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Microsoft may be getting pelted with criticisms about a lack of first-party support for new IPs, but the company has not been idly standing by when it comes to increasing the efficiency at which Xbox home consoles operate. In fact, the company has a new design technique available for developers to speed up download times and save hard drive space.
Digital Foundry is reporting that Intelligent Delivery is a new design suite for developers, both first-party and third-party, enabling the studios to intelligently designate chunks of information to what's called "tags".
These tags will basically work like a sorter bin, with different chunks of data having different tags attached to them. Now you might be wondering, "What on Earth does this have to do with me and saving hard drive space or download times?" Well, it has everything to do with hard drive space and download times.
You see, the tags can be used to intelligently download only certain chunks of game data. This is being used as a priority design function for Xbox One X games utilizing 4K assets. One of the major problems with 4K is that the data chunks are absolutely massive, therefore gamers would be forced to download 100GB worth of data per each game running at native 4K resolutions. With Intelligent Design, gamers won't have to download all 100GB worth of data. So, for instance, in a game like Forza Motorsport 7, it will be possible to only download maybe 4K environment textures, or 4K car liveries, or only certain kinds of HD audio, so you won't have to worry about expending your entire month's bandwidth allocation just on a 4K update for a single game.
But it's not just about data allocation for graphics and 4K assets. This new technique will also be applied for localization as well.
According to the Digital Foundry article, Microsoft will allow developers to tag sound files and texts for different languages, so now it would be possible to have one SKU with different localization tags, which could drastically cut down on memory usage for worldwide releases. Instead of having dozens of languages baked into the game, it would be possible to simply have the languages tagged on the cloud and downloaded in the appropriate region. It would also mean that you could potentially get one version of the game and then access a different region's version via a simple download pack.
The possibilities are almost endless.
What's more is that Microsoft will apparently be using this for multi-disc products as well, for both the Xbox One and Xbox One X. Right now the report indicates that Microsoft is only supporting multi-disc functionality for up to two Blu-ray discs, but the company may extend this further on a per-product basis. The Intelligent Design is optimized to allow chunks of data to be spread across up to 15 different Blu-ray discs.
Now there's still the issue of third-party support here. Sony doesn't have a system like this in place for the PlayStation 4, and while Valve has something similar set up for Steam, it's an automated process where Valve can send out chunks of data to replace corrupted or damaged files, but the company doesn't allow users to manually pick and choose what to download and when. With Microsoft's new Intelligent Design, you'll be able to pick and choose what data you download, where it's stored or what's installed. One example that was used in the article is that games with separate single-player and multiplayer could benefit from this, as players who only want the single-player could download that mode without touching multiplayer, or people only interested in multiplayer could download that mode without touching single-player.
While third-party support may be up in the air, we at least know Microsoft will be utilizing Intelligent Design data allocation tags for Xbox One X and the impending 4K-ready games.