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Xbox Insider Leaks Two New Minecraft Games –

According to a prominent Xbox insider, Xbox Game Studios and Mojang Studios are working on not one, but two new Minecraft games, presumably of the spin-off nature, as it’s unlikely Microsoft is about to pull the “Minecraft 2” trigger. The report comes the way of Jez Corden, who doesn’t say much but notes the information comes from not just one trusted source, but at least two trusted sources, if not more. Unfortunately, Corden doesn’t divulge many specifics, but he does suggest that Mojang has slyly teased these games in the past.

“There is more Minecraft coming,” said Corden. “I know from trusted sources that Mojang has at least two all-new projects that aren’t Minecraft or Minecraft Dungeons, although I have no idea exactly what those games might look like. Perhaps we’ll discover that all of those pixel-style art posts were in fact teases for full-blown projects … or maybe not. One can hope, though.”

The most recent Minecraft game is 2020’s Minecraft Dungeons, an action-RPG meets dungeon crawler that failed to hit the mark critically and seemingly failed to hit the mark commercially when you consider Minecraft is literally the best-selling game of all-time. and Minecraft Dungeons is very far from that. That said, Minecraft is Xbox’s most valuable IP, so it’s not very surprising it’s looking to have Mojang mine it, even if the spin-offs so far haven’t been very successful.

All of that said, take everything here with a grain of salt. While Corden has proven reliable and reputable in the past, he’s also been off the mark in the past. Of course, not only is everything here unofficial, but it’s subject to change. 


At the moment of publishing, none of the implicated parties have provided any type of comment on this report. We don’t expect this to change for a variety of reasons, but if it does, we will be sure to update the story accordingly. In the meantime, for more coverage on all things Xbox, click here.

Minecraft 1.18 will have a function to improve performance – InTallaght

minecraft 1 2 1000x600.jpg
minecraft 1 2 1000×600.jpg

After several months of experimental snapshots, finally last week we had the first snapshot of Minecraft 1.18 without that last name. It was no surprise, since as we had already told you about the launch of experimental snapshot 7, this was going to be the last of its kind, since Mojang’s plans were to take all the work they had done so far to a “standard” snapshot. And well they did, because just a few days later, last week, snapshot 21w37a was released, of which we can almost say that its main novelty was … not being experimental.

This week we have again had a snapshot of Minecraft 1.18, the 21w38a, but in this case, in addition to some adjustments and improvements, such as an increase in the amount of copper and the resizing of the deposits of lapis lazuli, we find a really interesting configuration setting, and that will allow users to adjust the operation of the game to the performance of their system, to improve both performance and the gaming experience.

As you already know, if you are a Minecraft player, A traditional setting to improve performance was to adjust the number of chunks around the player that are rendered. At a greater distance, better views, but also worse performance, since the PC has to draw all those elements of the map and, in addition, manage the entities that populate them. This has been the case until Minecraft 1.17 but, except for changes, it will stop being this way in Minecraft 1.18.

Minecraft 1.18 will have a function to improve performance

And now, when entering the Minecraft 1.18 configuration menu, more specifically the graphic section, we find a new setting available, which at the moment is called Simulation Distance. And what can we adjust with it? Then the distance, also in chunks, at which the in-game entities will be charged and activated. Thus, we can continue adjusting the rendering distance, but we can set a smaller distance for the simulation.

What is it used for? As you already know, Minecraft 1.18 is the second part of Caves & Cliffs, and more specifically, the part in which we will finally be able to enjoy the majestic new mountains, and the huge underground caves. Elements of the environment in which, without a doubt, we will want to have a high rendering distance. Until now, that forced us to also load all the entities of those chunks, but now we can, for example, render at 16 chunks, but activate the simulation only at 6. This is just an example, of course, the key will be that each user experiment with different settings, until they find the one that best suits their PC performance and their priorities.

With these new settings we can, for example, see the mountains from a distance, and we will also avoid those occasions when, when we are flying with elytra, we enter chunks that have not yet been loaded, momentarily leaving us in the middle of nowhere. Of course, this will also be helped by the changes in the elytra themselves that we already told you about when talking about experimental snapshot 7, and that we will also see in Minecraft 1.18.

