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Antstream - It's Netflix for Games!


jon_cybernet
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4 hours ago, metallicfrodo said:

Isn’t Nintendo’s point that they own the IP for the internals of their systems. So it’s fine for them to emulate it. (i’m not saying I agree with that, just it’s not quite what you are making out).

 

I'm (99%...) sure the hardware patents in the NES ran out so the hardware is public domain as there's no copyrighted bios code.

 

I think the same might be true for the SNES and Megadrive given that Analogue are making clones without any legal repercussions.

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7 hours ago, MidWalian said:

Cottam said strict licensing terms from a few image-conscious publishers prevented him from discussing it publicly.

 

So he's saying that those pubs don't want it known that they're complicit in profiteering on the open-source cheap?

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I played this yesterday. It still needs a lot of work as far as I’m concerned. The presentation is great and the challenges are really cool but the experience I had was laggy and there was bad artifacting when i played faster moving games like prehistoric isle. I want it to succeed because i love the concept but it currently appears to be aimed at casual gamers, which is fine. There wasn’t even a scanline option so the images looked quite ugly.

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I had a go yesterday and it's a nice idea that for me just isn't quite there. A fair bit of artifacting too, and whilst the response time wasn't too bad, the occasional full loss of control due to lag was. For high energy shmups it won't work if that is what is delivered to consumers in my view. Potential.

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I don't think anyone said it's a bit shit, and everyone is entitled to their opinion of course. But we're still a little way from launch and I fully stand by what I said back at the start of this thread - we won't be launching a laggy service.

The vast majority of people who played it at PlayExpo loved it - about 5,000 sessions were launched all together. In particular it was amazing (again) to see the response from younger gamers. Seeing kids getting just as engrossed by Double Dragon or Caveman Ninja as they were by the row of PS4s set up at the Sony stand next to us was brilliant. 

 

I had a great time and it was awesome to meet so many people, catching up with some of my favourite retroheads including @Kim Justice and DJ Slopes  - and hanging out with the legendary Matt Smith - culminating with us signing a deal to get his games on our platform ^_^ 

Also really really cool to meet so many of our backers (and smash our 60k stretch goal while we are there). 

 

(Oh and another highlight was finally getting hands-on with the Spectrum Next after spending so long talking to Jim Bagley about it in the office - an awesome piece of kit). 

 

And playing a sit-down Space Harrier 

Arcade game for the first time in probably 30 years.

 

And watching Knightmare Live and catching up with Hugo Myatt and David Rowe...

 

 

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Another issue i have with antstream is a currency service it has which uses gems  to unlock the cool challenges.

I’ve been assured that it will be absolutely impossible to buy gems with money, which makes me wonder why you’d use one in the first place. I don’t recall it being mentioned previously. You can reward people through playing games without the need to introduce a currency service.

 

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5 minutes ago, Anne Summers said:

 

Well, as you say, the gems are only available by winning in-game challenges, and aren't part of a micro-transaction system. If you happen to have a personal dislike for in-game currencies, then it's completely understandable that you wouldn't like this feature. (but they have been mentioned previously - they appear in the first promo video we put out last year). 

This system can undoubtedly be updated for in game currency though. It's a smart way of future proofing the business to make it attractive to investors.

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1 minute ago, nakamura said:

This system can undoubtedly be updated for in game currency though. It's a smart way of future proofing the business to make it attractive to investors.

Yeah, that’s my concern.

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17 minutes ago, Stoppy2000 said:

What sort of cool challenges can you unlock? Sorry I've missed this bit somehow. 

Score attack modes, speed runs, boss rushes , play with controls reversed, maintain a certain speed in racing games or your car will explode ... Loads basically! We are also taking suggestions from the community about what games they would like to see challenges for, and what sort of challenges they want. 

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2 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

Score attack modes, speed runs, boss rushes , play with controls reversed, maintain a certain speed in racing games or your car will explode ... Loads basically! We are also taking suggestions from the community about what games they would like to see challenges for, and what sort of challenges they want. 

They sound shit. Oh cool I can play sonic one but can only use my ball sack to jump. For 500 gems. 

