Goodbye Consoles?

#1
OnLive is a small company that is threatening the very existence of consoles such as the Xbox, PS and Wii. Yet they do not offer a console as an alternative (well not a traditional one anyway.)

What they do offer, or will be offering, is a small box that plugs into your TV that receives streams from the a OnLive game server. Basically these game servers will be capable of processing and delivering games to a far higher quality than what your traditional console will be able to manage. The game processing is done at the server side and all that your local console does is package up your inputs from your gamepad and whizz them to the server which in return streams a signal directly to your TV.

In a nutshell it's like having an xbox gamepad in your house but the xbox it is connected to is 1,000 miles away but still plugged into your telly. But the xbox in this case is one behemoth of a games server far far more powerful than your little xbox. They are certain that these games can be virtually lag-free by using a bespoke compression algorithm.

They promise to deliver games far in advance to what is available today and they are of course "on demand" i.e. you just select the latest game and you are instantly playing it.

It sounds good, let's wait and see, it might be about time to sell those shares in Nintendo..

http://www.onlive.com/
 
#2
Will this not be dependant on users having a high definition TV and also a "fast", in excess of 20Meg. broadband connection?
 
#4
I think a lot will depend on whether they get the big name titles and whether it really is lag free. And how much the expect us to pay for this.
 
#5
So its just steam for consoles then? The new PSP is supposed to be going this way with all games dl to onboard ram from the PSP server.

Suppose all the console chipping etc is coming to an end.
 
#6
Only other issue I can see is that if I decide to go on a major gaming kick over a new game, and decide to play for 12 or 14 hours a day. (I wouldn't personally, but I know many who would!) Would constant streaming of HD content over a prolonged period, would that start causing issues with fair use policies etc.

And what about the server issues that occur on games like KZ2 etc when they're in demand, flaky to say the least. And the majority of the game is run from the console. A big test would be how the servers stood up to demand.
 
#7
Every game will need a local client. The network wouldnt support heavy server side clients. But as modern games reach 8-10 gigs in size prepare to wait :)
 
#8
I can't see this being anything that amazing without some incredibly serious server side hardware.

As Disco said, games NEED a local client, this passes the processor / graphics intensive tasks onto the individual clients in order to reduce server load. If the server is having to process a lot of the tasks for, potentially, 1000't or 10,000's of clients it is really going to struggle.

Claiming it could be 'almost lag free' is a joke also in my opinion, that is something that is often being the control of the servers because most lag is along the client / server link, not at the server itself. This is a combination of the available bandwidth of the server and the connection speed of the client.

Using a bespoke compression algorithm may help to reduce the lag on the connection as smaller packets of data are required but this also further increases processor load on the server itself as it has to compress / uncompress everthing on top of its other work.

Will be interesting to see how this one pans out but they are going to have to do something incredibly special to have a serious impact on the already well established console market.
 
#9
How do you think games are played currently?

Youtube manage to serve millions of people at the moment with no problems. So does google. Even arrse.co.uk can handle a hundred or so people all at the same time.

Poker sites manage millions of people at the same time - all without too much trouble..
 
#10
thinkingaboutit said:
How do you think games are played currently?

Youtube manage to serve millions of people at the moment with no problems. So does google. Even arrse.co.uk can handle a hundred or so people all at the same time.

Poker sites manage millions of people at the same time - all without too much trouble..
Games are currently played with the vast majority of the intensive data processing (graphics being the big one) being done by the client, not the server.

Google, Arrse, Poker sites and even Youtube can't be compared to a gaming server as they operate in a completely different fashion. Infact, most them only require a small amount of data to be transferred and likely done need to maintain constantly changing and updating complex databases. Well, Poker sites (and similar) more than likely have databases associated with them but I doubt they are as complex as you average gaming server database nowadays.

All the above will suffer from lag in one way, shape or form. The difference being that you don't really notice it because that lag will not have any noticeable impact on the user. This is certainly not the case when it comes to most types of gaming where fractions of a second can, and do, make a big difference.

I am happy to be proven wrong if this system works, I just think they have quite a fight on their hands if they want to become successful in the current console gaming market.

Slight Disclaimer: I haven't actually looked at the site to get any information on it myself. Damn net police at work!

*Edit for mongness
 
#11
Ive just watched a presentation on this , and it has the potential to be revoloutionary, I think alot of this will come down to marketing and how many people pick this up. In theory this could be bye bye to shelling out for hardware upgrades. I'd love to play CoH on max settings on a 50" HD TV :drool:

Link to the video presentation

Edited for mong spellink
 
#12
It certainly looks interesting judging by that video. However (being the cynic I am) there is a HUGE difference between streaming a 'high end game through a low end PC in a controlled environment' and doing the same to 1000's+ of machines at the same time over the internet!
 
