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OnLive One Step Closer

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the condensing-vapor dept.

The Internet 175

hysma writes "It looks like OnLive, the remote gaming system that streams HD video over the Internet, is one step closer to becoming reality, according to an article on DSL Reports in response to a lengthy video presentation by founder & CEO Steve Perlman at Columbia University. Perlman demonstrated the UI, spectating, using the service on an iPhone, and other features."

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But... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30591190)

Is it compatible with The Phantom?

I'll believe it when I see it (4, Insightful)

BoberFett (127537) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591196)

Until round trips between the server and client are guaranteed to be under 50ms, the lag will feel unbearable. If someone is playing a racing game and has to deal with a second between the time they begin turning and the time they actually see it turn this service will be dead before it begins.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30591206)

Having used the beta they are giving out right now on a random computer outside of their controlled settings I have to say that their technology works. Don't know what form of magic is involved but it is playable and actually really fun. I am all for the gaming experience being opened up to people without having to keep a bleeding edge gaming rig going.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592386)

"I am all for the gaming experience being opened up to people without having to keep a bleeding edge gaming rig going."

I'm all against it if companies don't have stand alone releases for PC anymore because it gives coporations way too much control over content, I can imagine Nvidia and AMD are not too pleased wiht online (i.e. no reason for a high end 3D card anymore) not to mention the insane lack of privacy. IMHO onlive is just customer lockin and hardcore DRM, I really hope it stays minority.

The technology is cool, but they need to allow you to download the games from online and run them offline (i.e. kind of like how steam allows digital downloads and backup of your games).

Having the option to play unconnected from the mothership is paramount IMHO. I can say is that online is for coporations to get back their monopoly, under the guise of "solving a problem" (i.e. expensive hardware)

Most hardware on the PC isn't that expensive anymore, you can get an entire PC for under $500 there's videocards that will run anything for 100 or less now. Almost all games today on the PC don't need anything more then an 8800 GT.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592620)

having been an anon with absolutely no fact behind it I'm pleased to say that their technology won't work. From a bandwidth perspective it's not even feasible. Even 480P takes more bandwidth than they are claiming for 720p. 5mb/s for 720p? At what resolution, 320x200?

It's all hype, and anon #1 is damn correct.

There are a million problems with this approach, and it'll never work for the next 10-15 years. Someday, maybe, but absolutely not right now.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592634)

*anon is damn incorrect. typo.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30593150)

So someone claims to have used the system, and it's OK, and you just flat out don't believe him because he's anonymous?

Given the complete absence of blog posts etc. from beta testers since the beta started, I have to assume there's a strong NDA, so anonymous posting is appropriate. We should be glad he/she posted at all.

And remember, folks... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592786)

The biggest selling graphics chip is Intel - selling more than NVIDIA/ATI combined.

This could open up 3D gaming to all those people with 'underpowered' machines (generally their CPU/RAM/Disk is as good as yours).

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30591238)

I see this being relegated out to 'slow' games. Where a latency of 500+ms does not matter or ones where you can 'tune it in'. A game like rock band could 'tune it in'. A game like poker wouldnt even really matter... Something like a FPS probably wouldnt work worth a damn.

It still wouldn't work well for rock band (3, Interesting)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591576)

A game like rock band could 'tune it in'. [it=500ms lag]

I really don't think it could.

Here's the reason: suppose I'm to go red-green-blue-yellow-orange-yellow-blue-green-red really fast (say, at the end of the TTFAF intro), and it's one big hammer-on-pull-off sequence which can't realistically be strummed (or the rules of the game have changed so I have to HOPO).

I miss the first green.

I only get to know that I missed the first green 500ms later. I have already HOPO'ed the rest of the sequence. There's no way I can go back in time 450ms and strum the blue I HOPO'ed, undoing the not-playing-correctly.

It's not just that you have to compensate for lag between inputs and outputs. You also have to make the lag inside a feedback loop very small. A minimal lag of 500ms is too much for rock band. ... Even if the audio and video is perfectly synchronous, and the game compensates for the output lag by virtually moving your inputs back in time. The game can never move the reaction to the output, which happens in your brain, back in time to before the output.

Re:It still wouldn't work well for rock band (1)

setien (559766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591986)

Where you get the 500 ms from?

Re:It still wouldn't work well for rock band (2, Interesting)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592706)

I'd imagine he gets it from reality. This service not only has bandwidth requirements but serious latency requirements. We're talking considerably higher than your average hardcore counterstrike player's latency requirements. Ala 60ms pings will be required and unless onlive plans to install itself in every single state, there's no way they'll make that kind of bandwidth.

See, it's not like streaming an application, where bandwidth isn't an issue (nor resolution), and it's not like streaming video, where latency isn't an issue. You literally would need to be on a 100mb/s lan equivalent to get this to reasonably work without bandwidth and latency issues.

It just highlights that our infrastructure simply isn't there at the moment for gaming. Saying they can make 80ms within 1000 miles is a flat out lie. Someone playing in X state with the fastest server 1000 miles away is going to get at least a minimum 200ms ping.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592366)

Well they seem pretty confident they can manage 80ms. If so then it's got a good chance of working with most games, especially with console controllers. I seriously doubt you'll find anyone playing Quake 3 with mouse and keyboard though :p

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592474)

I think there's an issue with lag, and another issue with lag stability. Lag may or may not be handled depending on the kind of game; Variable lag is even harder to compensate for

Latency sensitive people (4, Insightful)

xororand (860319) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591288)

I also strongly doubt that any kind of game on this platform can be enjoyed by people who are sensitive to input latency. For example my old high quality PVA TFT panel used an overdrive circuit to reduce ghosting. The overdrive logic in TFT panels usually buffers about 1 or 2 full frames to analyze and optimize the pixel voltages which leads to about 20-50ms input latency. I for one already notice it when I just work to the point where it annoys me when the desktop or terminal sessions somehow always feel sluggish, let alone fast 3D games.

I can't imagine that the complete round-trip time for sending my input over the internet, waiting for a frame to be rendered and encoded remotely, sent back over the internet, decoded and displayed locally would be less than 20ms and then you'd still have the latency of your display. It might be bearable with a very fast internet connection and a CRT display which has 0ms input latency.

Maybe others aren't that sensitive to latency and can enjoy at least slower games like turn-based strategy with this service. Good for them.

Re:Latency sensitive people (2, Insightful)

xororand (860319) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591300)

Edit: For those who doubt that you can notice such small delays, try this:
- Connect an electronic instrument to your computer and artificially delay the audio by 30 ms.
- Try to play accurately
- ???
- No profit.

Play music? Can't even *talk* (2, Interesting)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591600)

I remember reading in the Time/Life book on the brain that adding an appreciable delay to the auditory feedback you get makes it very difficult even to talk properly. But I'm sure that's old research.

There doesn't seem to be that much on it on the net (or maybe I'm not searching properly). The WP article on Delayed Auditory Feedback [wikipedia.org] has a link to a paper with similar work but it is also from 1979.

Re:Play music? Can't even *talk* (3, Interesting)

bitrex (859228) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591912)

There was an exhibit I remember seeing as a kid at the Boston Museum of Science in an area dedicated to exploring the human nervous system that did this. It asked you to attempt to read a paragraph of text into a microphone while your own voice was being fed back to you via headphones, slightly delayed. I remember it being extremely difficult to read the text properly.

Re:Latency sensitive people (3, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591316)

I tell ya, does OnLive have to make their case every single Slashdot article or what?

Game engines have latency in them... OnLive runs those engines at faster than realtime, so when the packet from your controller gets to the engine 300ms later than it normally would the engine has plenty of time to do its thing.

All this was explained months ago when the technical questions were asked. This article is about the business question: when are you going to ship?

Re:Latency sensitive people (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591356)

Game engines have latency in them... OnLive runs those engines at faster than realtime, so when the packet from your controller gets to the engine 300ms later than it normally would the engine has plenty of time to do its thing.

That's nuts. They can't run the engine out in advance of your input... unless they're rewriting core functionality of the engines, adding prediction like online FPS have. And... they aren't doing that.

If you have a ping of 100ms, you will press a key; 100ms later the onlive server will know you started turning. It generates, renders, and COMPRESSES a frame; sends it back to you. 200-250ms have elapsed. It will be like playing on a machine getting 5-10 frames a second.

Re:Latency sensitive people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30591410)

The 100,000 people in the current OnLive beta would love to disagree with your assessment of "like playing on a machine getting 5-10 frames a second" but they are under NDA.

Re:Latency sensitive people (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591470)

The 100,000 people in the current OnLive beta would love to disagree with your assessment of "like playing on a machine getting 5-10 frames a second" but they are under NDA.

You thought that was a reasonable thing to say? That people that can't describe their experience are clamoring to say I'm wrong about their experience, if only they could?

Please describe how OnLive is possible. Technically, specifically. Include typical ping rate, input responsiveness, and HD video bandwidth requirements. I've never seen anybody do that.

Re:Latency sensitive people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592684)

I have no idea how OnLive actually works, but aren't you assuming that OnLive is doing *all* the rendering remotely? Wouldn't a better system do *most* of the rendering remotely, and then render time sensitive stuff locally? I see no fundamental reason why this couldn't work.

Re:Latency sensitive people (1)

pwfffff (1517213) | more than 4 years ago | (#30593426)

Because they'd have to completely reprogram every game that they feature? Duh? How the hell do you even think that's possible? They locally render the HUD? Do the hitscans on the local machine? It's going to have to keep the 3d geometry up to date and accurate for that, so what's left to stream? The textures?

Do you even know what a computer IS, besides a magic fucking box?

Re:Latency sensitive people (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591416)

Wait; I think I missed your sarcasm, grandparent post. Sorry. I've engaged in conversation with people in less technically savvy forums that think OnLive is possible, and so your comment wooshed right past me.

Re:Latency sensitive people (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591446)

Don't feel bad: I bit too. It's just that there's so little decent trolling here any more that it's easy to confuse smart trolling with dumb earnestness. Also, those damn kids are playing their hippity-hop music too loudly on my lawn again.

Re:Latency sensitive people (3, Funny)

chromas (1085949) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591464)

It's okay. We knew you were already rendering your response in anticipation of what your prediction engine was going to have been expecting him to write.

*!hsoow*

Re:Latency sensitive people (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591580)

China, probably; perhaps Russia.

And salt, not ginger.

Re:Latency sensitive people (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591426)

Gah.. I knew there would be one.

What's so hard to understand about this?

Your normal ps3 you have on your entertainment system at home.. it has a controller plugged into it, right? It has a cable going into your tv, right? Ok, so here we go, you see something happen on the tv, you press the X button on the controller, the signal goes to the ps3, for the sake of argument let's say that signal takes NO TIME AT ALL.. it's perfectly zero. Ok, the PS3 does its thing and the rendered frames that are coming out hit the cable going to your tv.. let's say that also takes NO TIME AT ALL.. so how long does it take for your pressing of the X to result in something happening on the tv?

The answer is NOT NO TIME AT ALL... the PS3 is doing work all the time, it is continually updating the internal model of the game, rendering frames from that model and looking for your input: update model -> render frames -> look for input -> update model -> render frames -> look for input. How long does it take to go from look-for-input to look-for-input do ya think? It's obviously NOT NOT TIME AT ALL.. it's SOME amount of time. We call that the latency. The PS3 doesn't just drop whatever it is doing as soon as you press that X button.. it does a LOT of stuff before it bothers to see if you've pressed a button. It takes SO long that you could send your button press over the Internet and so long as the game engine on the other end of the wire was to pick it up and respond to it IMMEDIATELY you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

This is the *easy* part. The hard part is getting rendered frames from the engine back to you over the complete crap of a protocol that is TCP/IP.. ok ok, it's not really TCP/IP that is at fault.. and it's the best thing we've got, but Quality Of Service? Get outta here.

And those frames are big so you need to compress them.. but all the known compression algorithms *hate* artificially generated images.. and the problems go on and on.

Re:Latency sensitive people (3, Interesting)

barrkel (806779) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591522)

Assume 60 fps, synced with 60Hz monitor. That's 16.7ms per frame, and usually means a target budget of 16.7ms per iteration in the game loop - and input is probably processed exactly once in the game loop. Consider also that many decent displays already lag by a frame or two. So in a local hardware situation, you already have a built-in lag somewhere in the region of 30ms or so, pretending there isn't any lag in the actual hardware path between devices and what the OS surfaces to apps.

Now, given the above assumptions, but factoring in your posited reactive input model (i.e. no delay from game loop), you think that's good enough? The way I see it, it can only be good enough if the round trip averages to less than 16ms or so; and even then, it's not great. I've long noticed the lag in games since moving from CRT to LCD, and I can even see the lag between moving my mouse and the pointer moving across the screen - it's small but perceptible, and is either caused by the mouse / usb / driver path or by the LCD delay.

But I can't realistically see a 16ms or so round-trip being achievable outside heavily populated areas and without lots of expensive hardware very close to local loops. As it is, Google.com is 29ms away from my machine, and it's still slow to download the front page's HTML content - (yes, I know, TCP connection, several round trips, etc.) - on the order of 200ms or so.

It seems to me that round trips on the order of 50 to 100+ms are more likely, and delays of that nature are highly, highly noticeable in twitch FPSes - especially when it comes to things like changing the view direction. Pretty much all multiplayer FPSes don't wait for a server round-trip for changing the view direction. In that situation twitch FPSes will suck.

Other kinds of games may work better.

Re:Latency sensitive people (2, Insightful)

bertok (226922) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591626)

It seems to me that round trips on the order of 50 to 100+ms are more likely, and delays of that nature are highly, highly noticeable in twitch FPSes - especially when it comes to things like changing the view direction. Pretty much all multiplayer FPSes don't wait for a server round-trip for changing the view direction. In that situation twitch FPSes will suck.

Other kinds of games may work better.

You hit the nail on the head right there, the view direction.

Most games do all sorts of predictive wizardry to make the shooting work over internet latencies, but every game allows the view direction to occur completely locally, because even a slight lag makes the player feel like a drunkard. Many games also allow the local client to compute some of the 'game mechanics' locally, and then 'verify' the results with the server later.

