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My mini Onlive review

Discussion in 'Games' started by NdMk2o1o, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. NdMk2o1o

    NdMk2o1o

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    Well I tried out onlive today and thought I would share my experience and provide you guys with a mini type review.

    For those who have been living under a rock for the last 24 months and haven't heard of Onlive, Onlive is an online gaming service that allows users to play pc games who either don't have an PC or don't have a PC powerful enough to run the games on.

    So how does that work? In short, Onlive works not by running the games on your local PC, instead they have a/several server farms in which their catalogue of games is installed, configured and run on, all you need to be able to play them is an internet connection and a small software client if you have a PC or an small standalone box that plugs into your TV if you don't have an PC.

    I think the biggest thing that really stands out to me and I have to applaud Onlive for is how they manage to be able to stream a game over the internet from a remote server to be in anyway playable as there is a lot more behind this than meets the eye and anyone who is familiar with working remotely in any kind of sense will understand where I am coming from here, because even the likes of Microsoft and Citrix can't deliver a "local-like" experience for remote users when it comes to multimedia and they have been in the remote working business for the best part of 20 years now. I won't spend too much time going into this as I could be here all night as this is I work for a software vendor who has a competitive product to Citrix so I don't want to go too much into remote working and the dynamics, cause it could take me a good few hours at the least.

    My main concern with a service like Onlive is if it is really good and really easy then it could really change the pc gaming industry and not for the better as far as us enthusiasts are concerned.

    Though I think there is a very long way before a technology like this competes with both console gaming and PC gaming. So it's with that I'm going to share my experience albeit I haven't used any stringent testing methods this is mostly based on my opinion from using the service for a short time and sharing my opinion with you guys.

    Games I have tested:

    Batman AA
    Dirt 2
    FEAR 2
    Unreal III

    Now before I go into detail, I will say 1st and foremost I have the best consumer broadband available in the UK at this moment in time, that's a 50mb cable connection with a 2mb upload. Typically I get 49.5mb/s download, 1.5mb/s upload and anywhere between 12ms and 25ms ping on speedtest.net on local servers.

    Well initial thoughts are great, being as the games do infact load and the intro's run as normal without any stuttering which considering it is in essence being streamed is great, I think they must have created their own custom protocol with Onlive.

    When you enter into a game and get to the menu, you can instantly tell that there is some serious lag, as mentioned I didnt do any stringent testing but I would estimate the lag to be somewhere in the region of 150-250ms, which doesn't seem a lot though is well enough for you to notice when you perform an action there is a noticeable delay.

    I had fraps running during the whole time and there was a loss in framerate in more graphic intensive parts, though for the most part I was seeing between 45 and 55fps solid.

    1st off the graphics are seriously lagging behind what any modern day PC capable of gaming can output. I think this is down to a number of factors and the main ones being, bandwidth, you need both a good upload AND download speed to be able to make something like this work. Second off is compression, you can tell that there is a lot of compression being done which is understandable considering the games are being "streamed" though it is apparent because the textures in every game I played looked very low and lacked detail, you could compare the graphics to some titles on a PS2 without being too far from the truth. All in all all consoles these days and any pc that has a GPU from the last 4 years will be able to display much nicer looking games with ease.

    During gameplay again the lag was noticeable, and the effects from this vary depending on what kind of game you are playing. For instance in Batman AA the lag wasn't so much of an factor as when in fighting scenes, although it was present it was still playable and it didn't affect my fighting in a negative way, yay!!

    However we move to first person shooters and immediately I can see that I am at a distinct disadvantage because my mouse movements weren't fluid because of the lag and as such my accuracy wasn't all it could have been thus making the game more difficult as your mouse movements are always playing catch up and in FPS where timing is critical this does impact the game and affect the gameplay.

    The same can be said for Dirt, albeit I played it with a keyboard and mouse and normally one would play a game like Dirt 2 with a control pad, the apparent lag was great enough to affect the performance and as such it made it rather frustrating to play because it was hard to control the car with the lag I was experiencing.

    For a 1st release I would say Onlive is pretty damned good considering the technology involved to be able to do what it does, though as mentioned before I think it really has a long way to go before it can be taken seriously as a gaming platform, it is just too immature in its current state to compete with both consoles and PC's.

