Stream Connect Comes to Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint

Stream Connect is one of the Stadia Enhanced Features that we've gotten the most questions on as we speak with developers from around the world. What is it, how can developers use it and what new opportunities does it provide? The list of use cases goes on and on, but one of the best ways to discuss Stream Connect is to provide real world examples for how it's being used today.

For that, we sat down with Ubisoft's Matthew Tomkinson, UX and Realization Director for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Breakpoint to chat about how they're making use of this unique feature in the Stadia version of the game. 

Stadia: For those that don’t know, could you describe Stream Connect? 

Matthew Tomkinson, Ubisoft: Stream Connect allows Stadia players to share their screen by streaming one player’s view directly into another player’s view. For Ghost Recon Breakpoint, we’re actually streaming the screens of up to 3 other players at the same time into the view of one player. This feature brings new opportunities in tactical co-operation, as you can better synchronize with your teammates and set up a precise gameplan.

Stadia: Why did your team at Ubisoft decide to use Stream Connect in Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint?

Matthew Tomkinson, Ubisoft: Stadia offers a wide array of new possibilities, and we wanted to take advantage of this technology to offer a new exclusive feature that enhances the tactical approach of the game while reinforcing the presence of the players in your squad. It is also reminiscent to the CrossCom feature, which was a staple in some of the previous Ghost Recon games!

Stadia: What kind of resource impact - in terms of GPU, CPU or RAM usage in-game - did you see when integrating Stream Connect into Ghost Recon Breakpoint?

Matthew Tomkinson, Ubisoft: Every stream that's shown on screen using Stream Connect is rendered as a 1080p texture, but there's a minimal GPU impact. For us that means roughly .3 ms on the GPU in total and a little less than 8 MB of RAM per texture, which is really impressive. We still have RAM and GPU time to spare. Overall, there is a permanent impact, but it’s very small.

Stadia: What does Stream Connect enable for players in Breakpoint?

Matthew Tomkinson, Ubisoft: By seeing other player’s point of view it eases a lot the communication and helps the player to play more tactically. Imagine that your teammate is a sniper with an overview of the situation behind your back – the rest of the squad can directly see which enemies he’s taking care of or know if a threat is incoming in a glimpse.
Stream Connect in Ghost Recon - Note the views of three teammates on the right side of the screen.

Stadia: Talk about the development process of getting Stream Connect up and running in Breakpoint. 

Matthew Tomkinson, Ubisoft: New features are always a challenge to design, develop and integrate. But thanks to the support of the team at Stadia, we were able to quickly prototype and validate Stream Connect. We are still currently polishing it up, and it is exciting to see the feature come to life!

Stadia: Tactical collaboration among teammates has always been crucial to Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon. How does Stream Connect innovate on the concept of teammates working together in Breakpoint?

Matthew Tomkinson, Ubisoft: Actually the idea of being able to see through your teammate's eyes goes back to Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, 14 years ago. Except that at the time it was only with AI since the tech didn’t allow us to do it in coop because we would’ve had to double the rendering load for each player with each added view. That’s not the case on Stadia. Being able to do it with real players is a great addition to building the best cooperative experience possible.

Stadia: Put your creative hat on. What other genres could leverage Stream Connect and how?

Matthew Tomkinson, Ubisoft: Anything social would benefit from it. You could go wild and imagine a PVP mode where you fight an enemy that sees what you see and uses it to his advantage. Or it could be a specific tool to spy on them. You could also imagine an Escape Room game where communication is key and you would have to share your visual information with other players…

Stadia: Any tips for folks integrating Stream Connect into their game?

Matthew Tomkinson, Ubisoft: Displaying someone else’s screen does not mean just doing that: there are UI elements that could quickly become cumbersome if it’s taking too much space on the other players’ screens, for example. Having that in mind, the team needs to make sure their graphics technology can accommodate the fact that UI elements should be in a different layer than the rest of the game, to ensure that Stream Connect is presented separately from other UI.

Stadia: When will players be able to see Stream Connect up and running in Ghost Recon: Breakpoint?

Matthew Tomkinson, Ubisoft: Our aim is to ship Stream Connect alongside Ghost Recon on Stadia or shortly thereafter.
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