Microsoft's 'Serious Gaming Initiative', Studio Alpha [2020-12]

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by liams, Dec 15, 2020.

  1. liams

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    Microsoft is expanding into 'serious gaming' with a new studio called studio alpha, WalkingCat on twitter just leaked this slide. The slide seems more tools focussed than anything but the job posting seems to indicate that the studio is working on a 'serious' game.
    [​IMG]
    I would just highlight the sentence at the top right of the slide, which is 'The future digital battlespace'



    And a job posting
    https://careers.microsoft.com/us/en/job/949239/


    That states that the project is just starting.

    It seems like, and this is just my interpretation of things, that it might be an Arma like training environment primarily for military use, but it would also be useful for things like search and rescue training.

    Who knows, maybe its a fork of flight simulator with high detail ground regions that would function like arma, with the flight sim world allowing for full-length combat mission to support ground troops and bombing missions and the like.

    This is also coming after the US military has given Microsoft a contract for 100k hololens 2 headsets.


    Its interesting the ways that game technology is being used for non-game purposes now, Epic is already doing this with unreal engine, and its use in film production. It was used for the in-camera visualisation that was used while filming the Mandalorian for instance.

    I can certainly see this as an area of interest for Microsoft, if they get the government hooked on a simulation platform like this there is no way that they move to another cloud provider once the Jedi contract is up.
     
  2. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    This used to be my gig, and will be again. The G8 Governments all have in-house technical solutions for needs like this, and have for decades. There are many problems where you cannot go outside because no commercial security clearance is high enough.
     
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  3. Jay

    Jay
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    I'll just mention that if it's from WalkingCat you can pretty much guarantee that it's not fake.
     
  4. eastmen

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    Just an fyi , there was a huge scandal inside of MS when a member of the stores team recorded a all hands meeting. Now all slides are labeled Microsoft confidential if they are confidential. I have no idea if this team exists or not because i really only deal with my team but saying confidential makes it fake is not true.
     
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  5. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    Government dude here and I see commercial documentation marked as CONFIDENTIAL frequently. If anybody is in a large tech company where this isn't common, your company probably isn't doing much in the way of sensitive aerospace defence, security or CNI work.
     
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  6. liams

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  7. Silent_Buddha

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    Just to be clear, as with any Defense contract, the military is required to secure bids from multiple companies who then compete to see which offers a solution that is the closest to the requirements that a particular branch of the military set forth.

    So, MS has just entered into the first of 3 phases of the competition between BAE Systems, Cole Engineering, and MS. It could potentially be years before all 3 phases of the competition have concluded and the Marine Corps awards the contract to one of the 3 companies.

    There's not much there, as it's still very early in the competition, but the source for her information about the US Marine Corps was: Marine Corps taps three companies for second phase development of new wargaming center | InsideDefense.com

    Regards,
    SB
     
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  8. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    Where I work, unauthorised disclosure of commercially confidential information is not a criminal offence, it is a disciplinary issue.

    I can only speak of where I work but if there was an unauthorised disclosure of commercially confidential information, the company's PR team would not be leveraging this. It's not about PR it's about trust that information used and safeguarded appropriately and doing all possible to undo whatever damage may've been caused and restore confidence that it wouldn't happen again.
     
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  9. liams

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    Felt the knack to do some digging into studio alpha and found some very interesting things,

    Firstly the co-founder of lionhead is the principal creative director at Studio Alpha, previous to which he was the Principal Art Director at turn 10 (until July last year)
    Ian Yarwood-Lovett | LinkedIn

    And there are quite a few job postings that have just recently been put up hiring for studio alpha, one of which is for a 'Senior Physics and AI simulation Developer'
    (25) Senior Physics and AI Simulation Developer | Microsoft | LinkedIn

    An excerpt from the job posting

    "We are looking for an experienced Game / Simulation Developer who has a proven track record for AI and physics modeling of real world behaviors in games. One who possesses both the skills and passion needed to push the leading edge of game technology and use of geospatial data to enable better strategic and tactical decision making for real-world, global scale problems."


    The head of Silicon & Electronics, and Studio Alpha (weird combo) Mujtaba Hamid, describes what Studio Alpha is working on as:
    "The Studio Alpha group is building an integrated platform for complex, multi-modal simulations for mission critical planning and operational decision-making scenarios."
    As a further hint to the target customers of studio alpha, Mujtaba works with "marquee partnerships... with government/DOD partners" (We already knew about the first customer being the marines, but adds further colour to it)
    Mujtaba Hamid | LinkedIn

    And a couple of more job postings, this time several for the same thing, a Rendering Developer position
    Rendering Developer | Microsoft | LinkedIn
    From the job posting we know that they will be using the unreal engine, there is also this quote that is interesting:

    "This is a rare opportunity to get in at the beginning and help shape the foundation of a brand-new capability, collaborating with industry leading cloud, game studio and game services leaders across Microsoft."

    Seems a bit weird for a studio focusing on making war-gaming software (a guess) to be collaborating with other studio leaders at microsoft, I cant imagine that would go over well with some of the acquired companies, 'Hey Todd Howard, give me a call back, we are trying to get the dismemberment in the milsim just right, looked pretty good in starfield, can we use that?' - not exactly what most of the newly acquired studios signed up for lol


    There was also a job posting, that has now closed for a CG Supervisor/Technical Art Director for studio alpha. The only additional bit of information is that they are only using unreal engine initially

    "working with AAA game engines (initially Unreal)"
    CG Supervisor/Technical Art Director | Microsoft | LinkedIn
    Maybe they will end up using id tech? I'm kinda surprised they haven't slapped a bit of camo paint on flight simulator 2020 yet and sold it as a bombing simulator tbh



    Yeah its confirmed its for wargaming, if the hints werent enough:
    From another job posting - Job details | Microsoft Careers
    " experience in HLA and DIS Protocols"
    HLA and DIS protocols, having just done a bit of research, are API protocols that are used to allow simulations to be interoperable with each other, furthermore, the DIS protocol is specifically used for wargaming "across multiple host computers" (according to wikipedia)


    And one final linkedin post, from Michael Zyskowski, who is the technical director at studio alpha, who was previously (a long time ago) working on real time simulation development for Microsoft flight simulator and combat flight simulator (2000-2005)
    Post | Feed | LinkedIn
    In his post he says:

    "Studio Alpha is growing!

    I'm excited to share that we have a number of roles posted as we continue to build our team.

    Studio Alpha supports commercial industry and governments to adopt cloud for their most complex workloads. This includes simulation and artificial intelligence, using Gaming Technology for interaction and visualization. We apply these technologies to analyzing multi-domain scenarios while leveraging the scale and security of the Azure cloud."
    very interesting!

    Other odds and ends
    the UI/UX system will use "an embedded HTML5 engine"


    To summarize a rabbit hole I went headfirst into:

    Studio Alpha was started in July of 2020 with the goal of making a war-gaming type piece of software that pushes the limits of AAA graphics using (initially) the unreal engine. It will be used to solve "complex planet-scale massive data problems using simulations and AI run in the cloud" (cough cough, wargaming) it will be interoperable with other existing simulation platforms through the use of the DIS/HLA protocols, and will heavily use GIS data and satellite imagery.


    I think they are making Halo Wars 3 tbh


    (kidding)
     
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