    To conclude, I think Onlive is a great concept though that is all it is at this moment in time, if they can refine the engine and improve the overall reseponsiveness and visual quality then we will have yet another standard that sits between the console and the PC as a method of gaming, though with its limitations I honestly can't see either console gamers or PC gamers considering Onlive a viable gaming platform for a long time to come.

    Thank you if you read the entirity of this review, and please feel free to comment.

    [​IMG]

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  2. FordGT90Concept

    FordGT90Concept "I go fast!1!11!1!"

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    If lag was a serious problem on a 50/2 mb connection, it will be completely unplayable on a 3/0.384 connection. :(
    Crunching for Team TPU
  3. NinkobEi

    NinkobEi

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    maybe onlive should only stream turn based strategy games..because who cares if you lag in those!
  4. johny236 New Member

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    You should consider that the OnLive service is curently not officialy launched in europe, because they have no servers there. OnLive will launch in europe toward the end of 2011. If you haven't noticed, they curently only accept US and Canadian credit cards, so you could say europeans are only able to demo the service now. If you use OnLive in the US, the latency is basicaly on par with consoles and can be vastly better if you are near one of their data centers. OnLive stated, you can use their service up to 1000 miles from their nearest data center.
  5. AphexDreamer

    AphexDreamer

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    I tried it on my Laptop Wirelessly on my 12Mbps down connection and would experience freezes as it tried to load the game. Onlive does warn you it recommends a wired connection but allows you to proceed anyways if you like. After 7 min of total wait time between me and playing the trial game of The Ball I just quit. I'd like to say this is a probable solution to those who don't have great gaming PC's/laptops but I'm willing to bet that most people who have fast internet have fast PC's and those wanting to use this on laptops will be doing so via Wireless connectivity.
  6. HalfAHertz

    HalfAHertz

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    tried it o my laptop with my connection and I think it was acceptably bad :)

    Definitely a lot of control lag but the games themselves played fluently and loaded very fast.

    The graphics were a mixed bag. I wouldn't go as far as state that they are ps2 quality but definately ps3/xbox360 quality meaning a lot inferior to a good PC

    What's amazing is that the client itself is only around 5mb.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  7. Thrackan

    Thrackan

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    Can you post some of those FRAPS videos?
  8. NdMk2o1o

    NdMk2o1o

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    I smell an Onlive rep johny236 :wtf: haha jk

    About the graphics, they're not upto ps3/360 standards yet imo, they are ok, but seriousley the textures are really quite poor, though for someone who doesn't own a PS3/360 or an gaming PC then it probably won't be an issue.

    updated OP with screenshots that show the lack of detail and sharpness in the textures.

    Also noted bandwidth being a consant 6.5mbps and CPU usage 7-10% while using 125mb of RAM.

    If you have a basic ADSL line between 1-5mbps download I can forsee issues. Also I am on a cable line with good latency again if your line quality isn't the best, you may have sufficient bandwidth but high latency this will affect the performance further.
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
  9. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    your review is pretty accurate. something that wasn't mentioned was the business model for OnLive is terrible. you pay a monthly $10 subscription and buy the games at full retail but the games are only supported for 3 years.
    digibucc, KieX and qubit say thanks.
  10. lyndonguitar

    lyndonguitar I play games

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    maybe after X years, where everywhere theres an onlive server, everywhere is good internet, and everywhere is garbage computers. plus mods and youtube integration, it would be very successful. just my opinion.
  11. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    i believe ping is what matters the most - not the ping from you to your ISP (his was very low) but the ping from your ISP to onlives servers.
  12. ShiBDiB

    ShiBDiB

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    so if we turned the world upside down and they completely redid everything... and pigs could fly
  13. qubit

    qubit Overclocked quantum bit

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    Your two posts complement each other nicely. This would definitely be a huge backward step in PC gaming if this took off. Thankfully, it appears that the performance is poor enough that this isn't likely to happen any time soon.

    Besides the aweful lag, a framerate of 45-55fps is really crap. It means that you'll get uneven, jerky, and especially, juddery motion the whole time. The whole point of a high spec PC or console is to run it at a solid 60fps to get rid of it while displaying high quality graphics. This gives you neither.

