Gaikai – a platform agnostic solution for the future gaming needs

I have just played the demo version of Mass Effect 2 on the Gaikai website; judging from the website it’s an impressive user of today’s technology for streaming a game in real time in your browser thus making it a platform agnostic solution.

I have just played the demo version of Mass Effect 2 on the Gaikai website; judging from the website it’s an impressive user of today’s technology for streaming a game in real time in your browser thus making it a platform agnostic solution.  Theoretically you should be able to play games using OSX, Linux or a Windows system using any choice of browser albeit Chrome, Firefox, IE, Opera or Safari.

All that was required was a visit to the website and install the Gaikai Java applet which is similar to most other plug-ins to play video or music such as Flash or Quicktime.  There is no need for special hardware such as excess RAM, dedicated graphics card or a powerful CPU.  Instead the Gaikai technology uses your PC as a thin client to stream the display data whilst the actual game is hosted and played on the Gaikai servers.

This is similar to the Onlive solution however this will require you to purchase a special box and controller to access it unlike Gaikai which will support your mouse and keyboard as standard.  I am sure in time there will be controllers that will be made compatible with this system.  The closest example I can think of is Facebook which currently offers only the most basic arcade/console games and takes up minimum hardware power.

At the moment the Gaikai platform headed by (Dave Perry) is marketed as an advertising platform for accessing game demos but this has been downplayed somewhat.  The potential for this technology in the coming years, due to the trend in an ever increasing oversaturated OS market, seems to make sense.  As the internet browser is common place and a powerful application among all devices; it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this is where we are heading for PC and mobile gaming in the future this is why HTC have invested heavily in OnLive.  Similar to streaming media platforms such as Netflix, Napster, Spotify and Qriocity all games will be available in a large library ready for the gamer to play.

The only question remains is how to generate sufficient revenue and profits from such a platform?  Personally, I think games 3-5 years old should be available as part of your monthly subscription with each publisher getting a share based on how much their games are played and you pay extra for any new release games.

I don’t think it will put out Nintendo, Sony or Microsoft anytime soon (let’s face it they are great at what they do and have a very successful business model) but Gaikai will be a great platform to provide accessible gaming and help grow the gaming community further whether it is farmed out on a publisher by publisher basis or becomes a competitor to Steam.

PS3 Move in all its glory

The PS3 Move has now been released.  I have been an advocate of this tech when it was shown at E3 2009.  The potential for the motion controller seemed high.  Strategically it was geared up as high definition version of the Wii Remote and would have really appealed to an audience who were looking for the next generation of gaming.

In the PS3 Move bundle you get the Wand controller, PS3 Eye and a starter disc.  You have to purchase a sub controller separately at additional cost or use a Dual Shock 3 controller using one hand (good luck with that).  The setup is slightly pain free which will get you up and running in no time at all using the starter disc.  However, if you have lighting issues i.e. too brighter an environment the PS3 Eye will have trouble in detecting the Wand controller.

Where I think the trouble begins with the Move is its integration with the XMB (cross media browser) menu system.  Trying to navigate with the Wand controller is night on impossible and Sony really need to update this to be a more integrated solution.  The problem arises with the sensitivity of the device and scrolling up or down, left or right through the menus is either too fast or too slow.  I also, found that there is slight lag in picking up the controller.  The Wand controller needs to mimic a mouse controller rather than a dual shock controller and this is where it will be most effective when using the PS3’s web browser for their PS store and also the BBC Iplayer, 4OD and ITV player services.  But this will entail a complete rebuild of the XMB which I don’t Sony will commit to.

However, playing some of the demos available on the start up disc such as Table tennis and Tiger Woods golf proves how effective the controller can be.  It is super accurate in picking up your movements and it is truly 1:1 detection.  The potential for future games such as Killzone 3 having Move support seems to be a mouth watering proposition and will appeal to the hardcore. The PS3 Move has now been released.  I have been an advocate of this tech when it was shown at E3 2009.  The potential for the motion controller seemed high.  Strategically it was geared up as high definition version of the Wii Remote and would have really appealed to an audience who were looking for the next generation of gaming.

In the PS3 Move bundle you get the Wand controller, PS3 Eye and a starter disc.  You have to purchase a sub controller separately at additional cost or use a Dual Shock 3 controller using one hand (good luck with that).  The setup is slightly pain free which will get you up and running in no time at all using the starter disc.  However, if you have lighting issues i.e. too brighter an environment the PS3 Eye will have trouble in detecting the Wand controller.

Where I think the trouble begins with the Move is its integration with the XMB (cross media browser) menu system.  Trying to navigate with the Wand controller is night on impossible and Sony really need to update this to be a more integrated solution.  The problem arises with the sensitivity of the device and scrolling up or down, left or right through the menus is either too fast or too slow.  I also, found that there is slight lag in picking up the controller.  The Wand controller needs to mimic a mouse controller rather than a dual shock controller and this is where it will be most effective when using the PS3’s web browser for their PS store and also the BBC Iplayer, 4OD and ITV player services.  But this will entail a complete rebuild of the XMB which I don’t Sony will commit to.

