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Good news everyone! GGPO rollback netcode is now free to use for game developers without licensing fees

Will we see it picked up by any of the big developers now?

Posted by Dakota 'DarkHorse' Hills • October 10, 2019 at 6:15 p.m. PDT • Comments: 26

GGPO — or Good Game Peace Out as no one refers to its full name anymore — popularized rollback netcode in fighting games over a decade ago and powered some of the FGC's most beloved online experiences including Skullgirls, Killer Instinct and Street Fighter 3: Third Strike Online Edition.

Now, any developer big or small can use GGPO in their own projects for free without restriction, as its original creator, Tony Cannon, released the code's development kit under an MIT License.

Under the MIT License, GGPO can be used in essentially any commercial product or private endeavor without any fees plus they can freely make any modifications they so choose going forward.

This seems to mean that Capcom, Bandai Namco, Nintendo, or any indie developer can use GGPO and build upon its foundation if they so choose.

No explanation was given for the change by Cannon, but it's likely a completed legacy project on their part considering his team is currently hard at work developing their own fighter for Riot Games.

GGPO was first introduced to the world 13 years ago back in 2006 after Cannon and many others were not exactly pleased with the state of online play in fighting games in the early Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 generation.

This helped push the move to rollback netcode in many fighting games going forward though some developers like SNK and Arc System Works have largely stuck with the delay-based online approach.

Rollback netcode works by actively trying to anticipate input from players to make matches feel like offline when used successfully. If the program makes the wrong prediction, however, the game will need to "rollback" to a previously correct state.

The release of free GGPO sparked discussion from potential devs and fans alike asking about its implementation in various types of games and how difficult it is to use.

"The algorithm is not particularly difficult to implement if you understand the approach," said Tony Cannon in one reply. "The biggest technical obstacle for existing engine is probably separating simulation from rendering and fast serialization of game state. That being said, there are companies like [NetherRealm Studios] who have developed outstanding rollback implementations in very old systems not designed for it. In many cases I think it's a matter of prioritization rather than one of feasibility."

Despite its age, GGPO has still shown up in recent games like Punch Planet, Omen of Sorrow, Them's Fightin' Herds, Fantasy Strike and even Injustice 2.

Now it'll be interesting to see if any other big players out there decide to roll with GGPO going forward into the future or if companies will stick with their own internal infrastructure going into the next generation of video games.

On a related note, Google also teased their upcoming Stadia streaming service plans to take advantage of something similar to rollback netcode to implement predictive button presses and 'negative latency' though we'll need to wait and see how that pans out.

Sent in by ASROG, psetorie, and an anonymous reader.
Image source: Futurama.

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