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OnLive's Epic Plan For a New Type of Video Game 137

An anonymous reader writes "OnLive's had a tough twelve months any way you look at it, but as a new profile of the cloud game streaming service points out, throughout it all, service never dropped, and the number of platforms it's on keeps growing. Up next is the tiny Ouya console, but in a wide-ranging interview, OnLive's general manager talks up plans to bring MMOs to the service, and even a whole new type of video game, one that will run on many servers, not just one PC: 'Look at how CGI has changed cinema over the last few years — you can do CGI essentially realtime. It could completely change what a video game looks like. That leads us to new technologies. Then game designers say, "What could I really do with a computing platform that is so powerful but also available across so many devices?" You're no longer constrained by computing power — that has tremendous opportunity.'"
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OnLive's Epic Plan For a New Type of Video Game

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  • by mog007 ( 677810 ) <(Mog007) (at) (> on Monday February 04, 2013 @01:08PM (#42786517)

    Yeah, OnLive isn't constrained by computing power, but they're still constrained by bandwidth.

    Is there a big enough market for their service in the few areas that are able to use their service?

    • Re:Not constrained (Score:5, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @01:19PM (#42786617)

      Forget constrained by bandwidth, the real problem is latency. Unless they can put a data center in every city they plan to service they can basically forget about it.

      • Re:Not constrained (Score:5, Insightful)

        by heson ( 915298 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @02:03PM (#42787063) Journal
        Correct, and they aim for the wrong type of latency demanding games. To survive they must go for games that can handle bad latency. OnLive has a huge potential but only if they stop selling an impossible product and start going for achievable goals.

        Guess: They have sold a lie to investors and are stuck in it.

        • by mlts ( 1038732 )

          What OnLive might do is consider making commodity boxes packed full of GPU power that are made to sit on LANs. This way, game commands for rendering are coming from a server at most a hop away.

          Plus, people would more than pay for central render/streaming server than have to upgrade each PC's/devices graphics card each time a new Crysis hit the stores.

          • The problem is that your keyboard / mouse latency to the OnLive center, and the graphical latency coming back, add up; on a residential line you are looking at ~30ms each minimum, and likely more; this means that each of your input commands is 30-60ms behind what you're seeing, which is itself 20-50ms behind what is actually happening on the game server.

            • Exactly. Local games 'cheat' by moving your character or performing your action immediately, without waiting for the server to say it's okay. You can't do that when rendering is done on the server.

      • I doubt even that would help here in the states as we have seen the ISPs get nastier every year when it comes to caps and throttling. Hell in my area I usually end up paying more in overage charges during the Steam sales than I do for the games themselves, so who is gonna want to use their game service if they end up paying two to three times more than just buying a retail copy?

        Lets face it as long as the ISPs care more about bumping their stock prices and giving their CEOs mega-bonuses than actually laying

        • as long as the ISPs care more about bumping their stock prices and giving their CEOs mega-bonuses than actually laying lines shit like this just ain't gonna fly.

          Does laying lines of coke on hookers' backs count? Because with all that money, they're definitely doing that.

        • Latency (forget bandwidth, its irrelevant here) has been steadily decreasing over the years. I rather imagine that getting business-class latencies for residential customers would be cost-prohibitive.

          • I'm sorry LordLimecat but when you are talking about home users bandwidth very much IS an issue, thanks to the shitty caps that residential customers get compared to business class users.

            When you look at how much bandwidth something like OnLive would take for your average gamer who plays a couple of hours a night they would only use OnLive for a month because once they got the bill for overage fees (most ISPs have crazy overage charges, some as high as $1.50 a GB if you go over and don't move up to the nex

      • by harryk ( 17509 )

        I don't know if you're a current gamer/customer of OnLive's, but let me tell you they've done a fantastic job at solving latency issues. In fact, the only time it's noticeable is for driving games (unplayable quite honestly).

        For other twitch type games, first person shooters Onlive works surprinsgly well. I've played through Red Faction, Home Front, and a few others and they all play very well. Some of the slower games, Patrician for example, play very well on OnLive.

        I won't sit here and tell you that la

        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          Constant workstation upgrades are a thing of the past. 20 years ago onlive made sense, today my 4 year old PC is over the top for any modern game since they are all constrained to the PS3 and 360. This will change with the PS4 and 720 but not again for another 10 years. PCs have gotten good enough.

          If driving is unplayable something like CS would be impossible to play.

    • Re:Not constrained (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wolfhead ( 919963 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @01:19PM (#42786623)
      I live in a major city and have a pretty fast connection, I tried OnLive a bit last year and felt the video stream was still way too compressed. Why have real-time rendering in a game if the stream of it is going to be filled with artifacts and a capped frame rate?
      • Especially in games like MMORPGs, where the players are pretty picky about the graphics of the game since they'll be staring at it for hours on end. It doesn't have to be super realistic (WoW and FFXI are still going strong) but it does have to look pretty and be stylish all the same. I don't know if OnLive can deliver either the crisp realism or good art direction to draw in a true MMO audience. At best, we'll probably see F2P social games. Something like Gaia or Maple Story might work.
        • by Dunge ( 922521 )
          MMORPGs players are picky about graphics? Everyone I know put the graphics at minimum to prevent loading lag.
          • MMORPGs players are picky about graphics? Everyone I know put the graphics at minimum to prevent loading lag.

            Truly 1337 players turn off graphics entirely and play by feeling the 1s and 0s directly flowing over the screen, like in the Matrix. Or something.

        • Farmville, minecraft, animal crossing, roller coaster tycoon, the sims, sim city, chess and other board games, and alpha centauri and other turn based games would all work well. And there is a growing class of causal gamers that play those style games.
          • Since you can play farmville-level games for free directly in facebook already, they'd have to do something really clever to make their service appealing to such casual gamers.
    • by robthebloke ( 1308483 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @01:19PM (#42786625)
      But if you're not constrained by computing power, you could do all of your 3D rendering using a real time ray-tracer written in Java Script!
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      if he can't make the finances work by renting one pc for a guy.. how the fuck is he planning on making the finances work by renting some guy five pc's worth of hw??

      where it would have an unique angle would be on massive real time action, with all pc's meshed on a fast connection between each other up and no chance of cheating.

      nobody fucking cares about his pr shilling. get some meat on the story. "You can do CGI essentially realtime." NO SHIT SHERLOCK - I'm doing CGI realtime right now on this pc in backgro

      • Re:Not constrained (Score:4, Insightful)

        by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @01:47PM (#42786901)

        if he can't make the finances work by renting one pc for a guy.

        This is the best question about their whole business model. The stereotypical gamer is supposed to be a lumbering herd animal, right? Everyone plays the same game at the same time together online? So you can't make money off over subscription. So instead of the user directly financing a gaming PC, they'll intermediate themselves in between that transaction by providing .... Um...

        I can't see the health club model working either, where you get people to sign up for new years resolution and then never see them again.

        So when you strip away the tech angle, what is their business model exactly?

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          I suspect it was "selling ultimate DRM to publishers".

          Then publishers noticed what kind of turd it was and pulled the financing.

      • Yeah, I never really thought about it like that, but it's probably one of the reasons it won't work that well. Most people willing to pay monthly to play games probably will want to play multiple hours a day. Which means that they'll be usually a large portion of the machine's resources. Very few people are going to play a monthly fee and then only play games for a couple hours a week.
        • I think it would almost have to be ...

          1) Make streaming video game service
          2) ???
          3) Profit

          For me, a cloud based gaming service is a non-starter. I play video games only infrequently, and have recently disconnected my XBox from my network because I was starting to see ads in games.

          Combine that with paying for your network bandwidth, and I can see a lot of people deciding they're not interested.

          • exactly. the compromises for all the network bandwidth costs are enormous. I don't think people realize that if you really wanted a quality onlive-equivalent experience it's probably going to be $50+ a month, which could easily translate to a high end computer every 2 years.

