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New Service Aims To Replace Consoles With Cloud Gaming 305

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-needs-new-hardware-anyway dept.
ThinSkin writes "Imagine playing bleeding-edge games, yet never again upgrading your hardware. That's the ambitious goal of OnLive's Internet delivered gaming service. Using cloud computing, OnLive's goal is to 'make all modern games playable on any system,' thanks in large part to OnLive's remote servers that do all the heavy lifting. With a fast enough Internet connection, gamers can effectively stream and play games using a PC, Mac, or a 'MicroConsole,' 'a dedicated gaming client provided by OnLive that includes a game controller.' Without ever having to worry about costly hardware upgrades or the cost of a next-gen console, gamers can expect to fork over about $50 yearly just for the service. If this thing takes off, this can spell trouble for gaming consoles down the road, especially if already-established services like Steam and Impulse join the fray."
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New Service Aims To Replace Consoles With Cloud Gaming

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  • Caps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot.spad@co@uk> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:08AM (#27310561) Homepage

    It's all fun and games (no pun intended) until you've been playing for a couple of hours and used up the whole of your monthly bandwidth allowance.

    I know that some people have the option of truely unlimited service, but an awful lot don't and that puts this service out of their reach.

    • Re:Caps (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:11AM (#27310581) Homepage Journal

      It's all fun and games (no pun intended) until you've been playing for a couple of hours and used up the whole of your monthly bandwidth allowance.

      Or if you have your video games set up at a family party, away from the Internet entirely, and you don't think an air card or a tetherable data plan is worth $720 per year.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      I'd be surprised if it got to that point. More likely it'll fail before it gets rolled out. I'm guessing vaporware.

      But as far as that goes, I doubt that it's going to take that much more bandwidth than realtime HD streaming. Or in other words, depending upon how much gaming you do it may or may not be an issue.

      • Re:Caps (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:29AM (#27310793)

        Hmmm.

        Anyone else reminded of The Phantom [wikipedia.org]?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NoobixCube (1133473)

          If The Phantom had made it to market (maybe it did, but I know I never saw one outside of a magazine mockup), this is exactly what would have killed it. Such a console just wouldn't survive in a country where ISPs use download caps - or in the case of many ISPs in Australia, "usage caps" or "data allowances" which include uploads.

      • Re:Caps (Score:5, Interesting)

        by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:37AM (#27310891) Journal

        No manner of compression will make up for the attempt to do this live. I think a 50MB/above connection might be realistic to keep things smooth, especially in high action scenes with lots of pixels changing every single frame.

        I could see: part of things being handled client side and part on the server side but then we just head back to online gaming.

        However, even a fiber optics line I'd have my doubts. That is, unless you want to play on a 640x480 screen all day or assume that your internet provider wouldn't packet shape this stuff down to a crawl below VOIP, as someone said a few replies down.

        Where I could see this working is in a LAN environment, make some kind of "xbox360server" to host all the games as basically virtual machines across a lan, etc. However, that obviously isn't cloud in the same sense.

        • Re:Caps (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:10AM (#27311249)

          You seem to be assuming that this service will stream VIDEO to your unit, but with TFA not being too clear on the subject, my guess is that they will stream just 'polygons' to their 'netconsole', which then displays them as video frames. The bandwith needed should be far smaller.

          The biggest difference with mmorpgs is that mmorpg servers send program data to the client, who then does most of the calculations -the hard work- and displays the results.

          Also, many slashdotters seem to assume that mmorpgs require a huge bandwith. I think that's wrong. As a well known example WoW was quite playable using a 512 Kb DSL connection.

          As other posters have said before, the biggest problem with On-Live's approach is the lag, which is inherent to the Internets, and will continue so for the foreseeable future. Most mmorpg clients use lots of code and processing power just to minimize the effects of lag in the gameplay, with mixed fortunes (Go to Dalaran and ask anyone :)

          • by relguj9 (1313593) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @03:56PM (#27316831)

            You seem to be assuming that this service will stream VIDEO to your unit, but with TFA not being too clear on the subject

            Actually, the article is quite clear:

            The secret sauce to making OnLive work is its proprietary, on-the-fly video compression capability. As you're playing the game, the outgoing frame buffers are compressed as a video stream and sent to your local client. Perlman estimates that servers need to be within 1,000 miles of a client, at a maximum, to maintain latencies low enough to ensure playability. User data, such as inputs and commands, will be sent back over the Internet, but those usually consist of fairly small data packets.

