OnLIVE will change the face of PC Gaming - And it's true!

Discussion in 'Public General Chat' started by PhoenixDog, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. PhoenixDog
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    GDC 09: OnLive Introduces The Future of Gaming
    Next-generation "cloud" technology could change videogames forever.

    March 23, 2009 - Before I dive into what OnLive is and how it works, let me start by saying that you should read every word of this article as this service has the potential to completely change the way games are played. If it works and gets proper support from both publishers and gamers, you may never need a high-end PC to play the latest games, or perhaps even ever buy a console again. That is not an exaggeration.

    Just announced at this year's GDC, OnLive is an on-demand gaming service. It's essentially the gaming version of cloud computing - everything is computed, rendered and housed online. In its simplest description, your controller inputs are uploaded, a high-end server takes your inputs and plays the game, and then a video stream of the output is sent back to your computer. Think of it as something like Youtube or Hulu for games.

    The service works with pretty much any Windows or Mac machine as a small browser plug-in. Optionally, you will also be able to purchase a small device, called the OnLive MicroConsole, that you can hook directly into your TV via HDMI, though if your computer supports video output to your TV, you can just do it that way instead. Of course, you can also just play on your computer's display if you don't want to pipe it out to your living room set.

    When you load up the service and choose a game to play (I'll come back to the service's out-of-games features in a bit), it starts immediately. The game is housed and played on one of OnLive's servers, so there's never anything to download. Using an appropriate input device, be it a controller or mouse and keyboard, you'll then play the game as you would if it were installed on your local machine. Your inputs are read by the plugin (or the standalone device if you choose to go that route) and uploaded to the server. The server then plays the game just like it would if you were sitting at the machine, except that instead of outputting the video to a display, it gets compressed and streamed to your computer where you can see the action. Rinse and repeat 60 times per second.

    Debut and Demonstration Trailer - Part 1
    Debut and Demonstration Trailer - Part 2
    The cool thing here is that your only requirement is a capable internet connection and some sort of computer. In theory, you should be able to play Crysis on a netbook. A handful of us have played the game, at its highest settings, on a MacBook Air with the service. Not only is the game not normally available on the Mac (outside of running Boot Camp), but the MacBook Air is hardly a gaming device, and yet we were able to hop in and play it as smoothly as a nicely-specced machine. We also played Burnout Paradise on a similarly-equipped PC laptop, and despite how quick that game is, it ran and played fine as well.

    Do the games run at 60fps? Technically, yes, but the video stream makes it feel less so. They're still smooth, but Burnout wasn't as brisk as it is on a PS3, for instance. But make no mistake - everything we tried was completely playable (and most importantly, quite responsive), and being that you're able to play these games without any dedicated hardware, that's a huge, huge thing.

    As for the MicroConsole itself (which, again, is optional), the device is give or take about the size of a PSP game box and maybe twice the height. In other words, it's pretty tiny for a gaming "console". It features two USB inputs (you can use a hub if you need more), a mini-USB port for power, optical audio output and HDMI video output. There's also Bluetooth support for voice or wireless joysticks, keyboards and mice. Obviously, if you want to use this thing with an older TV, you'll need to pony up for some conversion hardware, but OnLive stresses that the MicroConsole itself will be fairly cheap. We'd expect it to be no more than $100, and a $50 price tag is certainly not out of the question.

    With regards to the service itself, OnLive will work as a paid subscription service, similar to Xbox Live. OnLive isn't talking about pricing yet, which probably isn't even finalized internally yet, so we'll have to wait and see how that pans out. Once you're online, you'll have access to a Friends list, an online profile where other people can see what you're up to, your tied account stuff (which houses your save games and things like that), and Brag Clips. Brag Clips are 10-second videos of your favorite gaming moments, and the system works sort of like an instant replay on a DVR. Regardless of what game you're playing, you can hit the Brag Clip shortcut and OnLive will then save the last 10 seconds of your action for viewing and sharing later. Other folks can view your clips, and you can send them out to your friends to, well, brag.

    As for the games themselves, while it will vary by title and publisher, you'll have a number of ways in which to purchase them. You can outright pay for a game and own it indefinitely, or you could opt to rent a title for a specified amount of time. This last bit is especially cool for PC titles as that sort of market simply doesn't exist as piracy would run rampant. But since everything is housed online, OnLive won't be subject to piracy, so game rentals can easily take place. Again, that'll be up to publishers on a per-title basic, but the possibility is certainly cool.

    And of course, most games will have a demo available for play, which like everything else, launches instantly with zero downloading. OnLive is hoping that even if hardcore gamers stick with buying games as per usual and playing content locally on their own high-end rigs that its service will be a great place for trying out demos as you won't have to take time to download anything.