Re:Latency sensitive people (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591428)

Uhhh, woosh?

Re:Latency sensitive people (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591436)

OnLive runs those engines at faster than realtime

They've skipped quantum computing and gone straight to tachyon based technology?

I actually can't work out if you're trolling or serious, and that disturbs me. It's either sublime satire, or breathtaking dumbitude. Either way, I'm calling it art.

Re:Latency sensitive people (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591696)

Or its a "Me fail English? Thats unpossible!" situation.

Have you tried it? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592750)

So far this thread is all "Well, I'm sitting here in my armchair and I believe..."

History will judge them, not self-important speculation.

PS: They're aiming at iPhones, not your $10,000 nitrogen-cooled neon-lit gaming rig.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Edgewize (262271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591360)

There's a pretty big difference between "one second" and "50ms". And your assumptions about what is noticeable and playable are pretty much wrong when it comes to console controllers.

http://www.eventhubs.com/news/2009/sep/07/measuring-input-latency-games/ [eventhubs.com]

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

barrkel (806779) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591548)

Many console games target 30fps, and console controllers are very ill-suited to twitch FPS gaming. No serious PC gamer would put up with such a low rate and will certainly the lag more with the richer control setup of keyboard and mouse.

It's really only the mouse (2, Insightful)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591628)

the richer control setup of keyboard and mouse.

It's really only the mouse---you can make a perfectly fun FPS that's playable with the buttons on, say, a wiimote plus nunchuk (one stick for moving, 8 buttons in B/C/Z/d-pad/A).

What's really missing is the fine-grained relative motion of the mouse.

It needs to be fine-grained; anyone who has tried to aim with a joystick will understand why.

It needs to be relative, as anyone having played Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the Wii will know.

Roughly speaking, you point at an absolute point on the monitor plane; your character yaws and pitches gradually to aim at that point, the speed being monotonously increasing in the distance between your current aim point and the target aim point.

What are the implications? Either you point at where you want to shoot and it takes a while to aim there, or you point way past where you want to shoot and you get to where you want to go really fast but move away again really fast.

What you really want to do is overshoot by infinity (or $BIGNUM), then aim at the target point when your character points exactly at it: then you get to your target fast and stay there. This is virtually impossible, and trying to do it is unpleasant.

That's why you need a mouse for FPSs; you can make games that only take 8 buttons, so I don't buy the "you need a keyboard". Maybe specific FPSs require keyboards, and maybe there's really no way to design around that without making the game a different game---I'll buy that. But really it's the mouse.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

should_be_linear (779431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591368)

OnLive is probably expecting to become acquired by likes of Google or Yahoo that have servers everywhere and are able to cut latency to acceptable levels. They only need to prove their system is OK when server is few miles around.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Traa (158207) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591418)

They have been pretty open about latency issues. The server needs to be reasonably close (max 1000 miles) to keep round trip time below 80ms.

I am currently still a believer in this service. OnLive is not for the tiny hardcore gamers market who already have the best (expensive) equipment. I believe that OnLive might be able to get the casual gaming crowd introduced to high end gaming. Think Nintendo Wii target market, with PS3/XBOX360/High-end-PC gaming graphics. This market, not sensitive to the differences between OnLive and running the games native on your $5K gaming rig, could change the adoption rate of next gen games.

I sure hope it all works out.

Dubious (1)

kripkenstein (913150) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592282)

They have been pretty open about latency issues. The server needs to be reasonably close (max 1000 miles) to keep round trip time below 80ms.

Well, they say 80ms and 1,000 miles. But first of all, even that seems a little dubious, for two reasons:

  • 80ms is the very limit of the 'feeling of control' (before the lag gets to be too much). If they are always that close to the limit, noise will make things very bad, a lot of the time. Especially as more and more people sign up for the service (due to both load on their servers, and the network out of it).
  • 80ms is the ping. But the ping isn't the entire story: Events happen on the *server* here, so there is 40ms until you are even aware of them, and *then* 80ms after you respond for you to see your response. That 40ms doesn't exist if the game is doing distributed physics (say, by having your machine 'in charge' of your character), or various forms of clientside prediction. But they aren't doing either of these, the client is a dumb terminal.

In general, OnLive (/GaiKai) are interesting, but to work, they need radical breakthroughs in several separate areas, primarily compression and networking. It is possible they solved both. However, if you had a breakthrough in even one of them, it would be lucrative enough by itself. Whereas they are relying on multiple breakthroughs for their specific product. So, I guess it's possible, but it just seems odd. Add to that the concerns about lag even with 80ms, and something is fishy.

Furthermore, this will be expensive. Even with the 'cloud gaming' model of sharing hardware, they will need at least 5 machines per customer (TechCrunch guesses more actually), which means just for the hardware costs people will need to pay hundreds of dollars a year. Add to that the cost of bandwidth - this is very, very bandwidth intensive, ISPs will raise prices if this takes off - and the other OnLive hardware costs, plus additional OnLive costs for salaries and so forth, and this will not be cheap. Even if this worked as promised, would enough people be willing to pay a large amount of money for it? I'm not sure.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591450)

If my hunch is right, OnLive won't need to be concerned over any TCP/IP stuff. The secret is all in the target market for the service.

My hunch says OnLive is going for a target demographic of -at minimum- people over the age of 80. They have already beat Halo 1,2 and 3 so for them, it is about enjoying the experience again. Latency and round-trip don't enter into consideration. When you pull that game you beat 2 weeks ago and reinstall it, do you care about how good it looks or plays? No! You just want to bask in the joy of playing it all over again. Same thing here.

I'll bet that 100% of Internet users over the age of 80 with an Internet connection can transmit TCP/IP packets. OnLive can confidently target 100% of this demographic.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591650)

I found the presentation interesting and it certainly does sound possible and in many ways exciting, however as a gamer... there are some specific issues. Latency being a huge issue, but also video quality. For example, I play work and play on a 30inch monitor at 2560x1600. The native resolution of my monitor exceeds their services capability. Now many people have different native monitor resolutions, and everyone wants, and should be playing at that native resolution (if they're lcd etc).

So my 2560x1600 native res would increase my latency on their service... and thats even IF they provide such a resolution.

It sounds as if currently, they offer 4:3 SD 720x486 and "HD" 16:9... but he didnt specify which HD resolution that was specifically. I'm going to guess that 1280x720 is the resolution they consider "HD" because of obvious latency issues.

So, how would 1080p effect their latency numbers? How would 2560x1600 effect those latency numbers?

How about dual display users?

The other issue is Image quality...

The Asian student in the video asked about if the service was "lossy" and i think the speaker misunderstood the question because he answered with information about the packet loss mostly... but its clear that this compression scheme is lossy... but how much so? That would be a factor to many users who want the absolute best visuals they can get. In other words, sure some server could be running Crysis at 4xAA but hows it look in their codec? I mean it could negate the benefits of 4xaa and all of that processing power used to render crysis at 4xaa. Again this needs to be seen to understood. I'm sure they have worked very hard at figuring out this problem. It doesnt mean they have the perfect answer to it yet, but i'm sure they have balanced and made tradeoffs as much as they can to provide image quality etc...