            Of course, a broadband connection is required. For standard definition (480p) resolutions, users will need a minimum of 1.5 megabits/sec. A 5 megabits/sec connection will support high definition (720P or 1080i) connections. Initially, the service won't support 1080p or higher resolutions, but that may come later.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ceoyoyo (59147)

              Awesome. So you need a connection that's faster than what most people have to play games at lower resolution than most PC gamers (and many console gamers) do. Sounds like a winner.

              Oh yeah, and it'll blow my bandwidth cap in about forty hours.

        • Re:Caps (Score:5, Informative)

          by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:13AM (#27311287) Journal

          However, even a fiber optics line I'd have my doubts.

          Doing some quick calculations:

          The highest number I've gotten for Blu-Ray maximum bandwidth is 54 megabits per second. I've seen torrents much smaller that still looked good.

          Assuming uncapped, that's actually doable. Fiber is typically 100 mbits per second, and I'm sure some places offer gigabit.

          However, encoding time is on the order of hours or days, and is certainly not live. So the real problem is latency -- take 50 ms from your LCD monitor, plus whatever a wireless controller ads, plus the latency between you and their servers, plus the lag for them to render, capture, and encode, then decode back at the client... that's easily getting up to 200 ms, which I'd consider unplayable.

          Also, unless the $50/year includes games, it makes little economic sense, either. These systems are designed to last some four years or so. A Wii can be had for $160, according to a quick Google; this would be $200. A Wii can work when your Internet is down, or when your internet is not fiber. And a Wii actually has games already -- not as many as its competitors, but some.

          Where I could see this working is in a LAN environment

          Not really. LANs are typically 100 mbits, or if you're willing to spend money on a good switch, gigabit. Same situation as fiber.

          The only advantage of a LAN is, with a good switch, you aren't using everyone else's bandwidth, but if you're proposing this:

          make some kind of "xbox360server" to host all the games as basically virtual machines across a lan,

          That's still likely to be a single port, which means now everyone on the LAN is limited to a combined 100 mbits for their video. It means the concept of a LAN party just got very, very impractical.

          And WTF would be the point, if it's a console anyway? In what way is that "xbox360server" better than a real Xbox 360?

          As for their "no piracy" claim, as a consumer, that doesn't make me want to sign up for the service. That makes me want to go far away, into the open arms of indie developers, who typically ship with reduced or no DRM.

          • Re:Caps (Score:4, Insightful)

            by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:40AM (#27311615) Journal

            Fiber is 100mbits where? Japan? Last I heard of promises were 50mbits, and that even that was the language of "up to" not "actual/realistic". Bluray will truly use 50 megabits a second, not "up to 50". Difference there. so I agree, uncapped. However, how often have you heard of an uncapped connection? We've had capped connections longer than the issues of packet shaping. Certainly not getting better.

            Lans' are 100megabits? Wha? You can buy an 8 port gig switch for 40 bucks (25 AR). [newegg.com]

            Meanwhile, I do agree with the rest of what you said. There is no real improvement here in general, I'm just saying being able to play all the games off a local network with only one host would be nice for consoles which aren't really friendly to that idea right now. Mostly because they're more locked down than any other DRM that exists. It's "you want to play more than 4 people/more than one game at once, you need more consoles".

            The no piracy claim tells me that this is vaporware, really. Cloud computing as a whole is vaporware and it's own form of not so subtle DRM, remote VM's are not.

          • Re:Caps (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:46AM (#27311675) Journal

            Also worth mentioning: Even assuming you've got a magical encoding machine which only adds a few milliseconds to the latency, there's the simple fact that most video streamed over the Internet is done through a relatively large buffer.

            In fact, Flash audio and video (Youtube and friends) seems to just download as much of the video as it can, as fast as it can, and start playing once it thinks it has enough.

            This means it's possible for your connection to drop out completely for a second, or just vary by the amounts Internet traffic typically does, and so long as it comes back in time, your video will just keep playing.

