OnLive’s LEGO Harry Potter Contest

To commemorate this milestone, we’re going to have a contest! The first OnLive member to make it all the way through LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 will win an Apple iPadTM, and the next 5 OnLive members will win an Apple iPod touch�. The six winning entrants will:
OnLive made a big splash when it launched but then things quieted down a bit. In some ways it’s success and it’s slow roll-out is working against it. Games just work… once you report that there isn’t all that much to say about the service!

So now they’re shaking it up. At 12:01 PDT tonight, LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 hits the service. At 12:01 PDT tonight, you can be playing the game before anyone else not on OnLive is (unless someone broke street date). For people who go to midnight launches and stuff, being first seems to really matter. With OnLive you don’t have to go to the store, download the game or even install it.

To emphasis the speed thing, OnLive is running a contest. The first member to finish the game gets an iPad, and the following 5 get an iPod Touch. That’s an idea that will appeal a lot to some people. Me, I can’t think of anything less appealing then rushing through a game, but that’s just me.

Here’s the full email. I hope OnLive runs more contests like this one…it’s a nice way to play off the strengths of their service.

Greetings from the OnLive Community Team!

We hope you have been enjoying the brand new OnLive Game Service! We’ve been open to the public for just ten days so far, and the initial feedback we’ve received has been very positive. We’re very excited about the opportunities that OnLive opens up in the videogame world.

And of course, we’ll be adding lots more games! The first new game will be added just after midnight tonight, and we’re celebrating with OnLive’s first contest! Here’s an announcement we just posted on OnLive’s blog:

LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4 is being released tonight at 12:01 AM PDT on Tuesday, June 29th. What makes this a major milestone for OnLive�and showcases an awesome benefit of instant gaming�is OnLive members will be playing the game before anyone on any other platform. No waiting for a store to open or waiting in line to buy a physical disc. No downloads, updates, installs or authorizations required. (And, no Windows required if you are a Mac user.)

With OnLive you Just Play. It’s better than being first in line!

  • Have a PlayPass for the game to participate in the contest, so if you are logged in just prior to the game going live, we recommend you log out and log back in at 12:01AM to be sure your Marketplace list is refreshed and all PlayPass options appear for the game.
  • Take a Brag ClipTM video showing collection of all 200 Gold Bricks in the game and reaching the final bonus level. Specifically, winning Brag Clip videos must show you have collected all 200 Gold Bricks in the game and have become Lord Voldemort in the final bonus level. You must enable “All players” to view your Brag Clips video under the Privacy settings in the OnLive Game Service Dashboard.
  • Send an email to [email protected] with your Player Tag (associated with the Brag Clip video of the game completion screen), First Name/Last Name, Address, Telephone Number and Date of Birth in the body of the email as soon as you have completed the game. Entrants will be ranked based on when OnLive receives a properly completed email.
  • Receive a contest confirmation email from OnLive to confirm receipt of your validated entry. Remember that your OnLive Account will only save your last 15 Brag Clip videos, so wait until the winners of the contest have been announced by OnLive before making any more Brag Clip videos that might delete the game completion Brag Clip video.

For full contest rules and eligibility please click here.

Regardless of whether you’d like to participate in this contest, we very much appreciate the time you’ve taken to try out OnLive in its very earliest days, and we welcome and encourage your feedback (please email to [email protected]). There are lots of new features and performance improvements coming to the OnLive Game Service as we catch up with initial demand. Your feedback will help us tune OnLive to best meet the needs of OnLive Members.

Looking forward to seeing you in the OnLive Community! Have a great time and Just Play!

–Matt Jensen
OnLive Community Manager

OnLive first look

I’ve had nothing but snarky comments for OnLive since it was first announced. See The Emperor Has No Clothes! (OnLive), OnLive, a new game-changing technology or OnLive’s streaming game service to launch June 17th. I don’t expect you to go read all those, but if you did, you’d find that I slipped in a virtual sneer at every chance I got.

I was absolutely positive this service was snake oil.

Tonight I got in and… dammit, it works pretty well. I’m gonna have to eat my words.

Tonight I’m just going to convey my experience with a game; there’s a lot to talk about re: social aspects of the service but I’ll leave that for another day.

I selected Borderlands as the first game to try, partially because Scopique chose it (and I wanted to compare notes) and partially because I just wanted to play it. I haven’t played Borderlands on PC before and only a bit on the 360.

I fired it up and more or less instantly was seeing the intro stuff. You get 30 minutes of demo time per game, but otherwise a demo is the full game, and that includes intro movies, tutorials and stuff. That’s a slight flaw and in a perfect world they’d start your timer when you got control of your character, but I realize that’s asking a lot.

The game ran pretty nicely. One weird thing was when I aimed my gun, distant terrain and enemies would be blurry and then come into focus. I don’t know if this is an OnLive artifact or a style choice. It didn’t feel wrong…in fact it felt pretty neat. Like I’m raising my gun and squinting down the sights to focus on a target.

