Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

OnLive Makes Crysis on a Netbook Possible

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 27 comments

Could this be the start of the “one console future”? It could be, and it’s one that will let you run Crysis on your $200 netbook.

Instead of having to run your own word processor, email and appointment manager on your computer why not make a server do all the work for you--like AMD's Fusion Cloud--to access from any net-connected computer. That’s the idea behind cloud computing, and it will soon be coming to gaming -- not just casual gaming -- hardcore gaming.

That’s the idea being OnLive, a California-based company who has been working behind closed doors for the past seven years. Specifically, OnLive’s technology will allow for Crysis to be rendered and played remotely, then encoded into a streaming video to be sent to the player via a broadband connection.

"What OnLive does is seamless and completely transparent, and it does not have any requirements for the local system," said OnLive CEO Steve Perlman in a Gamasutra story.

As long as the player has a decent broadband connection a computer that’s fast enough  to decode the video (most modern machines should qualify), then even the most demanding games should be possible.

The OnLive client will run on a PC running Windows XP or Vista or a Mac with OS X through a 1 MB browser plug-in. Those who wish to play from the couch can purchase a small MicroConsole (for less than the price a Wii), which has audio and video outputs as well as USB ports and Bluetooth for voice chat. OnLive has yet to reveal pricing of its subscription model.

OnLive says that a 1.5 Mbps broadband connection would yield “Wii level” resolution. We’re assuming that means 480p in resolution, but not overall visual effects. After all, Crysis at 640 x 480 is very different from a Crysis running under Wii hardware. A 4 to 5 Mbps broadband connection is needed for HDTV resolutions, which we assume to be 720p.

Of course, any game played over the internet is susceptible to lag and action games require near-instant input and feedback. OnLive said that it has fixed one part of the equation.

"Not only have we solved the problem of compressing the video games, we've solved the latency problem," Perlman said to Gamasutra. "We knew, in order to make this thing work, we'd have to figure out a way to get video to run compressed over consumer connections with effectively no latency. Our video compression technology has one millisecond in latency -- basically no latency at all. All the latency is just for the transport, and we've also addressed that."

So, it takes only one millisecond to encode the rendered output into video, so now the latency obstacle is the “ping.” And unlike today’s games’ client-side tricks, which can hide lag, reducing between input and response via an encoded video from OnLive becomes of the utmost importance.

We hear about pipe dream technologies all the time, but OnLive’s is apparently granted credibility with its already impressive industry support of Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Take-Two Interactive, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, THQ, Epic Games, Eidos, Atari Interactive and Codemasters.

OnLive is showing 16 titles at the Games Developer Conference this week, including Crysis War, Burnout Paradise, FEAR 2, Mirror’s Edge, Unreal Tournament III and Company of Heroes; and if all goes as planned, this technology could soon wipe out the need to perform yearly, costly CPU and GPU upgrades just to play the latest games.

Display 27 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 9 Hide
    Claimintru , March 24, 2009 4:45 PM
    Horrible idea. What are you going to do, pay them to render your own games in low resolution for you? What if a new game comes out and 15 Million people are requesting renders of it simultaneously? I would love to see a server farm/internet backbone to handle all that traffic.
  • 5 Hide
    hellwig , March 24, 2009 4:47 PM
    The only problem with OnLive is 480P and 720P are NOT good resolutions for playing on your average computer monitor. Sure, if you have a 480P or 720P Television, those resolutions are fine, and OnLive might offer a nice alternative to the XBox and PS3, but OnLive here is missing out on two key factors:

    One, Wii users obviously aren't about the graphics, they're about the playability. Unless OnLive can license the Wii's game library (and controllers), its not going to be a big competitor there.

    Two, lots of PC gamers like getting the latest and greatest hardware to play the best looking games on their PC. As stated before, 720P will NOT satisfy those customers. Sure, enthusiast PC gamers aren't the majority, but they seem to be enough to drive whole markets with enthusiast PCs, GPUs, CPUs, etc...
  • 4 Hide
    curnel_D , March 24, 2009 4:49 PM
    With america's broadband netowrk in the state that it's in, I dont see this working out for alot of people. For instance in my area, 1 meg download is the highest I can get, and I pay 70 a month for it. And another friend who pays for a 10meg cable connection cant game when he gets home, because the connection tanks when people hit the torrents and web surfing in his area.
  • 2 Hide
    Hatecrime69 , March 24, 2009 5:06 PM
    says welcome to old news
  • 3 Hide
    Hatecrime69 , March 24, 2009 5:07 PM
    Hatecrime69says welcome to old news

    streammygame.com
  • -1 Hide
    Grims , March 24, 2009 5:16 PM
    Well, look at QuakeLive, it is very playable and looks very good. I would think it would use similar technology.
  • 4 Hide
    SneakySnake , March 24, 2009 5:19 PM
    its got potential but I'd rather my game be based off of my hardware rather then Ineternet service provider. You can't overclock your internet speed
  • 3 Hide
    Zenthar , March 24, 2009 5:42 PM
    Even if they are able to pull it, I would prefer a "private cloud" where we own the hardware and software so when you buy something, you actually own it and nobody can pull the plug on you (*cough* DRM *cough*). If a bunch of people decide to make a "cloud community", good for them, but it shouldn't be mandatory.
  • 0 Hide
    Dreasconse , March 24, 2009 5:44 PM
    Problem is resolution, or if your 'net goes down.
    I refuse to run any game in a rez lower than 1600 by 1200, and that only for games that don't support widescreen. (unless it's a really old game, like the original fallout)
  • 0 Hide
    Humans think , March 24, 2009 6:05 PM
    Hatecrime69streammygame.com


    LOL, I think that stream my game is even better :p 
  • 1 Hide
    Tindytim , March 24, 2009 6:08 PM
    The only time I'd want cloud computing touching my gaming is when it would be a supplement to my pre-existing hardware. I'm not giving up my hardware so someone else can charge me a rate for computing power I could get for much cheaper.
  • 0 Hide
    tenor77 , March 24, 2009 6:29 PM
    One server to rule them all!

