Saturday, March 28, 2009

What's wrong with a centralised computer?

At the Games Developer Conference '09 being held in San Francisco, among all the juicy gossip and teases was a piece of tech which could potentially change the face of gaming. Okay, so that may be a hackneyed piece of conjecture but the announced OnLive service could be a future direction worth investigating.

It works like this. Instead of using your rig to play games which need upgrading every so often in the areas of graphical power and processsor grunt you can play games on a central computer. Wha?

Okay, so you sign up for the service, and instead of your input commands going to your machine they go via an internet connection to another computer which handles all the grunt work like processing, then the information is relayed back to your computer via the same internet connection.

This means all you potentially need to play high-end games is an internet connection, as all of the processing is outsourced to the OnLive service before being relayed back to your computer via a stream.

Sounds pretty neat, no?

While others have said this could basically stop production of high-end machines in its stride, others have expressed their concerns over the service.

For one thing, what happens when the glitches start? With your own rig, you can actually open it up and see if there's any physical damage to any of your parts and run diagnostics, but when your stream goes down you can't waltz up to OnLive headquarters and see what's wrong. At least I don't think that's included in the subscription fee.

Then there's the little matter of the internet connection. What if that goes down? You're basically stranded because you don't have access to the database while offline so there's no singleplayer if you don't have an internet connection.

If this thing really takes off like it can, then most games will be in a digital format, tied to the OnLive service. Digital may be the way of the future, but I'd like to have an analog back-up. I'd actually like to have physical proof that I own the game, and I think everybody likes going into a games store and browsing the boxes.

That being said, for all the potential drawbacks....I can play Crisis on a netbook.

If you have a stable connection, then you can outsource allof the grudge work. That's got to be worth investigating.

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