            This applies even to most sane "live" broadcasts.

            Trying to do it actually live, within a few milliseconds, is completely different. The slightest blip in connectivity, which a sufficiently buffered stream would skip right over, is going to be catastrophic here.

            And just in case it wasn't obvious: Buffers inherently add latency, proportional to their size. Add a buffer that can handle even half a second of connection trouble, and you've just added half a second between the time the player says "turn left", and the time they see the camera turn left.

            I mention all of this because I suspect that the reason you'd think this is a good idea is, you've got a Roku, or you've used YouTube, or even Skype, and you've concluded that the Internet is now fast enough to do video. Maybe, but I don't think it's fast enough to do the kind of high quality, live, low-latency video demanded by a gamer.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by PIBM (588930)
            And I believe your blu-ray was still only 1920x1200... What will you do for those of us playing in 2560x1600, on two or three [pibm.ca] monitors, you insensitive clod!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hairyfeet (841228)

          Well from reading TFA(I know, I know, but I got bored) they are talking "Wii level" graphics for everyone that don't have the pipe from hell. But even worse than the caps(where I live it is a lousy 36GB per month) I think the congestion would frankly cause this thing to bring a network to its knees. I mean, can you imagine what just a couple of dozen gamers using this thing during primetime would suck down the pipe? And of course once they started dragging everyone to a crawl the traffic shaping would get c

    • by Jurily (900488)

      It's all fun and games (no pun intended) until you've been playing for a couple of hours and used up the whole of your monthly bandwidth allowance.

      Amen brother. Vodafone UK here, 3 Gb/mo for £20. Broadband is not an option because I move around a lot.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Em Emalb (452530)

      May as well reply here.

      Am I the only one that actually enjoys owning hardware? I like my PS3. I like my N64. I like my Atari. I like being able to sit down in the "man cave" and play games on my large tv without having to plug in a computer to it (other than the PS3) and if I want to pause or scratch my nuts or whatever, I can.

      I have FiOS at the house as well, so it's not like this would be a bad thing bandwidth-wise, but still. No thank you.

  • My predictions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Benanov (583592)

    The 'microconsole' will be hacked to have GNU/Linux and other FLOSS OSs installed within the first few weeks. Hardware geeks everywhere the device is offered sign up for a gaming service only to hack the subsidized hardware and then drop the subscription as soon as legally feasable. ...like every other time someone thought to subsidize commodity PC hardware (or something based upon it) with a subscription model.

    Article also talks about "no piracy because it's not running locally."

    That's cute, I suppose late

    • Re:My predictions (Score:4, Informative)

      by truthsearch (249536) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:09AM (#27311245) Homepage Journal

      It sounds like the device would be a thin client. No local storage and little processing other than graphics, maybe not even local 3D rendering. The device can probably be so cheap that they wouldn't mind the small percentage of loss to hackers. At $50/year they're really charging for the servers and service much more than the client hardware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lonewolf666 (259450)

      I guess the console will be rather low-end (and not have much in the way of mass storage), so it won't be all that attractive as replacement for a "real" computer. OTOH, it is probably cheap to make and has all the connectors required for a thin client in an office environment. So if the manufacturer sells the MicroConsole separately, that might be an interesting "alternative use".

    • by Creepy (93888)

      From what they say, latency won't be much of an issue (they say it will be better than on a LAN), but don't expect 60+ FPS, and I'm sure it will be lossy compression. The idea is to place server farms close to the destination (and possibly dedicating the pipe), eliminating most lag.

      But let's look at real scenarios, assuming streaming video - 480p with 32 bit color at 30 frames per second (like the old, nearly dead NTSC TVs in the US, but using prog scan instead of interlacing): 640*480*4(color)*30FPS*8(bit

  • No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Macthorpe (960048) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:12AM (#27310591) Journal

    Instead of normal online game lag, you have lag between you actually pressing a button and the game responding at the server.

    Even a tiny amount in this situation would make the game 'feel' unresponsive.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Anyone that actually thinks this is viable is clearly a moron, the lag would make it totally unplayable.

      This is just venture capital BS to fool the stupid non technical investors...

      I'm surprised Slashdot are stupid enough to even pick up on it..

