Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cloud gaming just works




The last couple of days, I have been reading a lot of impressions from gamers who have tried the OnLive service and I must say that I'm surprised at the amount of positive feedback. Many people don't seem to perceive any lag and the ones that do don't mind it too much and it never makes the games unplayable. I am stunned reading that OnLive works so well, I've been hoping that cloud gaming would work great, but this is even better than I had expected. I thought it would initially be plagued by major lag fluctuations, stuttering, connections shutting down when the service launched, but everything seems fine till now.

When cloud gaming really catches on and other services like OTOY and Gaikai will join the battlefield, these game clouds will have the capability to go beyond what consoles and even high-end PCs can offer in terms of graphics processing:

- insane geometrical detail with e.g. sparse voxel octree raycasting/-tracing for environments and characters
- advanced lighting and global illumination through GPU accelerated raytracing
- physics on every dynamic object
- procedural sound
- more human-like A.I. (just hook up the server to Blue Gene ;-))

This will be imo the ultimate argument to drop restricted console architecture in favor of cloud gaming.

Cloud gaming is also a great way for offering time-limited game demo's, which is Gaikai's main focus: play a demo of a soon to be released game right in your browser. How easy and customer friendly can it get? There are many other options beyond gaming, such as a Facebook-ish virtual reality world (LivePlace powered by OTOY), CAD programs, Photoshop, Matlab, anything compute intensive...

UPDATE: Two interesting short articles on Dave Perry's Gaikai:

http://www.nowgamer.com/news/3548/perry-big-3-will-embrace-cloud-gaming
http://www.nowgamer.com/news/3547/perry-gaikai-demo-surprised-publishers

5 comments:

sebh said...

Hello Ray!

I follow your blog for month now and I found your posts very interesting.

I have tested onlive and this is a really great idea! However, as a big fan of FPS games, I have try UT3 and I have to say it is unplayable. Too many lags even with the high speed connection of my employer. Also, you do not see so many compression artifacts but when you apply a fast rotation camera, the screen looks ugly for some milliseconds. I have tried a car game and it is easier to control but, still, you have to adapt to the small lag for control.

I think this would be more valuable for computationally expensive professional softwre such as maya/mental ray, CAD, etc.

Ray Tracey said...

Thanks for your input! It's interesting to hear a different opinion on the lag issue than what I have been reading on the net. It's up to OnLive to work that out. And image quality is not always good, which was expected with fast video compression. I'm waiting to test out OnLive myself here in Belgium (which was announced last month).

Bradford James Loos said...

Bonjour Sebastien

Where were you trying OnLive from? And where was the server you were connecting to? I remember trying to play WoW on an American server from INRIA in Rennes and the lag was horrible, so maybe it has something to do with trying to connect from France to a server in the states?

It might be good for professional software but I think it would be bad for professionals. There'd be cached copies of all your designs or assets on each machine you happened to use. It sounds like a legal nightmare. But content generation apps would probably work better than the games themselves since they don't update the screen as often.

Ray Tracey said...

Exactly. Safety of the cloud for sensitive data could be a huge issue. I think big industrial design companies will install their own private cloud servers. The public cloud could be useful for freelance designers though.

sebh said...

@James

I have tried onlive at Orange Labs Rennes. The guy who was in charge of the Onlive Test told me that there was a server in France but indeed I don't know where we were really connected.

Indeed, if the server was in the United-State, then, it was a nice performance! :) And it is true that the servers farms need to populate space before we get a real experience.

And you are right concerning professional data. Maybe they have planned some kind of private space on their server?