The controls for games are going to take some learning. The free 20 minutes is not enough time to learn and then experiment with SL. So, be warned. Study the controls first. Then start burning minutes. Here is their tutorial video.
The User Interface (UI) uses modes. There is; Movement mode, Flight mode, and Camera mode. I think that is it. So, it is not all that intuitive. But, it is a pretty good UI.
You can find the UI explanation here: SL GO Controls/UI. It is easier to refer to these web pages than to keep replaying the video.
As pointed out earlier, OnLive is rendering the world in their cloud servers and streaming the images to the users. I have seen some that this as a statement of the Lab mot being interested in nulding for the mobile world. I disagree.
I say otherwise because my Android doesn’t have the muscle needed to render SL. My friend’s iPad certainly doesn’t. Even my desktop with a good video card is limited. Mobile tech is just not there yet.
The Lab going in with OnLive and creating this app does suggest to me that there is interst on the Lab’s part.
I’ve heard talk of the Oculus Rift targeting mobile devices. I’ve had my doubts about whether that makes sense and is possible. Going 3D visual requires twice as many rendered images. I couldn’t see how they were ever going to get mobile devices to that level. OnLive shows a pathway.
The Oculus and Rift on medium quality computers and below or even some pretty heacy duty computers might provide an amazing render of SL and a highly immersive experience. Imagine being able to steer your avatar like we steer Bluetooth controlled quad-copters, by tilting and moving the device.
The cost of minutes is not that bad if you purchase larger quantities. Ten hours for US$25 is $2.50/hr and $8 for 3 is $2.67/hour. OnLive is having to maintain some high-end servers and burn bandwidth. I’m surprised they have it down this low.
My Android is not showing how much bandwidth I used while connected. I was not connected for even 30 minutes. But, I expected it to show something. I suspect that the problem is with Android reporting or where I am looking. I’ll get another app for that measurement.
I know we are not downloading regions to the device and rendering in it. That happens in the OnLive servers. But, they are streaming animation or perhaps more accurately video to the device. I suspect the data minutes on a phone will be along the lines of Netflix, which I have used on the S4. While the images are gorgeously sharp they are small but watchable. I expect the data cost of OnLive will be similar to Netflix’s cost/data consumption.
The SL Go render on my Android is gorgeous. The images I have here don’t do it justice. The S4 is capturing a 1920px wide screen capture image. Moving those to my PC I found they suck. I’ll have to see if I can adjust the S4 to do better screen captures. I did some sharpening by reducing the 1920 to 800px wide. The camera takes great 4,000+px wide images that work well in Photoshop. So, I think better screen captures should be possible.
All in all, I think this is something many have been wanting for some time. I also think this may be some part of the reason for the Zipper Project Viewer… or not.
One of the things OnLive offers is a gaming service. They provide games to desktop players. Those with low end video cards and Intel HD Graphics, made for streaming, can use the service to play games that demand high-end graphics without buying a new video card. So, this could be a lifesaver for those on limited PCs difficult to upgrade that want to get Second Life using the Ultra graphics settings.
The cost of the OnLive service versus cost of upgrading a computer is probably going to hit breakeven and about 150 hours. I don’t really have any idea how many hours I spend logged into Second Life. I tend a login for lots of short sessions. I probably spend a minimum of 5 to 6 hours per week logged in. So, I would need about $800 worth of minutes per year, if all my Second Life time was via OnLive.
A person can buy a pretty nice computer for $800 bucks. The new iCore desktop computers are running in the $400-$600 range and refurbished new computers are in the $300-$500 range. For what OnLive would cost a new computer would be a more economic move. OnLive only makes sense if you really need to be mobile.
We will have to wait and see if price is a serious obstacle. I suspect it will be. But, this gets Second Life into the mobile world and it does it in style, as Hamlet points out in his article.
Thanks to Linden Lab’s Peter Gray for extending me an invitation to participate pre-announcement. Thanks to Jane Anderson of OnLive for offering to provide a tablet for testing, which I declined. I didn’t want another thing to deal with… but, the offer was appreciated.