BUT... how does it compare to my local system running the game. Thats the big question.

I think resolution is an interesting problem. I dont want to run a game thats "comprsesed video" thats now being scaled up to fill my 30inch screen. I would rather play at a native resolution. Scaling up compressed video isnt ideal in any situation... and my experience working in games and post production leads me to believe that scaling up a compressed video stream just cant look better than my local machine. Then factor in the latency issues. I can get a lower ping easily on my fiber... soooooo a lot of this will all come down to "trying it out"

I'm positive about it though. I find it technically challenging and fascinating that these folks are trying something new, and navigating the hurdles as they come. The service does look to have some very interesting benefits. I think the spectating thing is a great feature. Perhaps someday we will see their codec chip become a standard feature on our local hardware, such as an nvidia chip etc... so we can stream our games to others ourselves.

I like what they're doing but i'm reserved in that i like to own my stuff. I find that we're losing a part of gaming when we go to a server client relationship. We will kill the future classic gaming scene when the server software isnt available to us the gamer, or the enthusiast who enjoys classic gaming.

Destroying the used gaming market... I'm not to thrilled with either. There is something to be said for owning what you buy, or at least the physical copy. I dont think many people are thrilled with the idea of buying something they may not be able to use in the future due to being locked out by some service's disinterest in supporting that old game.

There are still people to thsi day that play counter strike, and they can only do so thanks to the ability to run their own server. The Call of Duty Modern Warfare2 fans are generally pissed off that their "scene" is effectively destroyed by the inability to run their own servers... SO much that they've figured out how to hack the software into a server mode...

I clearly see benefits in this service, but there will be things people need to seriously think about before they give up their ability to enjoy their games as they see it. They, WE... are the paying customer and we should mindful of what we buy into and what we give up.

I still think this is a great idea and it is fascinating.

I suggest they support the ability for a user to resell their game, to another user.

Also as a tech geek / old school computer artist / professional artist... I'd rather personally have my machine doing what i tell it to. I do not personally like being cut out of the tech fun of it all :) There is more fun to gaming than just playing. Having the hardware means you can also learn to make games, from coding to graphics, to audio.... I mean as a kid on a c64, atari computers, first mac, early 286s... thats how i became who I am today professionally, as I'm sure many of you can relate.

So i dont personally enjoy the idea of gaming going the way of the toaster. There is a certain intellectual value in having to learn about what you're doing, even if it is just to play the game... but theres much more to computers and if we do want to inspire others to learn more, be more... having a computer that can do mroe than just be a thin client for games... is certainly more ideal.

Again, I hope people factor in what they may give up in moving to a system like this.

The idea that a MAC user could play a PC game on their mac, or a PS3 (or PS4 even) game on their PC, or MAC... or even Iphone is fascinating.

I suspect that this will have a hard time finding its way into the industry because the industry is more concerned with digital distribution and owning their fans via STEAM, XBOX LIVE, etc like services where they have direct control etc of whats going on. Unfortunately it splinters the "scene" from the gamers perspective...

Anyways if anything this service will find itself sitting along side services like steam, and i think it will probably find its market because there are certainly benefits to it and also... its new and different.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592520)

I'm sorry, but nobody here has any reflexes fast enough to make anything less than 50ms perceptible. Or even 80.

I still don't get why neckbeards continually think they have reaction times faster than 1/10th of a second.

Windows and Mac only (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591198)

There are still no plans to support alternative platforms outside of Windows and Mac which is actually a bit disappointing. Onlive could have knocked out one of the major reasons why many people stay with Windows.

Re:Windows and Mac only (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592332)

I can't help but think that the experience will be inferior to just buying the damned game, or at least renting it from an online service. Best-case latency is alleged to be 80ms, that's unacceptable for many types of game. In the real world, latency will vary and the experience will be inconsistent. When you add to this the fact that you can already get these games for Windows, it becomes unclear just what the point is.

Re:Windows and Mac only (1)

desmogod (792414) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592334)

The fact they are supporting Mac is a huge boon to me. The basic fact is that supporting other OS platforms is going to be a huge PITA for them, OS X and Windows are fairly standardised, trying to offer support for Linux/BSD/Chrome/BeOS or whatever the fuck you run is counterproductive when you consider the percentage that will be using the service over the dramas and added costs it will take to implement.

Games? (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591228)

Why "Games:"?

Re:Games? (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591262)

Yeah remote desktops are the wet dream for outsourcing where I work. Imagine a system where the evil (cheap) foreigners see a video of the actual code so they can't take the revision history home on an SD card and sell it in the flea market for one tenth the real value!

Re:Games? (1)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591380)

Yeah remote desktops are the wet dream for outsourcing where I work.

Yeah sure... replace a low-bandwidth, local application with a remote one that heavily relies on a fast network (and we all know it won't stop evil employees from taking business data where it shouldn't go). Sounds like a losing proposition to me. Am I missing something here, or are your bosses stupid?

Re:Games? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591438)

Yeah remote desktops are the wet dream for outsourcing where I work.

Yeah sure... replace a low-bandwidth, local application with a remote one that heavily relies on a fast network (and we all know it won't stop evil employees from taking business data where it shouldn't go). Sounds like a losing proposition to me. Am I missing something here, or are your bosses stupid?

I think you may be on to something there right at the end...

You're missing ssh+screen+emacs (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591444)

Yeah sure... replace a low-bandwidth, local application with a remote one that heavily relies on a fast network [...] Am I missing something here

You're missing ssh + screen + emacs. That used to work fine on 9600 baud terminals; it should work fine over even a measly 1 megabit intertube. In fact, I know it does; I use ssh + screen almost every day (sometimes including emacs).

Re:Games? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591382)

Remote desktops seem to be the only real application for this; I doubt most fast paced games will work, until we've totally replaced the internet infrastructure. Strategy games and so on might work; but OnLive is trying to pitch high-spec fast-paced games, like Crysis.

I really can't see any way this is possible for action games. I've seen lots of people asserting it is, but never any sort of explanation that describes how they've circumvented all the obvious obstacles. (I believe the iPhone in the video runs at 480x320? Far from their HD gaming claims.)

Re: video as anti-copy protection (2, Interesting)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591528)

If ofuscated text is easily readable (anti-captcha spam bots), text with not distortion at all will be perfectly readable, so if you send video, the other side will save that video (either with hardware or software) and use OCR to get back the text.

Re: video as anti-copy protection (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591936)

And after that you will have to reconstruct the document from the OCR output, which will take quite some time because people don't scroll by nice segments (i.e. by consecutive pages) while programming. And there's another issue, libraries. You can't OCR binary files which you don't see the contents of.

Re:Games? (1)

Paradigm_Complex (968558) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592080)

One of the key selling points of this service is directed towards developers and publishers: no piracy, and no used game sales. Every game played is controlled remotely. With movies or music, you could still record the media, but with interactive games in this fashion it's not possible. The key selling point to end users is you don't need the traditionally high-end hardware needed to play games. For the most part, other media plays fine on low-end hardware (high definition movies being a possible exception, although even that is getting pretty rare).

