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Antstream - It's Netflix for Games!


jon_cybernet
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On 19/07/2018 at 07:39, jon_cybernet said:

The best thing is, every game on the system is fully licensed, so you know that by playing the games, people are actually going to get paid.

 

I'm another who thought this sounded nice enough because I was fairly ignorant about the licencing issues around 80s home computer games, it was before my time and I naively thought people like JPickford owned the rights to the games they made, even if someone else distributed them back in the day.

 

Now that it's been cleared up, I think using this sort of language (the best thing) is quite misleading, you're clearly playing on people's desire for the games' actual creators to be fairly compensated.

 

As a fan of retro games, I'd consider paying the people who actually created the games a very good thing. On the other hand I'd consider paying an unrelated company that bought the rights to some games when another company went bankrupt to be a very bad thing. I'd rather not give such companies any money for games they had nothing to do with the creation of, and I'm sure I'm not alone. It might be "the best thing" for antstream, as not paying the rights holders would be illegal.

 

The idea of streaming c64 games doesn't appeal to me. Game streaming is rubbish in general but also c64 games are tiny!

 

I assume the reason for streaming is that it's easier to make one emulator (it would be interesting to know if the emulators are made in house) and stream to everything than to port emulators to various systems and deliver the tiny roms to a client side emulator where the player can have a lag-free experience.

Basically, the player gets an objectively worse gameplay experience so that the company can do less work/ongoing maintenance when new hardware comes out. That lack of need to port emulators probably also sounds good in the sales pitch when they're looking for a big company to buy them out.

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This thread has become a massive own goal. Just an admittance about licencing the games officially for use as a business venture would have been fine. Instead what we have had is the exact opposite, A pretence that the original creators will benefit and this is somehow a heroic retro gaming preservation system. 

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Even with HDTVs that don’t scale old consoles properly etc you get people hooking up a snes or whatever over composite and saying “wow old games sure are shit”. Others end up buying expensive scalers or keep crt TVs in their house in 2019 to minimise lag.

 

I can see relatively non tech savvy people (the type who wish to avoid “fiddly emulators”) using this, experiencing the input lag etc from streaming and concluding “wow, old games are too hard to control”. A lot of these games are pretty unforgiving even without the lag from streaming.

 

Also, using open source emulators, hiding them on the backend and making a big part of your sales pitch “no fiddly emulators” is pretty disrespectful to the people who made them.

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On 11/04/2019 at 11:34, Treble said:

Hmm, not sure I agree entirely with the POV here. I think lots - probably the majority - of people playing ROMs did so or do so because they aren't available to buy in any kind of system that benefits the original developers or publishers. 

 

Indeed - I love emulation but I'm also a sucker for modern re-releases like the ones seen at the height of last-gen and XBLA - if I'm given the opportunity to buy "official" re-releases I'll gladly take it, but often it's not an option.

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7 hours ago, JPickford said:

To my shame I was only considering the original game authors and not the emulator developers.  This thing is also built on the backs of their work - and they are the people who have really kept these games alive for decades.  All for free.  All for the (genuine) love of games.

 

To me it's shocking that someone can come along and hoover up these open source emulators,  acquire 'streaming rights' to games that were created when there was no such thing as streaming and make a business out of that when almost nobody who did the original work will see a penny.   On top of that they are delivering these games in the most inefficient way imaginable and in a way which saps the very core of what makes videogames great - responsiveness.   How could anyone who claims to love these games think this is a good idea?

 

 

 

Genuine question, how would you get all these old games to the masses, legally and make sure the people who actually created them get rewarded? Only way  I can see is if the rights holders distribute some of the money to the creator's of the games but that seems like wishful thinking.

 

Most people I know don't have the tech savvy or time to download and setup a bunch of emulators as well as find the roms for old systems. I also know that given the opportunity to easily stream these old games for a quick trip down memory lane they won't give two shits where the money is going or think twice about latency. But most old games are rock hard and I can't see people sticking around to play them with a subscription fee on top either.

 

 

 

 

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27 minutes ago, JPickford said:

 

Digital downloads (emulators running on local hardware) work fine.   Old games could be downloaded near instantly at todays internet speeds.  Even if they were re-downloaded every time you played it wouldn't be noticeable and would use a fraction of the bandwidth compared to streaming.  And of course there would be no lag.  It's just a matter of putting the emulation at the other end of the pipe.

 

I can't solve the problem of who gets paid -  I just object to outfits like Antstream pretending they are somehow altruistic just because they aren't pirating the Roms.

 

                           

 

 

Ah yes, that makes total sense.