    Bumblebee, your post nicely highlights the fallacy that it's "piracy" that is keeping game prices high and reducing support. And this rental model is even worse. I mean, just look at OnLive: no piracy, but you still get to pay top dollar and lose the game after three years anyway. Oh yeah, that's such an attractive proposition. :rolleyes:

    Well highlighted my friend. :toast:
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2010
    KieX and Mussels say thanks.
  14. HalfAHertz

    HalfAHertz

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    or more precisely from you, to your isp, through all the routers that take you to the us and finally to the onlive servers :eek:

    in my case:
    9 72.249.128.109 -

    6 8.9.232.73 xe-5-3-0.edge3.dallas1.level3.net

    7 4.69.145.140 ae-3-80.edge2.dallas3.level3.net

    16 152.63.96.86 0.ae1.xl4.dfw7.alter.net

    16 152.63.96.253 0.ge-5-3-0.xl4.dfw7.alter.net

    9 152.63.96.82 tengige0-7-0-0.gw5.dfw13.alter.net

    26 152.179.51.70 onlive-gw.customer.alter.net

    which adds up for >89ms going one way and and for a total of >180ms untill i see my input on screen
    Mussels says thanks.
  15. NdMk2o1o

    NdMk2o1o

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    With regards to the framerate, I am not sure that what fraps is showing me is what the actual game is playing at, as the game is being run remotely and streamed to me, I think fraps shows me what its being to streamed to me at, if that makes sense.
  16. johny236 New Member

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    I'm myself an OnLive user and think the tech has great potential. As i wrote before, OnLive curently has data centers only in the US, so the latency isn't surprising. They have a beta data center in the UK, but this can only be used by closed beta participants. Here is a bit more info about OnLive's data center locations and latency: http://blog.onlive.com/2010/01/21/beta-testing-at-the-speed-of-light. Here is some info about the upcoming UK OnLive launch: http://blog.onlive.com/2010/05/13/onlive-coming-to-europe and http://www.btplc.com/news/articles/showarticle.cfm?articleid=%7Bf74b827a-e7b2-4be9-b77e-923b6e001b81%7D. If you want to know more about the OnLive service, here is the link to the biggest OnLive forum: http://onlivefans.com/forum.php.:)
  17. qubit

    qubit Overclocked quantum bit

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    I'm assuming that you're replying to my post. :) I reckon what you're seeing is the actual framerate being rendered on your screen, as that's what Fraps is designed to measure. It certainly seems to be in the right ballpark.
  18. NdMk2o1o

    NdMk2o1o

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    Location isn't an issue, I can ping many sites from the US and get latency as low as 10ms, the issue is that there has to be compression going on server side and decrompression client side, this is going to add latency, also users have tested from the US and measured latency of 200ms, which is right about where I placed it at too. Here's an article quoted from wikipedia, and I suspect my claim about the compression is true, this is probably where the latency comes from, it is present and noticeable.

    Edit, I have a 30ms ping to onlive-gw.customer.alter.net, so I should be able to play fine.
  19. Rado D

    Rado D New Member

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    I think its well known information in the public,that fraps is decreasing framerate by few frames.its at ramdom values,but I think it can be up to 6-8 frames.
  20. NdMk2o1o

    NdMk2o1o

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    Really? all my games run at a solid 60fps, how do you explain that? I am not taking videos, and only using fraps for FPS and screenshots.
  21. Rado D

    Rado D New Member

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    I dont know :) but I think that actually I should have reffered to the fraps taking video,so you are right..if you just measure FPS then its not decreasing anything.
  22. 0nl1v3f4n New Member

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    Simply adding in some useful knowledge!

    Now this isn't written by me nor do I support all arguments presented in this post but this IS from someone who knows a LOT about the service Onlive has to offer. It's worth the read trust me you will learn a lot.


    After the November 17th announcement of the OnLive Micro-Console the user base for OnLive skyrocketed. In that week since the announcement, there have been more users than the entire history of OnLive...and it's still growing. They give promotions and discounts all the time, and the entire company and service is still in its infancy. Hell the main component for the entire service, the Micro-Console, isn't even out yet!

