I've always been a fan of new technology and was very very stoked when I heard about OnLive; a gaming-on-demand game platform that uses cloud computing. Now where I'm so excited about is the use of a technology called cloud computing, but what exactly is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software and information are provided to computers and other devices on-demand, like electrity.
Alright, its actually pretty simple, instead of letting your computer do all the work, now remote servers will handle everything and stream it to you over the internet, this means you can run very intensive software on a very cheap or old computer that normally would need a very expensive one! This is amazing for us cg-artists, where we dont have to get behind our workstations to do heavy rendering or modelling but now can do all of this on our laptop, netbook, or even an iPad! (the last one will slow down your productivity by 1000% but hey, you get the point :-P).
Now there's OnLive with a gaming cloudservice and also bring out their own "microconsole"; which is almost nothing more than a ethernet port, 2 usb ports, hdmi out, a headphone jack and a power plug. The console is capable of handling 1080p resolution with a steady 60fps framerate, and can even handle 3d output. OnLive has a broad range of gaming and software developers lined up already that are willing to stream their games for a little fee, for a list of featured games, you can check them here
The OnLive Miniconsole, indeed very mini!
But OnLive isn't the only one in the cloud computing market, no, Gaikai is taking almost the exact same approach and have a couple very interesting titles lined up to be streamed, and perhaps even a little more interesting than the titles from OnLive. Where on OnLive you pretty much only gotta do it with older (singleplayer) titles for now, Gaikai comes hard with two very popular mmorpg's; World Of Warcraft and Second Life, and other popular games like The Sims 3.
Gaikai also is more interesting due that they offer their cloud service on the web with just 1 click and no extra plugins needed, while with OnLive for the pc you need to download their application, so playing games in your school or at work could be an issue with OnLive.
U can try both for free* already, you can try multiple games on OnLive by registering here and downloading the OnLive application, login and see the most interactive menu ever! (see picture on the right), It's so amazing to scroll down through the different screens where you see other players playing different games, luckily my 3 year younger brother wanted to play with me and we both played a multiplayer game of Alien vs predator (a trial version of 30 minutes), and its works perfect! The framerate wasnt the best for a shooter even though we have a pretty good connection here, but it still played very smoothly. Gaikai also have a couple of demo's available, they are a tad slower then OnLive but you dont have to download anything and can play it right from the site, the quality is decent but not very great but its playable but not recommended in full screen. I listed them below so u can try them out! (could only find these direct links):
Please note you will atleast need a internet connection of around 5MB!
All in all I think cloud computing is a great step into the future of playing games and doing other (heavy) computing, and if the renting and buying fees are not too much, it might aswell reduce quite some piracy. Computers keep getting compacter too and it's good too know i won't have to upgrade my pc and laptop every 2 years but can now do alot of things on a $200 netbook! The only downside as of now is that there are still some people with crappy (read below 5mb) internet connections but i'm sure the majority already have 10mb or above, and it will only get faster in the next years. Hope u enjoyed this article!