaming. Gamers shouldn't be surprised to see a surge of new features in web-based games in the near future as developers take advantage of HTML5 and WebRTC.




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Article comments powered by Disqus


Home
  Subscribe here for RTCW eNews