There are theoretical benefits for games that you just can't get any other way, which don't carry over to music or movies (although I'd be surprised if those aren't also offered on this service). That's why games.

"steams HD video over the Internet: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30591248)

Wake me up when it can be deep-fried over the internet.

Re:"steams HD video over the Internet: (1)

itwerx (165526) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591614)

Gamers think it's really hot!

Re:"steams HD video over the Internet: (1)

itwerx (165526) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591616)

Wait, it's only compatible with Valve [steampowered.com] products?!?

Re:"steams HD video over the Internet: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30591804)

But that's just plain unhealthy man.
You don't want all the health-freaks giving them another reason to bash TV for being unhealthy, do you?

Steamed HD is like the Holy Grail of HD, finally i can get healthy while watching TV! Thank you Santa!

Cloud Gaming? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591352)

So basically, this is Cloud Gaming.

Ok, so in order to improve and maintain a consistent FPS rating (rendered, not just streamed), do you have to purchase "upgrade points". Basically, a virtual hardware upgrade for your virtual gaming rig session?

Re:Cloud Gaming? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591506)

Yeah. Even it if was possible, which I doubt, it would still be a BAD THING (TM). It nullifies the only real advantage PCs have over consoles (modability and independent games), you lose the concept of owning a game... the graphics will have to be severely degraded, so you'll be getting an experience that will be worse than console graphics... it will only work for people that have a fast broadband connection, 99% of whom have fast computers and so wouldn't need OnLive anyway...

Now, if they had pitched it from the start as a "Play PC games in crappy resolution on an iPhone while traveling", it would still be pretty unappealing, but at least it would make SOME sense.

Re:Cloud Gaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30591516)

Don't call anything "Cloud" anything. It's meaningless.

Re:Cloud Gaming? (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592390)

It means utility computing. As long as it's used in that context it's meaningful. It's unfortunate though that a lot of people don't understand what it means so it's constantly misused elsewhere.

Re:Cloud Gaming? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30593270)

No. You buy a game. Or time on a game, depending on the tariff.

OnLive ensures that the game is running on a server that's got enough power for the game you've chosen. If it's Crysis, you might be the only player on a machine. If it's Peggle you might be sharing a machine with dozens of people.

You don't (conceptually) own/rent a "gaming rig". You buy the game, and the gaming rig is supplied whenever you play the game.

Analogy: you buy a meal at a restaurant. The provide the appropriate table, chairs, crockery, cutlery etc.

Ohy not again (1)

Fotograf (1515543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591514)

i know that for investors they need to show some virtual activity, but in the world where 800kB youtube video loads few seconds it is not gonna work for a long time... Even video-conferences almost perfected at this moment have to be crippled in peak times in most of the world, so at least we dont need more /. posts on it

network log: (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591584)

User with 50 ms ping, the optimistic traceroute

0 ms: User see on the screen his car moving left,
200 ms: User press "D" to move his car right.
201 ms: OnLive process the "D" and send the message to the server. The message is on the home router.
251 ms: OnLive server receive the "D" command.
301 ms: OnLive server generate the next frame.
321 ms: OnLive server compress the frame, and send it to the client. The data is on the server router (80KB)
(322 ms: User press "A" to move his car to the left.)
371 ms: Home router receive the data.
471 ms: Onlive download the whole 80KB of data.
472 ms: Onlive uncompress the 80KB of data has 1024x768x16 bits of video data (??) ( compression: 153.6 % )
482 ms: Data is rendered on the screen on the next retrace.

What the user see:
User see his car to collide, press D to move right, wait 322 ms and nothing occur, press A to move left. 482 ms after the first keystroke, the car move right.

Re:network log: (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592230)

Ok, nice timeline, a few points though.

0 ms: User see on the screen his car moving left,
200 ms: User press "D" to move his car right.
201 ms: OnLive process the "D" and send the message to the server. The message is on the home router.
251 ms: OnLive server receive the "D" command.
301 ms: OnLive server generate the next frame.

That all sounds good to me, but remember that the client and the server have a synchronized clock and the button press is timestamped, so when the server gets the message the game is rewinded back to that timepoint, the command is applied and the game is fast forwarded to "now".

321 ms: OnLive server compress the frame, and send it to the client. The data is on the server router (80KB)
(322 ms: User press "A" to move his car to the left.)

I have no idea what you're trying to say with this new command.. maybe you're trying to imply that the user has seen that his command hasn't occurred after 122ms and is now trying something else? Or did you just want to make the example more difficult? I'll just ignore this, as there is no way the user has noticed anything after 122ms and the example is hard enough already.

371 ms: Home router receive the data.
471 ms: Onlive download the whole 80KB of data.

wtf? what's that 100ms for?

472 ms: Onlive uncompress the 80KB of data has 1024x768x16 bits of video data (??) ( compression: 153.6 % )

wtf? 1 ms to uncompress?

482 ms: Data is rendered on the screen on the next retrace.
What the user see:
User see his car to collide, press D to move right, wait 322 ms and nothing occur, press A to move left. 482 ms after the first keystroke, the car move right.

Ok, I'll ignore the move left bit as I still have no idea wtf you're trying to show with that. The user takes 200ms to react to what's on the screen, what makes you think he's going to notice the lack of change 122ms after pressing the button? Even if he does notice he's going to require at least another 200ms to press that button right?

I think your roundtrip time should be something more like 400ms, but whatever, here's the summary:

0ms The user sees something happen on the screen.
200ms The reacts to the something on the screen by pressing a button.
482ms The screen updates to what it would be displaying now if the processing had been done locally.

To evaluate how well the OnLive service works all we need to know is how fast a local gaming system would react to user commands. Let's be *really* harsh and say the local gaming machine could react in 50ms to the user's input. This, btw, is complete non-sense and the OnLive marketing will tell you that it is more like 200ms, but let's be harsh here.. the result of using the OnLive system is that the user sees 230ms of "it's not going!" and then it goes.. and it goes like they had a local system. The perception will be a "jump", if there's any perception at all.

Re: (322 ms: User press "A" to move his car to the (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592284)

The "User press A" is because the problem ocurrs on the clientside wen the player overcompensate. A accelerator can have a delay of 1000 ms, and you will not notice, because the engine have a builtin delay, but If your direction have a 1000 ms delay, your car will move like you are drunk. Withouth "User press A", the experiment is somewhat moot point. The end result is that after the player ask the car to move left, the car will move right.

----

} 471 ms: Onlive download the whole 80KB of data.
} wtf? what's that 100ms for?

downloading the 80KB of data. is that too much / too lite / wrong?

} 472 ms: Onlive uncompress the 80KB of data has 1024x768x16 bits of video data (??) ( compression: 153.6 % )
} wtf? 1 ms to uncompress?

i assume really fast CPU processing. my log is the "optimistic" log.