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The cynicism in here is both expected and surprising. Gamers seem so fickle. Hate and rant against the new things they perceive as threats to their identity (the other consoles for console manufacturer fanboys, all consoles for PC fanboys, mobile games for all “real gamers”). And at the same time massively hype and rave about the things that let them down so frequently (next console gen being 60fps, game previews with nothing but non-gameplay content).

 

I get that we’d like to see the original creators paid and it wasn’t well phrased by them (yes, even misleading). But that’s not gonna happen. Ever. Boo boo. I don’t give a fuck. Nor does anyone emulating this stuff. They’re not going out and donating to original creators.

 

I also think lag is an issue. It never won’t be. When the streaming platform services say it will be lag free, they’re lying but what I think they mean is it’ll be as good as it can be (not a half assed mess). When gamers say it they mean like their local console. It cannot match that because physics. Whether it’s good enough for some people in some scenarios is to be seen.

 

But we should, IMO, be happy to see interest in games getting bought to a wider audience. I believe it will expand the range of experiences offered to us as gamers and make all gaming better. Whether we use these services now or in the future I think anyone who thinks they’re a threat rather than a boon is the same sort of idiot who pronounced mobile gaming a threat.  

 

Oh, better rescue this rant...

Lol but think of the lag.

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53 minutes ago, thesnwmn said:

The cynicism in here is both expected and surprising. Gamers seem so fickle. Hate and rant against the new things they perceive as threats to their identity (the other consoles for console manufacturer fanboys, all consoles for PC fanboys, mobile games for all “real gamers”). And at the same time massively hype and rave about the things that let them down so frequently (next console gen being 60fps, game previews with nothing but non-gameplay content).

 

I get that we’d like to see the original creators paid and it wasn’t well phrased by them (yes, even misleading). But that’s not gonna happen. Ever. Boo boo. I don’t give a fuck. Nor does anyone emulating this stuff. They’re not going out and donating to original creators.

 

I also think lag is an issue. It never won’t be. When the streaming platform services say it will be lag free, they’re lying but what I think they mean is it’ll be as good as it can be (not a half assed mess). When gamers say it they mean like their local console. It cannot match that because physics. Whether it’s good enough for some people in some scenarios is to be seen.

 

But we should, IMO, be happy to see interest in games getting bought to a wider audience. I believe it will expand the range of experiences offered to us as gamers and make all gaming better. Whether we use these services now or in the future I think anyone who thinks they’re a threat rather than a boon is the same sort of idiot who pronounced mobile gaming a threat.  

 

Oh, better rescue this rant...

Lol but think of the lag.

Who is saying this is a threat? 

Who is saying they don’t want a wider audience playing retro games? 

No one here.

 

Your post is just very baffling.

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That article a couple of pages ago seems to say that publishers are unhappy that people are pirating old games that they didn't know they owned the rights to, until Antstream travelled to their offices and offered to pay them for the rights they didn't know they had, for games that they didn't know the names of.  

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9 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

Score attack modes, speed runs, boss rushes , play with controls reversed, maintain a certain speed in racing games or your car will explode ... Loads basically! We are also taking suggestions from the community about what games they would like to see challenges for, and what sort of challenges they want. 

 

I do like the sound of these and would be interested to know how you've managed to inject stuff like this in. But can I suggest that any "reverse controls" challenge is removed because in 40 years of gaming I can't recall a single instance of one of those being anything even approaching fun. It makes the idea of a boss rush sound appealing. 

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7 hours ago, thesnwmn said:

The cynicism in here is both expected and surprising. Gamers seem so fickle. Hate and rant against the new things they perceive as threats to their identity (the other consoles for console manufacturer fanboys, all consoles for PC fanboys, mobile games for all “real gamers”). And at the same time massively hype and rave about the things that let them down so frequently (next console gen being 60fps, game previews with nothing but non-gameplay content).

 

I get that we’d like to see the original creators paid and it wasn’t well phrased by them (yes, even misleading). But that’s not gonna happen. Ever. Boo boo. I don’t give a fuck. Nor does anyone emulating this stuff. They’re not going out and donating to original creators.

