The biggest news out the Game Developers Conference has undoubtedly been the OnLive service, which has been heralded as everything from the end of consoles to the death of retailers to a complete joke that won’t actually work. Depending on whom you talk to. The basic idea is simply a combination of videogaming and cloud computing. This simply means that rather than installing and running a game locally, you contact a server online and all the heavy number crunching happens at that end with the results being sent back as streaming video. That means you could play high-end games on minimal hardware – even NetBooks are able to decode video, which is all that is required.
The fact this is developed by the guy who brought us WebTV suggests we should take this a bit more seriously than we might be inclined. The key was developing a video encoding algorithm that cut out the usual latency in the process to produce almost-instantaneous results. However limitations even in broadband delivery mean there will be additional delays in sending your control inputs to the server and in receiving the video back. By all accounts the (obviously highly controlled) demo was very impressive. As with many others my instinctive reaction is that this sounds great for some games, but first person shooters and action games that rely on split-second timing will surely suffer. Nevertheless, consider my curiosity piqued because if they can make it work, wow!
A new mp3HD lossless mp3 format was recently announced. It’s backwards compatible insofar as it maintains the same file extension and contains the lossy version as well, so will play on current hardware. However that effectively means putting a lossless-size file onto your player only to get lossy playback which isn’t particularly efficient use of space, so I can’t really see this one taking off.
And since this has clearly turned into an unashamedly techie post: