January 15th, 2011

One for the geeks: a detailed account of a glorious hack called Retrocast

You may have heard of the new gaming platforms like OnLive or Meo Jogos […] They're a new paradigm in what comes to gaming: you don't need a console or an expensive PC, you'll pay a cheap flat fee or renting cost to play the high end games, all the processing power and game rendering is done on the Datacenter and the video is streamed to your house, all in real time. […]

Technologies like these are bleeding edge. There are many challenges related to the quality of the network, scalability, firewalls, etc, but mostly: very low latency video streaming is difficult. In order for these platforms to work, the roundtrip latency between a gamepad command (ie: you press fire) and the first video frame related to that command being rendered in your client (ie: you actually see the gun being fired) must be less than 100ms in order to "fool" the human brain and have the same real time experience that you would have with local consoles. It's not easy, trust me.

I'm a sucker for retrogames, great and emerging technologies, experimentation and hacking. This idea of doing a poor man's version of a streaming gaming on demand platform was ringing in my head for quite some time, so in a rainy weekend I decided to take matters with my own hands and glue this thing together. […]

Thirty-plus years after I got my hands on my first microcomputer, it still amazes me just how powerful and versatile modern desktop computers are. Still more impressive is the way that the numerous different pieces of software used allowed themselves to be lashed together to produce such miraculous, unexpected results. Powerful, flexible, open software; in the right hands, it's pretty much magical.

[Via The Tao of Mac]

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