Thursday, 25 August 2011

OnLive Launches Group Voice Chat Beta – Video Chat Will Come Later

Yesterday, while OnLive made several rather large announcements, probably the most exciting for current and potential OnLive gamers is the addition of Group Chat. OnLive previously had In-game Chat, as well as Spectator Chat, which allowed gamers to talk to each other while either playing multiplayer games, or while spectating each other play.

However, today’s release of Group Voice Chat Beta brings a whole new element to Onlive.

OnLive VP of Engineering, Joe Bentley introduced the new feature by stating:
“OnLive gaming is a uniquely social experience—and it just got a lot easier to make the most out of those social features. OnLive has had two types of voice chat: Game Chat (for multiplayer sessions) and Spectator Chat (for chatting while watching someone play a game). Today we’ve added a third: Group Chat (for voice chatting with anyone, no matter what they are doing).”

“Here’s how it works: Let’s say you have 10 college buddies you like to play multiplayer games with. Now, you can create a group for them on the service that will persist from session to session. Instead of trying to track them down individually, now you can jump into a group voice chat no matter what they’re doing on the service. Voice chat while they’re playing a game, spectating others or just browsing the Marketplace … and if they’re not signed into OnLive, you can invite them to join you via integrated email notifications.”

“Make one group for folks you meet on the service who play a certain multiplayer game. Make another for friends you just want to hang with when you find a great game to spectate. It’s all about easily connecting—and yakking it up—with the gamers of your choice and making the most of your gameplay time. Of course, as always, OnLive voice chat works across all platforms and worldwide, so whether your friends are using a TV, PC, Mac or are across the pond when the UK service goes live in a month, OnLive voice chat just works.”
Group Voice chat is an element that many OnLive members had been requesting, and it’s something we expected to eventually see in the future. We just didn’t expect it to be released so soon.

We had an opportunity to speak with OnLive Founder and CEO, Steve Perlman about the addition of Group Voice Chat to the cloud video gaming service. He explained some of the features of this new option that he likes best.

“The nice thing about it is that you can invite people (to chat) through email if you want to,” said Perlman. “You [can] go and say, ‘hey guys, I’m ready to play some Borderlands,’ and they’ll actually get a notification.”

Finding friends to voice chat with on OnLive previously could become quite a task. It was a matter of finding out which friends were currently on the service, then tracking them down in order to chat with them. Now with this new feature, members can chat with any of their friends no matter what they are currently doing on the OnLive service. If their friends aren’t on the service at the moment, they can send them a notification via email, requesting that they join them.

So, the question arises: “How many people can be in a voice chat group at any certain time?” We asked Perlman just this.

“There is what we call a soft limit of 50 in one room. It begins to get unwieldy, just in terms of managing a group, if you have that many people talking,” explained Perlman. “We’ll let it bubble above that, but if for some reason someone really wants to create a group of 100, then we will at some point say, ‘no more.’”

Just imagining having a group chat with 50 people in it, makes us cringe, so it’s possible that we will see this limit decreased at some point, if the general flow of conversations becomes too hectic. Gamers will have the ability to control this as well. If they see that having a group of 50 people makes voice chat too confusing, they can simply remove members from the group.

There doesn’t seem to be a limit, that will be imposed, as far as how many different voice chat groups a user can create. While Perlman could not confirm that there is no limit, he basically inferred that there won’t be one unless users abuse the feature.

With all of the grounds now covered, as far as voice chat goes on OnLive, the next obvious step would be integration of video chat into the service. We have heard rumors and seen prototypes of video chat on the service, but have not actually been told it was coming. That is until now. We asked Perlman if this is a feature that we will see on the service eventually.

He responded, “We will do it (video chat). The technology exists. If anyone has ever seen the Columbia presentation I gave on an invention, I actually show some of our initial prototypes, where we have video chat actually running. The video chat bed is a whole suite of things that would need to be done to make it work. If you are running on a laptop or a monitor that has a camera, it works just fine, but if you are on a TV, then you get into a situation where we have to go and start saying, ‘what cameras does the MicroConsole support? Should we work with some of the TV makers?’ It’s a little more involved than voice chat is, as you can imagine.”

Perlman noted that OnLive has a lot of features that they are working on, but they must decide which features get priority. He also said that the latest OnLive Update (that went out yesterday and today) includes many new features that are not complete as of yet. These features will not be turned on until they are ready to go.

Another interesting thing that Perlman talked about, concerning voice chat on OnLive, is that it will be available over multiple platforms, whether a PC, Mac, TV, or Tablet. It will also be available across nation’s borders. Gamers in the US will be able to take part in voice chat with gamers in the UK. Perlman actually said that he hopes that US gamers take the opportunity to welcome the UK gamers when the service launches overseas on September 22. He said that he hopes that the current US gamers show the gamers from the United Kingdom the features and ropes of OnLive.

SOURCE: OnLiveFans.

No comments:

Post a comment