      • I'm surprised Slashdot are stupid enough to even pick up on it..

        You must be new here.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by 0xABADC0DA (867955)

      Instead of normal online game lag, you have lag between you actually pressing a button and the game responding at the server.

      Not necessarily. A LOT of lcd computer monitors have 'input lag' of say 50ms (meaning the computer sends the image to the monitor but you don't see it for 50ms after that) whereas lcd tvs don't, and few people complain. Presumably if the game servers are co-located with the ISP you could get lag much smaller than that.

      • Also in a normal online game the time you press the button at your end means nothing... what matters is when the button press event gets to the server. So as long as the rendering server is in the same line of hops (ie co-located with ISP) to the actual game server then you won't have any more than a couple ms extra lag.

        So really I don't see lag as a real objection to this. I don't see bandwidth as a huge problem going forward either... lots of people already have fiber going to their house these days.

        But

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nschubach (922175)

          There's a huge difference between a FPS and an MMO. There are a large chunk of gamers who didn't use wireless mice for a long time because of the input lag. There are those that still refuse to use some of these laggy LCDs for the same reason. You have to "play" the game before you can see it happen.

          I remember being able to run through a Unreal tournament match and hit off head shots of moving targets because I could respond in a split second and had precise control. I was not able to reproduce that whe

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by aj50 (789101)

            Unless the game you're playing trusts the client to do its own hit detection (which would preclude any competitive Internet play), it's the server that disagreed over whether you hit the person, not their client. (although it's possible that some artifacts are produced due to lag compensation)

            The only game that I'm aware of that doesn't do server side hit detection is bzFlag, where each client checks for hits against itself which would make cheating trivial, even if the source code wasn't already available.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by donaldm (919619)

          So really I don't see lag as a real objection to this. I don't see bandwidth as a huge problem going forward either... lots of people already have fiber going to their house these days.

          For those people who have ADSL, fibre or even cable can you answer the following:

          1. Is your download capability unlimited if not what is your limit?
          2. Does your ISP throttle your service after a certain threshold is reached? If so what is your throttle speed?
          3. If you have a download cap do you pay for any excess? If so how much?
          4. What is your average network speed during peak periods.
          5. What is your average network speed during off peak periods?
          6. What does your service cost?
          7. Do you pay for this service or do
        • by Nursie (632944)

          "Also in a normal online game the time you press the button at your end means nothing... what matters is when the button press event gets to the server."

          Not true.

          At least it didn't used to be. Back in *my* day we had quakeworld, which had to be some sort of client/server consensual reality. Your game would feel useless playing over anything less than LAN otherwise. The server kept track of where it thought you were, your input would directly affect your client and then the server would update. A disagreemen

      • by Kamokazi (1080091)
        I think you're confusing pixel response times with input lag. 50ms is a big difference. Ask any online FPS player if there's a difference between a 25ms ping and 75ms. With the LCDs there was very noticable ghosting effect when the pixel response was 25ms or higher. Only when those numbers got lower did people consider them acceptable for gaming, as the ghosting effect has become almost unnoticable with 6ms response time monitors. Even further, quite a few people can tell minute differences in latency
      • If you're using a 50ms LCD to play games, you're doing it wrong. LCD monitors for a few years now have been offered in 8ms and lower response times, down to 2ms. Right now, a 5ms LCD PC monitor can be had for well under $200 in 19" 4:3 or 22" widescreen formats on Newegg.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by marcansoft (727665)

          You're a victim of the marketing. There's a difference between "how fast a pixel can flip" and "how long it takes to START flipping after the computer tells it to". 2ms response time means no ghosting. It doesn't mean the LCD processing won't take over 50ms to actually propagate the change to the screen. In fact, very often, these low pixel response times are achieved using driving tricks and heavy preprocessing, which ADD lag by buffering more input frames.

          Long ago, the complaint was ghosting and blurrines

    • Done correctly, the delay could be on par with the delay inherent in the wiimote - which is noticeable to the observant- but completely doable.

      now, of course, add the wireless controller delay AND the streaming delay and a problem does arise.

      Some games would be more tolerant to this UI lag - but FPS and sim games would definitely be affected.

