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Antstream - It's Netflix for Games!


jon_cybernet
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5 minutes ago, Anne Summers said:

Chill out mate. 

We've made a platform designed to bring retro games to a new audience while fairly paying the people who own the rights to those games. Not to summon Beelzebub and bring about armaggedon. If you really hate it (suggesting it "needs to die"? Come on!) can I suggest you just move on with your lives and find something you do enjoy? Honestly, I think you will find it more fulfilling. 

 

I haven't suggested it "needs to die". 

 

What are you talking about? 

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1 hour ago, Anne Summers said:

Anybody who negs this post hereby unconditionally accepts they hand over the rights to any games they may have been involved in creating in the past , or may create in the future, to Antstream Ltd . Additionally they accept that they are a massive smelly poo face who smells of poo.

 

You are an absolute tit.

 

Sorry mods, might be a ban or something for that. I'll take it, ta.

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4 minutes ago, Stoppy2000 said:

Surely as its a stream then saving games is the same principle as pausing and resuming something on Netflix? Or am I missing something really obvious....?

Seems to make sense to me, but I'm not all that involved with the technical stuff. 

I am assured that the techies have it in hand, though. 

After all, they have got it to the state where lag is imperceptible, according to most who have tried it, which was apparently supposed to be impossible. So I am sure they will manage this.

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10 hours ago, Stoppy2000 said:

Surely as its a stream then saving games is the same principle as pausing and resuming something on Netflix? Or am I missing something really obvious....?

 

Nope. Stop and think for maybe a second... Netflix has to store for each account a timestamp for each video. Maybe a little more but that’s probably enough. For a game, each will require something different. Maybe you literally want to allow the user to restore at the same point... how? A timestamp isn’t enough. Nor is a flag to say what level they’re in. You could probably store the whole emulator state but that’s going to start adding up to a lot of data. How long do you store it for?

 

10 hours ago, carlospie said:

Surely making game saves would be the easy part? 

 

Why? What makes you think it’s easy? On an emulator running locally it can just save to your local disk. On a cloud based streaming service they will need a separate storage pool that can be accessed by every emulator instance they spin up. That either means the game has to have a concept of who the user is and hoe to access their account save data, the environment in which the emulator is started must be preloaded with the game save and ensure it’s pushed back to the storage pool afterwards, or the environment connects directly to pool somehow when the game tries to access local storage. All complicated. All important to get right so data doesn’t go missing.

 

Its and important feature and should get focus. But viewpoints like these are always insane. Why doesn’t it just...?

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15 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

It doesn't support saved games yet, in early access. 

 

It does also state in the review you have posted that he asked about save games and Anstream's response (quoted from his article) -

 

'and they responded by saying that a lot of people have asked for this option (no shit), so they might look at adding it in the future.'

 

How is this not even in there by default? And how did the idea get as far as it is without it being discussed / implemented?

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17 minutes ago, thesnwmn said:

 

Nope. Stop and think for maybe a second... Netflix has to store for each account a timestamp for each video. Maybe a little more but that’s probably enough. For a game, each will require something different. Maybe you literally want to allow the user to restore at the same point... how? A timestamp isn’t enough. Nor is a flag to say what level they’re in. You could probably store the whole emulator state but that’s going to start adding up to a lot of data. How long do you store it for?

 

 

Why? What makes you think it’s easy? On an emulator running locally it can just save to your local disk. On a cloud based streaming service they will need a separate storage pool that can be accessed by every emulator instance they spin up. That either means the game has to have a concept of who the user is and hoe to access their account save data, the environment in which the emulator is started must be preloaded with the game save and ensure it’s pushed back to the storage pool afterwards, or the environment connects directly to pool somehow when the game tries to access local storage. All complicated. All important to get right so data doesn’t go missing.

 

Its and important feature and should get focus. But viewpoints like these are always insane. Why doesn’t it just...?

 

I doubt it's "easy" but it's hardly insane for people to expect to have the ablity to save their progress.

I think you've just gone to the opposite extreme in response to the netflix comment.

 

The majority of emulators support save states.

Nothing involving programming etc is "easy" and can all sound rather complicated when you break it down but the fact is the other game streaming services allow you to save your progress so there's nothing strange about people expecting it would be possible here too.

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Oh I agree it should be there. No question. It’s lack is surprising... and damning if it makes it out of early access without it. More surprising at some level is that their response to questions wasn’t simply “yep, it’s coming” but rather “oh a few people asked about that, yeah, I guess it’s on the roadmap, maybe we’ll get round to it at some point”.

 

The data size would be (comparatively) large if it was paused like Netflix (their comparison that belittles the challenge, they’re not that similar problems I suspect). But of course, tiny if just the actual game save file.

 

In some ways that difference reflects the problem for a service like this. My home console can be paused, turned off, and and I return later I’m back where I was (admittedly playing something else loses this ability). Netflix picks up right where I was. But doing this for streaming games introduces extra costs... storage. How many complete game states can/should you store and for how long? I guess just one (to match home console gaming) and say... a month.

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22 minutes ago, thesnwmn said:

 

Nope. Stop and think for maybe a second... Netflix has to store for each account a timestamp for each video. Maybe a little more but that’s probably enough. For a game, each will require something different. Maybe you literally want to allow the user to restore at the same point... how? A timestamp isn’t enough. Nor is a flag to say what level they’re in. You could probably store the whole emulator state but that’s going to start adding up to a lot of data. How long do you store it for?

 

 

Why? What makes you think it’s easy? On an emulator running locally it can just save to your local disk. On a cloud based streaming service they will need a separate storage pool that can be accessed by every emulator instance they spin up. That either means the game has to have a concept of who the user is and hoe to access their account save data, the environment in which the emulator is started must be preloaded with the game save and ensure it’s pushed back to the storage pool afterwards, or the environment connects directly to pool somehow when the game tries to access local storage. All complicated. All important to get right so data doesn’t go missing.