    TindytimThe only time I'd want cloud computing touching my gaming is when it would be a supplement to my pre-existing hardware. I'm not giving up my hardware so someone else can charge me a rate for computing power I could get for much cheaper.


    Agreed.
    Cloud computing for my media-sure
    Anything else = no thanks
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , March 24, 2009 6:49 PM
    hellwigThe only problem with OnLive is 480P and 720P are NOT good resolutions for playing on your average computer monitor. Sure, if you have a 480P or 720P Television, those resolutions are fine, and OnLive might offer a nice alternative to the XBox and PS3, but OnLive here is missing out on two key factors: One, Wii users obviously aren't about the graphics, they're about the playability. Unless OnLive can license the Wii's game library (and controllers), its not going to be a big competitor there.Two, lots of PC gamers like getting the latest and greatest hardware to play the best looking games on their PC. As stated before, 720P will NOT satisfy those customers. Sure, enthusiast PC gamers aren't the majority, but they seem to be enough to drive whole markets with enthusiast PCs, GPUs, CPUs, etc...

    So true. Well said! I see something like this happening for an RTS/RPG game but never a FPS game, esp. one with a reputation for high end hardware like Crysis.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , March 24, 2009 6:53 PM
    GrimsWell, look at QuakeLive, it is very playable and looks very good. I would think it would use similar technology.

    Doubt it. Crysis is a uses different engine that is aimed at high end GPUs. The Quake engine has been out for years, and the hardware back then was pretty low compared to today.
  • 0 Hide
    RADIO_ACTIVE , March 24, 2009 9:18 PM
    so what would my fiber 16mbs render to lol 1080p
  • 2 Hide
    jerreece , March 24, 2009 9:46 PM
    Oh gawd. Didn't you guys do this article in the past? Talking about cloud gaming, and how you could play Crysis on your cell phone?!?

    Why on earth are you doing this again? The first article was stupid, and this one is just about as worthless. (Sorry, I know that sounds harsh).

    I hope this cloud gaming never happens. Cloud other stuff fine. But gaming will be done in my own office, on my own system, with or without internet. And I will play at 1080p thank you very much. Not 480p (or worse) on my 22" HD monitor.

    Let alone my freaking Palm Treo.... 320x320 FTW!!!
  • 1 Hide
    jerreece , March 24, 2009 9:52 PM
    Quote:
    ...this technology could soon wipe out the need to perform yearly, costly CPU and GPU upgrades just to play the latest games.


    Oh just buy an XBOX 360 and hope it doesn't RRoD.

    Of course you could demo this technology easily at a booth. With the server attached to your gaming PC by a 6ft Cat6 cable. But in the real world, give me a break. As was already stated by others above, the infrastructure in the United States is way, way behind for something like this to be effective.

    Besides, I don't wish to play my FPS games with a full second or more lag between my clicking a button and it showing up on my screen.
  • 1 Hide
    Zenthar , March 24, 2009 10:21 PM
    I like the idea of "cloud gaming", but as long as I control it. To me the "over the internet" would just be icing on the cake. We could then build rigs that can make as much noise as they want, stuff them is a cold basement room and just have a nifty thin-client kind of device next to the TV/LCD monitor. You could have a relatively inexpensive laptop for school/work, but still play games on it when at home.
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , March 25, 2009 2:10 AM
    look, ima be an optimist and say this is possible. if they manage to open server farms close to home, and have subscription plans for a number of people, this seems VERY possible.. as long as the YEARLY bill doesn't go over $200, im promised a high speed spot for any game of my choice all year round with little to no downtime [my comp can have downtime too ya know], near 0 ping, than ill be on that so fast... happily too. i have a decent computer but if i can try so many games, id be on it in seconds...

    i wonder how it would work for mmo's, or at all?
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , March 25, 2009 3:39 AM
    I'm thinking this is some smoke and mirrors... Demonstrating at GDC with a controlled network or even on a low ping ISP backbone connection is one thing, but how will this scale and how will the ISP's react to continuous 4-5Mb/Sec thruput.

    I also seriously doubt they've solved the latency problem? If best case I'm 20ms from my client device to their host system, I'm really 40ms as upstream USB/input controller needed will be 20ms up and the images will be back down 20ms. Something is NOT adding up with these guys. If they have pulled this off and the latency is solely your ISP latency then kudo's, great for turn based games and internet video. I don't see this for any games that need real time input or near real time input.

    Also they claim 1ms to encode and decode (outside of the ISP)... I call bollocks on this, the best studio level HW encoders and decoders add more latency than this. Remember the desktop side on a notebook or mac is SW DECODE... So how does this work then??
Display more comments