More information: Mojang

Frankenstein and Dracula are roomies in this moody narrative adventure

“Dracula and Frankenstein are modern day 20-something flatmates who never see one another and only exchange sticky notes. Also they are both very sad. Also Dracula wears puple shades,” is the kind of message I’d expect to see from one of my writing acquaintances with the timestamp [2:15am]. It’s also the kind of thing I’d respond to with a “yes, do it,” eager to find out exactly how the hell they would. That’s the energy that I downloaded Frank And Drake‘s demo with, and it sure is a moody, somber narrative adventure about two unlikely housemates.

How to spawn NPCs in Minecraft Education Edition – Sportskeeda

Minecraft Education Edition has many features that Minecraft players can’t find in the original game and usually focus on some kind of learning. Like the Chemistry update, which added the compound creator and the ability to work with elements and create chemicals. There are also current event items and NPCs which highlight coding.

NPCs can only be used in Education Edition, so regular Minecraft players will have to settle for interacting with villagers and wandering traders for their “NPCs”. Here’s how to spawn them in Minecraft Education Edition.

Spawning NPCs in Minecraft Education Edition

Minecraft players need to open their inventory (usually the E key on the keyboard) and add a spawn egg (or multiple) to it to create NPCs. They can then be used to place an NPC in a given location.

To program it, the creator will need to right-click on the NPC to open up the customization options. Players can now customize their NPC’s name, color, displayed text and more.

Some great updates coming to Minecraft Education Edition!
Embed Flipgrid Links, Better ways to manage classroom settings, NEW NPC costumes and….

Then, Minecraft players can add URLs to outside places and other special commands. This can be done in the NPC’s advanced settings. This menu can be accessed as many times as necessary by the creator to continue editing the NPC.

After that, the newly spawned NPC‘s name (which is assigned by the player) will remain visible from pretty far away (even if walls are in the way), like in most games and like how other player tags show up when nearby.

Education Edition allows Minecraft players to experience a ton of new things (Image via Minecraft)Minecraft: Education Edition or any other version of the game (without mods). They are available as an educational option for players who are interested in learning more about coding.

For more Minecraft content, check out our Facebook page!

Edited by R. Elahi

First Spin: The Week’s Best New Dance Tracks From Jamie Jones, UZ, Rüfüs Du Sol & More – Billboard

Jamie Jones, “Handy Work” 

Ahead of his Stateside jaunt in Boston and New York this weekend, Jamie Jones is dropping new heat in the form of his Handy Work EP. It’s been a minute (okay, a year) since the Hot Creations head last appeared on the label, but good things come to those who wait, right? Right. “Handy Work” is tech house made for big rooms, with air-shredding synths and a low-end so low it shakes the Earth. A sample nod to Junior Vasquez’s 1994 track “Get Your Hands Off My Man” gives it an extra dose of drama.

Jones shares that “Handy Work” came together quickly after he’d already spent an entire studio session working on another song. “I literally made the first version in about an hour, and when I played it out I knew I had something, the crowd reaction was killer,” he says. “This track is a simple party anthem to welcome back the parties!” — KRYSTAL RODRIGUEZ

Rüfüs Du Sol, “On My Knees”

“On My Knees” is the third new single the Australian trio has dropped in the past two months, and it comes alongside the announcement that the group will drop their new album, Surrender, this October 21. (The LP, their fourth, will follow 2018’s Grammy nominated Solace.) While the group’s previous two singles “Next to Me” and “Alive” erred towards the sonically and thematically bright vocal house soundscapes that have been their signature, “On My Knees” treks into the minor chords with a hint of edge via dark slabs of synth, and what sounds like an elephant sample. The song’s red tinted video was filmed in August during a unique Red Rocks Amphitheatre show rehearsal, and the guys play Governor’s Ball tonight in New York. — KATIE BAIN

Disclosure, “Observer Effect”

Consider it confirmed: Disclosure are deep in the dis-club. After pulling listeners onto the dance floor last month with their excellent Never Enough EP, Howard and Guy Lawrence are back with a new track “Observer Effect,” from their forthcoming DJ-Kicks compilation for !K7. “Observer Effect” is a brisk, jacking house track that starts out minimal with a prominent distorted main synth line that fuzzes out like a live wire on the ground. Halfway through, after a prolonged anticipatory silence that makes you wonder if the track had already ended — spoiler: nope! — it blooms into a lush track with luxurious synth pads and bubbly accents, yet still brimming with electric energy.  