Enough speculation! (0, Troll)

LS (57954) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591624)

Every damn time there is a story about OnLive or other similar services, you see dozens of messages by people speculating that it's impossible and latency will kill it. This conversation is get BORING. We get your point, and we got it the 500th time we heard it. You all sound like people having a heated argument over whether some comic book character can jump over a building or not. Unless you have tried the system, then STFU. At this point it's just vaporware! Maybe you are right; maybe you are wrong - these guys are working with the big boys - major ISP and hardware providers, and may be working to change the actual structure of the network itself to support the game, as opposed to changing the system to work on the current network. In any case, just wait and see and quit boring us with your armchair network admin speculations.

Re:Enough speculation! (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591704)

I think many are just doubtful, but yeah there fanboys are everywhere. Any geek should/could appreciate what you've said though. These are people trying something new, and problem solving along the way.

Networked life has a long way to go in its evolution :P We shouldnt act like we've hit the destination yet. These folks are trying something new, and perhaps its possible... or perhaps it will be possible in the near future. Either way, these folks are taking steps to find that out. We cant shit on them for that, fail or not... its still interesting and challenging.

I myself am reserved about it for many reasons beyond technical challenges... but It does have benefits and what they learn in doing this will benefit future developments.

Re:Enough speculation! (1)

wintermute000 (928348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591904)

"may be working to change the actual structure of the network itself to support the game"

sorry, that phrase alone qualifies as a total fail.

I have a magic network bullet that does not require ripping up all current standards and infrastructure, which I will use to deliver thin client gaming as my first big bang step. riiiiiight

lets talk about the economics and management aspect of all these game 'servers'.... what a total nightmare... what are all publishers going to fine tune custom versions of their games to run on onlive's platforms? games - apps - that are NOT ABLE TO BE VIRTUALISED with current tech - oh wait, I also have a magic virtualisation bullet which I will use.... to deliver thin client gaming

I will then also use my magic video compression bullet.... to deliver thin client gaming

speak for yourself and your linksys mate, I might be an armchair video compression analyst but as for IP networking and enterprise class server infrastructure, I and many on slashdot am far from armchair, and this is so unbelievably difficult/complex that if they did have all their ducks in a row, I would imagine they would have better things to do than do thin client gaming

like, ooh i dunno, revolutionise bing or yahoo's or amazon's backend in a way that can compete with google, heck get bought out by google, oh wait I'll go for a solution in search of a problem.

it just doesn't add up

Re:Enough speculation! (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592140)

Right, because a small company with no products is going to be able to get large companies ot bend over backwards to make them a profit. Good luck with that.

Besides, unless they can change the network so that it doesn't have to follow the laws of physics, such as limiting the speed of electrons to the speed of light, this is more than just vaporware- its a fraud. And its our duty, as people technically capable of judging it, to point it out so that people aren't fooled into investing time or money on it.

Also, these stories are boring. Anyone with any technical knowledge knows it isn't possible. Stop giving them free publicity until the collapse comes for us to laugh over.

Re:Enough speculation! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592584)

Speed of light is not a problem. When they deploy, they will be close, in networking terms, to their target audience. You know, the magic of putting datacenters close to internet backbone routers and shit. Or are you just trolling? Their service is not going to be worldwide, who the heck told you that?! Your argument sounds about the same as the one about GSM encryption rainbow tables being 20km high in book form. Both arguments are technically accurate, yet completely useless because they don't apply to the actual implementation. Nuff said.

Is this a giant scam? (4, Insightful)

syncrotic (828809) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591726)

I still maintain that this simply can't work, and that it's an absolutely braindead money pit of an idea if it's not a total scam.

Idea: let's take the most latency sensitive, computationally demanding, and visually intensive thing you can do with a modern computer and try to apply the thin client model to it.

A single instance of the application in question will demand the full resources of the most powerful PC you can throw at it, but we'll just wave our hands and mutter something about virtualization to convince stupid investors that we have magic at our disposal. Because they are morons and because we put on a good show, they'll believe that you can somehow run many instances of a game on the equivalent of a single PC. We'll also be encoding 720p video in realtime at a quality / bandwidth ratio that no codec today can deliver; this will presumably happen on the same computing hardware that's already running multiple instances of cutting edge 3D games.

Finally, we'll throw in some shit about the iphone, because people can't stop fellating apple lately.

Anyone who believes this is technically feasible, much less economically viable, is fucking *retarded*.

Re:Is this a giant scam? (1)

Fotograf (1515543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591778)

maybe they want that MMO gamers pay for CGI guys tech to have cloud 3DMax :-)

Re:Is this a giant scam? (1)

syncrotic (828809) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591950)

Wow. Just wow.

Kids, don't drink and post.

Re:Is this a giant scam? (2, Informative)

setien (559766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592034)

I agree that on the face of it this looks like it won't work, but I can see many mitigating circumstances that means it just _might_ work.
I think there's a small chance that they might actually be able to pull it off, and if they do it really is a game-changer.

A couple of things that makes me hesitant to call everyone "retarded" if they don't dismiss this before it has even seen the light of day:
- They are aiming for The Long Tail of gaming, and I think it's easy to underestimate just how gigantic the amount of cash is in this tail
- Not ALL games are hyper timing sensitive
- Multiplexing hardware means the same computer can serve Stan in Portland and Sanjay in New Delhi at different times a day (but admittedly only if there are good pipes or the game is not super lag sensitive).
- Computer power can be spent or sold in other ways when it's not used for the OnLive gaming system (just look at how Amazon has managed to use their knowledge of scalability into a nice side business that doesn't involve books)
- For the most timing sensitive games (1st person FPS), you remove the client-to-client lag, which means the server can run a single cohesive view of the world, and pipe that to the players (so you get rid of one type of lag, which might allow for the server-to-client-video lag with no problem)
- If this gets big or they have good partner deals from the beginning, games might get engineered specifically for this network topology from the game developers side, which might take steps to minimize lag problems (I can come up with quite a few ideas just off the top of my head)
- If the video algorithm is designed for gaming (as it is), they can degrade quality in the video compression in a smart way to keep the lag to a minimum - who cares if the leaves on the trees in your peripheral vision are a bit blocky when you're in a firefight in Crysis)
- They have a few pretty strong industry profiles on their company roster

That said, I am of course also highly sceptical, but I see a sliver of a chance that they might pull it off. And if they do, I really think it will be a game changer (pun intended).

Re:Is this a giant scam? (1)

Kakao (1626933) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592050)

Apart from video frame rendering a modern PC can run multiple instances of a modern game.

Ya I'm having a real hard time believing this (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592106)

The latency problem is of course the most apparent and thus the most discussed but there are others.

One I wonder about is what kind of servers they are supposedly using. The problem is that modern games demand a modern GPU to look good. The kind of processing needed cannot be done on any sort of reasonable processor in realtime. Also, GPUs aren't really set up to work in parallel these days. What I mean is if you try to have a system with multiple GPUs and running multiple 3D games on them, you are going to find that doesn't really work. That sort of thing is coming, DX11 generation hardware is much better at multi-tasking and such, but it requires apps to be rewritten for it and still isn't there.

So what it comes down to is that to run a modern 3D game, well you have to have a desktop system more or less. You need to have a system running Windows with a powerful GPU at its disposal, and it needs to be tasked to running that one game.

