OnLive Fully Detailed in Columbia University Presentation

OnLive Fully Detailed in Columbia University Presentation

OnLive is a service that could completely change the way we play videogames, or at least add a new viable possibility.

When OnLive was first announced, it sounded great, but many of us probably weren't exactly sure how it would work. Now, every question you might have had and more have been answered in a presentation done by Steve Perlman, founder and CEO of OnLive, for Columbia University.

The accompanying video is the first of five parts available on YouTube, with the entire presentation lasting around 50 minutes. The basic premise of OnLive is that it can stream any game to virtually any device and allow you to play high-end games like Crysis at full settings with no lag. It might seem like a pipe dream, but after watching this presentation it looks like OnLive really could pull it off.

Perlman strikes me as anything but a snake-oil salesman, not only knowing everything about his product and what OnLive would have to do to succeed, but also a lot about games too. After reading about the OnLive executive team, there is a huge amount of pedigree and knowledge behind this product. Very importantly, Perlman says that OnLive is open to all types of payment models. Publishers would see more money by putting their games on OnLive rather than selling them through physical stores, and the service could work exactly like Steam or be even more flexible.

The only sticking point I see is in the controller situation. To reduce latency, OnLive will require its own controllers, as those made by Microsoft or Sony use a protocol that mucks up the works as more and more are added to a game. I would have no problem with this as long as it were still possible to use more unique controllers like Wii Remotes, albeit OnLive versions.

Even if OnLive doesn't work for games with motion control, which I don't see as the future of gaming anyway, OnLive could be a true epiphany for the videogame industry. It could eliminate the need to buy new consoles, and maybe just new controllers instead. Forget about upgrading your PC, OnLive will upgrade its servers and you reap the benefits. Publishers will pull in more money through OnLive, which is better for everyone. Plus, the evil dark lords of GameStop could finally be defeated! Okay, maybe the last one is sort of a joke, but the situation in videogame retail today is far from ideal, so anything that could shake that up wouldn't be a bad thing. I don't think OnLive will bug you to subscribe to a magazine and reserve games every time you turn it on.

Here are parts two through five:

(Via: GoNintendo)


Nice to see some new OnLive info. To be honest, I hope it takes off. Even if it doesn't completely revolutionise the industry, I think it will end up a good alternative.

The one thing that made me think onLive was gonna suck was the latency issues, but it looks like they knew more than anybody how much of a problem it would be, and if this video is to be believed, it looks like they found a way to manage the lag.

Anyway, that was very entertaining. I've never seen or heard of Steve Perlman before, but he's a nice guy to watch and listen to; he knows what he's talking about, he's completely honest and he doesn't try to sugarcoat things. It gives me faith in onLive to know it's being run by competent people.

To say "Yeah, ditch GameStop" is all very well, but there are a lot of small retailers who rely on physical games to make money. Privately owned by the guy behind the counter kind of thing. They'll get the truly short, and burnt, end of the stick if/when this kind of thing happens.

I'm still bothered by the fact i'll own my games on a "rent of video stream" basis, rather than "i have the disk" basis or at least "i have game data downloaded via Steam on my harddrive" basis.

Postscriptum. My connection is so crappy OnLive is not an option for me anyway, no matter what.

I'm not a fan of just owning a license, I would rather own a physical copy.

If this is what gaming becomes, i think it will be time to hang up the controller for good.

I had almost completely forgotton about OnLive, I haven't heard anything about it for what seems like forever. It could have potential, let's just hope that it doesn't go the way of the Phantom, although from first glance that doesn't look likely

I am still on the fence for OnLive. My main reason is the idea of not physically owning my games. Also, if something happens to my internet connection I now can't play.

Pricing is another concern, in video 4 I think he said there would be a base subscription and then the games are a la carte. So I have to pay to use the service, then pay more for the games. He said you can demo, rent or buy... Well what exactly am I buying if I 'buy' the game. Will I get a package in the mail or am I just buying the license to play it whenever I want on their service?

This is the same issue I have with Steam, what happens should the company shutdown? Am I just out a bunch of money? I still have a lot of questions, but I am open to the possibility...

EDIT: Oh yeah, how do you think ATI, Nvidia, Microsoft and Sony are going to feel about this? I don't exactly think they will go silently...

I've been hearing about OnLive I gotta say I hope it works. I'm tired of buying new consoles every generation I just want to play better games and if it works it would stop the console wars.

This is the same issue I have with Steam, what happens should the company shutdown? Am I just out a bunch of money? I still have a lot of questions, but I am open to the possibility...

Valve have pledged that their last act as a company will be to release a no-steam crack for all their games. It remains to be seen if companies that treat steam as a cop out for not having to maintain their own costumer support(insanity ward, relic and creative assembly come to mind) will follow suit. Onlive, however claims that they will be so awesome that they'll never die.

And no matter how often they yell that their solution to lag is "revolutionary", i'll still only believe it when i see more then 5 computers hooked up to it and none are attached directly to the server.