“Most of the mix is presenting what you can do with house,” Guy says. “And that’s basically our career: trying to move house forward, whether it’s with songwriting or using different genres or different languages. The mix should represent where we’re at now, and where we’re at now is clubby.” — K.R.

UZ, “Focus”

French trap mainstay UZ is back with more beats as hard as bricks. His first new music in nearly a year, “Focus” delivers more of the heavy, heady, gloriously wonky weirdness that’s made him a legend of the genre.  The single precedes an expanded version of UZ’s 2020 album Trinity, which drops October 22 and will be released as a continuous mix composed of the original tracklist, two new songs, and eleven remixes from bass and trap producers including Bailo, Basstrick, Great Dane, LYNY, sebjin, HWLS, and more. Last year the masked producer (who in 2017 revealed himself to be two-time DMC World Champio producer DJ Troubl) told Billboard that Trinity would be the last UZ LP, and we’re thus grateful that he’s back throwing his weight around. — K.B.

Elkka, “Harmonic Frequencies”

When Elkka released her Euphoric Melodies EP on Technicolour this past May, the record felt like spring after a long and lonely frost with its warm, earthy house sound and open-air textures. Her latest EP for the imprint, Harmonic Frequencies, could be its companion. The title track, released today, instead finds comfort indoors, preferably in a pitch-black club where you can only feel the people around you. There’s still a delicacy here in the sparkling sounds that pepper the production like constellations, but there’s also an urgency in the clipped vocal samples and crushing percussion — the perfect opportunity to go heads down, eyes closed and get lost in the dark. 

“Not being able to see family and friends, to perform and fully express myself left me feeling like a part of me was not being nourished,”Elkka says. “Like most people, when things opened up again, I could feel and see the color coming back into my life.” — K.R.

Slushii, “All I Need” (VIP Edit)

Last September, Slushii debuted his single “All I Need” via a live performance on Fortnite‘s Party Royale Main Stage. Later that month, the song was used the lead song in Rocket League and Fortnite‘s Llama-Rama crossover event, with these gaming platforms ultimately making “All I Need” the fastest-growing track ever released by Canadian label Monstercat. (The song peaked at No. 33 on Hot Dance/Electronic Chart during its 14-week chart run, and currently has more than 30 million global streams.)

Now, a year later, the producer is back with a “VIP Edit”, which trades the smooth house bounce of the original for a more slightly more challenging (in a good way) progressive house vibe that builds into a frenetically chopped chorus, with a sped-up BPM. It’s a solid take on the producer’s biggest hit, and a smart way to make sure that the track keeps making noise. — K.B.

Castlevania Advance Collection whips out four classics now on PC

Dracula’s back from the dead again and so are four Castlevania games from the aughts. Three different vampire stomping adventures originally hailing from the Game Boy Advance—and one SNES—have made their way into a new collection on PC via Steam. Two Belmonts, a Graves, and a Cruz all get their time to shine against those undead baddies in Castlevania: Circle Of The Moon, Harmony Of Dissonance, Aria Of Sorrow, and Dracula X. Konami launched the Castlevania Advance Collection yesterday, complete with some modern conveniences for us PC players in the year 2021.

Roblox takes a page from the ‘Fortnite’ playbook with new Listening Parties – Input

Popular video-game-slash-multiverse Roblox is introducing a new Listening Party feature, whereby artists can host release-day events for their legions of virtual fans. To celebrate the new feature, singer Poppy is “touring” various Roblox games to urge players to listen to her latest studio album, Flux, which releases today.

“We want to keep finding new ways to make music more of an integral part of the Roblox experience,” said Jon Vlassopulos, head of music at Roblox. “Allowing Poppy’s fans to enjoy her new album Flux where they are already spending time with their friends seemed like a no brainer, and our developers have jumped at the opportunity to participate!”

Poppy is the perfect choice for a spokesperson to launch this feature, really. She’s spent a sizable portion of her music career presenting as an uncanny android who ranted about internet culture on YouTube. She was also nominated for a Grammy this year. So yeah, a launch party for her music in the Roblox multiverse is pretty spot-on.

Not much to see here — The Listening Party feature is a little less exciting than you might expect based on how Roblox’s execs are talking about it. In practice, it’s less of a new feature than it is just an in-game event.