 

Its and important feature and should get focus. But viewpoints like these are always insane. Why doesn’t it just...?

Save states are going to take up less data than a second of streaming. It will be fine. 

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Just now, Horribleman said:

Save states are going to take up less data than a second of streaming. It will be fine. 

 

One is bandwith, the other is persistent ongoing storage. I’m not sure a data usage comparison between the two really means anything.

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The response to Biffo's question about saved games by our PR department probably wasn't the best one they could have given - a more accurate clarification is given in the comment section of that article (and copied into this thread a few posts back). 

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7 minutes ago, thesnwmn said:

 

One is bandwith, the other is persistent ongoing storage. I’m not sure a data usage comparison between the two really means anything.

Storing a small amount of data these days is literally no problem. Not sure why you think it is. 

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I don’t think the size of a save file (not literally resume from last place) is a problem. I think ensuring that it’s located against an account, restored, etc is not trivial.

 

I’m not arguing it shouldn’t be implemented quickly or that it’s insurmountable but I can understand why it not just working is a thing, whether early access should have been released without it... maybe but it would have been better if there was a list of things not in day one and coming.

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1 minute ago, thesnwmn said:

.. maybe but it would have been better if there was a list of things not in day one and coming.

 

That's a good idea. We are being open about what's on the roadmap with anyone that asks but I will see if we can publish a list of what people should expect next. 

Android TV support is coming very soon (as in any minute now, hopefully), as I know a few people are asking about why that isn't up and running yet. 

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35 minutes ago, thesnwmn said:

 

One is bandwith, the other is persistent ongoing storage. I’m not sure a data usage comparison between the two really means anything.

 

It's almost like the games should download to your device to be played there, where saving wouldn't be an issue.

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I played through most of my games in the 80s without the ability to save. It's an unfortunate omission at this stage but it's not damning - they're focusing initially on the pick up and play nature of arcade games and getting the tech to work as best as it can.

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On 29/05/2019 at 06:00, DeciderVT said:

 

He stopped playing when the stream started timing out. His verdict: a bit odd and the target audience would be better off playing the games locally.

 

11 minutes ago, Fry Crayola said:

I played through most of my games in the 80s without the ability to save. It's an unfortunate omission at this stage but it's not damning - they're focusing initially on the pick up and play nature of arcade games and getting the tech to work as best as it can.

 

I'd tend to agree about save states when playing locally but the comment above about the games timing out would worry me. If the connection dropping is actually a thing, it would make save states a whole lot more necessary.

 

On a semi-related note. Does this have any sort of high scores/leaderboard system and if so, how does it work? Would add a lot but I guess the logistics of implementing that would be quite tricky too, so maybe not.

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4 minutes ago, partious said:

 

 

I'd tend to agree about save states when playing locally but the comment above about the games timing out would worry me. If the connection dropping is actually a thing, it would make save states a whole lot more necessary.


Connection dropping is always a possibility when streaming. It happened to Ashens when he was trying to access a challenge, so he wasn't in the middle of a game and he didn't lose any progress. For people with less than solid wi-fi or a flaky ISP (raises hand) you'd hope that the service would be resilient enough to pause and resume play or it's back to square one.

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15 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

Anybody who negs this post hereby unconditionally accepts they hand over the rights to any games they may have been involved in creating in the past , or may create in the future, to Antstream Ltd . Additionally they accept that they are a massive smelly poo face who smells of poo.

 

Christ.

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34 minutes ago, TehStu said:

I'm glad to hear they've fixed lag, that means all the other big players in the streaming game have, or will, fix it.


I wouldn't take that as gospel. Lag is too subjective without stats to determine whether it has been eliminated, especially in less than ideal network conditions.

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4 hours ago, Fry Crayola said:

I played through most of my games in the 80s without the ability to save. It's an unfortunate omission at this stage but it's not damning - they're focusing initially on the pick up and play nature of arcade games and getting the tech to work as best as it can.

 

But even games that have built in save features, don’t save.

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5 hours ago, Fry Crayola said:

I played through most of my games in the 80s without the ability to save. It's an unfortunate omission at this stage but it's not damning - they're focusing initially on the pick up and play nature of arcade games and getting the tech to work as best as it can.

 

Yes, but back then you probably had more than enough time to spend 4 hours solid trying to complete Head over Heels or Jet Set Willy!

 

Now I'm lucky to get an hour here or there. Doesn't mean that I want to start the game right from the start, again, and seeing as most modern ways of playing retro games have a save state option (even my Spectrum with a DivMMC has a save state!) then it's going to limit the service and likely impact on subscriber retention. Because, let's face it, all it becomes is a way of pissing about with retro games for a few minutes, which you can do for free with either emulators or even something like archive.org. 

 

Not having Save States does make you think how it's being Product Managed/Owned, as you'd think that would have been high up on the feature list from any User Feedback from initial trials. 

 

Or maybe it's too difficult.

 

Like it's been pointed out, save states on a streamed emulator is going to be difficult. It's not like Netflix saving a time stamp, the software would have to create a save state on the emulator that's running remotely. Log that save state against the user and then have the ability to retrieve it. The file size might not seem like an issue, but if you've got a service with initially 200 games and say 4 save states per game per user, that's now 800 files that need to be managed. Per user. Multiply that by initially hundreds of users and then you can see how you might have an issue. Then increase the number of games and you have an even bigger issue. 

 

I don't know what emulator(s) are being used by Antstream, but I know MESS did have issues with the size of save states. Each save state was 2MB in size, with 4 Save States per game available, which would mean 1.6GB in save states, per user, for 200 games. 

 

 

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