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Entries in OnLive (5)

A different kind of iPad 3 prediction: The 4 apps to be demoed at the launch event are...

Ipad3 ipad2S ipad2X demo apps

We've made plenty of predictions about what features the new iPad 3 (iPad 2S or 2X?) might bring, so we thought it might be a tad more exciting to predict what new apps Apple might decide to demonstrate alongside the new iPad during the launch event next month.

After a review of the continued success of the iPad, which will no doubt feature a warm and fuzzy video that shows how the iPad is transforming lives across the globe, the focus will then likely move to hardware improvements. As we've said many a time, we think that most attention will be given to the new 3.15MP Retina display.

iPhoto, a showcase for the Retina Display

We think that iPhoto for iPad has been ready for quite some time. Only the launch of iCloud and the iPad 3 with its Retina display has stopped Apple from rolling out iPhoto for iPad already. iPhoto will likely be the first app that Apple demonstrate during the iPad 3 launch event. What better way to show off the eye popping detail of the new display and the quality of the new 5MP camera module?

iMovie 2, a showcase for the new camera

Again, with the focus on the new display and the new camera module, iMovie 2 seems like an obvious candidate for a iPad 3 app demo. Expect iMovie 2 to include the ability to edit dual video tracks. The iPad 3 will also include 1080p video capture with image stabilisation, just like the iPhone 4S.

OnLive, so that's where it went!

Where is OnLive's gaming app? We know that it was submitted to Apple around the same time as the Android version, but almost 3 months later it's still missing. Intriguingly, neither Apple or OnLive are willing to give a reasonable answer as to its whereabouts. While it's possible that either Apple or OnLive have found a major bug that's holding everything up, or that Apple have flat out rejected the app on other grounds, this seems unlikely to us. We think something else happened.

We think OnLive submitted the app just as they said they did, Apple then tested it, and because of the controversial nature of the OnLive gaming service, the final decision as to whether or not the app got the green light had to be made by someone fairly high up in Apple's management team. This same Apple member of management asked the obvious question of OnLive, can this app be made to stream gaming content at 2048 pixels wide (Retina display quality)? The answer was yes, and a deal was made that meant that the OnLive app would be part of the iPad 3 launch event.

Real Racing 3, an old favourite returns

Back in May 2011 EA purchased Firemint, the developers behind the hugely successful Real Racing and Flight Control series. Not long after the purchase, EA declared it had stopping working on the latest iOS instalment of its Need For Speed series. EA simply stated that it was focusing on 'fewer, bigger, better' experiences. Firemint seems to be one of the favoured few developers that get early access to new iOS hardware, we see no reason why this would not be the case this time around. We expect EA (Firemint) to be ushered on stage to show off a spectacular looking Real Racing 3. With EA overseeing the project we should expect to see a garage load of licensed cars and music tracks. Real Racing will become to iOS what Gran Turismo and Forza are to their respective platforms, the definitive driving experience.

So there we have it, 4 apps that we half expect to see demoed alongside the iPad 3 at the launch event. What do you think, are we on the right track with our predictions? Let us know in a comment below.

OnLive to stream console quality games directly to your iPad

Regular readers will have noticed that we've been following the developments at OnLive since the start. The idea is simple enough, run the original game code on a large PC server farm, compress the display and sound information in realtime and push it down the internet to client software running on far less powerful machines. The only data going back up the pipe is the control instructions.

It's cloud computing taken to its natural limit, the entire output of one computing device streamed in realtime (in both directions) over the internet to another computing device.

OnLive has provided a very limited iPad app for quite some time, but it seems that the real deal is coming soon enough. We can't wait to try it! We've tested the Mac version for quite a while and even though we are separated from the OnLive game servers by the entire Atlantic ocean it's clear to us that this concept has massive potential.

Source: Touch Arcade

OnLive: Can an iPad replace a games console?

Everything killer! That's how some described the iPad during launch week. While we agree that the iPad is certainly capable of performing many of the tasks that would normally be performed by dedicated hardware, some things, such console quality gaming, seem to be several years away. iPad 3 or 4 perhaps, but surely not this iPad?

Epic Citadel has already shown us that the current iPad is capable of much more than we thought possible, but yesterday's launch of the OnLive Viewer app will really put the cat among the pigeons!

OnLive: XBOX 360 quality on your iPad in seconds not years

Based on projections from graphics hardware manufacturers, we suspect that XBOX 360 quality graphics will arrive on the iPad with version 3 hardware sometime in 2012. So how is it that OnLive can deliver that experience in 2010?

To quote an article that we published on the subject back in March of this year:

OnLive… hopes to break the cyclical nature of hardware upgrades by streaming the game environment from their servers directly to your screen.

In essence, the video display is being compressed at their end, sent down your broadband pipe and uncompressed on your TV, Mac or PC at 30 to 60 FPS even in HD. The only data going up the pipe are your game pad control instructions. This means that the hardware requirements for playing even the most intense games are reasonable. So far OnLive has been demonstrated on midrange laptops, a set top box and even a humble iPhone.

We tested OnLive's gaming last night both on a Mac mini and an iPad. It's important to note that the iPad app only currently supports game viewing not playing. Game play is coming soon though, and if the Mac mini's OnLive performance is any indication, the iPad experience will be compelling to say the least.

There are a few issues which could spoil the experience. The frame rate on the iPad viewer app is not what it should be and certainly not the 60 frames per second that we managed on the Mac mini. Fine tuning console games for touch controls could prove tricky. Speed of your broadband and distance from the OnLive game servers will impinge on overall performance. If these issues can be resolved OnLive could become an essential iPad service for gamers, perhaps even allowing some to give up their current home console hardware.

You can download the iPad OnLive Viewer app from the App Store, but be sure to sign up for the service which supports free game trials for both Mac and Windows without the need for credit card information.

Channel surfing

OnLive simply oozes potential, and not just for gaming. Years from now all home based computing could be done this way. OnLive demonstrates the true power of the Cloud.

We can imagine a future were games are presented as channels in much the same way that TV currently is. Pay a monthly subscription then surf through what's on offer and see what takes your fancy - no waiting for installation, no storage required, no watching for updates, everything is backed up, secure and good to go at a moments notice - sounds good to us.

We want our iPad arcade, not excuses!

 

The second we saw Think Geek's inspired April Fool's joke we knew it was time for a mission! As Think Geek so beautifully demonstrated, the iPad is perfectly suited to bringing back many arcade classics. Call us nerds if you like, but the classic 70's and 80's arcade games are a heritage worth preserving, a record of the origins of today's games that needs to be preserved for future generations.

MAME (Multi Arcade Machine Emulator) has been the bastion arcade preservation for the last ten years, in short, MAME emulates the hardware of thousands of older arcade cabinets. MAME is a collection of code so important as to warrant a prominent place on any new computing format. So just where is iPhone OS MAME?

This is where we get angry like Angry Birds!

Apple don't allow machine emulation on the App Store. We can understand the reasoning behind this, but it would be nice to see some consistency. For example, Sega's Sonic 1 and Sonic 2 iPhone games are both Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis in the U.S.) emulators that run the original Sonic code. So if Apple won't allow MAME on the App Store why do they allow Sonic?

Sadly we don't ever envisage the day when we will be able to purchase MAME from the App Store and load up our own arcade ROM files, build our own virtual arcade just as Think Geek proposed.

Two possible solutions

We propose two solutions, both very different but both perfectly viable.

Solution 1. Involves Apple Game Center, a social gaming component that will arrive with iPhones OS 4 later in the year. Apple could provide a full license and optimised version of the MAME code as part of Game Center. Publishers who hold the rights to those gaming classics could then submit their code (basically the very same ROM images that already work with other version of MAME) for inclusion in Game Center. The obvious way for publishers to make money from these old classic is via Apple's brand new iAd service. This way everybody wins. Apple gets to keep control of its platform, publishers get to make even more money from games that have long since paid for themselves and we get to relive our misspent youth playing 4 player Gauntlet.

Solution 2. This is perhaps the most elegant solution as it requires no new technology and would almost certainly be allow into the App Store. We'll start with a simple explanation and then move on to more technical details.

We call this solution 'Cloud MAME'. Cloud MAME would require two components, Cloud MAME Server and Cloud MAME App. Cloud MAME Server would be a modified version of the existing MAME application running on Windows, Mac OS X or Lunix. Instead of displaying the game screen into a local monitor, Cloud MAME Server would stream the display across a local or wide area network. Cloud MAME App would be an iPad app that receives this display image and renders it in near realtime on the iPad display. It would also stream the player controls responses back up to the server. In essence, it would act like any VNC server/client solution, thereby avoiding all licensing issues.

The real key here -- the thing that makes this solution so workable -- is the display resolution of these classic arcade games. Seen below is the actual display image taken from an early 1980's arcade game. On the left is the full uncompressed image which weighs it at a good 576k per frame. On the right is a compressed version that totals just 3.5k per frame!

There is zero degradation in quality because the compression used is PNG-8 a popular web standard that allows for pin sharp images with very specific graphic attributes. In this case that specific attribute is the confined palate of just 32 colours, enough colours to perfectly simulate thousands of arcade games. 

Obviously we need a large number of these frames every second in order to get the authentic feel of the original arcade game. Most games require 60 frames per second. Using the PNG-8 standard it's possible to stream 60 frames per second for a total bandwidth 'cost' of just 210k. That's an easy target for most home networks or internet connections. Network response time will also factor in the overall perform, but if OnLive can stream HD high end PC games across the internet, surely Mario stands a good chance of making it through the pipes?

We'd love to see a developer attempt just such a solution. The tools are freely available and the concept isn't rocket science. So how about it creative iPad developers, surely it's worth a shot?

Further Reading:

Draw your own games!

Let the Wookie win!

Polygon pushing power.

Mass Effect 2 for the iPad?

Mass Effect 2 for the iPad?

As mighty as Apple's A4 chipset seems to be, the idea that a 1GHz processor/GPU combo has the graphical grunt to conjure up the super rich environments of Bioware's Mass Effect 2 seems pretty ridiculous, right? Wrong. OnLive, a brand new gaming concept that goes live on June 17 in the US hopes to break the cyclical nature of hardware upgrades by streaming the game environment from their servers directly to your screen.

In essence, the video display is being compressed at their end, sent down your broadband pipe and uncompressed on your TV, Mac or PC at 30 to 60 FPS even in HD. The only data going up the pipe are your game pad control instructions. This means that the hardware requirements for playing even the most intense games are reasonable. So far OnLive has been demonstrated on midrange laptops, a set top box and even a humble iPhone.

It's seems almost inevitable that OnLive will find its way onto the iPad. We'll come back to the concept of streamed gaming as the OnLive launch date approaches.