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Microsoft shows off "ultra-MMO" Age of Ascent, touts 100,000 player battles

Azure cloud allows for "unique" experiences, says exec

So this isn't an Xbox thing, if we're being picky, but I think you'll enjoy reading about it regardless - particularly if you're still waiting for evidence that the much-vaunted Xbox Live cloud will have a real impact on how games are designed and played. Speaking during a presentation about cloud gaming at Develop this week, Microsoft's Robert Fraser has detailed the company's partnership with Age of Ascent - an HTML-based "ultra MMO" in which up to 100,000 players can do battle in the same session, thanks to scalable Microsoft Azure server support.

Created by Illyriad Games, the title is currently in alpha. It's a space dogfighting sim featuring theatres of war based on planetary scans and star maps carried out by NASA and the European Space Agency. Microsoft fell in with Illyriad at last year's Develop event, and has carried out a "whole ton of work" to provide the game with "elastic" access to servers.

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At peak capacity, the game can draw on 250 load balancers and game servers, all of which are available to Illyriad for $75 an hour. According to Fraser, "that's the kind of thing which uniquely cloud can provide you in terms of access to scale, and a different kind of experience."

Given that Xbox Live is based on the same Azure infrastructure as Age of Ascent, I wonder how long it'll be before we encounter action games of comparable breadth on Xbox One? (Technically, I suppose, you can play Age of Ascent in a browser on Xbox One already. I haven't had a chance to test this yet, though.)

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