The basic premise of a Listening Party is to continue whatever task you’re already working on — just with the added option of listening to Poppy’s new album while you do so. Poppy will be “touring” various “experiences” (that’s Roblox-speak for an in-game game), but it’s unclear what exactly that entails. Maybe her avatar will pop up to say hello; maybe not.

Some of the experiences chosen to host Poppy’s Listening Party have created special stages or areas for the event. For the most part it’s just all about spotlighting Poppy’s new album in existing Roblox worlds. You do earn “event points” by playing songs, though, and some virtual merch will be available as well.

Virtual music rules — Roblox already has a vice grip on the minds and hands of children around the world. But the game’s ultimate goal, as many internet companies can attest, is to keep players focused on the in-game world as much as humanly possible.

Roblox has a tricky history with music. Any music streamed in the game is supposed to be licensed first, but Roblox’s many experience developers have absolutely not followed through with this rule. As a result, the company behind the game was slapped with a $200 million lawsuit from the National Music Publisher’s Association this summer.

Music has proven itself a huge pull for in-game events, though. Fortnite has really paved the way for events like this and shown they can be worth the effort. And thus Roblox finds itself working on music-centered events despite the ongoing lawsuit. At least with Poppy involved so explicitly the company should be safe from legal repercussions.

Please use our Creator CODE: MOKOKIL1

The Volatility may Allow Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) to Converge Down to Value – Simply Wall St

Activision Blizzard, Inc. ( NASDAQ:ATVI ) has had quite some turbulence lately, with the price tumbling some 3.7% this week, and experiencing a slow 6-month decline of 18.8%. The internal activities have already resulted with some management members leaving ( 1 , 2 ), and litigation seems to be piling up. This additional uncertainty is putting a strain on the stock, and might provide long-term investors with an opportunity to tap into the gaming industry.

When investors are buying Activision Blizzard, they are buying the game-chains from three main brands:

  • Activision: Leading with the Call Of Duty Franchise
  • Blizzard: Leading with the World of Warcraft, Diablo 2 & 3, Hearthstone, Overwatch
  • King: Leading with Candy Crush

These are known new and legacy titles that are bringing the majority of revenues for the company at a significant 29% net profit margin , making the company valuable for investors.

If the uncertainty surrounding the company clears with minimal impact, then investors might have a moment of opportunity on their hands.

In this article we are going to estimate the intrinsic value of Activision Blizzardby projecting its future cash flows and then discounting them to today’s value.One way to achieve this is by employing the Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) model.

We would caution that there are many ways of valuing a company and, like the DCF, each technique has advantages and disadvantages in certain scenarios. If you want to learn more about discounted cash flow, the rationale behind this calculation can be read in detail in the Simply Wall St analysis model .

Check out our latest analysis for Activision Blizzard

What’s the estimated valuation?

A DCF is all about the idea that a dollar in the future is less valuable than a dollar today,so we need to project how much cash flows will Activision Blizzard make and discount the sum of these future cash flows to arrive at a present value estimate:

Present Value of 10-year Cash Flow (PVCF) = US$25b

After calculating the present value of future cash flows in the initial 10-year period, we need to calculate the Terminal Value, which accounts for all future cash flows beyond the first stage.

Terminal Value (TV) = US$81b

Present Value of Terminal Value (PVTV) = US$42b

The total value, or equity value, is then the sum of the present value of the future cash flows, which in this case is US$67b.

This is effectively what the business is worth today! The intrinsic value is usually different from the current market price. When investors are looking at a company that is trading below its intrinsic value, they may feel more confident that the price may rise to what the cash flows are worth, giving them a better chance to profit from a stock. 

To get the intrinsic value per share, we divide this by the total number of shares outstanding.

Compared to the current share price of US$74.7, the company appears about fair value at a 14% discount to where the stock price trades currently.

The assumptions in any calculation have a big impact on the valuation, so it is better to view this as a rough estimate, not precise down to the last cent.

NasdaqGS:ATVI Discounted Cash Flow September 23rd 2021

There are many important assumptions based upon which we build a DCF model, you can view all the details of our model by visiting our valuation section , and clicking on the “View Data” button on the bottom right.

Key Takeaways & Next Steps:

The DCF model is not a perfect stock valuation tool, and our rough estimate shows that the company may be >10% undervalued, which warrants a deeper dive to see if the stock is right for investment.