Blizzard spends the majority of their sizeable revenue on servers for a game which is 99% client side and they are the richest developer around(or rather would be if actishit stopped stealing all their profit for marketing their own crap). Onlive pretends that they have the CPU power to run every game on the planet at the same time AND have high compression video encoding software for every single game running at the same time. The IBM Roadrunner for example can run about 20000 of any modern game at the same time. High compression video encoding is MUCH harder then rendering stuff and is extremely slow on even the mightiest of home systems. To do so in real time at HD resolutions with "no noticeable lag" requires a fairly beefy cluster on it's own. If Onlive were to fully replace any given console, they'd need the combined processing power of every single one of then that's active at any given time in addition to something to encode it. My 3.2ghz quadcore takes roughly 10 minutes to encode HD(cosole+tv hd(1920x1080), not real hd(2560x1600)) into something that is still WAY too large to send too anybody not connected on 100mbps local network so we are looking at them needing more then 10 high end PC's for each console they run, without taking into account that it also requires the client to be on optic fiber, which isn't even possible over here and that realtime encoding requires even more CPU power then just measuring the time on how it takes to do a static file.

Tl;dr version - Bullshit.

Then it's only the question who knows more about compression, you or them?

I'm still bothered by the fact i'll own my games on a "rent of video stream" basis, rather than "i have the disk" basis or at least "i have game data downloaded via Steam on my harddrive" basis.

Postscriptum. My connection is so crappy OnLive is not an option for me anyway, no matter what.

I'm with this guy.

What about those of us with crap connections?

I wish he would have touched on the actual resolution these games are running at. I mean it has to be severly nerfed in order to work, especially for a PC game.

It's cool technology but not for me.

This still doesn't change the problem known as: Not owning the goddamned game anymore! "You can't own the game forever because we said so!" say the dorks behind OnLive. And let's not forget that console-based gaming has always been about the hardware, so yeah...

And let's also not forget the soul-crushing strain that this kind of streaming will put on one's connection assuming that OnLive is anything other than a claptrap. (It's all nice and fine in a controlled environment, folks)

If game developers want to get any money from console developers, they won't depend entirely on ONE provider. I mean, developers gain mass amounts of money for console development, and additional to ports of games, so why would they drop it and work with only ONE "console" provider?

Also, Piracy. Don't say that it can't happen. It can and it will. Essentially, the user of OnLive is streaming the game and does not own the actual copy, however, data packets have to be sent to the user in order to interact with the game itself, and there are ways to net data packets and put them back together into a game. I'm not entirely sure if it works with consoles, but a little tweaking with that little black piece of plexiglass could get you the games.

I could see it being serviceable if it was a flat monthly rate to play any game that was in their library. I just cannot see myself paying for the privileged of paying for a game that they own themselves.

as far as onlive goes it could be good news for every facet of the industry in terms of software sales. even if it does run games from all platforms the licenses will still be retained by the devs who'll pump that revenue into new games that will probably function on a timed exclusive contract for consol and pc's before heading to onlive.

This does make sense on what they are doing.

The issue we are 'thinking' of is when we refer to the time it takes for the machine to output the frame to our screen. Now, this requires the input to go from the CPU to request the Video Card to output to the Screen where it renders it. However, what they are doing is calling the Game processing call to output the screen into a RAM Buffer. This RAM Buffer is pulled out and compressed in one millisecond.

Now, as he mentioned in the video, Streaming Compression currently is usually sent in 3-8 Frame Increments. Every frame you receive, you actually get 1-5 frames in front of it, and 1-5 frames behind it. Now, each frame is sent and it allows for the engine on the player's computer to make sure that the video matches up, since they get excess frames.

What they have effectively done is removed that it sends extra frames. What they do if you lose a packet along the way is that the decoder on the local screen takes the previously 1-3 cached frames and 'guesses' what will be in the next frame. Also, since you're receiving frames consistently it can 'skip' a frame and play the next frame anyways.

So far, everything is of sound mind. However, people (specifically gamers) have all experienced the same issue: the effect of the speed of light, and how networks are setup. Now, how they have effectively corrected that is by figuring out how the *very* best route is from the server to your computer by using a specific ISP. This causes the light to go direct from the servers to your computer instead of going through X different ISP networks to actually get to your computer. This part was easy to figure out, and with the advent of tracert being extremely easy to use, it's easy to find the shortest hops from Point A to Point B.

So far, none of this sounds bullshit. There's no video latency until it reaches the machine because the buffer is being pulled directly instead of being asked by the video card to decode it for the screen. It's removing the largest chunk of 'video lag' we're all thinking of. Also, making it so that only one frame is sent per frame frees up alot of bandwidth requirements.

I'm looking forward to seeing this happen and I think this is a big middle finger to all those 'in the box' thinkers.

We already have had a ~similar~ set up to this at work for the past 2 or so years. Once all the bugs are sorted out, it works quite well.

I am very excited to see how this pans out

OnLive has a possibility we could get rid of console wars, lag, performance issues, Limitations and much more but it means the upgrading of the internet connection. Albeit better as a whole ain't perfect.

Let's see how Microsoft take the news.

EDIT:(Maybe my consoles could be antiques...)

Have there been any more updates on this? I just heard about this being presented at a local convention. More here: app design I feel pretty similar that I'm terrified of not physically owning the games. The producers of these products have shown time and again that they cannot be trusted to see the difference between a customer and a pirate.
The best Facebook status. I guarantee it.

Tried OnLive, must say I was disappointed. You'll need one hell of a internet connection for this not to lag or take up all your connection.

30mb down is apparently not enough.

And the thought of not having a physical copy nearby makes me shiver!

I tried onlive and jesus christ it looks freaking ugly and I got 100mbit/s download.


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