OnLive just has been publicly launched – right after the conclusion of E32010. I registered to OnLive’s Founding Member program a few months ago, a month later, I got qualified. When the service launched, it took Onlive a week just getting californians (myself included) activated. It was a first-come, first-serve basis. No one is cut in front of the line.
When I installed it, I had problems with installation; my anti-virus/spyware suite caught the download of the client as a “threat” – so I couldn’t play for a while. I tried going into the Onlive website, and downloading it again – I bump into yet, another problem. Onlive doesn’t recognize me as a customer [more here].
I sent a support e-mail, no e-mail back, but instead, the service was improved a week later. They updated the service’s firmware. This resulted in better and smoother program progression. So, I ran the installation again because I found setup STILL in my folder – hm, strange. I thought my virus/spyware suite deleted it. I went ahead and allowed OnLive’s installation, and lo and behold: ONLIVE IS WORKING!
Okay, so, what is OnLive?
OnLive, Inc. is advertising the service as “OnDemand for the video game industry.” But it isn’t different from what Microsoft is providing with their “Games On Demand” or Xbox Live’s Marketplace or Arcade services. The PlayStation Store provides the same thing, as well. What’s so special? Welcome to Cloud Gaming.
What is Cloud Gaming?
Cloud Hosting is nothing new, its been a trend that’s been happening for quite some time. Its been growing since the inception, but nowhere near the mainstream acception yet. This could change once OnLive proves that the business model that its been providing for two weeks now – is a profitable business. OnLive’s hidden agenda is to make Cloud Hosting a mainstream business. Everyone is still using regular servers right now, and its not changing anytime soon, unless OnLive markets its service as a high quality product. And that they make the point that cloud hosting is best for products that require a lot of processing power. For example, those iphone games that use an intensive amount of 3D programming? Those will be changed to cloud hosting if Apple or any of its 3rd party developers wishes to go the extra mile to provide games that is of Dreamcast-quality, or close to PS3/Xbox 360 specs. iPad will get the same treatment.
If Apple wants Modern Warfare on its iphone, or ipad, its going to need either a massive, massive amount of servers to hold that many users at once while providing the same graphics quality that is already in COD4/MW2 or get cloud hosting that will handle both without lag problems.
Let me put it another way so that you can understand why Cloud Hosting is both powerful and important for Onlive games. Lets say OnLive wants blu-ray movies on its servers and millions of people download those movies at once – [when you download from a clouded server it’s instant] the server(s) won’t falter because you’re actually “streaming” the cloud. Whereas when you download blu-ray HD movies from a regular server, you’re going to have to sit through an hour’s worth of ‘loading’ screen (something that gamers are wary of) if you’re on cable, but on DSL and other connections it could take a little longer. Do you understand the difference?
Okay, so how’s OnLive?
Once you start OnLive, you will be treated to a really cool loading screen – one that is seamless. It goes from something that looks like a movie, to an interface of your account. At first, I didn’t believe it could be possible, because it’s something that it looks like something Microsoft is capable of doing. Which is impressive for a small incorporated company. The first thing you will notice is that the graphics is simple, but smooth, as if it was a PS3 interface. When you start going into other sections of the service you will be amazed at how smooth literally, EVERYTHING moves. Everything.
When you move the cursors over something else, it pops out, and at 60fps. Once again, this is something a console should be doing right now. Now, let me get into the interesting features of the service.
The best thing about looking around in the onlive service is seeing EVERYTHING happening all at once – as if I’m watching thousands of tournaments at once. I feel like I’m at a bar, or a super bowl celebration, or a world cup celebration, an exciting event where everyone is spectating other teams kick each other’s nuts or something.
What is it: When you’re playing, whether it be single player, or multiplayer – others have the option of watching you play, this is called “Spectating.”
Comments: This section of the service will get a lot of attention once there is enough customers registered and are players. I see this being used a lot during tournament games. I said it at a forum called OnLiveFans, and I’ll say it again: One match may very well become the most legendary match of all time. Because Onlive supports Mac, PC, IPhone, IPad, the upcoming Onlive MicroConsole – I see this section as the “youtube” of gaming. This means, that if you have thousands of thousands of fans – they can find your arena, and spectate your match.
This Arena seems reminiscent of what we saw in a movie called “Gamer.” One day, OnLive or another company will stream your match on a New York television screen.
OnLive Brag Clips
What is it: It records the last 5 seconds of gameplay. If you want to make a brag clip – it’s alt + b, if you happen to a have an Xbox 360 controller for PC: Hold the Xbox button and press “B.” You can have 10 to 15 brag clips per account. So, use them wisely.
Comments: People are using brag clips for ridiculous reasons, and there is a backlash for these types of people. Some are saying its useless. But I find it the best thing about the service because it can show what a great player you can be.
Well, looks interesting, how about playing the actual games?
In the current state, the service has some hiccups here and there. But overall, its impressive that I can play Boarderlands from my browser without having to install the actual game. I can play the game as if I was playing the actual PC game.
What problems are there so far?
In my initial playthrough, I experienced a lot of stuttering from Onlive – I thought it was just me, but alas, I have found the same complaint by several users. On top of this, I found some CPU warnings on the lower right end of my screen. I was puzzled and confused by it, because I’m running a powerful 2gig processor, with a nice ATI graphics card, and 2gig memory – should be more than enough to handle the games.
I’m not saying that OnLive can’t fix these problems; they can. And they will. They’ve been working on this for 7 years according to the C.E.O. of OnLive, Inc. By no means, am I saying OnLive sucks – it just has a bump in its road to success. It has the potential to become a great product, the only thing they need to focus more on: MARKETING! Yes! The fun part!
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