    The service is completely free, you never have to upgrade your hardware, games and add-ons purchased load instantly, theres no installing or waiting for downloads, many games on OnLive are half the price of stores, new releases are usually $10-$20 below stores, they have low-cost options to rent games for 3 to 5 days, and they constantly have promotions such as 75% off and game giveaways.

    Oh but that doesn't matter right? Cause the service sucks, it needs a crazy amazing internet connection, if the company goes under you can't keep the games, theres lag, the video looks shitty, theres no games, its too expensive, etc etc. That's all I hear anytime someone has something to say about OnLive, and I'm going to clear-up every single one right now.


    1. The service sucks

    Most likely you've tried the service back in June and haven't looked again, are outside of USA or Canada and are attempting to play, or you've never tried the service because you're scared of change and need to justify the money you've put into your PC and/or Consoles.

    The OnLive service does exactly what it says it does. You can play any game on the service and try it for yourself free! www.onlive.com you can go right now and just download it, try it out, you'll be amazed if you stop for a moment and realize its not running on your computer at all. There are such great community features, such as the messaging, spectating, brag clips, and the zero latency multiplayer.

    Unlike other games you play online where you can see players jittering around on the screen, people using hacks and exploits, and other latency related issues, OnLive is completely devoid of these things. OnLive is basically run like a giant LAN network, so when you're spectating someone or playing a multiplayer game with them, there is no latency/lag/pause/jitter. It is instantaneous. What they see is EXACTLY what you see, and it's amazing.


    2. It needs a crazy amazing internet connection

    When people see or hear "FIVE MEGABIT CONNECTION" they turn the other way and can't fathom an internet connection so glorious and amazing as 5MB/s. But does MB equal Megabit? No, it doesn't. MB and Mb are two very different things, MB is known as Megabyte and Mb is known as Megabit. So what are the differences? Well Megabyte (or MB) is usually a measurement of size, you can see it when looking over files on your computer. Files like music which are 3MB, or movies which are 600MB, are all every day normal things and we don't question it.

    However, Megabit (or Mb) is not the same thing, in fact its much LOWER than MB. This is usually a measurment of internet speed, but only really used in the marketing of the internet service. Why would they use Mb over MB though when marketing a connection? Well 1MB is equal to 8Mb, and initially that 8 looks bigger than that 1 even though they mean the same thing. One Megabyte = Eight Megabit, which can be confusing but its true and thats just how things are.

    So lets go back to OnLive which requires at maximum a connection of 5Mb/s. Well that's not bad at all! I basically need a download speed of 0.610MB/s, or more commonly seen as 625KB/s. What exactly is the difference between 5Mb and 5MB, and why does it matter? If I say you're getting a 5Mb connection, majority of the population instantly assumes you will be downloading at 5MB a second. However, to download 5 Megabytes would take you about 10 seconds on a 5 Megabit connection.

    What's better is the micro-console takes even less bandwidth than your PC or Mac does. Depending on your TV size you'll require a different amount of bandwidth. 52" is 5Mb/s, 42" is 4Mb/s, 32" is 3Mb/s etc. So it's safe to assume that if you have a 22" TV that you'll need 2Mb/s, that's the idea anyway.

    And for those waiting to shout about bandwidth caps, OnLive has partnered with many ISPs to not only re-route your connection to give you the best experience, but if rumors are true then OnLive doesn't affect your bandwidth cap. And even if it did, Comcast for example has a 250GB bandwidth cap which would give you 150 to 300 hours of gameplay a month. So no, you don't need some amazing internet connection.


    3. If the company goes under you can't keep the games

    This is somewhat of an odd statement, especially from people who just blindly attack the service without understanding it at all. First off, I don't think the games will be lost if the company goes under, since they are just sitting in a database somewhere which can be scaled to any size. Secondly, the company would only go under if people aren't buying or renting games, and if you aren't doing that anyway then you wouldn't have any games to keep regardless.

    Basically its a moot point, especially since they just seem to be getting bigger and bigger which is strange for a 'failing' company.