#13
This will also kill the high st game stores and the trade market. I tend to do a game then get rid while its still got some value, ususally paying around 10 quid for the latest game. Does this mean id have to pay full price for EVERY game i wanted to play.

1 console, 1 game? No taking out the house?
 
#14
I read about this today - apparently they have developed an algorithm so powerful, lag is something like 1000 of a millisecond. A 1.5 meg connection is required for standard (old style TV dev.) and 5 meg for 720. They have been in conversations with some of the big broadband providers in the US, and they've been told it wont violate fair-use policies, because it's not related to downloading using torrents etc.

Apparently systems are always going to be top-spec, and patches etc will happen in the background. You'll never be tied to just one machine, and you can access all your rentals etc, just by downloading a 1-meg patch for your browser. Although one of the reviews I read today said the graphics were not completely on par with their home-setup, but the average user probably wouldn't even notice that.

Although not sure when we'll see it over here - betas are happening in the Summer for the US, and then the system roles out in September 09.

Sounds pretty cool, IMHO, and I wonder how that will shape the PC/mac market.
 
#16
Disco said:
So its just steam for consoles then? The new PSP is supposed to be going this way with all games dl to onboard ram from the PSP server.

Suppose all the console chipping etc is coming to an end.
Someone may alreayd have said this, I haven't got to the end of the replies... but there's already 'Steam for consoles' - Wii has it if you like old retro previous console conversions, PS3 has it with playstation store... as does PSP now, and so does 360.

If you purchase download games for PSP they get saved to the hoofing great memory stick you need to buy to put them on - I'd guess maybe new PSP will have some of that built in, but you never know with Sony
 
#17
Harry_Monk said:
...Using a bespoke compression algorithm may help to reduce the lag on the connection as smaller packets of data are required but this also further increases processor load on the server itself as it has to compress / uncompress everthing on top of its other work....
Er... bespoke compression algorithm wouldn't help lag at all - here's hoping they have some servers in the UK because you are *guaranteed* lagginess if all their servers are in the US or thereabouts... even the wrong side of Europe will give you a very 'unlovely' experience.

Bespoke compression OTOH may help avoid your whole monthly transfer allocation going up in a couple of days of gaming.

Personally, I'm ready to wait and see - this isn't the first time someone has tried this approach, and it hasn't taken off yet... you never know, but somehow... i doubt it.
 
#18
amazing__lobster said:
I read about this today - apparently they have developed an algorithm so powerful, lag is something like 1000 of a millisecond.
3 words - speed of light

Its just not possibly to create a funky algorithm that lets you run the logic remotely and stream video to the client (and control input up to the server) without that inducing lag - quick straw poll by pinging google.com gets me 7 milliseconds roundtrip (that's london PC to a london based server), a random US host which i know to be on a fast dedicated link from my work PC to there... ~70 milliseconds roundtrip.

You really don't want to have to play an FPS with anywhere near that sort of lag - even the UK server lag would become quickly noticeable - the players on Killzone 2 were complaining when that came out and a patch got made to address a bug which induced 1 frame (1/60th second) of local controller lag - that's 17 milliseconds!
 
#19
Controller lag is different from connection lag due to ping though, anything under 100 is perfectly playable IMO.

And the servers will be US based , but if it gets off the ground there will be more installed closer to home , according to the video. It all depends on how many people take to it.
 
#20
Civi_Git said:
Controller lag is different from connection lag due to ping though, anything under 100 is perfectly playable IMO.

And the servers will be US based , but if it gets off the ground there will be more installed closer to home , according to the video. It all depends on how many people take to it.
If you're running the game code remotely then the 2 behaviours act very very similarly.

Bear in mind the microconsole won't be running the game code just a media stream (unless they pay out to the game devs for all hosted titles for significant refactoring of their code), so your controller (mouse/keyboard or controller pad) data is going ... up to the server... being acted upon ... then back down again - believe me you don't want that with 100ms latency.

I know, I've been around a few games (particularly sports titles) that took this approach, and unless you are very very near the host, it really shows.

edited to add : most games your local actor gets to act.. well... locally, and then gets replicated to the other clients either peer-to-peer, or via a server, with varying degrees of authority being held by the server - not something you can do with thin client practically speaking
 

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