      A plus side of this in respect to shooters and real-time action games, is that in a multiplayer environment all client data is server-side, making hacking much more dif

    • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by toad3k (882007) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:01AM (#27311147)

      This doesn't sound as stupid to me. Obviously this wouldn't work well for something like an fps, but for something like an rpg, a casual game, a turn based game, some rts's? It would work fine. Secondly there is hardly any upfront cost. Essentially the hardware on your end would be 40 bucks including the controller. That is an amazingly low barrier to entry, considering you might have access to dozens or hundreds of games right off the bat. There will also never be any issues of backwards compatibility, every game will be playable for as long as the company feels like supporting it. There's no cheating, no red rings of death. The only real barrier right now is bandwidth, but for how long?

      I've been predicting this would happen eventually, much to the derision of others, but I didn't expect to see plans for another five years maybe.

      • Re:No thanks (Score:5, Insightful)

        by orkybash (1013349) <tim,bocek&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:43AM (#27311663)

        every game will be playable for as long as the company feels like supporting it.

        You say this like it's a good thing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        In that case, why would you need a server farm to pump out the greatest graphics in the world in order to play a RTS? Most RTS are a few years behind FPS games like Crysis.

        • by Tony Hoyle (11698) *

          They're demoing Crysis on it... Over a (presumably) gigabit LAN with little or no contention... and the press are, as usual, falling for it.

          Over the internet it has epic fail written all over it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        There will also never be any issues of backwards compatibility, every game will be playable for as long as the company feels like supporting it.

        This is a problem in my book. Once I have purchased a console, it's mine forever, and the games I purchased to go with it are mine forever too. My copy of Super Mario Bros. on the NES won't stop working just because Nintendo has decided they don't want to support the game any more.

  • Image bandwidth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yakumo.unr (833476) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:13AM (#27310603) Homepage
    How does cloud computing solve the CPU-GPU bandwidth issues of modern games? Gamers still want to see the game, and at ultra high rez & IQ.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TubeSteak (669689)

      How does cloud computing solve the CPU-GPU bandwidth issues of modern games? Gamers still want to see the game, and at ultra high rez & IQ.

      You mean like the Nintendo Wii?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by donaldm (919619)

        How does cloud computing solve the CPU-GPU bandwidth issues of modern games? Gamers still want to see the game, and at ultra high rez & IQ.

        You mean like the Nintendo Wii?

        I think he means High Definition 1280x720 (720p) and 1920x1080 (1080p) that the PS3 and Xbox360 are capable of not the Standard definition of 720x480 (NTSC) or 720x576 (PAL) the Wii is only capable of :)

      • by westlake (615356)
        You mean like the Nintendo Wii?

        Nintendo was willing to chance that 480p would be "good enough" for the first-generation Wii, with its emphasis on casual social gaming.

        I don't think that is a bet worth taking the next time around.

    • by Zakabog (603757)

      How does cloud computing solve the CPU-GPU bandwidth issues of modern games? Gamers still want to see the game, and at ultra high rez & IQ.

      I'd imagine it does all of the CPU-GPU processing off-site, so essentially your video game is just a streaming video that you can control. The quality won't be nearly as good.

      I think this technology is rather pointless, my computer was mid-level 3 years ago and it still plays the newest games just fine. If the person saved that $50 a year and just upgraded their video card every 4 years they'd be fine. They could even buy a used version of what was the "latest and greatest" or with SLI buy a second video ca

      • by lymond01 (314120)

        Well a streaming video is generally buffered on your system before it starts playing? How do you buffer something that requires your input first and not present you with any lag?

        I'm currently sporting an Athlon 3700+ (single core) with an overclocked-out-of-the-box 6800GS (a great card for its time, but doesn't register on most benchmark graphs anymore). It does indeed play Half-Life 2, Left4Dead, the original FEAR...all very well if not at the top graphics level (4x AA, etc). I've never put it up agains

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Wovel (964431)
      Even the summary says the games are rendered by the servers.... The article will tell you they have a proprietary compression algorithm, which will send compressed video for 480p at 1.5mbps and 1080p at 5mbps, and nothing higher...

