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Technical insight of GGPO netcode by NRS

gitblame

Noob
On last GDC (Game developers conference) Michael Stallone, lead softrware engineer from NRS gave an almost 1 hour talk about implementing rollback netcode.
If anyone is interested what it took to switch from one of the worst to one of the best netcode in business, here it is.


The talk is really great and explains a lot of details I don't think are not commonly known. You don't need to be technical person to enjoy this. I recommend it for anyone.
 
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gitblame

Noob
My impression from the talk.

1. Implementing rollback netcode of this quality is extremely difficult and time consuming. I am a software developer myself and I can tell how high level must be their engineers (from the perfomance problems he described) to pull this off. He mentioned that it took 7-8 man-years to get this done which most of that was dealing with performance issues. We can all only appriciate the work NRS did (they sold the game already!) to boost our online experience.
But sadly this also can tell us that we should not expect other companies follow their footsteps too soon. As I said it's just super time consuming. I can't imagine many of fighting game developers can afford this.

2. There are stil areas they can improve on that. Hope the improvements he talked about at the end of a talk would boost average and below average scenarios for MK11 matches so the we can have even smoother experience and wide our geographical borders of playable connection.

3. If NRS can spend this much resources to give us better netcode, we can all at least buy a fuckin ethernet cable and make this effort to wire our connections. No more - my router is another room, floor - excuses.

4. I hope this guy still works in NRS after calling Red Hood a Deadpool :D
 

Jynks

some heroes are born, some made, some wondrous
But sadly this also can tell us that we should not expect other companies follow their footsteps too soon. As I said it's just super time consuming. I can't imagine many of fighting game developers can afford this.
Narr... like a lot of this technology it will eventually fall into public code repositories or something as simple as a paid unity / unreal plugin or w/e... where all the work for the modual is done off site and then you only need to tweak it for your own game.
 

TackyHaddock

Salty Mashers Krew
Premium Supporter
More time to develop = more expense for the developer. I wonder if they took a bit of a loss when they implemented this midway through MKX's lifespan - it is not as if they made a lot of new sales at that point (given that most people had already bought the game)

but probably a good investment nonetheless, as it helps to sell all future titles in which they also implement the same or better GGPO
 

Immortal

Blind justice....
Narr... like a lot of this technology it will eventually fall into public code repositories or something as simple as a paid unity / unreal plugin or w/e... where all the work for the modual is done off site and then you only need to tweak it for your own game.
No.

There are already things like UFE3D (Unity based Fighting "Engine") with simple version of GGPO. It works but its nowhere near the level of NRS one nor MS (KI).

This is coz of how sensitive everything is in rollback netcode. You have to account for so many variables which then must be delivered and recieved in certain amount of time and on top of that you have correct several layers state. This creates a lot of problems on all fronts (there is crazy amount of math which will make current console potato CPU to fall behind [CPU overhead] this creates another dozen+ problem which need to be solved etc...). All layers need to be in sync that and dozen other things makes it almost impossible to just create it as a "simple module/plugin" which will work with "anything" created with that engine.

Neither Unity nor Unreal or any other big engine is build with GGPO in mind. You have to build your engine around it and for Epic or Unity team its not really that important. They make universal engines for most game types and all platforms - that works well for them and will not change.

GGPO is a great "idea" (of 2 people which then made it a reality) with a lot work behind it. There still things you can do better, to make it better but for now we're quite limited with potato CPUs in consoles. Things will however move forward with the release of next gen (things you can do for quite some time on modern PC CPUs).

It's a hard work but it's a lifetime deal right? i mean, can they now stick with it through any future game?
Yes if they stick forever to their engine (which is a heavily modified UE 3.5; almost totally rewritten at this point), thou things will evolve obviously with more powerfull hardware over time. Some modification will be made.
 
NRS never got very much credit for this outside of hardcore MK fans when it happened. For a company to completely overhaul their netcode mid-game like they did was very impressive, how many other video game companies can say they care enough to do this? I remember reaching out to some major video game news sites hoping they'd cover it and it never happened, so even months and months later people didn't know the netcode had been fixed. That was a shame considering the crap they do cover. I had a pretty good idea how much work went into something like this at the time. I'm still blown away by what they did, and I'm very proud of what this team has accomplished from the dark days in the 3D era back to the top with MK11 and other recent titles. This development team is so underrated but they're starting to get more recognition now.
 

Poto2222

"Online is your forte!" - A Wise Man, 2015.
YESSSSS!!

I've been hoping for an opportunity to watch this ever since they announced it last year! Finally it's available to the public!
 
While i didn't understand all of it, it's still a good watch. Really does make you appreciate how much time/effort went into updating their netcode. Moreso because it was on a game that was already released, and they really had no financial incentive at that point to do it.
 

B. Shazzy

NRS shill #42069
who wouldve thought huh guise. truly a miracle that the game, funded by warner bros btw, would go from having the worst netcode in the fgc to finally uh... I mean out of the goodness of saint nrs’ heart lul, one of the best netcodes 3 games later.
 

Marinjuana

Up rock incoming, ETA 5 minutes
Super cool, I love dev talks like these.

But Mr. Stallone's pay should be docked for calling Red Hood Deadpool @EdBoon
 

Vslayer

The Shinnok Slayer
Premium Supporter
3. If NRS can spend this much resources to give us better netcode, we can all at least buy a fuckin ethernet cable and make this effort to wire our connections. No more - my router is another room, floor - excuses.
This. And it's not like it's a hard job to place your TV, PC, and router in the same area. I have all that stuff in my living room.
 

THTB

When's Syzoth?
The McDonald's wifi reference left me totally dead.

But yeah, I'm not at all knowledgeable in anything development-related, so I can't fully appreciate how great of a job this is at rollback netplay implementation, but the little bits I do know from a comparatively basic understanding of how rollback works makes me go whoa...they really worked hard on implementing this and it shows.

This is why I thoroughly enjoy NRS titles. They are working hard to give us top-notch gaming experiences.