    A number of publishers have already signed on to have their games launch on the service, including EA, Take-Two, Ubisoft, Epic, Atari, Codemasters, Warner Bros. and Eidos. While we were able to play Crysis and Burnout Paradise and noted games like Grand Theft Auto IV on the intro screen, these titles may only be demo software for the time being as OnLive plans to launch with newly-released software when it goes live. We're hoping Crysis sticks around as some of us will finally be able to play it.

    As for the launch timeframe, OnLive is going to have an open (though invitational) beta sometime during the summer, and plans to fully launch the system late this year (technically winter 2009).

    [​IMG]
    The MicroConsole is small, but thanks to the servers, ultimately powerful.

    Source - IGN PC
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2009
  2. Meemo
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    So they want to introduce lag into my single player games ?

    No thanks.
     
  3. Valindria
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    interesting...
     
  4. PhoenixDog
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    Did you watch the videos?
    Did you read the article?
    Are you informed about any technology?
     
  5. So if I am reading this correctly, which I am probably not. I would click on something like an internet browser button, except it opens up Onlive, and then through their selection of games I can play what ever I want within Onlive? So in other words, it is like playing something like steam, without the downloads.
     
  6. PhoenixDog
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    Pretty much. From what I have gathered (haven't done all my research yet), OnLive will literally stream the games to you. They are run by high-end software on the service's end, and displayed to you directly. It's like watching something on YouTube, except you're playing it. You can rent PC games for once, you can watch and game and check it out before you buy it, and it's all instant. Think of it like playing a game on the highest-end PC you can think of...You're playing THAT PC, but you're on yours, and everything is relayed to you with a brand new streaming technology.

    And like mentioned in the videos I linked, it doesn't use standard NetCode as regular games rely on for their online capabilities. The "cloud" software as it's called is a brand new way of streaming both input and output information through a broadband connection. You don't download anything, you don't need to wait (except possibly for standard loading screens) and you go.
     
  7. kinetic medic
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    interesting but I'm skeptical

    -KM
     
  8. No_Smoking
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    I could swear I have read about something like this a long time ago.. wasn't it called phantom gaming?
    and it bombed hard I believe.

    I like the idea, because it will give people that cant afford high end consols/gaming rigs a chance to play main stream games. Did I read it right, that you will still need a computer hooked up to it? That might be it's death right there however..
    my second concern is lag. I just can't see it being responsive enough. even one second delay time really pisses me off. So if it is more then that... its game over.
     
  9. PhoenixDog
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    Let me fill in the holes that I think I understand.

    First of all, you need a PC and that will be it's death? Everyone and their dog has a PC. Or at least a laptop, and that's all you really need, plus a decent Internet connection (which any well mannered gamer has). My rig right now runs Crysis decently...But I mean, to be able to play something like that on my parents PC that we got in 2002? That's amazing. It could barely run WoW competently.

    Second, people seem to keep thinking it uses a standard information transfer that all games now use. It's not. I don't know enough about it right now, but if it took 7 years to get right...I'll give it the chance it deserves. This isn't "streaming" like we know it is now...It's something totally new.
     
  10. The Communist
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    It seems like a great idea... it would depend on how fast their new technology will actually work. I know that some of the time I get crap for an internet connection. I dont want my resolution to change because of that. I would have to try it out before making any real judgments. Cool idea though!
     
  11. Jeb
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    there was some version too through some internet companies that let you "pay per use" type thing for games and it did this type thing...

    Pdog, Meemo is right though, I dont' care what the videos or documents show, single player games will end up being effected by internet lag... There is no way around this even with fiber to the door or Docsis 3 internet.
    It will always take time for your data (sent from the controller) to get to the server meaning potential lag, then there is the potential for lag as it's being sent back as well... on top of that, if you play FPS games (and I know you do) then there will be issues with any type of connection that isnt' very stable where you will get warping... maybe not in the final video sent to you, but the end result will be that where your aiming isn't where the other player is (or whatever your shooting at, or drivign past or whatever) On top of that, I can't see rendering a video to stream to you not causing some lag... (this part confuses me to be honest, how do you create this video fast enough that there is no delay between the controller and the video being sent back...)

    Demos are are usually setup with the perfect conditions and work great...

    I am not saying this will suck, but personally I dont' want to deal with lag with single player games, and no matter how good the technology, the experiance will rely on the persons internet connection in the end..
     
  12. Meemo
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    Lets see.

    In between your controls and the machine the game is running on is the internet. So when your internet connection lags for some reason (say, a roommate downloading a torrent and hogging all your bandwidth), then your single player games will lag.

    So how are they mitigating this lag ?

    All I see is them saying you need a "capable internet connection". In other words if you have lag while using this, it's your problem. If something takes out your internet connection, it also takes out all the games you would play over this service.

    If they chose to shut down their servers, you will lose any games you have purchased through it unless they chose to give you a copy. Which would cost them because they need to get the copy out to you somehow.