      I will tell you this all works great inside their offices, and probably not anywhere else on this planet.
      • I have this unpleasant suspicion that the "proprietary compression algorithm" may well have been pulled out of the same bucket of unalloyed fail that we used to store all those wiz-bang proprietary encryption algorithms back in the bad old days.
  • No No No! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by godfra (839112) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:14AM (#27310627) Journal
    Fuck the cloud! I don't want all my gaming delivered down the pipe as a metered "service". I like owning hardware, and having the ability to play games without being hooked up to a subscriber model.

    Internet gaming is often subject to ISP drop-outs and traffic shaping. Why would I willingly embrace single-player gaming in the same poor environment?
    • by lymond01 (314120)

      I don't want all my gaming delivered down the pipe as a metered "service". I like owning hardware, and having the ability to play games without being hooked up to a subscriber model.

      The other shoe you're all waiting to hear drop sounds a lot like, "Get off my lawn!"

    • Re:No No No! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:31AM (#27311499) Journal

      In other words this is RENTAL gaming, not ownership gaming. I prefer to own games, because I tend to play them for years and years (like Final Fantasy 7 or Pirates). Plus owning a game allows me to recover my money later on through the used market.

    • by Zebedeu (739988)

      Why would I willingly embrace single-player gaming in the same poor environment?

      Because it's both much cheaper and convenient for the average person than the alternative: having all the most recent consoles and the game library.

      Not to speak of other benefits such as:
      1. Not having to risk buying crappy games (even if they had a good demo)
      2. Not having to have n consoles hooked up to your tv
      3. Not having to manage n*x different controllers/acessories, most of them wireless, meaning you must keep them charged

      For me the benefits outweigh the disadvantages (I'm not an avid player), I'm just

  • Internet broadband in North America is really pathetic in comparison to the rest of the industrialized world. Canada and the U.S. are falling rapidly behind in broadband penetration and performance.

    How is this service supposed to work reliably in such an environment?

    • >>>Canada and the U.S. are falling rapidly behind in broadband

      Not really. Canada and the U.S. are on par with other continent-sized federations. In fact the EU and US are essentially tied, not that far behind (4th place) smaller nations like Korea or Japan (1st and 2nd). They are both ahead of larger nations like China or Mexico:

      Korea 18 Mbit/s
      Japan 16
      Russian Federation 7
      European Union, United States 6
      Canada, Australia 5
      Brazil, China 2
      Mexico 1 Mbit/s

      And if you prefer to look on a state-by-state

  • How about user maps and mods and LAN play?

    talking about lag LAN play is still much better then on line play even if you have a low ping.

  • If the far-end is doing all the "hard work", that makes the front-end nothing more then a dummy terminal. How on earth do they expect to stream that kind of imaging data to every console? It's a little differnt when it's TV and you're sending everyone the same thing. I can't even imagine how awful the latency will be. On consoles you don't notice it *as* much because it all looks real-time on your screen, even though you might be a half-secon behind the server, but with this, that delay would be transl
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @10:16AM (#27311337) Journal
      Depends on how dumb the front end is. Remote OpenGL is quite usable. OpenGL inherently has a client-server architecture. In the most common use, the server is on the graphics card and the client is on the CPU, but you can put the server on a different machine (and a lot of people do) and still get good performance. I ran GLQuake over a (shared) 10Mb/s network a few years ago and it performed quite well. This would work okay on the kind of asymmetric link you get at home, because you're pulling down lots of data (textures, geometry, and so on) but only sending up simple events (mouse moved, key pressed). If the client is just an X server supporting AIGLX with a decent local GPU, then this is feasible. The 'microconsole' could just be a simple *NIX system running X.org and a simple local app for connecting. X.org already runs on OS X and Windows, and so the same code could be used on all platforms.
      • In this case, the front end seems to be pretty dumb. While TFA does not give the exact specs of the hardware, the small size and the micro USB power connector imply that there is no "decent GPU" available. I guess the microconsole has hardware acceleration for decompressing MPEG-2, or at best those parts of MPEG-4 that are necessary to stream audio/video. TFA also states that all the rendering is done server-side.

