London-based start-up Improbable has entered a new partnership with Google to help bring its SpatialOS world-building technology to more developers.
SpatialOS is a new platform that enables the creation of vast, seamless simulated worlds capable of hosting thousands of simultaneous users. By working across hundreds of thousands of servers, the technology allows devs to build environments where player consequences are permanent and AI-controlled entities such as wildlife continue to interact even when everyone is offline.
It has already been put to use in Bossa Studios' upcoming Worlds Adrift, in which players explore a world of floating islands. As an example of how SpatialOS works, if a ship crashes, its wreckage will remain their permanently - unless other players salvage it, of course. Improbable is also working with DayZ designer Dean Hall, using the platform to build new IP Ion.
Teaming up with Google, Improbable will launch the SpatialOS Games Innovation Program in Q1 2017. Game developers who successfully qualify for the programme will receive Improbable Credits that can be used to pay for SpatialOS usage fees, including the cost of hosting games on Google Cloud Platform. The cloud costs and developing and testing games will be covered right up until each titles launch.
The aim is to get more developers building larger game experiences in the type of worlds SpatialOS can power with its complex computation. While the program is open to developers of all sizes, Improbable is keen to see what smaller teams are capable of building with the technology.
"So much innovation in games comes from small core teams, so one of our priorities is enabling teams to build a product they could immediately deploy, scale and grow, with players involved from the early stages," says Improbable CEO Herman Narula. "These teams can use SpatialOS, backed by the power and stability of GCP, to iterate an ideas rapidly and test them early.
"We set out to build SpatialOS because we saw what developers wanted to do, but were held back from achieving. Since we founded Improbable, we have talked to many developers who have amazing ideas for new kinds of games they can't currently realise. Like them, we want to create and inhabit realistic worlds where players' actions have real consequences - but technical limitations have stifled innovation in gaming."
Improbable has also launched an open alpha program for SpatialOS today. Any studio will be able to access the platform and its development tools ahead of the beta in Q1 2017, which will coincide with the start of the Google partnership. This will enable devs to iterate and experiment with SpatialOS before deciding whether or not to explore the technology further.
Developers can sign up for the alpha at www.spatialos.com. You can read our earlier interview with Narula about Improbable's ambitions here.