However, playing some of the demos available on the start up disc such as Table tennis proves how effective the controller can be.  It is super accurate in picking up your movements and it is truly 1:1 detection.  The potential for future games such as Killzone 3 having Move support seems to be a mouth watering proposition.  However, the controls need to be spot on for this to work.  Most of the launch software seems tripe though and like with all console related peripherals this can only be as successful as the software launched for it.  There needs to be a game changer for the casual crowd to start buying into the PS3 Move.  At the moment, it doesn’t seem like Sony are fully behind the Move whilst Microsoft on the other hand have heavily invested in advertising campaigns and released a decent amount of good quality software for the Kinect.

Truth be told both the Kinect and PS Move were released to extend the life of the Xbox 360 and PS3 respectively however, as the tech is not an integral part of the way the consoles work compared to a traditional controllers I expect interest in the devices to drop early next year.  This will allow Nintendo’s next home console to start building momentum.

Game saves – save anywhere is the future

I trade in my old XBOX 360 for a new slim model ensuring that I have copied all of my game saves and content to an external drive.  Copy version seems ok with all game saves intact.  I copy the content and game saves to my new XBOX 360 slim.  I fire up Forza 3.  I look for my game save.  No game save available.  Dissapointment sets in…

I am not a happy bunny after spending around 15 hours Forza 3 prior to this and losing my game save is not on.  I will not be touching Forza 3 anytime soon.  A similar thing happened with my PS3 where I was unable to copy over my Uncharted 2 content.  Why do hardware manufacturers make it so difficult to retrieve your game saves?

This brings me to cloud gaming profiles.  Imagine a world where you play a game and the saved game is automatically uploaded as part of your profile.  Wherever you are you can access your game save and profile.  It is a simple idea and in this hi-tech day and age I am surprised it hasn’t been thought of already?

Granted we are not going to see Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo hold hands and share user profiles.  However, all three should be able to implement a cloud game save solution.  The amount of hours I have poured into various games over the years only to find that I can no longer revive my scores or game states.

We are stepping in the right direction with Apple and it’s Game Center where your game saves are backed up as part of the App to re-sync later.  However, this is locally via PC and your Iphone/Ipod Touch.  As gamers we need a better solution.  Please Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo listen!!!

Star Defense review

I purchased Star Defense back in July 09 and have only just managed to play it. With a barrage of games to play this was put on the back burner. After purchasing an IPAD I decided to give this a go on this device. I have been playing this on and off over the past few weeks and managed to complete the game whilst watching the world cup games :)

The objective of the game like any other strategy tower defense game is to defend your base from the incoming enemies this time being aliens. The hook of this game seems to be the planet being your level which is an ingenious piece of level design. You pinch, pan and zoom around the globes and add towers in key locations to defend your base. Enemies come in waves and in a variety of sizesthey are immune to certain types of weaponry i.e. fire, plasma. So you really need to have an assortment of cannons placed to maximise your chances of success.

A few strategy hints I could give is to make the most of your environments. You need to really use each tower/gunner in the optimal position i.e. covering the most area/radius possible. Also, it is better to upgrade your weaponry rather than adding towers. The plasma and flame cannons should be your staple and adding the slow down cannons at key locations such as opposite flame or plasma cannons can help but I wouldn’t use them more than two or three of them on each level. I completed the last level using only 20 out of 30 possible towers and the majority were upgraded to the max.

Lastability is around 8-10 hours. The fourth planet was really challenging and took the most effort. It is a very addictive game but there are gameplay balancing issues as mentioned before which hampers the experience a little bit they could learn a thing or two from Popcap. All in all I enjoyed this very much and similar to Plants vs Zombies has that ‘one more go’ appeal.

4/5

Iphone 4 details

Iphone 4 has finally been confirmed with a UK release date of 24th June. Pricing has yet to be announced by O2, T mobile, Orange and Vodafone.

Iphone 4 has finally been confirmed with a UK release date of 24th June.  Pricing has yet to be announced by O2, T mobile,  Orange and Vodafone.

The new Iphone looks very good on paper and with the new OS firmware which includes multi-tasking plus a raft of other features we are in for a treat.

The features are:

  • 5 megapixel camera with flash
  • Imovie (App purchase seperately)
  • Slimmer form factor
  • Wider viewing angle
  • High resolution display
  • Facetime for video chats over WIFI
  • Front facing camera
  • Longer batter life
  • Glass back and front
  • Metal housing
  • A4 processor (speed hasn’t been confirmed; could be same as IPAD)
  • 720P video recording
  • 16GB or 32GB version
  • Gyroscope for full six axis movement – ideal for gaming

Looks brilliant and has upped the stakes in the mobile space.  Can’t wait to play games even smoother and crisper than before.  Bring it on!!!