Well that isn't a situation I'm seeing as working real well for a hosted business model. You have a whole bunch of individual desktop machines set up that then load up the software and whatever handles the encoding.

If they are claiming they are doing it with "virtualization" then I'm saying they are "lying." As it happens, doing virtualization related things is a big part of my job, so I'm fairly up on the tech. When it comes to 3D with VMs there are two things that are true of every technology that supports it:

1) It doesn't work real well. It is on the slow side, and there are bugs of various sorts. It is for sure usable, but nobody is going to confuse it for being 100% good to go, and newer games are the thing it has the most trouble with.

2) It requires a 3D card on the host. All of the virtualizaiton solutions do 3D by processing the guest 3D calls and translating them in to 3D calls to the host. 3D hardware is then needed to do the actual rendering.

I'm afraid I don't buy that these random guys have a more advanced technology than VMWare, Sun, Microsoft, and so on. If you could easily virtualize a system and emulate full modern 3D in software, well they'd be doing it. Hell, MS would be interested in doing it non-virtualized. Be a cool selling point of a new Windows if you didn't need a GPU anymore.

So the only way I see this working is lots and lots of systems with big graphics cards in them. This I do not see as a profitable proposition, even assuming all the rest of it works flawlessly.

Re:Ya I'm having a real hard time believing this (1)

verbatim (18390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592286)

just one little point:

Hell, MS would be interested in doing it non-virtualized. Be a cool selling point of a new Windows if you didn't need a GPU anymore.

DirectX has a software mode implementation (the Reference Rasterizer) that is included with the SDK. It is just as fast as one might expect (read: horribly horribly slow) but does the entire shebang in software. If you threw enough computing power at it, you could conceptually match GPU performance. However, this begs the question as to how much computing power they can afford to throw at it while keeping costs down enough to, at least, break even (a curse word to investors).

Re:Ya I'm having a real hard time believing this (1)

Truekaiser (724672) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592824)

so they decided on using a data center the size of one of google's to do the rendering job in real time rather then using a data center the size of a house using actual gpus?

I find it funny how some people can rationalize something they wish was true.

Re:Is this a giant scam? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592114)

Have you even bothered to take a look at the video? Just look at the publishers that collaborate with them: EA, ATARI, Ubisoft, Eidos, T2, Epic, THQ & co.
Wild guess: they know something more about the feasibility of this than you do.

Re:Is this a giant scam? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592228)

I still maintain that this simply can't work, and that it's an absolutely braindead money pit of an idea if it's not a total scam.

Well it could work, but only for sedentary games where a bit of lag doesn't kill the experience, it might even offer some interesting scenarios for network play such as pitting one street or town against another.

Even so, the tech just seems to be a bit of a white elephant. Latency does limit what it can do, as will the sort of loads the server at the other end can tolerate. I expect it may appeal to cable / optical fibre networks looking to justify renting some piece of crap device to customers, but I'm not sure why actual users would care for it.

parent is a troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592294)

parent is a troll

Great concept, can't wait to try it (1)

Francis (5885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591738)

Great concept, I can't wait to play with it in person :) A few thoughts:

I'm a little skeptical about how robustly it will perform, but I am sure they will have a chance to prove their technology soon. I'm sure everyone who's played online has dealt with lag spikes, just due to random congestion, noise, route changes, that sort of thing. It seems that this system will be much more sensitive to those kinds of network delays.

One thing that they didn't talk about was really how high latency-sensitive games fit into this framework. I'm talking about timing games, such as Guitar Hero, or games that need twitch reactions like Street Fighter. Players of these games frequently complain about latency that happens between the console and the display, nevermind the the latency of a network. (HDMI decoding delay has made playing these games kind of a pain on some HDTVs) Anecdotally, I notice that in these kinds of games, delays around 5-15ms delay can make a huge difference.

Even still, I think a lot of action games can be very successful on this kind of system. Platformers (like Super Mario, Little Big Planet) and driving games do involve real-time reaction, but the way we play these things, our actions are more predictive, than reactive. ("I'm running towards the edge of the roof, and I'll get these in about half a second, so press jump.... now!") In these kinds of games, our brains sort of "build in" the latency into our actions, so we're not as sensitive to them.

One point that I think they should have emphasized is cheat prevention. On many PC games, there's trainer's, aimbots, all sorts of cheats that make playing on public servers very suspect. With this system, they're reducing everything down to just control input and video output, so the opportunity to cheat in a game is significantly harder.

I have a funny feeling that the monthly subscription fee will be something more than I'll want to pay. They have to deal with the cost of maintaining high-end gaming servers, and what I'm sure will turn out to be an enormous network bill. I'm sure it will be reasonable, because in their model, instead of maintaining my own high-end gaming PC, the burden will be on them to keep the hardware up to date. It will just be more than I want to pay.

Compression? (3, Interesting)

Rufus211 (221883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591764)

I think the most interesting part was the (lack of) answer about how the compression works.

They claim 80ms round-trip latency from button push to image display. Running a game on a server and screen-scraping in ~20ms is fairly easy. With proper datacenter placement and peering agreements ~50ms round-trip ping times are reasonable (if somewhat optimistic). The issue is how do you compress the 720p image and send it back in 10ms with reasonable bandwidth.

They're claiming 1ms compression, 8ms decompression (125hz), and 5mbit 720p streams. The compression is using a custom ASIC, so that's completely believable. Decompressing at 120hz on any generic hardware (they specifically said no GPU help) means it has to be an extremely simple protocol. The biggest question is how do you reach "HD-quality" at only 5mbit when you are not doing group-of-pictures compression (keyframes and diffs from the keyframe). Mind you that a standard DVD is 10mbit, so they're claiming higher resolution with half the bitrate and no keyframing. Obviously H264 gets better quality/bit than DVDs, but it does so by using even more complex keyframing and diffs and is far too CPU intensive for their target platforms (it's hard to watch 30fps H264 trailers on many machines, let alone a 60fps stream). The only hint he gave was some mumbling about visual perception, and the statement that their compression only looks good in motion (if you paused the stream it would look terrible).

Any ideas as to how the compression works?

Re:Compression? (1)

wintermute000 (928348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591874)

Exactly, their compression algorithim will have to be an absolute quantum leap in both quality and cpu efficiency i.e. magnitudes faster than anything else on the market.

And that's just the compression algorithm.

The oft hashed latency discussion aside (and I do believe colo is the only way this will be remotely possible), think about the logistics, how many hours have we all wasted getting game XYZ to run properly on hardware/driver/OS config ABC, now they have to do that for all the games they support.... games that cannot be virtualised.... OMG think of the hardware MANAGEMENT alone. (shudders)

and I love the f-cktards who diss the technical sceptics with phrases like 'change the actual structure of the network itself to support the game' (thanks LS, you're an idiot), if they had a way of 'changing the actual structure of the network' - I'm assuming you mean a complete overhaul of the OSI layers whilst remaining backward compatible with current standards and current hardware.... sure I have a magic network bullet and sure I will use it to create gaming thin clients, coz thats the best possible use of this tech I can think of. I also have a video compression magic bullet

Re:Compression? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30593430)

Exactly, their compression algorithim will have to be an absolute quantum leap in both quality and cpu efficiency i.e. magnitudes faster than anything else on the market.

