Microsoft Research scientists are working on a multiplayer gaming platform codenamed Switchboard, which is meant for Windows Phone 7 mobile phones.
The team of scientists at Microsoft Research working on Switchboard aims to eliminate most issues related to multiplayer gaming, such as connection dips while on the move, and data and bandwidth limitations.
Perhaps in a couple of years from now Windows Phone platform will get the Switchboard app for more responsive and real time multiplayer gaming.
Victor Bahl, director of the Mobile Computing Research Center at Microsoft Research, Redmond, said, “Multiplayer gaming on smartphones is a very challenging technical problem. 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.”
Network is absent in the blind spots between cellular towers. Here there is no signal. In addition to that there are several other limitations in the technologies available today that backlogged the rise of multiplayer gaming for mobile devices while on the move.
To overcome the limitations of multiplayer gaming, a team of Microsoft Research scientists are working on Switchboard app. This application is being designed keeping network strengths and weaknesses in mind. Based on network strength and device latency, Switchboard app pings the device to check if it is suitable for multiplayer gaming, and it then adds the device to the clan or group.
Sharad Agrawal, researcher in the Networking Group at Microsoft Research, said, “There are techniques for multiplayer games to handle ‘jitter’— occasional spikes in network delay. When those techniques react to jitter, you may see a player or object jump from one spot to another. Such ‘glitches in the matrix’ become problematic if they happen frequently. A major challenge in this work is to predict what a player’s latency will look like for the foreseeable duration of a game, and minimize such glitches.”
Apple has solved this problem for itself by building Gamecenter for iOS.
Meanwhile Microsoft is looking to develop its application as a single solution for the multiplayer gaming platform on Windows Phone devices. Over here, network plays an important role especially when WiFi is not being used on the go. Switchboard is being tested for 3G Wireless Network Standards and will work on 4G as well.
We expect to see Switchboard apps available to a large variety of Windows Phone devices. This could happen with the next major update or version of the Windows Phone mobile operating system.