on games in the new year

By John Orr
January 2012

OnLive, based in Palo Alto, continues to develop its product line, adding the ability to access its games on Android smartphones and pad devices.

I like OnLive, which makes videogames available on its servers, so players don't have to worry about piles of game boxes or crowding their hard drives with memory-hogging game software. Players log on using a small console that can plug in to HDTVs, or online via computers.

Players purchase a game, and OnLive keeps and maintains the game on its servers.

My son and I have played OnLive quite a bit, using the little console on a borrowed HDTV (which has since been returned to its owner) and on my Windows PC and my wife's MacBook. It's been great.

Now we have also tried it on a borrowed Samsung Galaxy tab, and it was also a lot of fun. The games we played on the computers, available on the fully mobile Galaxy tab.

Some of the games, such as "Defense Grid," operate by touch-screen commands. Some, such as the "Lego Harry Potter" games and "Dirt 3," have an overlay on their displays with the buttons that correspond with what would be on a controller.

Some games actually need a controller, and OnLive has one, that connects via Bluetooth.

I wasn't able to get the controller to work when I was trying it, but that was the result of my own technical incompetence.

I did not try the games on a smartphone. I am not sure that I would want to do so. Most of these games have fairly involved graphics, and a bigger screen is better. They were good on the tab, though. I tried both 4G, which was very good, and via my inhome wifi network, which was laggy.

I liked it. It was great fun to be able to play the "Harry Potter" games while sitting on my inlaws' couch on Christmas day, without having to hog their HDTV and PS3.

Go to to hook up.

Or, you can get OnLive stuff at

A teasing look at a great game

I installed "Star Wars - The Old Republic" on my PC, but couldn't really play it, because my home computer is just too old. I've had it for, I dunno, maybe four or five years, which means that pretty much its next stop will have to be the Computer History Museum.

Actually, I think my computer has a good enough processor, and more than enough RAM, but my Nvidia GeForce 6150 LE display adaptor just doesn't have enough horsepower. The system requirements for "The Old Republic" want an Nvidia 7100 or better, or various other video cards.

Which is too bad for me, because what I could see of the game was great!

It's a massively multiplayer online role-playing game that has been in development for something like six years, with a rumored development cost of $135 million.

And I have to say, what I saw of it, including some fabulous videos that set up the game, is beautiful and very well thought-out. It seems fully in line with the amazing creation that is George Lucas' "Star Wars" universe.

The game was released on Dec. 20, and already more than a million players have joined, despite the game's cost, which is high by MMORPG standards. The game itself costs from $59.99 to $149.99 for the collector's edition, and then there is a monthly fee, after the first 30 days. That is $14.99 a month, but can be less if the player buys several months' worth at a time.

But, after having even my surface look at this game, which allows players to be a very wide range of "Star Wars" types of characters - Jedi knights, Sith warriors, smugglers and so forth - and transport all around a number of planets in the galaxy, it's easy to imagine people spending years playing this game regularly.

Ya got yer light sabers, yer blasters, yer personal speeders what more could you ask?

Well in my case, I could ask for a new display adaptor.

Go to to check it out.