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How Improbable convinced SoftBank to invest $502 million in its platform for massive online game worlds

London-based technology firm Improbable has had a very improbable week. The company raised a whopping $502 million from Japan’s SoftBank for its SpatialOS platform for enabling massive online gaming worlds.

Then Improbable announced that Jagex, maker of the enormously popular RuneScape, will use the SpatialOS platform for future game worlds.

We caught up with Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable, for an interview about these events. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.


Above: Jagex MMO RuneScape.

Image Credit: Jagex

GamesBeat: Congratulations on the big round there. I wanted to catch up on that, as well as Jagex. You must have had some interesting conversations with SoftBank about the big vision.

Herman Narula: Masayoshi Son’s vision is surprisingly similar to ours: massive worlds in which people can experience the future of gaming, the idea of creating a world in which you and I can live in more than world at once. That’s an exciting, important future. It’s just as important as A.I. and just as important as the work we’ve done in machine learning and other areas.

GamesBeat: That seems to open the door to a lot more than just games.

Narula: Absolutely. But games are still our core focus right now.

GamesBeat: With Jagex, are they interested in this for games or for other things as well?

Narula: Games, games, games. You can guess at what they’re probably working on without our help. I can’t actually say it, but you can guess it.

GamesBeat: For them, what sort of potential world is possible?

Narula: They’re consummate, brilliant storytellers and character creators. I remember seeing the early versions of RuneScape. The quests and the world they put together were just so exciting. We’re hoping that with our technology they can not only tell great stories, but bring worlds to life. That means creating a living world, adding more players into…

Improbable draws $502 million from SoftBank and others for dream of giant online game worlds

How’s this for improbable?

Online gaming world enabler Improbable has raised $502 million in a second round of investors, including SoftBank. Improbable has created an operating system, SpatialOS, that marshals the power of cloud computing and distributed platforms to enable even small studios to develop games with giant worlds.

The London-based company showed off a few of those games at the recent Game Developers Conference (GDC).

Above: Bossa Studios’ Worlds Adrift

Image Credit: Bossa Studios

CEO Herman Narula told me in an interview at the time that the company has launched its open beta for SpatialOS.

Developers working on SpatialOS-based games include Worlds Adrift, the upcoming game from Bossa Studios; Chronicles of Elyria by Soulbound Studios, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game built with the Unreal engine; Seed by Klang, a game of planetary settlement set in a shared, persistent world, created by a team including former senior CCP (Eve Online) employees; Lazarus by Spilt Milk Studios, a multiplayer top-down 2D shooter set in a huge galaxy populated by artificially intelligent alien factions locked in a war for territory; and Vanishing Stars: Colony Wars by Ninpo Game Studio, a new type of massively multiplayer real-time strategy game, played across thousands of star systems, each with their own planets to battle on.

Deep Nishar of SoftBank has joined the Improbable board following this investment, which sees SoftBank taking a non-controlling stake in the company. Earlier investors Andreessen Horowitz, Horizons Ventures and Temasek Holdings also participated. Improbable had received $20 million in a first round of funding from Andreessen Horowitz in March 2015.

Solina Chau, founder of Horizons Ventures, said in a statement,…

How to Play Mario Kart With Your Friends On the Nintendo Switch (Online and In Person)

The new Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is out for the Switch, and it’s awesome. There are more ways to play with your friends (and subsequently lose them) than ever before. Some of those options are a little confusing, so we’re going to break down how to play with your friends, no matter where you are or how many Switches you have.

Several people can play on one console with a split-screen. Up to eight people can play on their own Switches with wireless play. You can also play with up to twelve friends over the internet with online play. The Switch also supports several controller configurations. Let’s go over how to do each of these one by one.

Note: The Switch’s controllers work a little differently than most consoles. Each Switch comes with a pair of Joy-Con controllers that can be used as a single large controller for one person, or as individual, smaller controllers for two people. So, if you want to play with four people, you only need two pairs of Joy-Con controllers. You can also use Pro controllers, though those are obviously limited to one per player.

Play Local Split-Screen With Up to Four Players On One Switch

The easiest (and cheapest) way to play Mario Kart with your friends is local multiplayer. This mode only requires one Switch and one copy of Mario Kart (plus controllers for everyone). It will also be familiar to everyone who’s been hurling blue shells at their friends and relatives since the Super Nintendo.

To use this mode, choose Multiplayer from the main menu. Here, you can select how many people you want to play with—up to four players.

Next, choose your game mode. If you choose Grand Prix, you’ll need to choose your difficulty (50cc, 100cc, etc.) before moving on to the next step.

You’ll see a screen like the one below where you can assign controllers to players. Press and hold the L and R (or SL and SR) buttons on your controller in the configuration you want to use. At the top of the screen, you’ll see the three different configuration options you can use your controllers in.

For example, if you want to use the left and right portion of a Joy-Con controller separately, you would turn the controllers sideways and hold the SL and SR buttons on each controller. Your screen should look something like this.

If you want to use both Joy-Cons to make a full size controller, press L and R on the two halves of the Joy-Con at this screen. Your controller configuration should look something like this.

You can add up to four players using any combination of controllers. For example, if you have two Joy-Con pairs, each half can be a standalone controller, allowing four people to play. In that case, your screen would look like this.

During this phase, you can easily pair controllers from other consoles…

How to Prioritize a Certain Device on Your Google Wi-Fi Network

When you have a large handful of devices connected to your network, it can be difficult to get the speeds you need to play online games or download media. However, with Google Wi-Fi, you can prioritize a device to get the best speeds possible on an otherwise crowded network.

Granted, you can do this on most traditional routers as well, but it’s certainly not as simple and easy as it is using Google Wi-Fi.

Start by opening up the Google Wi-Fi app on your phone and tap on the tab with the settings gear icon and three other circles.