Source - Stomped
Valve have been unveiling their new Multicast Spectator technology for Half-Life at this weekend's SPEAKEASY.net CPL event in Dallas, and for those of us who couldn't make it to the Counter-Strike tournament to see the system in action for ourselves, project manager Erik Johnson was kind enough to explain what it is and what it does, as well as giving a hint of what the future may hold in an interview with Stomped.
"The current multicast spectator allows an unlimited number of spectators to connect to a server at once. If the clients and server are multicast capable, then a proxy server connected to the game server could potentially host an infinite number of clients at once. The multicast spectator also allows users to view the map from a top-down view, where you can watch iconic representations of the players connected to the game", Erik revealed. Not bad for the first public beta version perhaps, but this is apparently just a taste of what Valve have in mind. "Network data can be buffered up at the proxy for an arbitrary amount of time, which will allow us to do some more interesting things in the future, [such as] instant replay of spectacular events."
In the past spectators have had to be physically at an event watching a big screen showing a basic first person or chase cam view of the action from one player's perspective, or else organisers have used unreliable and difficult to configure third party products to broadcast games over the net with rather mixed results. Systems like this which are supported by game and mod developers will hopefully help push pro-gaming to the next level as potential audiences increase, overturning the stagnation which seems to have hit the sport this year.