ISTR a broadcast pro posting that 1ms HD compression was becoming more common on live broadcast hardware. I find it believable, especially (as the GP pointed out) if they're making custom chips for the purpose.

And that's just the compression algorithm.

The oft hashed latency discussion aside (and I do believe colo is the only way this will be remotely possible),

They're entirely open about the fact that colo is their strategy. If you're not near one of their colo server farms, you won't be accepted as a customer.

think about the logistics, how many hours have we all wasted getting game XYZ to run properly on hardware/driver/OS config ABC, now they have to do that for all the games they support.... games that cannot be virtualised....

You're talking as if they get a boxed copy of a PC game and try to coax it to work on their system. It's not that at all. They make a deal with the game developers, who port their game to the OnLive API. The end result is something that *only* runs on OnLive VMs.

You're also selling OnLive to me: "how many hours have we all wasted getting game XYZ to run properly on hardware/driver/OS config ABC". Yep, that's waht drove me to consoles. Something like OnLive might lure me back to PCs.

Re:Compression? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592036)

I think the most interesting part was the (lack of) answer about how the compression works.

They claim 80ms round-trip latency from button push to image display. Running a game on a server and screen-scraping in ~20ms is fairly easy. With proper datacenter placement and peering agreements ~50ms round-trip ping times are reasonable (if somewhat optimistic). The issue is how do you compress the 720p image and send it back in 10ms with reasonable bandwidth.

They're claiming 1ms compression, 8ms decompression (125hz), and 5mbit 720p streams. The compression is using a custom ASIC, so that's completely believable. Decompressing at 120hz on any generic hardware (they specifically said no GPU help) means it has to be an extremely simple protocol. The biggest question is how do you reach "HD-quality" at only 5mbit when you are not doing group-of-pictures compression (keyframes and diffs from the keyframe). Mind you that a standard DVD is 10mbit, so they're claiming higher resolution with half the bitrate and no keyframing. Obviously H264 gets better quality/bit than DVDs, but it does so by using even more complex keyframing and diffs and is far too CPU intensive for their target platforms (it's hard to watch 30fps H264 trailers on many machines, let alone a 60fps stream). The only hint he gave was some mumbling about visual perception, and the statement that their compression only looks good in motion (if you paused the stream it would look terrible).

Any ideas as to how the compression works?

Its not compression as you know it. He mentioned 2 streams, 1 hd stream, and another lower res stream. Both of these are used to provide the result. Also a round trip.... looks like the performance is sent back to optimise the results.

Re:Compression? (1)

micksam7 (1026240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592128)

Near the end of the video during the Q&A, they answered a bit about it. They actually created their own compression, then had encoding custom chips made for it.

Basically, video encoding hardware geared exactly to their new compression.

Re:Compression? (1)

Firkragg14 (992271) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592434)

The op didnt have a problem believing they could compress that rapidly at their end. He had issues believing that people on rubbish computers with no gpu support could decompress fast enough on the recieving end.

Re:Compression? (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592256)

Ya. A universal truth with new perceptually compressed formats seems to be that the more quality you want in a given size, the most you pay for it in terms of power needed to compress and decompress the data. You get trickier with the math and it gets you more for less, but at the cost of calculations.

In fact, you find that some seemingly "inferior" compressions were invented for just that reason. DV is a good example. It came around in 1995 for use in digital video cameras. However, when you look at it by the numbers, it is inferior to MPEG-1, which was already out (came out in 1992) and to MPEG-2 which was nearly finalized. Why then would you want a new standard if it was worse? Well because while it may have offered lower compression, it offered two very important advantages:

1) Better recompressing. DV handles multiple uncompress recompress cycles much better than MPEG in terms of degradation.

2) Simpler hardware implementation. DV is extremely simple to encode and decode, and as such requires little in the way of processing electronics to make it happen.

The second one was really important. Back in the 90s, a hardware MPEG encoder was a rather pricey unit, the kind of thing that you wouldn't be able to put in a low priced camera. So instead a format was invented that used more bandwidth for a given picture, but didn't take as much processing power.

So I know full well you can do HD video in less bandwidth than DVD. I've done it myself. I also know you pay the price in terms of computation time. Takes an amazing amount of power to encode, and not a trivial amount to decode.

Also the whole "only looks good in motion" thing? Ya that would be a recipe for disaster. Games spend plenty of time in low motion. In addition to areas to the screen that have less motion (like status displays) there are plenty of times where a player looks at one thing. In terms of strategy games this happens all the time, but even in FPSes. You are guarding something so you look at one place, etc. If the image goes to shit when that happens, well people are not going to be happy.

I'm afraid games are just brutally difficult when it comes to compression.

I believe in this product (1)

ferrgle (945967) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591956)

And I for one cant wait until they release Duke Nukem Forever on it!

So, their business model... (2, Insightful)

Xugumad (39311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592004)

Is to rent console time over the Internet, to people with enough money to have a PC that will run this stuff, and a fast Internet connection... ...or an iPhone, a platform known for its cost-effective pricing model... ...but don't want to buy their own console, because it would clearly be too expensive?

Of course, people don't want to all play computer games at the same time, so I can see they'll be balancing load throughout the day... erm... or not (and certainly, they're not going to be running connections internationally with latency that's anything less than abominable for this).

In summary: WTF?

Re:So, their business model... (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592564)

Good points, if only I had the mod points!

Re:So, their business model... (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#30593460)

don't want to buy their own console, because it would clearly be too expensive?

Challenge: think of reasons for not buying a console, other than cost.

What about ISP limits? (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592580)

Even if this purple unicorn was possible, giving them the benefit of the doubt that they can pull off everything they claim on server-side, as packets trickle from conglomerate to backbone and up and down the tiers of ISP's, JohnDoeNet Inc. will not appreciate such a surge in traffic if this became popular. Facebook is one thing, but streaming 'HD' video alongside a bunch of gaming data, good luck. I have had multiple ISPs (local and national) enforce a cap on my bandwidth because of comparitively lightweight PC games. I call VaporWare.

I thought the days of using buzzword dot-commyness for the sake of luring investors died ten years ago. Some folks never learn.

Missing the point (1)

spaceman375 (780812) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592974)

All these whiners claim latency will kill this before it ever starts. Guess what? FPS is not the only game category. I game all the time, but latency means nothing to games like Civ4, Neverwinter, and thousands of others. Sure, lower latency is a great goal to aim for, but this platform is a good step towards moving MMOGs onto lower powered clients. The games are just an excuse to extend their reach to more customers in a "new" way, so they can sell them things.

Ready for it to be out... (1)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 4 years ago | (#30593308)

Then all the people bitching about 5ms here and 15ms there and divide-by-fps-so-see-it-can't-possibly-work will either be vindicated, or look like idiots.

Though, you never know - it might be playable by 99.999% of the populace, but not for them.

Either way, I'd love the chance to see. Doubly so if I can pull off my Longest Yard railgun hits.

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