Rollback, Melee, and the future of online multiplayer.

Some games just refuse to die, nearly 18 years later and three sequels later Super Smash Bros Melee continues to be played and loved by people all around the world. The dedicated Melee community has not only preserved their game but have breathed new life into it by adding a state of the art online multiplayer matchmaking system, something which even the newest entries in the series Super Smash Bros Ultimate lacks. The new online multiplayer utilizes a rollback netcode which significantly reduces lag and results in a nearly local multiplayer experience even with players in different regions. The project was created by Slippi, which had been used in Melee to record replays and provide useful statistics about players in real time. The rollback netcode that Melee uses was even more surprisingly developed in less than six months by Fizzi. The brilliance of rollback is that it avoids the common problems associated with most fighting games that use delayed base netcode which causes stuttering and freezing unless both players have a near perfect connection. With rollback netcode, it never waits for input of the opponent and basically predicts what will happen and the adjusts the frames once they are received. With careful optimization a player will not even notice this change and will only see the successful corrections from both players. The reason predications work so well is that we can assume most of the time when a player has already pressed an input, we just have to figure out how often they change their inputs which turns out can be quite easy to predict. Rollback has essentially solved the plague many online fighting games face and drastically improves the quality of multiplayer in games like Melee. The future of Melee has never been brighter and hopefully this multiplayer will also cause newer players to experience the beauty of Super Smash Bros Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube.

Evo 2018 champion William “Leffen” Hjelte demonstrating rollback in Super Smash Bros Melee.

Some thoughts on the current state of the Video Game Industry

2020 has been a rather reflective year for me during these past couple of months as the entire world remains in a standstill from the ongoing pandemic. The video game industry in particular has seen changes as well with most developers and employees now working from home. Nevertheless, the start of this year brought massive releases in March such as Doom Eternal, Animal Crossing New Horizons, and of course Half Life Alyx. The Long awaited remake of Final Fantasy VII also launched in April to much excitement.

We are also seeing an explosive growth in online streaming as more people are at home to consume content. Riot also recently released their closed beta of Valorant which has been driving viewers especially with the cleverly implemented drop system reward for watching various streamers playing the game. Other streaming platforms like Mixer from Microsoft have also continued to grow throughout this year. The future release calendar for 2020 remains uncertain to a large degree but with the launch of the next generation consoles from Microsoft and Sony this holiday season we won’t have to speculate much longer.

Till next time.