    4. Theres lag

    If there's lag its not because of OnLive thats for sure. Your internet is the issue at that point, and speaks more to the service of your ISP rather than the service of OnLive. Oh, you're saying the game itself is lagging? Again, not the fault of OnLive. Just Cause 2 is the only game on the service that runs at a sluggish pace, but this is because its running the PC version of the software. I ran Just Cause 2 on my PC as well, and it had that same sluggish feel as it did in OnLive. The PS3 version didn't have this issue though, so I would only assume that the Just Cause 2 engine isn't very optimized for PC hardware.


    5. The video looks shitty

    The current output for OnLive on PC and Mac is 1280x720, which is more commonly referred to as 720p. They are releasing 1080p output once the micro-console arrives, but I'll just use the current 720p resolution for this arguement. When you play OnLive on a monitor with the resolution at 1920x1080, which is more commonly referred to as 1080p, you are scaling the image which causes blurring. There are two video streams that OnLive uses while a game is being played. One is the media stream, which is used when spectating someone or when a brag clip is taken. This stream is usually lower in quality, more akin to a YouTube video. The second stream is the gaming stream, which is used when you're actually playing a game. The gaming stream is optimized for playing the game and looks crisp and clear. Of course you may see some compression if you look for it or take a screenshot, but OnLive is made to look great in motion and not in a still frame.


    6. Theres no games

    Of course the game selection is limited, the console isn't even out yet. However, they have 35 games right now and hope to have 50 games total before the end of the year. Not to mention another 100 games are currently in the pipeline for release in 2011, many of which are day-in-date with the console releases as well.

    Still, for a new console launch it has more games than Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 launched with. Xbox 360 launched with 18 titles, six of which were exclusive to the system. PlayStation 3 launched with 15 titles, six of which were exclusive to the system. OnLive has 35 games right at this moment, and may get more on the December 2nd launch of the micro-console, however that is more than Xbox 360 and PS3 had combined. Of course there are no exclusive titles yet, but given time I'm sure we'll see some interesting software come to OnLive.


    7. Its too expensive

    The Micro-Console pre-order announcement was made on the 17th, stating it costs $99 (keep in mind it never has to be upgraded). What do you get with this $99? Well you get the micro-console itself (never has to be upgraded), an extremely high-quality wireless controller, HDMI Cable, Ethernet Cable, and a Promo Code good for any game on the service. The OnLive controller has been praised by reviewers, many stating that its higher quality than first party controllers for Xbox 360 and PS3. Controllers for Xbox 360 and PS3 are usually $50, so lets assume that the controller is half the package price. The Promo Code is worth $50 as well, so there's your $99 right there. Basically you get the Console, HDMI Cable, and Ethernet cable all for free, its one of the best deals out there.

    When the Xbox 360 launched it was between $299 and $399, and curently sells between $299 and $399. When the PlayStation 3 launched it was between $499 and $599, and currently sells between $299 and $399. Usually these do not come with a game, and if they do you don't have a choice over what game it is. All you get is the system, component cables (so if you have an HDMI TV you need to buy it seperately), power cable and a controller. If you're just looking to play games and enjoy them with your friends, $99 is a much smaller pill to swallow.


    8. If the internet goes down you can't play games.

    Well thats true, but just like on Xbox 360 or PS3 if your internet is down you won't be playing games online. Sure you could play a single-player game, but gaming with others is generally more fun, even if they are just watching you play like on OnLive. Yes you could have your friends come over and play games with you, but you could also go over to your friends house and play OnLive there.


    9. I already have a Xbox 360/PS3, OnLive is pointless...

    Sure it might be pointless for you right now, but wait until the next generation consoles come out. OnLive will be running those next-gen games just as well as Xbox 720 or PS4 without any other fees. When your 360 red rings or your PS3 yellow lights you want to be sitting there for weeks waiting for it to come back from being repaired? Or even worse, your console is out of warrenty so now you have to pay even MORE to get it back. $99 or a basic computer and you can be on your games playing online.


    10. I already have a PC, OnLive is pointless...

    Of course we have the PC gamers who like their expensive parts, piracy, and being able to modify the games as they see it. That's all fine and dandy, but because you paid $800 to $1,500 for a computer to do all of that doesn't make the OnLive service or its console any less impressive or useful. OnLive supports user add-ons which we'll see when their official forums launch, and also supports Keyboard & Mouse along with Controller.