When thinking about Activision Blizzard, investors should ask themselves some essential questions:

  • What will be the financial impact of the current internal crisis? Will the problems cripple the company on the long term, or will they open an opportunity to invest while the price is lower?
  • How do the long-term growth prospects look for the company?
    • Will something like the new rollout of Diablo 2 Remastered energize players and revitalize the franchise?
    • What is the growth potential of the new Call of Duty and Overwatch titles?
    • The mobile segment is catching up at high speed, is there an untapped potential for mobile games done right (unlike Diablo for mobile)?
  • Does the company have a strategy to sow the seeds of new promising titles or to grow by acquisitions?

There are also quantitative factors to consider, and we’ve compiled threeimportantaspectsyou should further research:

  1. Risks : For example, we’ve discovered 1 warning sign for Activision Blizzard that you should be aware of before investing here.
  2. Future Earnings : How does ATVI’s growth rate compare to its peers and the wider market? Dig deeper into the analyst consensus number for the upcoming years by interacting with our free analyst growth expectation chart .
  3. Other High Quality Alternatives : Do you like a good all-rounder? Explore our interactive list of high quality stocks to get an idea of what else is out there you may be missing!

PS. The Simply Wall St app conducts a discounted cash flow valuation for every stock on the NASDAQGS every day. If you want to find the calculation for other stocks justsearch here .

Simply Wall St analyst Goran Damchevski and Simply Wall St have no position in any of the companies mentioned. This article is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. We aim to bring you long-term focused analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

Have feedback on this article? Concerned about the content? Get in touch with us directly. Alternatively, email

Sapulpa eSports are here to stay – Sapulpa Times

Sapulpa High School recently held tryouts for its after-school eSports program. This fast-growing “sport” has seen a recent explosion all over the world as global events, like the current pandemic, have kept people indoors and unable to participate in more traditional activities. Additionally, the digital world has expanded into all aspects of life, as schools, workplaces, and homes are converting to all-digital material due to almost constant upgrades in technology. 

“My favorite part about coaching eSports is getting to see these kids from every facet of the school. Band, Athletics, Debate, Choir, or even the kids who have never participated in other activities at all come together,” said Jesse Swayze, Sapulpa’s eSports coach, and IT Systems Administrator. 

The Sapulpa High School eSports program is an after-school extracurricular activity that allows kids to practice and compete in the Oklahoma eSports League (OeSL). The program welcomes kids from 9th-12th grades who have a passion for playing video games and competing. 

The season is split between Fall and Spring and divides up games so the school doesn’t have to provide all of them at all times. The Sapulpa team plays three games—Madden 22, Rocket League, and Smash Brothers Ultimate. 

The games provide essential solo and team skills required by other sports, such as team strategy and cooperation, which are key to both duo and team play. Players must learn communication skills to quickly and efficiently execute plans and provide changes as the team adapts to the opposing players’ skill level and choices throughout the matches and bouts. 

“eSports gives [the students] the opportunity to make new connections and lifelong friendships they’d normally not have had the chance to make otherwise. Watching them come out of their comfort zones and learn to work together is truly remarkable,” said Swayze. 

Madden 22 is the latest game in a franchise going back to 1988 on the home computer. The game continues the idea of a football video game that requires real football knowledge. The game was originally built as a simulator for football and was famous for John Madden demanding there be 11 players on screen, despite the technical limitations of the time. The game requires knowledge of player stats and real time football plays as well as offense and defense formations. As the player, students can call audibles, hot routes, and player motions prior to the ball even being snapped. Last year, senior Evan Burton placed 3rd in the Madden Championship. 

Rocket League is a popular eSports title that combines cars and soccer. The game pits solo and team players driving cars and hitting a large ball into the opponent’s goal. Cars can use turbo boosts to speed across the field, stick to the walls, or fly through the air in a spectacle of metal and speed. The game requires quick reflexes as well as strategy for keeping a balance between offense and defense. Passing and teamwork can be the key to out-playing the opposing drivers.

Smash Brothers Ultimate is the latest game in the popular franchise that started on the N64, which pits favorite Nintendo characters in cartoonish fights for supremacy. The game, which was originally supposed to be just a fun party activity, has been a staple in the eSports world and has become one of the more technical games in the fighting genre. Even older versions of the franchise are played throughout the world in tournaments and leagues. The game requires knowledge of all moves of every character in order to play or counter play various fighters. Players will also get to know individual players’ preferences for certain characters to provide strategy for picking characters, either to counter certain fighter strengths or to pinpoint individual players’ tendencies. 

