Streaming Games Live: Fast on ANY machine.

More and more, I’ve been seeing services pop up offering high-speed games, rendered on remote servers, streamed to your computer. What does that mean, you ask? Essentially, all the work that is needed to play the game is done somewhere else. Your computer only displays the games and gives the controls.  OnLive, GameString, and Gaiki have all gained a suitable reputation in the past month. Here’s a quick overview of each of them.

OnLive

OnLive: Game streaming!

This is the first one I got a chance to see. It markets itself as an instant game system, allowing users to play any game they want instantly (or, at least, after a purchase). And it’s true to its word. The PC client is completely free. Download it and play through a variety of free demos pretty much immediately. Their catalog is pretty extensive. You’d think streaming games would be confined to obscure, indie games, but names like Homefront, Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood, and Just Cause 2. They charge for 3 and 5 day passes, as well as full game licenses. They are also trying out a new $10 a month unlimited plan. Plus, they offer a $100 console, complete with a controller, to let you play OnLive games on your TV. I tried out the PC, and although the video quality is a little grainy, it works really well overall. I was thoroughly impressed.

Gaikai

In-browser games, courtesy of Gaikai.

But I was more impressed with Gaikai. It functions a lot like OnLive, but instead of charging for games and subscriptions, the site hosts advertisements. That’s right, companies actively test your bandwidth when you visit the site, and if you meet requirements, it will offer you free game tests that stream similarly to OnLive’s games in the hopes that it will get you to buy their games.  The site is offering a 90 minute demo of Mass Effect 2 (a very good game, might I add), among other great demos. Their servers are a little swamped due to the publicity they’ve received as of late, so if it takes a bit to load, give it some time.

GameString

GameString streams games to your phone. Whoa. If you have an Android phone, you can literally play server-hosted games on your device. Interface worries? The service allows for customization of your interface so that literally any game works as you want it too. There’s a nice demo of the service playing WoW on an Android smartphone below.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRwaPxBz2jk

By the way, the awesome music in that video is by the Glitch Mob, I think. I’ve been listening to a lot of them recently, but that’s another story for another time.

Is the future in the cloud?

Perhaps. Things done for us remotely seem to be how things are moving. I’m not a huge fan, as I actually take pride in the fact that I can manage all of the software and data that I use, but for non-power users, perhaps the cloud isn’t such a bad thing. You don’t need to worry about drivers, compatibility, or system performance. It seems like a good deal in the end.

Left 4 Dead Tweaks, Scripts, and Campaigns

Recently, my computer has been running slowly. There’s no viruses (virii?) on it, its relatively well optimized, but it just can’t keep up with the demands I’ve been placing on it. I should buy some more RAM for it eventually.

In the mean time, I still would like to play Left 4 Dead, my favorite game this year (so far). It has, however, become incredibly annoying to play the game for about 30 minutes, only to have it start to take its toll on my system; My computer would overheat, or overcache, or something, and would start to drop frames (i.e. there were blips every second or so). Naturally, I went a-digging and found this neat little modification, so to speak, that will up your performance (Thanks to my brother for the find). On top of that, I found some other things that might interest you like hints, tips, and discounts (thats right, discounts) for Left 4 dead.

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Openoffice.org Easter Egg!

Do you own Openoffice.org? No? Get it. Its like Microsoft Office, but free. Thats not what I want to talk about, though.
Once you’ve installed it, open up “Openoffice.org Calc” and in the first row and column, enter this:

=GAME(“StarWars”)

And watch the fireworks. I won’t tell you what this does, but I can tell you that it has no detrimental effects to your computer, nor does it do anything visually displeasing. Just try it. Its rather entertaining, in fact.