    However, this doesn't mean OnLive is trying to replace your computer. It is its own platform, but it's a console first and formost even if they have a PC and Mac client. Soon they'll have OnLive on the iPad and iPhone, but that doesn't mean OnLive is a mobile gaming service. And just because majority of the games on OnLive are the PC versions doesn't mean its a PC completely maxed out. The PC versions of the game are just easier to port and are scaled to compete with console versions. Again, its a service to compete with consoles, which is why they are releasing the micro-console.
  23. Mussels

    Mussels Moderprator Staff Member

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    Onlivefan: First off, i fixed your duplicate post. You got caught in our spam filter due to the extra large post from a new user. and now i shall quote and tear apart your quoted content XD (as i edit)


    Good disclaimer, cause this is mostly full of crap XD

    I'll reply as if i was talking to the person who wrote it and used the quotes stating your name out of convenience.


    Its called 'pre-release hype' - once the product comes out and flops, all that hype turns into massive negative attetion.

    Free? you have to buy the games. that aint free.
    i bet those games cost more than they do on steam.
    Other than that we dont really know for sure, as i havent looked at their prices.


    well yes, those are all valid opinions. lets tear this apart! :D


    Dear god, the fact anyone can say that is just embarassing.

    Onlive is not run like a giant LAN, unless their games are not compatible with everyone else. Why would anyone play an online MP game, if you cant play it with other owners of the regular game? is it onlive vs onlive only? how is it 'instantaneous' or LAN like if your ping is above 10ms?



    ok seriously, this guy started talking about the size of a TV and how it affects the bandwidth. that is even more embarassing, 'holy shit kill me now' embarassing.

    its only the resolution of the screen that changes how much bandwidht would be needed and not the physical dimensions, and even then i thought onlive was capped at 720p and 1080i, meaning the bandwidth doesnt change at all.

    you certainly DO need an amazing internet connection, with regards to ping and not bandwidth. if it takes you 30ms to reach your ISP, then its gunna be ok. if youre 100+ like a lot of people on that first step, then onlive is worthless - and no amount of money you throw into it will solve it.

    Dont forget people on wireless (3G/4G etc) have plenty of bandwidth and high latency to begin with, so onlive is totally worthless in that market.


    he didnt even counter the question! 'the games arent lost, they're on a server where you cant access them or get your money back!'


    But i thought it didnt need amazing internet??


    but you said earlier its all based on the size of your TV and not the resolution... well even ignoring your contradictions you didnt comment on the compression at all. first post in this thread has a good comparison, saying textures look like those from a playstation 2 game. Onlive is not made to look great in motion, quality is not its goal at all.


    Well if the 'onlive is a giant lan' part is true, there wont be any games OR players.

    If i bought bad company 2 on onlive and had a lag disadvantage i wouldnt play Vs regular players and would want the 'instant' and 'fair' onlive servers... and then i'd find out there are so few players it aint worth it.

    Some benefits there. you get the box, controller, cheapass HDMI cable and one game coupon. What you dont get is local media playback for DVD, HD-DVD, bluray, or offline games that the other consoles give you.

    $99 is not a small pill to swallow if each of your friends need one of the boxes since you quite likely cant do the split screen coop gaming (with true zero lag) that the other consoles give you.

    so you're saying offline gaming (and local coop/split screen gaming) is utterly worthless? How does going to a friends house for onlive, counter the lack of offline/local play?


    No it wont, because onlive will still be stuck at 720p with poor quality textures and massive input lag that these new consoles wont suffer from.



    good thing it doesnt replace it, i'd completely give up gaming. so many gamers complain about the lag from wireless controllers, mice and keyboards of any sort and insist on corded controllers, that even attempting remote playback of a game in a competitive environment is just insane. that 200ms delay from clicking to the shot registering in a competitive FPS game would have you dying every single time due to the enemy firing and killing you long before your press registered on the onlive servers, let alone the image coming back to you.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
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  24. wahdangun

    wahdangun New Member

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    hmm isn't onlive have ala carte subscribed plan, like $9 a month
  25. 99vw New Member

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    This! If I click the button to shoot my gun it shouldn't take a quarter of second for it to register.

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