          • I knew things were bad when a dragon in Skyrim asked me to bring him a cool, refreshing Coca Cola.

      • of course that would post likely bring half the Internet to its knees but hey a guy can dream.

        (challenge for an animator create a tummy rub animation that can be used with the WereHouse Dire Wolf)

      • You can do CGI essentially realtime.

        NO SHIT SHERLOCK - I'm doing CGI realtime right now on this pc in background! sure, it's some shitty old gold box rpg game but realtime cgi none the less.

        It's at times like these the depressing conclusion dawns that the (decidedly) non-technical press will redefine CGI to mean Cinematic-quality Photorealistic Computer-generated Image[ry|s].

        Well they can keep it. CG was good enough for me as a two-letter abbreviation, and it'll never sound right to add that redundant "I" on the end.

    • Not just bandwidth, but ping time. Ping times are a big enough problem when the controls show the results in real time on your screen but it gets updated a little later on the screen of the guy you're playing against. But with the way OnLive works, your controls have to to the server and then back to you before the image updates on your screen. Certain types of high-twitch games will completely not work in this environment. But the kinds of games that won't work on this environment are exactly the type of
    • Don't forget network latency...lag will become far more furstrating, and affect your single-player games as well!

    • actually they're constrained by relevance - mostly a lack of.

  • Why would I want a cloud game streaming service?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Because it's got cloud in it... that's where it's at, mate... And by a stroke of luck, rainy days, when there are more clouds, is when people game the most...

    • Why would I want a cloud game streaming service?

      Precisely. We have such powerful GPUs inside our consoles and computers, but they want us to have things rendered remotely along with the added latency? I'm sure it's great for developers who don't want customers illegally uploading copies of their games, but how exactly does it benefit consumers?

      What a pointless waste of good bandwidth.

      • I'm sure plenty of people have low-end computers but, taking a stab, even integrated Intel graphics are capable of rendering OnLive's 720p resolution with ease. Of course integrated graphics will only improve, and while OnLive's rendering can take advantage of the same technology increases, I suspect that 'advantage' will become increasingly redundant, leaving only the convenience of not having to muck about with game installation.

    • by grumbel ( 592662 )

      No need to download and install a game, it's ready to be run in seconds. It's also platform independent, so you can play the same games wherever you have a screen and an Internet connection.

  • History (Score:5, Funny)

    by WilyCoder ( 736280 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @01:10PM (#42786545)

    That's funny, I read the title as "OnLive's Epic Plan For a New Way To Screw Its Employees"

  • by medv4380 ( 1604309 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @01:19PM (#42786631)
    This is defiantly going to be Epic. Probably not in the way they are thinking though. We're in the middle of the Next Great Video game crash, and all we're missing is an Epic Fail like ET. Someone, unexpected, needs to roll snake eyes already.
    • I think the next ET will come from EA, you look at how much money they are shoveling to their triple A titles like Dead Space 3 and they are quickly getting to the point that they will have to sell more games than there are players of a specific genre just to break even. My guess is EA is gonna crank out some $150 million plus triple A title and have it so spread out, trying to cover every possible demographic for "mass appeal" that it'll appeal to nobody and go down in a giant ball of flames, just as Atari
      • If I were to bet I'd have two picks. First, if Windows 8 and Office 365 panic investors, Ballmer could be removed, and his replacement may have a mandate to remove any losing divisions and focus on getting Windows and Office back in line. That is unlikely, but if it were to occur MS backing out of the Console market rapidly could trigger a crash. Activision/Blizzard is my number 2 pick. They already have a bunch of Short sellers circling them. Too much revenue is bundled into WoW and CoD, and the moment eth
        • Well I think you are wrong on MSFT, not that investor panic might get Ballmer booted from the big chair, that is possible (although I am not sure if its even possible to "boot Ballmer" as I don't know how his and Gates shares are set up, if like Brin and Page they have supervoting shares or just regular shares) but the part I seriously doubt is them getting out of consoles.