 

I also think lag is an issue. It never won’t be. When the streaming platform services say it will be lag free, they’re lying but what I think they mean is it’ll be as good as it can be (not a half assed mess). When gamers say it they mean like their local console. It cannot match that because physics. Whether it’s good enough for some people in some scenarios is to be seen.

 

But we should, IMO, be happy to see interest in games getting bought to a wider audience. I believe it will expand the range of experiences offered to us as gamers and make all gaming better. Whether we use these services now or in the future I think anyone who thinks they’re a threat rather than a boon is the same sort of idiot who pronounced mobile gaming a threat.  

 

Oh, better rescue this rant...

Lol but think of the lag.

 

Alt Ant account confirmed 

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21 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

I don't think anyone said it's a bit shit, and everyone is entitled to their opinion of course. But we're still a little way from launch and I fully stand by what I said back at the start of this thread - we won't be launching a laggy service.

The vast majority of people who played it at PlayExpo loved it - about 5,000 sessions were launched all together. In particular it was amazing (again) to see the response from younger gamers. Seeing kids getting just as engrossed by Double Dragon or Caveman Ninja as they were by the row of PS4s set up at the Sony stand next to us was brilliant. 

 

 

I'm not having a go at you personally on this, but you've got the editor of Retro Gamer magazine saying it was a bit shit. OK, so he didn't literally say it was a bit shit, but he didn't exactly have glowing feedback on it. It wasn't even the lag that was just the issue, artefacts appearing on faster games (which I suppose isn't surprising, seeing as retro games will have a lot of... black.. on the screen, making it an issue for compression) and something that might sound really geeky - a lack of scanline option (which I presume also means there are no other screen filtering options). 

 

Maybe Retro Gamer readers aren't your target audience (although I don't get the impression Antstream have done much audience targeting - what with the marketing being all over the place), but instead of saying nobody said it was shit, you should really be reaching out to Strider - or anyone who was there and comes back with negative feedback - and asking how you could improve the service. Having 5,000 sessions logged is great - but what genuine feedback did you get? Did people pick up and play, then think "yeah, it's OK for a few minutes, but I wouldn't pay for it"? Because getting 5,000 users to pay a monthly fee is different to getting 5,000 free sessions at a game expo. Seeing kids being happy playing Caveman Ninja for a few minutes is great, but are they going to pay the £10 a month (or whatever the fee is) in order for Anstream to be a viable business? Or is it going back to @strider and asking for genuine areas of improvement? Judging by the initial feedback, even if you were to do a simple Net Promoter Score, I doubt they're going to recommend it to their friends.

 

 

21 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

 

 

I had a great time and it was awesome to meet so many people, catching up with some of my favourite retroheads including @Kim Justice and DJ Slopes  - and hanging out with the legendary Matt Smith - culminating with us signing a deal to get his games on our platform ^_^ 

Also really really cool to meet so many of our backers (and smash our 60k stretch goal while we are there). 

 

(Oh and another highlight was finally getting hands-on with the Spectrum Next after spending so long talking to Jim Bagley about it in the office - an awesome piece of kit). 

 

And playing a sit-down Space Harrier 

Arcade game for the first time in probably 30 years.

 

And watching Knightmare Live and catching up with Hugo Myatt and David Rowe...

 

 

 

 

You see, this highlights it all. You clearly love retro games. That's brilliant. But the reality is that Anstream isn't a product for retro gamers. That's fine, target the casual gamers who don't care about artefacts, don't care about scanlines, don't care about who owns the IP, don't care about who is getting paid royalties, don't care about an unpublished in-game currency system to unlock challenges. But continuing to mix the marketing message and trying to get every sector of the gaming market, isn't going to work, it's just going to alienate the customer base, particularly the retro gaming section, even more.

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18 hours ago, thesnwmn said:

I think anyone who thinks they’re a threat rather than a boon is the same sort of idiot who pronounced mobile gaming a threat. 

 

Mobile gaming did exactly the damage people were worried about didn't it?

 

All the talent in the Japanese games industry seemed to disappear overnight as every company shifted the main focus to 'Mobage~' crap.