A very few times things went slightly wonky and I’d suddenly turn 180 degrees or something. This didn’t happen enough that it hurt the experience, but it’s worth mentioning. Presumably the OnLive servers aren’t packed yet.

So I ran around killing stuff, finished a few quests, made a level, then my demo ran out. So now I had a choice to make. In the case of Borderlands, I could buy a “Full Pass” for $29.99 and have full access to the game for as long as I was subscribed to OnLive (that’s the same price I’d pay to just buy the game from Steam) or I could buy a 5 day pass ($8.99) or a 3 day pass ($5.99). So there are options, at least for Borderlands.

On the other hand, Assassin’s Creed II was $39.99 for a Full Pass (again, same as Steam) and had no short term rentals, but Batman Arkham Asylum only had 3 & 5 day passes ($4.99 & $6.99 respectively) with no Full Pass option. Splinter Cell Conviction was $59.99 for a Full Pass, no other options.

Point being every game is different. Scopique played some demos where you could save your progress and pick right up from where you left off if you bought the game, but Borderlands, when the demo ran out, let me know that my progress wasn’t saved. It’d be nice to know this ahead of time.

There’s no way I’d pay $60 for Splinter Cell Conviction on this service, but I could see myself buying a 3-day pass to Batman some weekend, if I didn’t already own the game on the PS3. Or even a 3-day pass to Borderlands if some friends were playing some weekend.

I feel like I’m focusing too much on the negatives here. The fact is, I was *stunned* that the service works. It was really nice jumping into a game without have to download or install anything (once the OnLive client was installed, that is). While I was playing, Angela was in EQ2 and she didn’t notice any lag caused by my OnLive-ing, which was something I was concerned about.

And my PC is decent for gaming, but pretty much every game kicks the video card’s fan into high gear, making the PC suddenly start sounding like a vacuum cleaner. That didn’t happen playing OnLive, since my PC wasn’t doing the heavy lifting. And if you have a snappy internet connection but not such a great PC, OnLive should in theory be right up your alley.

With their special offer, the first year of OnLive is free, and I’ll definitely be using it at least now and then. Year 2 it’ll cost $4.95/month; we’ll see if I’m up for that. After that the intent is for it to go to $14.95/month and I’m pretty sure I would not do that, unless it came with some kind of perks (certain games free each month or something along those lines).

There’s a bunch of social stuff that I’ll go into more in another post if people are interested, but suffice to say it’s kind of fun watching other people play games now and then.

If you try out OnLive, add me as a friend: my gamertag there is Jaded (same as it is on Xbox Live).

The Emperor Has No Clothes! (OnLive)

Lots of gawking and fawning about OnLive coming out of GDC and from folks on Twitter. People who I usually feel are pretty lucid are buying into this product in a way that startles me.

(On the off-chance you haven’t heard about OnLine, I wrote a post about it for ITWorld.)

OnLive sounds to me like a really neat tech demo. A system that works wonderfully under ideal circumstances.

And OK, it might even be a neat system for non-twitch games. Board games, RPG’s with turn-based systems, and things of that nature. But FPSers and driving games? No way. At least, not in a way that is going to be dependable all the time.

Just think about how often you’re sitting at home and you hit a site that feels slow. Now it might be that the server that hosts the site is bogged down. But it could be any of a number of other reasons between you and them, too. I work on the web. I spend a lot of time tracking down “the site is really slow!!” problems, and about 70% of the time, it isn’t the site itself. It’s a router being wonky or DNS being sluggish or our local connection being bogged down or something else.

If any of those things happen while I’m playing Need For Speed over OnLive, my experience goes right into the crapper. And for most of it, there’s nothing you can do but wait.

If OnLine launches and becomes popular, we’ll be back to the old “bandwidth hog!” jokes of a few years ago. If you want to play a game and someone in another room wants to stream video, you’re screwed. You may even be screwed if your next door neighbor is bit-torrenting his porn collection to the world. Got an VOIP phone? Well don’t try to play while someone is talking on it!

And then there’s the question of bandwidth caps from your ISP.

Here’s what Brad Wardell of Stardock has to say about the server. Now granted, he isn’t exactly objective… but here ya go: Stardock CEO speaks about OnLive.

*Maybe* all of this will work out and OnLive will do great. Would this be a good thing? They want to replace both hard media (ie, disks) and digital downloads. In short, they want to have a monopoly on how we play games. They’ll know what we play, and how long we play for, and who we play with. If they decide your favorite game isn’t right for their service, bam, it goes away. There’s nothing you can do to keep a copy for yourself. It’s just gone. Poof.

Granted, the chance of them taking over like that is slim.

But people, remember the Phantom! Be skeptical! I signed up for beta; you should too. Let’s see how this service really works before we start chittering away like happy mice over it (I don’t know where that came from, sorry).

At *best* I think it’ll be a system you’ll use to supplement your consoles and gaming PCs, not replace them. You don’t want to be without any games every time the net goes a little wonky, do you?

[UPDATE: Lloyd Case has a nice article on the service (more balanced than my rant) over at Extreme Tech]