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA), in a 14-0 vote, made eSports a championship activity for some schools across the state. In the spring, some schools will participate in the first State eSports Championship. Sapulpa is not currently involved, but as eSports continues to expand in the world, it is expected to become more inclusive and prominent. 

The Sapulpa Chieftain gamers currently have no opportunities for outside spectators, but Swayze has stated they are looking to provide streaming capabilities so Sapulpans can cheer on their new athletes as they take to the controller to play other teams for virtual glory.

Overwatch League Grand Finals: Project Aloha, Cloud Workflows Are Key to Transcontinental Production – Sports Video Group

Analysts are onsite in Honolulu while players, casters, and crew are spread across the globe

It has been wild ride for Activision Blizzard Esports’ Broadcast Technology Group during the 2021 Overwatch League Season. After producing OWL regular-season matches online and from Project Aloha in Honolulu using its cloud-based, remote-production model, the Group had been prepping for the OWL Playoffs in Dallas and Los Angeles, its first live, in-person matches in more than two years. However, when the Delta variant of COVID-19 hindered those plans, the Broadcast Technology Group pivoted quickly for a return to Honolulu to broadcast the playoffs, which conclude with tomorrow’s OWL Grand Final.

The OWL Playoffs feature analysts on-site in Honolulu manning a set at the Moana Surfrider Resort.

“When the [in-person events] were canceled, we had only about two weeks to pivot the entire show,” says Corey Smith, director, live operations, Broadcast Technology Group, Activision Blizzard Esports. “The fact that the team was able to get it done was nothing short of a miracle. We simply wouldn’t have been able to do it without the cloud and all the work we had already put in to develop [remote workflows]. We couldn’t have been orchestrating trucks and satellite uplinks and coordinating fiber drops in that small of a window. We just didn’t have the time to turn around that traditional type of infrastructure. We had to do it with cloud production.”

Project Aloha: A Unified Champion Thanks to Hawaii-Tokyo Connection

After being forced to have regional champions in Asia and U.S./Europe last year because of travel restrictions and transcontinental bandwidth challenges, Tomorrow’s OWL Grand Finals will crown a unified global champion for the first time since 2019.

To pull this season off, Activision Blizzard Esports (ABE) partnered with the University of Hawaii Mānoa to launch Project Aloha, a competition model in which teams could compete live between Honolulu and Asia. The university provided access to a high-capacity trans-Pacific subsea fiber cable between Tokyo and Honolulu, allowing players to compete online with near-zero latency.

“Project Aloha allowed us to combine the teams from North America and Asia for competitive matchmaking, which was great because we weren’t able to do that last season,” notes Smith. “We obviously didn’t want to end this season again by crowning separate champions in Asia and North America, so Hawaii allowed us to conclude the season in a way that made sense.

Onsite in Honolulu: Analyst Desk Heads to Waikiki Beach

During this week’s OWL Playoffs, for the first time at Project Aloha, analysts are located onsite in Honolulu, delivering live coverage during broadcasts from its set on the balcony of the penthouse suite at the Moana Surfrider Resort.

OWL Playoffs coverage spans the globe with interviews across multiple continents.

“The big challenge here for the set was connectivity at the top of the Moana Surfrider,” says Senior Technical Manager Ryan Cole, one of the few crew members onsite in Honolulu. “[The hotel] cannot support the network at the level and scale we needed at the penthouse, so we ended working with the Marriott folks and some onsite vendors to setup two point-to-point [wireless bridges] from different locations around the island to the suite to get the network connectivity we needed. And it has been going really well.”

A small crew is also on hand in Honolulu: the production team manning the Moana Surfrider set and the competition room at the UH Mānoa, four editors located at the Sheraton Waikiki, an ENG team shooting behind-the-scenes content with the teams, and IT and operations staff. UH Mānoa students are also playing a role in the productions and getting hands-on experience in a live-esports-broadcast environment.

OWL observers remote into cloud-based VMs in both South Korea and Los Angeles.

At the UH Mānoa where teams compete, ABE has deployed Always-On Player POV cameras for each player, a wide shot of the competition room, two handheld cameras, and ambient microphones throughout the room. In addition, the broadcast will incorporate Player POV cams and shots from the competition rooms in China and South Korea.