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3 hours ago, JPickford said:

One of the reasons I'm bothered about the whole lag thing as it really shits on the work we did.   Back when we coded in assembler we'd often pore over every instruction.  You'd see code with a number comment after every instruction which was the number of processor cycles each instruction took.  The coder would add up the numbers to know precisely how long the routine would take to execute and spend hours/days looking for optimizations which might save a single cycle.    Often we would 'unroll' loops which means instead of having code go round in a loop we'd repeat instructions multiple times to eliminate the loop counter and the conditional jump.   It was a lot of work but we loved it - we were proud of it.  I've worked with guys who could work magic with a Z80 or 6502.

 

I imagine the emulator writers who I think are probably a lot cleverer went through a similar process in emulating the underlying hardware.

 

Streaming is like taking a giant shit on all this and adding thousands of extra cycles to everything.  

 

                            

 

Yeah but you couldn’t have done this without the publishers breathing down your neck making you do it!!

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1 minute ago, carlospie said:

 

Yeah but you couldn’t have done this without the publishers breathing down your neck making you do it!!

 

Yes he could. Should have programmed at home. I watched Bandersnatch, I know all about how the biz from the 80's works!

 

It's not the boss that motivates. It's Jeff Minter's doppleganger.

 

 

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3 hours ago, JPickford said:

The coder would add up the numbers to know precisely how long the routine would take to execute and spend hours/days looking for optimizations which might save a single cycle. 

I always love reading your development posts, because I'm old enough that things like the above speak to my introduction to gaming. And having briefly dabbled in 86x (rendering some pixels by writing directly to VGA memory, nothing in depth) many moons ago, I completely appreciate what you mean by the importance of timing now. I know we've disagreed a bit in streaming threads, but the above was really helpful in understanding your perspective.

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With an album, film or a book the names of the creators and contributors to their creation are usually there somewhere on the product, album cover, first few pages, credit roll etc so it's fairly easy to work out who is due a piece of the pie and their hierarchy. In musical terms you can mostly even hear it, in the form of your singer. Do all video games credit their creators in the same way? I know games now have reams of names rolling down the screen after completion and I can remember a few old computer games having names somewhere flashing up around the start "music by Rob Hubbard" "coded by Matthew Smith" etc. So my question is do all games have their creators buried somewhere in their code or at the beginning or end screens?

 

And what are the thoughts on creating a game from one's own set up and ideas and making a game for hire, say with a license given by a publisher. Is it as straightforward as whose name is on the tin or is it the quagmire it looks to be. 

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2 hours ago, JPickford said:

 

I'd like to see video game creatives protected in the way they are in the entertainment, music and book industries but that's a big wish.

 

I think that works out for the smaller indie games and I hope that publishers like Devolver Digital, Curve Digital, and Adult Swim Games are not approaching the default position of owning the IP.

 

But how would you assign a creator to Assassin's Creed or even Destiny, which is owned by the developer Bungie, I wonder how you can attach ownership to a game made by thousands?

 

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52 minutes ago, MW_Jimmy said:

 

I think that works out for the smaller indie games and I hope that publishers like Devolver Digital, Curve Digital, and Adult Swim Games are not approaching the default position of owning the IP.

 

But how would you assign a creator to Assassin's Creed or even Destiny, which is owned by the developer Bungie, I wonder how you can attach ownership to a game made by thousands?

 

 

Sure. But that’s not the kind of game that this streaming company are streaming. Most of these games were one to three people, and - to repeat - there’s a difference between advertising that “we compensate the rights holders, whoever they might now be - even if they’re the nu-Atari parasites” and “we compensate the creators”.

there’s a reason they’ve chosen the later tack; even though they know it’s not actually true in the slightest for a lot of their games.

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Big budget games are generally still in the equivalent of the Golden Age Hollywood Studio System. The studio owns the commercial rights to the creative work, all the talent are just employees who might get lucky and get some bonuses if the game performs really well.

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1 hour ago, footle said:

 

Sure. But that’s not the kind of game that this streaming company are streaming. Most of these games were one to three people, and - to repeat - there’s a difference between advertising that “we compensate the rights holders, whoever they might now be - even if they’re the nu-Atari parasites” and “we compensate the creators”.

there’s a reason they’ve chosen the later tack; even though they know it’s not actually true in the slightest for a lot of their games.

We haven't chosen the later tack - I said, once, in this thread, that "we compensate the creators" (because in some cases, we do), and I've since apologised for it. 

That claim doesn't appear in any of our marketing or PR!

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39 minutes ago, Anne Summers said:

Which tagline?

The tagline people seem to be alluding to in this thread, that the original creators are going to benefit. Whether it's an actual tagline emboldened at the bottom of some written pitch or simply mentioned in video blurb about the service etc, it still seems pretty disingenuous to have it in the marketing, service plus points, if a lot of said creators won't see a dime.

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39 minutes ago, Darhkwing said:

All this talk about lag when streaming the games. Surely it's not actually streaming them right? The games are bytes.. it's surely going to download the game each time you play so i don't see why it would lag.

That's what I thought but apparently not. 

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