Aether Engine’s Distributed Navigation and Pathfinding AI

by Aether Engine

One of our goals at Hadean is democratising games development, enabling developers to build games that existing technology simply won’t allow them to.

EVE Aether Wars: Phase Two is a fantastic example of that. Built by a small team from CCP Games in just eight weeks using our Aether Engine technology, EVE Aether Wars: Phase Two is a multiplayer prototype that supports thousands of players in a single-shard world.

We’re also pleased to show you our distributed navigation and pathfinding AI, which will ship with our Aether Engine SDK.

AI navigation over terrain and pathfinding is one of the hardest problems to solve in game programming. Solutions range from Navigation Meshes (Navmeshes) in RPGs and FPS games, where the number of agents is small, to tile-based maps with algorithms like A* or JPS+ in real-time strategy games. Regardless of the technique, games are limited to a few hundreds of individual pathfinders.

Aether Engine overcomes this through distributed navigation server-side, with dynamic scaling for any number of agents.


This enables tens of thousands of agents scaling up on tens of cores of a single cloud server. This allows scaling further, to build a world with potentially limitless unit counts, distributed seamlessly across many cloud servers. Games such as MMORPG, or RTS, MOBA or Battle Royale, with wars between huge armies, is straightforward to build using Aether Engine.

Our distributed pathfinding system is capable of 3D multi-level pathfinding and adapting to dynamic, destructible terrain. We’re using this to build a sandbox MMO template to ship with our SDK, showing agents well beyond RTS scale and pathfinding with RPG quality in an enormous hybrid game.

The visualisation of how agents are dynamically allocated across CPU cores (each cell on Aether Engine is a separate core)

This major first step allows us to scale endlessly to worlds of enormous size and continue on our mission to democratise game development and open up new types of games and experiences.

To read more about Aether Engine’s Distributed Navigation and Pathfinding AI, download The Cloud-Native Game Design Handbook.