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OnLive allows modern video games to be played without a traditional home console or a powerful PC

OnLive, a company founded by internet entrepreneur Steve Perlman, demonstrated its new video game delivery service at this year’s Game Developer Conference 2009. OnLive is a new system that deviates from the traditional way in which video game content is delivered and played using consoles and PCs.

OnLive games are not played off of media disc or local hard drive installs, but are instead processed on OnLive servers and delivered via broadband to the player using a low cost "micro console" or a low end PC or Mac.

The “micro console” is a small, low-cost device that does not contain a GPU and acts only as a video decoding control hub. The device will have two USB inputs and support for four Bluetooth devices, it will output audio and video via optical and HDMI connections.

In theory mainstream games such as F.E.A.R. 2, Bioshock, Far Cry Warhead, and Prince of Persia will be playable without the need of a powerful video game console or computer. The heavy processing will occur on OnLive’s servers and streamed back to the game player.

According to Kotaku, OnLive uses patented video compression technology combined with a system designed to compensate for lag and packet loss. OnLive will deliver video at up to 720p resolution and 60 frames per second. The Kotaku article states for standard definition television quality, a broadband connection of at least 1.5 megabits per second is required. For HDTV resolution, a connection of at least 5 mbps is needed. The OnLive technology is claimed to have a ping of less than one millisecond for video feeds.

The main benefit of OnLive is the need to have a powerful system locally is eliminated. Local installation of games is not necessary and hard drive storage space is no longer an issue. The power of the local system dictating the type of games that can be played would become less of an issue.

According to Kotaku the Crysis Wars demo of OnLive worked well enough in a controlled environment. Major game companies such as EA, Ubisoft, Take-Two, and Eidos have signed on and partnered with OnLive. A subscription based system for the OnLive service is planned and the company is currently searching for beta testers via their company website.

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Saw this
By FITCamaro on 3/30/2009 9:43:45 AM , Rating: 0
I saw this before. While it is an entertaining idea, I don't see how its possible that you can instantly play a 20GB game over a standard broadband connection without any lag. Maybe if the entire country had FiOS.

These kinds of promises have been made before. I also don't see Sony and Microsoft taking this lying down. They own a huge range of their own publishers. And aren't just going to give up the console market either.

I forget the name of it, but I know there's a service out there that does on-demand games but its all older games.

RE: Saw this
By Alpha4 on 3/30/2009 10:07:15 AM , Rating: 2
You might be thinking of Gametap, but that is completely different.

This service streams the final rendering, one frame at a time, through the internet. It doesn't stream game content, so the size of the original media is irrelevant.

RE: Saw this
By therealnickdanger on 3/30/2009 11:58:40 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah you're thinking of Gametap which is totally different. Here's how this service works:

1. The game is run and rendered on a server at a remote location.
2. The box sends your controller input to the server.
3. The box receives a video/audio feed of the action from the server to your TV.

It's actually very awesome - you don't need to worry about graphics cards or consoles or anything, just a monthly fee (like Netflix). However, latency and visual/aural quality will take a hit compared to playing a game on your PC or console. We'll know how bad/good it is once it is released.

RE: Saw this
By FITCamaro on 3/30/2009 1:02:33 PM , Rating: 4
Yeah I realize what it does (just worded it badly). And what I'm saying is that I don't see how they can possibly do this with no lag. I mean look at the process this follows:

1) you press a button in a game
2) the box/your PC sends that input to the server
3) that server routes it to a system (be it PC/360/PS3 whatever)
4) the console processes it and you have a visual output
5) that output has to be compressed
6) it gets sent back to you
7) that output has to be uncompressed
8) you finally see the output

Now with your own system, all that stuff happens in a few milliseconds at most. There's no way they can do all that in the same amount of time over the web and maintain the quality of gameplay. You're going to have input lag. You'll press the thumbstick to the left to move left, and a second later you'll actually do it.

RE: Saw this
By therealnickdanger on 3/30/2009 2:11:55 PM , Rating: 2
I don't see how they can possibly do this with no lag

Exactly. That's why it will NEVER work, unfortunately. Even at its best, let's assume you achieved a constant 25ms
"ping" with the server. That means 50ms overall. But lets create a realistic scenario:

You're running down a hallway and you spot an enemy. Well, by the time you see him, it's already been 25ms. Then you shoot at him, that's another 25ms. Then you get visual confirmation that you're hitting him or kill him - another 25ms. I mean, we haven't even factored in display latency or compression/decompression latency.

You could be looking at a quarter to half a second of delay for a typical user. I'd love a system like this if it could truly work "as advertised" but I don't think it will happen. :(

We'll see!

RE: Saw this
By therealnickdanger on 3/30/2009 2:14:17 PM , Rating: 2
I just imagined playing Ninja Gaiden on a system like this. You would die on Easy-mode almost 10 seconds into the game. LOL

RE: Saw this
By Alpha4 on 3/30/2009 6:54:21 PM , Rating: 2
I believe "ping" refers to the amount of time before a packet is sent and returned, so it includes round trip time. That being said your scenario still applies and the latency would be ghastly.

RE: Saw this
By therealnickdanger on 3/31/2009 9:49:40 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Saw this
By monomer on 3/31/2009 2:49:03 PM , Rating: 2
When this service was first announced, I had read somewhere that OnLive wasn't going to be providing the entire service, but would be licensing it out to other providers. I wish I could find the quote now.

One way I could see it work is that if the rendering was being done at say the ISP's server, and this service was an add-on charge to your broadband bill. I get pretty low pings to my ISP(<10ms), so the entire round-trip wouldn't be as bad as having to to go to some remote cloud server. It still wouldn't be the same as rendering at home, but this could mitigate a fair proportion of the lag.

"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller

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