  • How much bandwidth does it take to stream down my extra 8 gigs of RAM and 2 gig Nvidia 198000 GTXZZZ video card to play the latest Cry engine games?
  • They want me to pay $50 a year for it. Then they want me to pay for games separately (assuming Steam is supposed to join) via download. This sounds exactly like the current XBox model. What is different or revolutionary about this?

    On top of that, the games already stretch the hardware to the limit, so where are we getting this extra computing power?

    How do they exactly plan on getting over the graphics rendering and control response hurdles that do not respond well to lag let alone network lag.

    This is fai

  • At a modest resolution of 1024x768 and a playably smooth 25fps, we're talking 20Mbps bandwidth uncompressed. Adding compression to the mix will reduce the overhead sure, but seriously sacrifice the image quality. I don't believe the internet infrastructure could support more than even a handful of gamers in the same street playing lag free, not to mention being totally prohibitively expensive for those on metered or 'traffic shaped' broadband solutions. It's a nice idea (old) idea though.
    • Modern LCD panels are 1920x1280 @ 60FPS, so let's increase your numbers a bit.

    • by jibster (223164)

      Quick Calculation:

      1024 x 768 x 25fps x 32bit colour = 629,145,600 = 629 Mps

      24 bit colour gives 472 Mps

      16 bit colour gives 314 Mps

      or am I missing something really sill?

      • Yes. My current ping to Google is 400ms.

        Good luck selling me online game.

        Scratch that.

        Good luck convincing me to play one for free.

        Err, no, try again.

        Good luck guessing how much you would have to pay me to play one.

  • by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday March 24, 2009 @09:31AM (#27310819)

    I love how their network diagram in that article states "Low-latency HD video". As if it's a new technology. Wow, you have low-latency! I didn't even know that was out.

    This is a pipe dream until they can prove this works. I want to see physical tests, not PR.

  • 640p games will be a thing of the past.
    Finally game designers will be able to select larger world size, add more monsters and use HD texture sizes.
    • by flitty (981864)
      Too bad you'll only be watching a crappy Youtube Quality video (an HD Youtube quality if your pipe is big enough) of those high rez textures. If you are worried about 640p vs 720p vs 1080p, move along, this isn't the console you're looking for.
  • Am I the only one who's tired of hearing that buzzword being thrown around like it actually means something?
    • I was looking for somewhere to attach this comment, and you're it.

      "Cloud" is the modern term for a mainframe, time-sharing-like model.

      One advantage is that your data lives on a server somewhere, meaning someone else is responsible for backup, and you can access it from any "terminal" (typically a web browser, but could also be things like the Steam client).

      Another advantage is a potential pricing model for developers -- Amazon EC2 charges per hour of server time used, at a very flat rate. If you only use an

  • It's like Sega Channel 2009! Sweet.
  • I'm sure that this new system from Microsoft will work flawlessly with my PS2 running Lunix!!!
  • by MrKaos (858439)
    It's almost like X11 for games in the home. I wonder if X11 and OpenGL would be fast enough to do this and the latency/bandwidth of DSL lines be handled for the games?

    I got a sense of vapour product from the article - but I'm tired so I might of missed something.

  • Time will tell ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gordguide (307383)

    Lots of comments here about potential roadblocks, stutters and genuine questions about viability. I'll leave that to everyone else, and just say this:

    If this works (and time will tell), for fifty bucks a year, all in, I'm buying. It's that simple.

    And so will everyone else. Like I said, maybe there are issues ... I don't know. But there is a huge potential for a paradigm shift here, and let there be no doubt that these guys will have all the heavyweights breathing down their necks. Lawsuits on one side, comp

  • by ledow (319597)

    I realise I'm oversimplifying this a bit but what you're suggesting is:

    Games over VNC. (or other similar technology, e.g. RDP, X-Windows protocols etc.)

    Okay. No problem with that. You can even do 3D acceleration with local hardware running remote programs, vice versa and all sorts of fancy stuff. The problem, though, is the next logical step they have taken:

    Games over VNC via the Internet.

    Not being funny but on a bog-standard DSL business line communicating with a bog-standard DSL consumer line, if my V

  • or the bandwidth/lag of this but rather, how does it compare with something like Corquet [opencroquet.org] that's a decentralized version, and how soon can we make something like .hack [wikipedia.org]'s The World.

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