          The Xbox line has been profitable for a couple of years now, the XBL income is a steady revenue and from all reports the hardware for t

  • It's too bad Onlive will be the "prodigy" of online gaming services. By that I mean, early to the party, home in bed before it gets started.

    The delta between quality of graphics, render times and bandwidth to send completed frames is getting smaller ever day. I just don't think it's where it need to be for anything beyond local broadcast.

    What we will see is road gaming using a user's local console first. Cloud needs to be everywhere before we can outsource the frame generation to a laggy internet-shared ba

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I never purchased anything from onlive because the pricing wasn't competitive with steam/amazon/greenmangaming/etc.

    I would have expected the pricing to be even cheaper because I don't have a copy of the files locally in case they go belly up.

  • I must confess, I still don't get OnLive. Sure, you can have powerful hardware rendering immaculate frames, but then you have to use lossy compression to get those frames to the screen, so you probably end up with inferior visual quality (and a subpar framerate.) Not to mention the latency concerns others have mentioned here-- OnLive might be fine for a single-player game, where there's only one round-trip, but a multiplayer game? Not a chance.
  • Mid-range hardware is insanely cheap these days and will play all but the most high end games. Even tablets and smartphones can handle some pretty intense gfx. The next gen of consoles looks like it won't even be trying to push the envelope on performance because it is already good enough. My gaming rig is about 4+ years old and I'm pretty happy with it. Why exactly would I want to push rendering into "the cloud"?

    If they can produce a kick-ass game that cranks everything to 11 with no lag, it might gen

    • Mid-range hardware is insanely cheap these days and will play all but the most high end games.

      It'll probably even play high end games if you play with the settings. Of course, to people who need to crank up the AA to the highest it'll go and have max settings, this probably isn't acceptable...

      Gaming in the cloud is good if you don't like owning property.

      • Gaming in the cloud is good if you don't like owning property.

        You're trying to sex it up by implying that it's either for (a) dedicated anarchists living off the grid as they work to subvert the system or (b) gangsters/drug dealers/spies who don't want to leave a financial trace that could convict them.

  • The interesting part of this, to me, is the potential to have both a larger and more intricate physics simulation. Essentially you would be distributing the physics across many processors, then player interactions would be fed into that. Thus there would be a single physics simulation occurring for everyone, instead of the more typical method where each client is performing its own simulation on local objects and simply reporting back to the server the raw position of various affected entities.

    Whether the

  • I think this is a smart move by OnLive.

    My experience with the service showed the technology worked, but the pricing model sucked. There was no way I was going to pay almost full price for a game I don't actually own. It would be like Netflix asking $19.99 for every movie you wanted to stream. A monthly fee for all you can eat would have been much better. Of course OnLive was at the mercy of the game publishers who, I'm guessing, didn't make a Netflix-like business model possible.

    If OnLive can get games prod

  • To me this is like the worst case scenario. Bad enough that OnLive might make an otherwise good looking game look and play like shit, but now they're going the rest of the mile and saying that games should be changed and designed for the service.

    No, OnLive, go fuck yourself. Your idea will never work technically or logistically and you need to hurry up and die.
  • Amazing native image is useless when streamed with compression to 60% of the quality.
  • by killdashnine ( 651759 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @03:44PM (#42788207) Homepage
    With NVIDIA entering this market, how relevant is OnLive?
  • by hierophanta ( 1345511 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @04:30PM (#42788731)

    you can do CGI essentially realtime

    So, wth have video games been doing thus far?

  • The only reason I would go for this over the game running on my local machine is that it could make it much more difficult to cheat in multiplayer games.

    Lie 'aimbots' that read the games state, and fake input to automatically shoot opponents; 'warping', where fake movement commands are sent to the server; 'wallhacking' where obstacles are rendered transparent, etc.

    Some automation would still be possible, with image recognition and virtual input device drivers, but at least the bots couldn't do anything the

  • It's better than the original because I sell it over the internet.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann