First of all, to those of you I swindled into purchasing a copy of Beyond Good & Evil on Steam, GOG.com (Good Old Games) has recently started selling the same title, but with their patented un-suckify programming the game actually runs well with only a few of the incredible number of tweaks necessary for the Steam version. Check it out, here.
Ironically, GOG also offers the (partial) soundtrack as a bonus for buying BG&E. That soundtrack is actually the reason I started doing anything with StormEffect.com. I loved the music, but it was not available from anyone or anywhere, unless you could obtain a PC copy and unpack the sound files directly from the game. So, I did, and then I posted them on my main page for all fans of the game to enjoy. It took me several months to get everything together, and after exploring at least 100 dead links to find parts of it, I vowed to keep my BG&E soundtrack link up and running for as long as humanly possible. It’s been almost half a decade, and it’s still up at www.stormeffect.com/beyond.
Here’s a new one! Modern PC games overwhelm many computers today, though this is usually only due to the subpar Graphics Processing Unit in most systems. Yeah, you could go spend 100 bucks on a new state-of-the-art GPU (only if you have a desktop, laptops aren’t upgradable like this), but now there is an incredibly ambitious alternative called OnLive.
When you decide to play a game (examples: Crysis, World of Warcraft, Bioshock, or Company of Heroes) on your computer you install the game and run it. Your Central Processing Unit (CPU), Graphics Processing Unit (GPU), Random Access Memory (RAM), and Hard Drive (HDD) are stretched to their limits in order to drive a real-time gaming experience. While many games, usually those that are at least 3 years old, will run on most computers due to natural hardware improvements, most modern AAA titles are out of reach for the average laptop system.
When you decide to play a game OnLive, you simply open up your browser, log in to your OnLive account, pick (demo, rent, or buy) a game to play (Bioshock, for instance), and less than 5 seconds later you are in the game having a grand time with a very high framerate and maximum graphical settings. How is this possible? When you installed Bioshock yourself your system was reduced to a crawl, you could barely see what was going on at 3 frames per second and the graphics were set so low everything looked like rocks. Here is where the ambitious part comes in: Instead of running the game on your computer, OnLive is actually running the game on their big iron servers (big iron – defined: large, expensive, ultra-fast computers) and sending the resulting video frames over the internet to your computer. Your input, such as a mouse click (shooting a gun maybe), is then sent back over the internet to the server. This is all done with no discernable lag at all. No matter how sad and underpowered your PC might seem, if you can watch a television show on Hulu, you can play Crysis at maximum settings using OnLive. One of the coolest gimmicks of the service is the login screen/user page, which is propped up in front of a giant video wall of hundreds of other users playing games in-progress over OnLive. Once again, it’s all handled on their servers, so while you think something like this would kill your computer, it doesn’t.
I had an idea like this over a year ago, but OnLive has been in stealth development for 7 years now, so these guys definitely win the race. The implications are enourmous, this has the potential to turn every PC into a gaming console, instantly putting immense pressure on Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Microsoft is put into an interesting position because all of the available games will essentially Windows (PC) games, and OnLive’s servers will be running Windows. We’ll see what happens when the service opens up to the public in Winter 09. You can find more info here.
Also, check out their site frontpage, and enjoy their spiffy introduction trailer.