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SpatialOS is coming to mobile

16 March 2019

Today we’re announcing our pre-alpha support for mobile on the SpatialOS GDK for Unity. This means you can run experimental cloud playtests and connect mobile clients to cloud game instances using our GDK for Unity. Sign up to our mailing lists here to stay up-to-date with our progress, or register interest in our Early Access Program. Read on to see our vision for multiplayer mobile gaming.

At Improbable, we’re creating SpatialOS - a complete solution for creating and operating any online multiplayer game. To help make this a reality, we are today announcing our pre-alpha support for mobile on SpatialOS (currently supporting Unity). Our goal is for SpatialOS to be the fastest way to create, differentiate and launch multiplayer mobile games.

For anyone not already familiar with SpatialOS, here’s a quick summary: SpatialOS is a fully managed, scalable platform for building multiplayer games. We host your game, make it globally available, and provide tools and services to easily deploy, understand and iterate on your game. It enables you to go beyond the limits of a single server, allowing you to easily experiment with different gameplay. To find out more about SpatialOS, go here.

To bring SpatialOS to mobile, we’re releasing mobile integrations for our Game Development Kits (GDKs) - first for Unity. This includes access to our First Person Shooter Starter Project for Unity. This means you can easily start experimenting with SpatialOS on mobile.

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Why build mobile games on SpatialOS?

As we said above, our aim is that SpatialOS will be the fastest way to create and differentiate your multiplayer mobile game. We want mobile developers to be able to focus on gameplay, without having to worry about the challenges of networking and hosting. But more than that, we want to give developers the option to push games beyond where they are today.

Your fastest way to real-time multiplayer games on mobile

Developing the networking back-end for a server-hosted multiplayer game takes time. And time is limited in a fast-moving market like mobile games, with pressure for quick releases and changing consumer tastes. We’re building our mobile integrations to enable a short time-to-launch and subsequent iteration post-launch.

We will allow you to focus on gameplay by providing a next-generation networking solution and global cloud hosting. This is a managed service, meaning we take care of server maintenance and updates.

Our GDK for Unity enables you to use the workflows that you’re familiar with. You can test and iterate quickly by running the client and server in a single Unity Editor.

Within a couple of hours of setting up our FPS Starter Project on Unity, you’re able to deploy a game and run playtests with real players - and the pre-alpha release is a big step towards bringing that ease of use to mobile. Then you can use our tools to understand what elements of your design are working so you can iterate on them.

This Starter Project includes libraries to solve the common multiplayer problems such as shooting across server boundaries. We’ve shared the source of these projects, so you can pull relevant Feature Modules into your own project.

Differentiated gameplay

The real-time multiplayer mobile audience is exploding, but competition for those players is fierce. SpatialOS enables you to experiment with new types of gameplay, helping you to improve player engagement and retention rates. Its game worlds are distributed across multiple game engine instances and cloud servers, enabling more complex and dense gameplay, more players, more NPCs, more systems (such as physics) and persistent worlds.

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This is a view of our Inspector, which gives a real-time view of entities and players in a game instance. SpatialOS allows mobile players, PC and console players to interact in the same gameworld.

However, you don’t have to do all of this. To take advantage of SpatialOS and stand out in the marketplace, you can select just a few new features. For example, mixing a PvPvE FPS with complex server-side NPCs could result in a real-time shooter where the enemies are endlessly adapting. Or putting a genuinely persistent and simulated ecology in an RTS that players can jump in and out of would create different challenges for every session.

You don’t have to do this when you first design the game - live development is the norm with SpatialOS, so you could add new gameplay features after launch, allowing you to grow your game over time. And because many of these processes can run server-side, the client’s mobile device won’t have to do the heavy lifting, allowing you to bring this gameplay to a broad market of handsets.

In addition, SpatialOS enables cross-play by default, so mobile players can play in the same game world as console or PC users if desired. This also enables asymmetric gameplay, where different game modes on different platforms impact each other (for example, the results of a campaign strategy game continuously impacting the “on-the-ground” situation in a first-person shooter).

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Cross-play is enabled by default.

Where are we now?

Our mobile integration for SpatialOS for Unity is now in pre-alpha. This means you can run experimental cloud playtests and connect mobile clients to cloud game instances using our GDK for Unity, and you can try out our FPS starter project. You can read about our mobile cloud development workflows in our docs.

We have lots of work planned for mobile over the course of 2019. We will be bringing added stability to the development workflows, further optimising our FPS starter project for Mobile, and looking into areas like beta distribution and crash logs. We also plan to add mobile support for our GDK for Unreal.

Help shape our mobile integration

Today, you can sign up to SpatialOS and start experimenting, or sign-up to our newsletter to stay up-to-date. Our mobile integration is a community-driven project and we value your contribution; you can find the source for our GDKs and other code on GitHub. If you have any questions about this or any other topic, you can talk to us on our forums and Discord.

We are inviting studios with experience in releasing mobile multiplayer games to join our Early Access Program, to help shape our mobile offering. We’ll be working with a small number of studios to build their mobile game, giving them support and a major say in shaping our mobile solution. If you are interested in the Early Access Program, please fill in this form.