“We’re focused on making this feel like it’s truly a Grand Finals and not just another Overwatch league show,” says Smith. “We’re upping the scale of the show as much as possible. We owe it to the teams, the players, and the community that’s watching to polish it up and do whatever we can do to entertain them in a new and different way.”

Spanning the Globe: How the Cloud Brings It All Together

Nearly the entire production team, meanwhile, remains remote and continues to use ABE’s cloud-based production workflow. This production model allows the production crew and casters to continue to work entirely from home, from locations across the mainland U.S., Hawaii, South Korea, and China.

Observers use remote stations like this one to tell the story as “in-game camera operators”

The cloud production ecosystem is built around vMix live-video-streaming software and uses software-based Unity intercom, Viz Trio graphics in the cloud, and Parsec remote-desktop software. ABE also created its own master-control platform — dubbed Echo — which can distribute multiple regionalized feeds with different graphics and commercial insertion for each region.

Observers — the “camera operators” who cut the in-game action and are integral to the broadcast — remote into cloud-based VMs in both South Korea and Los Angeles, which provide them with ultra-low-latency connections.

OWL’s cloud-based-production ecosystem is currently built around vMix software

In a first for OWL in the pandemic era, casters are calling the action together in the same room during the playoffs — with one pair in Los Angeles and one in Austin. Previously, casters were calling the action separately from their homes and were integrated into the broadcast via a virtual set.

For the first time in the pandemic-era, OWL broadcasts feature casters calling the action together from the same location.

In addition, the analysts in Honolulu conduct interviews with individuals all over the world throughout the live broadcasts.

Crew members are able to remote into VMs from across the globe via Parsec software

“This has been a truly global show,” says Cole. “We’re bringing all of these international components into a single broadcast, which we’ve never done at this scale before. We’re obviously very familiar with cloud, but, when you start adding all these other locations, it becomes that much more complicated because now you’re coordinating with people on the ground halfway around the world. But it’s coming together quite nicely.”

According to Smith, the most significant challenge for the multisite production was synching the timing of all the different feeds — both local and in the cloud — from around the globe. To account for this, the technical team timed every feed to a uniform delay and then would work through it on the production side from there.

“All of the different feeds that are coming through have been retimed to some degree because the casters have to be able to hear themselves and hear each other,” says Smith. “The timing of all of that is just one giant mathematic problem that we had to solve in order to avoid any lip-sync issues or timing problems when cutting video. That was a massive hurdle that we had to overcome.”

Looking Ahead: Hopeful for a Return to LAN Events, GV AMPP on the Horizon

With the 2021 OWL season soon to be in the rearview mirror, Activision Blizzard Esports is optimistic about returning to in-person events at traditional venues next year — hopefully, venues filled with fans. With that in mind, the ABE Technology Broadcast Group is looking at how to integrate its now ubiquitous cloud-based workflows into onsite events.

The TD cutting the OWL broadcast works remotely from home via the cloud

“Right now, we’re trying figure what we need to do in order to make this all work for when we get back to [in-person] venue shows in 2022,” says Smith. “Hawaii is giving us a blueprint for how this will all look when we roll back to that hybrid production model and [in-person] events.

“When we go back to venue-based shows, that doesn’t mean we’re just going to kill off all the cloud-production [workflows] and go back to trucks. For us, trucks are simply no longer cost-effective because we can do all this production work in the cloud with a small crew onsite. There’s not a world in which we’re going to go back to traditional television broadcast; it’s just not effective for us.”

Observers – along with the majority of the crew – continue to work remotely from home.

Smith adds that the team is currently working with Grass Valley to enhance the GV AMPP (Agile Media Processing Platform) cloud-based SaaS production solution and leverage it for OWL and Call of Duty League productions in 2022.

Cole notes that the agility that the cloud provides opens up a whole new range of possibilities: “The nature of the cloud has allowed us to be very agile with our workflows. When you think about it, all we need for a show are a couple of small-scale switchers, cameras, and a lot of PCs. Everything else is in the cloud. It has given us an outlook on the future where we can definitely make things happen at a drop of a dime.

“During the pandemic,” he continues, we’ve basically said there’s no challenge that we can’t tackle. No matter what the challenge is, we will find a way to solve it.”