Tag Archives: gaming

OnLive, the potential flying car of gaming

The On Live controller and micro-console

The OnLive controller and micro-console

Let’s talk about OnLive, the cloud based gaming service that was unveiled at this year’s Game Developers Conference after over 7 years of development. If you’re not aware of what this is I’ll break it down for you very simply. OnLive is a gaming platform that is entirely based upon the idea that instead of going out and buying expensive and super fast computers/graphics cards/memory, all of your game processing is done by a “cloud” of servers at the OnLive Server farm. The video from the games is sent back to you through there service via your high speed internet connection and you enjoy a gameplay experience without the hassle of owning a PC that you’ve built or bought for gaming. Essentially what this means is that you can play all of the newest and most graphically demanding games on any computer, laptop, operating system, or the proprietary OnLive Micro Console no matter what the quality of your hardware is.

This is an awesome idea, I can’t argue that at all. But I have my doubts about this service actually catching on. While the technology and the potential seems interesting for OnLive I think there is a whole slough of complications and questions that come into play.

First and foremost I can see this being a licensing nightmare. Putting top tier video game titles from different developers owned by competing manufacturers together on a third party platform is going to pose major problems.

Secondly, I have my doubts that this will be anywhere near a recession busting service. Giving players access to games they’d normally pay $60 or more for over a streaming service is going to be astronomically expensive. The only way to avoid an astronomical pricing structure for a subscription service like this would be to plaster the user interface and probably the games themselves with dynamic advertising, and in this economy advertising isn’t doing so well. That or it will have to be a pay per play/on demand type service in which the user is simply renting each game.

The slick looking On Live interface

The slick looking OnLive interface

The third, and maybe biggest problem, I can see is it being hard to bring gamers who already own consoles, gaming PCs, and game collections who also subscribe to their consoles online play services to come to a new one. I think the bulk of people who are going to buy a console for this generation of consoles has bought them already. It’s going to be really hard for a company like OnLive to convince it’s users that the same experience that they get from owning a disc in a green case and playing on a custom built PC is going to be the same as the experience they’ll have with the same game on their service. Traditionally, the pride of ownership has trumped the stigma of a game that only exists when you turn on a machine.

This isn’t to say that I don’t see OnLive succeeding. I hope that one day I’ll be able to play a new AAA game on my macbook, I really do. I long to see the day when I can play the newest games on my PC without having to go out and buy a new graphics card every year or two. And I can’t wait to not have to stick a big oddly shaped plastic case with bright LED lights into my entertainment center so I can play games on my TV. But then again, that’s all part of the experience of gaming. And OnLive will have to really start painting a different and more progressive picture for hardcore and casual gamers alike to really change the landscape of gaming.


Life: The Video Game

Growing up, my brothers and I had a great life. We were raised well, provided for, and given the things we wanted, within moderation. But the one thing that was always out of the question was video games. Every year we’d put Nintendo, Sega, Gameboy, etc. on our christmas lists to no avail. We’d save our birthday money and plan out a way to ask nicely for a ride to Toys ‘R Us but it was always futile. My Mom was a school teacher and “saw what video games did to kids.” So that was that. The only exposure I ever got to video games was when I’d get to go to a friends house who had an NES, SNES, or Sega, or when we’d go to my cousins house and spend hours upon hours in the basement.

I gave up on begging for video games at around age 12. I continued to play at friends houses when I could as well. I kept up with the industry information through the internet and soaked up all I could. During high school I got my own computer and started dabbling in emulators desperately trying to catch up on games I had never completed during my sparse jaunts to see my cousins in New Jersey or at my friend Steve Ayers house.

In college I had an even better PC and was finally able to play some of the latest game releases. I played through Max Payne probably a dozen times as a college Freshman. A year or two later I got my hands on a copy of Half Life and finished it just as Half Life 2 came out. I was entranced. Half Life 2, to this day, remains my favorite game of all time. I played World of Warcraft for about a year and a half before I started needing to get serious about finishing my college education. I hit the books instead while I finished school.

I was never a bored or game addicted kid, so my interest in video games was always spurred from my interest in technology and computers. Not being able to have video games as kid only increased my interest as an adult. So after I graduated college, moved out of my parents house and got a job in a new city, I finally did it. I bought an Xbox 360.

Currently my biggest dilemma is not when or how I’m going to get my hands on a game again, because I know I can play any time I want. Instead it’s actually finding the time to play and enjoy gaming. I have a full time job that occasionally requires me to work overtime, a girlfriend, homework during the week, and graduate classes in another city all day on Saturdays. I probably get to spend about 6 to 8 hours a week playing video games. Now as most gamers will probably tell you, this is probably the length of an average single player game these days. That doesn’t account for taking your time and enjoying the game, playing online multiplayer modes, or the fact that you probably paid $60 dollars if you bought the game new. But all dilemmas, commitments, and annoying industry trends aside, I’d consider myself and extremely informed and extremely satisfied gamer. Here are some things that I do to to keep myself entertained, informed and satisfied being a gamer with a life.

  • Set gaming goals for yourself each week – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost track of time playing a game. But if you’re as short on time as I am when it comes to gaming you can’t really afford to spend an entire day playing Halo 3 sniping n00bz in Valhalla. Instead, to conquer the storylines and garner a fair amount of achievement points in every game I play, I generally set a point or a specific set of objectives for whatever game I’m playing every time I sit down to play it. Which leads me to my next point.
  • Do your research on games before you start playing them – I hate starting games and not finishing them. But naturally I find it extremely hard to play through terrible games. This is why you have to do your research. Knowing what you’re about to play before you play it will save you a lot of time if you find yourself trying to pick a game to play. The best source for information on what sucks and what doesn’t suck is all at your finger tips. Joystiq, Destructoid, Kotaku, Giant Bomb, and Cheap Ass Gamer are all really great places to start.
  • Stay on top of the video industry game current events with podcasts – All of the sites I listed above post industry news on a daily basis. All but one have great weekly podcasts as well. Sure, you might get some overlap in the news but an informed gamer is a happy gamer. Most of the podcasts run an hour to three hours long so if you drive as much as I do, you always have something to rely on to keep you interested in gaming throughout the week.
  • Get a Gamefly account – Do yourself a favor and stop buying games at full price. Then do yourself one better and start trying games out before you buy them. If you’re sick of the hastle of buying and trading then Gamefly is for you. $16 a month gets me two games out at a time, and I get to play them for as long as I want. When I’m done I just drop them in the mail and wait for the next game on my list to come. It’s simple and that’s the name of the game when you’re playing with your precious time.
  • Don’t over-do it – There are really only so many hours in a week and yes, video games may be an important part of your life, but you have to have your priorities straight. Playing games may be a great stress reliever, but remember not to play until it causes stress in other parts of your life. Sometimes it’s okay to put the controller down and ride your bike, or cook a meal, or talk to someone who isn’t a racist 13 year old who is freakishly good with a pistol in Call of Duty 4.
  • Embrace casual gaming – as much as hardcore gamers might hate to admit it, casual gaming is here to stay. In some cases it can be pretty addictive too. A quick five minute game of Peggle or N+ can be really satisfying if you have the means to get them. And don’t let Peggle fool you either. Unicorns and Rainbows can be manly and competitive too.
Most dudes would probably be more into peggly if it looked like this.

Most dudes would probably be more into peggle if it looked like this.

These suggestions are only what have helped me be a gamer with a life, and they might not neccesarily help you, but it’s a start.