Yoichi Wada, the former CEO of Square Enix, is spearheading a cloud computing platform designed for video games. Shinra Technologies is a subsidiary of Square Enix, but Wada is more interested in making the company and independent cloud computing provider. "We would like to be an independent one content provider for a platform enterprise," Wada said in an interview with Siliconera. "The reason for that is we would like to be a platform provider. We do not want to have ties with one big company like Square Enix. We would not be able to have enough energy to be a game changer. Eventually, we would like to be independent and we would like to partner with various companies." Currently, Shinra Technologies is a fully owned subsidiary of Square Enix, but they are looking for outside investment from other parties.
Wada explained Square Enix internal studios are in evaluating Shinra Technologies cloud computing platform for use in their games. Shinra Technologies is working with République developer Camouflaj and Prey creator Human Head Studios directly as part of their accelerator program. Indie developers will be able to get access to a cloud development SDK developed by Shinra Technologies.
"The goal for indie developers is to make it simple to build multiplayer titles – to make it as simple as building a split-screen multiplayer game, without having to worry about syncing everything across multiple network connections. A lot of indie developers have to scale back or completely remove their multiplayer modes during the course of development, and we want to provide the tools to let them build effortlessly for large player counts with massive levels/data sets," said Colin Williamson, Director of Partnerships.
"We’re aiming for games that have a high level of permanence – experiences where players are leaving a persistent mark on the world, where other players can jump in and ‘read’ the environment and figure out, what happened here," Williamson elaborated. "Another type of game that we’re aiming for is where super-heavy number-crunching supports and drives gameplay – meaning we’re using offloaded CPU and GPU calculation to actually affect (and react to) player actions. In Shinra games, it’s critical that simulation is meaningful when it comes to gameplay and isn’t just window dressing,"
Wada talked about how Shinra Technologies could change MMORPGs by giving players the power to change the world. "I think there is a big difference between living worlds of MMORPGs and a living world powered by Shinra. In a conventional MMORPG developers create events and players are following the storyline. In Shinra’s world there are rules, but the world is independent created by users. Shinra would like to make the relations between the world and users more natural. Taking a game set with a medieval war, if someone broke the wall the wall would remain broken until an event happens. This would be triggered by the game and the wall would reappear itself because it was written like that. In a game world created by users the wall would remain broken and it won’t be fixed by anyone unless someone else in the same game would repair it. The very world created by certain users will not be able to preserved or saved as data. Not even a single second. Shinra’s world will be the first world where the sense of time that conventional games did not have. That means not a single event will be able to be replayed or preserved. The game will be totally different for each server."
"I thought about this kind of game where battleships fight each other on the sea. With a simulation element backed by Shinra will be influenced by weather," Wada imagined. By "weather" he meant a player’s local weather, so if it was raining outside it would rain in the game. "If the weather is bad you may have a handicap when using cannon fire, but in other weather conditions players might find advantages." A game affected by real world weather sounds interesting. Imagine a game like Dark Souls that has paths change depending on weather instead of World Tendency or a game world that changes depending on Twitter hashtags.
Kengo Nakajima the creator of Space Sweeper, a giant multiplayer shooting game powered by the cloud, and Shinra Technologies Cloud Development Kit, has another idea – games that can be shared by a simple link. By attaching a "shinra://" link an e-mail another player can jump into a video game world by clicking on it, no installs necessary. Nakajima’s tool set is designed to make multiplayer easier to implement for smaller studios or even solo developers. Since a game is run off a server and copies do not have to be downloaded players won’t have to update say a fighting game or card battling game to get the latest balance changes. All the developer needs to do is update the game service on Shinra’s servers and everyone that logs in will have the latest build with all of the balance changes.
Wada believes Shinra Technologies’ tools can open the door for new kinds of game experiences like games that integrate real world data or worlds permanently scarred by battles. Shinra Technologies will be at E3 next week with more news and Siliconera will meet with them to see what kinds of games developers are thinking of making with their Cloud Development Kit.