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2
2 hours ago, gone fishin' said:

You see, this highlights it all. You clearly love retro games. That's brilliant. But the reality is that Anstream isn't a product for retro gamers. That's fine, target the casual gamers who don't care about artefacts, don't care about scanlines, don't care about who owns the IP, don't care about who is getting paid royalties, don't care about an unpublished in-game currency system to unlock challenges. But continuing to mix the marketing message and trying to get every sector of the gaming market, isn't going to work, it's just going to alienate the customer base, particularly the retro gaming section, even more.

 

Thanks for the thoughtful advice. Sorry for only being able to repeat what I've said already a few times, in response. Please don't confuse what I'm posting in this thread with Antstream marketing. This is just me talking about a retrogaming-related project I'm working on, with members of the community which I've been a part of for 20-odd years. The actual marketing team has done the audience targeting, and all of that stuff, and they are fully aware that they aren't going to be targetting hardcore retro gamers. 

 

At the same time, we are hoping to bring retro gaming to a whole new audience, including a lot of young people who haven't played these games before. And as far as I can see that will only be beneficial to the retro gaming scene in general - because it's a new generation of customers who may go on to start attending events like PlayExpo, reading Retro Gamer, and consuming all the podcasts/ Youtube videos that the scene puts out. So I'd hope retro game fans won't be openly hostile towards it (which, in the whole they haven't been - as I said, just about everyone who saw us at PlayExpo said they loved it). 

 

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The fact is, people aren't going to say to your face that your product isn't great, they just won't buy it. You've got to be more self aware, don't gloss over the issues, especially one that aren't in your control such as the users internet speed. Don't promise the world when you know it cannot be delivered. Don't dodge questions when you know it's not going to be a PR style answer.

It only makes it worse. 

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43 minutes ago, nakamura said:

The fact is, people aren't going to say to your face that your product isn't great, they just won't buy it.

I was very honest. The lag and artifacting is a complete no no for me.   I also said I think it has potential but isn’t aimed at people like myself.

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It seems odd that there are lag/artifact issues at this late stage.  I would have thought the very first thing the developers built would have been a working proof of concept that showed what they were trying to achieve was realistic.   Once they had that tech working, they could build everything else around it and start the long process of licensing all of those games.

 

There's a lot of added value in additional features the Antstream service provides, but all of that is just fluff if the core gameplay experience isn't perfect.

 

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What a lot of this comes down to is that a subscription streaming service as a means of delivering c64 roms, while possibly good for the company (especially if they can't get the licenses otherwise) is quite clearly worse for the end user than most other conceivable methods.

First,  you get that lag and artifacting etc and also you're expected to pay a tenner a month or whatever indefinitely to access a finite library of old roms ,most of which haven't stood the test of time.

I can see why a company would prefer that to just letting people pay for the 5 classic roms they want to play.

 

As much as I like old games, let's be honest. A bunch of c64/spectrum roms are hardly a comparable proposition to massive constantly updated(with NEW content, not a drip feed of old stuff) libraries of original video content (netflix), an even more massive collection of basically any song you can think of, old and new (spotify), both of which let you download the content for offline use, or stuff like google stadia that lets you run modern games without splashing out on cutting edge hardware.

 

Maybe if antstream start investing money into creating games for the service in the way that netflix does with movies and tv shows it might seem more interesting.

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2 hours ago, The Mighty Ash said:

Im not sure there are many young people crying out to play ancient games?

 

"Dad, God knows what you're talking about, I got a trial for Anstream and those ZX Spectrum and Amiga games you go on about are shite what with it taking ages to register any movement. No wonder Nintendo dominated the games industry. At least those old Nintendo games like Super Mario Bros on the Switch work when I press the jump button."

 

"Well son, I'd love to show you how the games really were on an emulator, but unfortunately the IP owners forced the websites to take the Roms down in order to save the retro biz from piracy. Even the classic 180 by those great Pickford Brothers isn't on their website anymore because Interplay (who acquired Titus' games rights after they went bust, who had previously acquired Virgin Interactive, who had previously acquired Mastertronic) wanted to make money from their IP that they weren't aware they owned ... Anyway, maybe I can load it up from tape on the old Spectrum, seeing as that's the only way you can do it now"

 

"Nah, you're alright, Dad."

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