OnLive promises us quite the magic show: full console and PC games, running at 60 frames per second, and on our phones and tablets, no less.
The reality might be more Paul Daniels than Harry Houdini, but - if you can tolerate a little screen blur on your games and a slight lag to your controls - OnLive remains a dazzling prospect.
Well, it does for 'droid owners at least. While Apple allegedly drags its diamond-encrusted heels over the iOS app's certification process, the OnLive service has been running in a remarkably stable state ever since it hit the Android Market earlier this month.
The only fly in the proverbial ointment is the touchscreen controls. While passable for slower games like Lego Batman (a free title for early adopters), they're a bit of a stumbling block when traversing the sharper corners of Dirt 3.
With the official OnLive wireless controller not launching in the UK until the end of December, you might think that using a physical pad to enjoy the service at its fullest was currently a lost cause (unless you're an Xperia Play owner).
Fear not, though, disheartened gamers, as Pocket Gamer guides you through a foolproof way to get a wired USB controller hooked up to OnLive and working like a charm on Android. The only catch at the moment is that you need a tablet sporting an up-to-date version of Google's Honeycomb OS.
So, grab yourself an Xbox 360 pad or - if you're feeling especially confident and don't mind rooting your device - a PS3 one, and follow these handy steps to video game-streaming nirvana.
|Your first task, if you haven't already done so, is to download the OnLive app from the Android Market. You can set up an account through the program itself, or save a lot of touchscreen hassle by doing it via the website. It works on the majority of phones, though we'd recommend a device packing a 4.3-inch screen or bigger - a 10.1-inch tablet is the best option, mind. Ideally, you'll have a wired Xbox 360 gamepad to hand. The PS3 alternative is also compatible with the OS, but oddly doesn't work natively with the OnLive app. If you’re more of a Sony fan, then you'll need to root your phone (a dark, but sometimes necessary, art). Some tablets, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, don't have standard USB slots, so you'll need to Google (how ironic) for a dongle adaptor. For invaluable advice on setting up console controllers on specific Android tablets, we'd recommend visiting relevant threads on the XDA developers forums.|
|Now, for the easier part: plug your controller of choice into an available USB slot.
If you're on a Honeycomb tablet, the pad should start working after a few moments. The telltale sign is the blinking Live light on the Xbox controller, or the flashing battery LEDs on the PS3 one.
While it's easy to ignore the PS3 flashing - since it's angled away from you - the flickering Xbox light is a more niggling distraction. Worry not, however, as you can turn it off by downloading the cheap X360 Controller LED BlinkStop app from the Android Market.
Once this piece of software is installed, you simply have to open the app whenever you're using the controller and tap on 'LED off'. Bingo: no flashing light, and you're ready to move onto Step 3.
Setting up the PS3 pad, meanwhile, requires a bit more fiddling, as the default OnLive button mapping for the controller is (technical jargon incoming) all over the shop.
Popular remapping app USB/BT Joystick Center isn't currently compatible with OnLive, despite thorough testing from us, so rooting your phone or tablet and using Sixasis to manually change is the only way to go right now.
After running the Sixasis Compatibility Checker app to ensure your phone is supported, you need to install the Sixasis app. Then open 'Preferences', followed by 'Input Mappings', and finally tap on '1st Controller Mappings'.
Now, change all of the following to set up the pad: (Our thanks go to XDA developers forums member 'Salfer' for the layout, which works a treat for most games).
Start = Enter
Cross = U
Circle = J
Square = H
Triangle = I
R2 = K Analog 1 Left = A
Analog 1 Right = D
Analog 1 Up = W
Analog 1 Down = S Now, press 'Back' to leave the application, and your PS3 pad is ready to use. Admittedly, it's not quite as tuned as the 360 one, which was already supported for the PC version of OnLive, but it's playable for most games.
|If all of the above has gone smoothly, you're finally ready to dive into OnLive. With your pad plugged in, a solid wi-fi signal in your gaff, and a pot of tea nearby, simply load up the app and you're good to go. Regardless of whether you're using the Xbox or PS3 pad, the controller will function like a 360 one and is pretty self-explanatory. A good test is a racer like Dirt 3, or a simple brawler like Lego Batman (which plays beautifully with a pad). Most games allow you to adjust the sensitivity via their menus - normally opened with the 'Start' button - and we'd recommend pushing this up a tad from the sluggish defaults. If you want to access the OnLive menus to switch games or check who's online, simply press the 'Live' or 'Home' buttons in the centre. For maximum enjoyment, we'd also recommend hooking up your device to your HD telly via HDMI. Purists might argue that this increases the lag, but, unless you're playing an FPS online, we'd say the difference was negligible. And that's it. If you've got any tips and tricks for your particular tablet, please pop them in the comments below and help your fellow pocket gamers enjoy some OnLive action.|