    If you stop paying, you have to repurchase all the games you "purchased" through their service.

    Looks like they don't have enough publishers signed on yet.

    "We even allow you to pay money to play free demos".
     
  13. PhoenixDog
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    This is GDC, mind you. They aren't announcing a "concept" anymore. They are claiming the delay between information is 1ms at best. They have some high-end developers on board with this. People have played it and seen it in action. There must be something to this lag thing that works as they say...Or they wouldn't have the support they already have from the names they do.

    Everything is stored on THEIR service. If I buy something from Xbox live, I can redownload it if I deleted it. I've done it with 3 things already. if you buy CoD4, install it, then remove it...Do you need to buy CoD4 again? It's the same shit here. They KNOW you bought it already. It's saved onto the service saying "Hey, this person bought this game already. They own the licence to play it. They're back! Here you go!"

    Brand new service. Announced less than a day ago to the public. They aren't going to have hundreds of companies on board already. How many developers jumped on the iPhone right away? How many are on board now?
     
  14. Meemo
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    So the best they can get is 1ms. Good, but I'm not talking about the best they can do. I'm talking about how bad their worst results are, results that come about when the packets take longer to travel from your computer to their servers.

    Actually, where did you get this 1ms number from ?
    It's not in the article, it's not in the videos.

    Was this on a home internet connection, or was this a demonstration version ?
    Or they just see something that works well enough for them to profit from it, which can include a system that works worse than current options if it gets them customers they wouldn't get through their current options.

    Yes, if you resume paying. But why would I pay for a game in the first place when I have keep paying a subscription to play it ?
    Compare that to the same game on a PC where I pay once, and that's it.

    Ok, I'll concede this point.

    It transfers the data over the internet, which means it puts the data into packets and sends them like any other program that uses the internet. Lag happens when the packets arrive slower than they need to.
     
  15. Sirius
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    You're not going to need a capable internet connection, you're going to need an incredibly fast internet connection. If you're streaming HD video at 60 fps, the numbers are going to add up very quickly even on H.264.

    Ergo, North America, Japan/Korea and Europe only for quite a few years.

    The other thing that kind of amuses me is that the technology to do this kind of thing already exists. Well, sort of - the one I'm aware of was developed by a company called Calista, but I don't think they actually released it before MS bought them. Nonetheless, bundle that with Windows Azure, and you have effectively the same thing.
     
  16. Wren
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    Personally, I think that it is still too early to say ya or nay to this. I will say that I'm intrigued though at the concept and will with hold judgement until it is up and running for public use.
     
  17. mercsan
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    This was done YEARS ago, on Sega Genesis, duh.
     
  18. No_Smoking
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    Sorry I meant, its death to me personally =P
    True, it seems every one has a computer and it probably wouldn't be a major problem. But if they want it to be "a great service" they should make it as simple to use as possible. and "needing" a computer is adding clunkyness to the product.
    If they could allow 'wireless' connection to said comp without interfering with someone actually using it at the same time, it would be a little better imho. (if they do that, then great)
    OR, if this unit could act as sort of a media center to stream stuff off your comp.

    Not only would I pay 100 bucks, but I would pay 299 on top of a subscription if it did the few things I mentioned above.

    But if you need a comp JUST to make the thing work, and doesn't do any of the above? nah that's clunky =P
    I'm not going to run whatever cable it needs 50 feet from my computer room to my TV.

    again, that's just my personal opinion.. not trying to convince anyone "omg this thing blows" or anything like it hehe
     
  19. Jeb
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    They claim a 5Mb/s connection ( I assume down) is good enough, which may be the case if they have come up with their own way to do this...

    BUT they may very well be able to do it with a 1ms delay on a lan which is a perfect connection, but if your on dsl or cable modem, my guess is your going to have a much higher delay due transmission from the modem, to the head end equiptment, to the backbone connection, to the big bad internet, and then to the Iplay backbone, and then to their servers, and then all the way back again...

    Meanwhile this is all traveling over UDP I assume as it's faster then TCP, and UDP has nothing in it to make sure packets ever show up, or are in the proper oder... so even if you press up on your controller, it might take a delay if those UDP packets are lost along the way to the servers. (even if they have the commands down to a very small amount of traffic they can still be lost)

    Games that do not require very high reflexes should work great to be honest... but FPS games will probably preform simaler to FPS multiplayer games, while today single player versions of these games will never have lag...

    That isn't to say that being able to play games with high end graphics on an older PC wouldn't be worth that downfall though ;)
    On the same note though a 5MB plugin for a browser may put a toll on an older PC as well ;) Or the older PC may not be able to run the right version of the browser...

    Hard to say till it's released I guess
     
  20. EF2
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    This is the Phantom.
     

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