Streaming Games from the Cloud

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by Arwin, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. Arwin

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    I was thinking that at at 5MB/s (40Mb/s) download speed, my internet connection is already pretty close to being able to, say, play back a BluRay remotely, and the next upgrade in dataplan, 120Mb/s or 12MB/s is already a match for the PS3's BluRay drive in that respect. Would the seek times be better or worse?

    So that has me wondering whether rather than streaming the video output from the server, you could have a more normal console type box that rather than download a game to the HDD, could stream the whole game from the Cloud. If that device still has a HDD, it can still do local caching to save bandwidth, and eventually be more efficient than something like OnLive, depending on how long you play a game ...
     
  2. Shifty Geezer

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    See my post in the Free Realms thread. ;) Or to save looking elsewhere, I went online to play a minigame for a brief moment and had to download a 1GB patch that would have taken an hour, hence I aborted.

    After the infrastructure is in place for digital distribution, then we can look into streaming content. It's certainly valid in principle. Until it's something that's stable though, it's not worth trying. I was video calling on PS3 the other day and the quality was like a moderate YouTube encode with occassional drops and break-ups. I should be able to get the same quality as a streamed movie (okay, ignoring quality controls possible in non-realtime encoding that streamed movies can employ) but what I'm actually getting is far worse. Same on MSN Messenger videos calls. Same on Skype. It seems to me no-one's got effective video conferencing yet on basic consumer BB, so streaming games of any sort is a definite no no.
     
  3. hoho

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    Huge difference between streaming from server and doing video chat is that the latter is depending on your upstream and that's often 10x or more slower than downstream.
     
  4. Arwin

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    Indeed. And it could be really easy for Sony to do tests with this too - for the games that they currently have like Uncharted that stream from BluRay to HDD to RAM, they could basically replace the BluRay section with Cloud Storage.
     
  5. acaeus

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    Like Shifty said, the infrastructure is just not good enough for mass DD. Bandwidth is just one variable. Then you've got latencies in numerous routers, or just distances, and finally the servers (that more often than not is the real bottleneck). TCP/IP is quite chatty in itself, though there are ways to spoof the acks.

    The biggest problem of (any type of) DD is the fact that it's got to be good enough (actually work) during peak hours: 6-9pm especially Thurs to Sun.
     
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  6. pcchen

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    I think, by careful design, it's possible to make DD games to be playable by only downloading a small part of the whole game data files. For example, most people start playing the first few levels of a game, so it should be possible to download these files first and it can keep download the later files while the player is playing the first few levels. IIRC, the new patch system of WoW provides similar function.

    Of course, this is not a replacement of HDD, but only a faster way for DD. However, for the cases of limited HDD spaces, it's possible to use HDD as a cache and only download from the cloud when the required data file is missing. But since storage space is very cheap now I don't think it's a big problem.
     
  7. Shifty Geezer

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    I agree, but that's more a case of DD then game streaming. We've discussed that possibility before when considering buying multi-gigabyte games over the network taknig a long time for a lot of folk, so instead games could be designed to download the starting amount to begin with and then download the rest in the background while the game is played. That's a route future game development should go IMO just-in-case, ready for DD. Then again, concepts like megatexturing/megameshing completely ruin that, and if these ideas become popular, streaming that sort of data isn't going to happen for ages.
     
  8. acaeus

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    I believe EQ2 already does that. You can download and install a very minimal client and so the parts you actually need, or the adjacent ones that you may need soon, are download in the background.

    Still, EQ2 is a MMO, so they already had big servers (and pipes) anyway.
     
  9. hoho

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    Wow also moved to that with Cataclysm. IIRC it only needs a couple of GBs to enter the game, the rest (I think around 25GB or so) is downloaded as-needed on the background. Though their servers kind of sucked as my 130Mbit connection rarely got used at over 30-40Mbit :)
     
  10. ERP

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    Asherons Call did it 10 years ago, even the terrain was downloaded from the server a block at a time and cached locally. It let them dramatically change the landscape without having to patch the client.
    Pretty forwards thinking for the time.
     
  11. AlphaWolf

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    Blizzard doesn't use servers (they do seed it), but mostly it's a torrent.
     
  12. hoho

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    Even for the streaming during gameplay? That's rather interesting then as they will stream in only the data that's needed to display stuff directly around you so they must have some kind of way to specify what chunks exactly to download.
     
  13. sebbbi

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    Virtualized geometry and textures actually require considerably less data to render a particular scene. The more fine grained streaming system you have, the lower (and more constant) the bandwidth requirements are. If we consider network bandwidth only, methods that use highly fine grained on-demand streaming are the best ones.

    The downside however is that unpredictable user actions can lead to situation where you do not have all the data required, since you load only the relevant data to render the current scene (and nothing more). You can of course compensate this by loading more data (larger data fetching field of view, preload extra spatially/logically nearby data, etc), however the more data you load, the higher the bandwidth requirements will be, since prediction based methods are not perfect. You always end up loading some data that doesn't get used.

    For example if you are walking though the forest, you could theoretically zoom in to watch the rocks more closely (and require the 2k*2k high detail rock texture to be loaded), or you could zoom in to watch the tree leaves (1k texture at highest mip), or the butterfly (1k texture at highest mip) standing on the tree leaf. However you pretty much never do that... you just run though the forest as quickly as possible, since the monsters you are planning to kill are in the nearby field, and you must pass though the woods to get there. Yes, you could load the whole forest to your hard drive the first time you enter it, but that would require huge amount of bandwidth. And you (potentially) need to wait to enter the area before it's fully loaded.
     
  14. Shifty Geezer

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    DC Universe underlines why this progressive download strategy is important. I just checked the new free download and it's 25 GBs. That's over half my monthly download limit, just to have a look. If I don't like it, that's an awful lot of downloading, and completely unnecessary in principle to store the whole thing locally.
     
  15. Cyan

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    I don't know if this is the right thread to complain about the situation of gaming nowadays, but I need to rant a little and complain about something that seems unavoidable seeing where things are heading.

    I can understand the fact there are MMORPGs like WoW, Ultima Online, and some others, which are meant to be played on the internet all the time. There is nothing wrong with that, because the very core design of those games is based on that.

    But there are some gamers like me who have to put up with all sorts of stuff, when it isn't meant for us.

    This new cloud gaming, digital download philosophy only is making me feel sick. It just means that we will never be able to give our games to our children, lend them to a sibling or a friend, or even your partner, every game will be attached to your account and they won't be transferable.

    That's a very creepy future ahead of us when developers start using every excuse to try to squeeze more money out of us, adding useless, nonsense DLC sometimes -I am not against packs like Undead Nightmare for RDR or Shivering Isles for Oblivion, but some DLC is just abusive.

    I have some games I downloaded on Games on Demand, for isntance, for the sake of convenience, because the closest videogames store is like 35 minutes away from where I live, and I can see how this might work fine for a lonely PC gamer who enjoys purchasing the most advanced GPU of the market and a neat PC for gaming, but for people with close friends or acquaintances who have the same console as you, there is nothing like the physical retail games, with their little box and manual -which is getting more and more meagre, everyday, by the way-, very much like it has always been.

    During these last years, it looked like things wouldn't change much, developers were perfectly fitting our gaming needs. But very recently, however, with the introduction and stablishment of services like the controversial online pass, Onlive, Steam, etc, it seems to me the changes are very dramatic and it looks like we will have to cater to every company whims and wishes, which makes me sick.

    These are difficult matters because you cannot bring this to developers attention and how their choices affects some gamers -- because, no matter what, they're always right! Right? Yeah, right!

    In this digital era this may sound like backwards thinking, but it makes me sick thinking that someone I love gave me a game as a present and this could never happen if it weren't for retail games. You can also add a little message for the other person if you want to.

    Also if I had children they couldn't get a game for Christmas, or they couldn't go to go buy one -or some- with all the money they got (for instance, during Christmas).

    The only solution I find to this is allowing people to gift codes to download games, or letting them share a downloaded game with close people, like lending those games to them physically, just digitally in this case. But I still don't know how developers can implement this efficiently when the digital world we live in has pretty obvious limitations.

    Developers are worse than my mum at technology, she cannot even figure out how to turn things off or make a folder on the computer. Well, on second thought they might be slightly better but my mother <3 is perfect and amazing, and knows how to value things for what they are. Developers seem to forget we aren't nicks, but there are human beings in this virtual world too.
     
  16. tongue_of_colicab

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    Apart from some exceptions I really don't see why I would want to stream my games instead of store them locally.

    Disk space doesn't cost anything these days and building a decent gaming rig doesn't cost you a fortune anymore either and a 400euro console that will last you 5~6 years isn't that expensive either.

    However if you want to stream everything you first need a (expensive) high speed internet connection with no data cap and even that its not going to be as good as having a local box to the work. Now that problem might solve itself over time but how about all those data centers that are needed to lets say serve a couple of million people playing BF3 at the same time.

    I bet they won't let you off with a 10euro a month subscription and if you have to pay more than that you are much better off just buying a pc/console.

    And than there is still the issue of controll. What prevents a company from turning off a game I bought after 2 or 3 years?

    No, please no cloud gaming, ever. Like I said, it might work for certain games but most games are much better off being stored and played locally.
     
  17. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
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    If you read my post though, you would see I'm suggesting it as an alterative way for your fame to reach your HDD on demand, similar to how games stream content to your HDD from optical drive. At some point the game should/could be cached to your HDD completely, but there would be no noticeable download and install times, as it happens while you play.
     
  18. patsu

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    GameStop's 'game slinging' service ramps up
    http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2011-11-21-gamestops-game-slinging-service-ramps-up

     
  19. BRiT

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    Hate to bump such old threads, but couldnt find more recent one fitting.

    Are there still companies out there in this realm? The main ones I knew have either been acquired by Sony or have folded up and closed their doors. Today I somehow came across a new to me company.

    The company Blade is in the game streaming business, was founded in 2015, and still exists. They even managed to get some recent coverage. Heres the leadin from the article: http://mashable.com/2018/01/05/blade-shadow-cloud-pc-rent-like-netflix/#GkN_hx0DGmqJ

    PC ownership is dead. The future of PCs is subscription-based, just like Netflix.

    That's what Asher Kagan, president and co-founder of Blade, a French cloud-based computer startup, basically told me as he showed off the full-fledged PC version of Rise of the Tomb Raider — detailed 3D graphics and all — running on a phone, tablet, and MacBook Pro.
     
  20. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    Uhmm.. Nvidia? By all accounts, it's pretty good.
     
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