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Switchboard: Microsoft Research Working on Matchmaking System for Multiplayer Mobile Games

July 5, 2011 No Comments

Microsoft Research is working on a system called Switchboard for mobile devices.  It’s a matchmaking system for multi-player mobile games. The way Switchboard works is as a matchmaker tool, finding potential game players and assigning them to a group most similar for each player’s phone and network connection.

Victor Bahl, director of the Mobile Computing Research Center at Microsoft Research Redmond was asked a few questions about the project and he had this to day:

“Multiplayer gaming on smartphones is a very challenging technical problem,” he says. “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.”

“Let’s say there are 20 candidates for a game,” Bahl says. “You might find that some have very low battery levels—even if they wanted to play the game, they would be able to play for only a few minutes. Others might be moving around so much that lots of handoffs [between cell towers] will happen, resulting in disconnections, and they will not enjoy the game. Or some might be located in highly congested areas where a lot of people are using phones and the available network bandwidth is low.”



Sharad Agarwal, Project Leader for Switchboard, also had a few details to add:

“There are techniques for multiplayer games to handle ‘jitter’—occasional spikes in network delay,” Agarwal says. “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.”

With the Mango update allowing multiplayer, Switchboard looks to be the future of what kind of multi-player games are possible. Maybe it’s this project that brings us closer to a future where Halo Matchmaking on a Windows Phone  is possible.


Source: Microsoft Research via Winrumors


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