We haven't talked about Awomo before, oddly. I suspect that while it's conceptually interesting, that we couldn't download something to try it out meant it was filled firmly in the "We'll write when we can get a game sharpish, thanks" category. And lo! Now we can have a whole copy of the genuine classic Rome: Total War for free. In ten minutes! Less, if you've got a better class of broadband. You can get it here, but a little more on my experience with their streaming-thingy-tech-stuff beneath the cut...
While there's more technical fairies bouncing around, the key idea is that rather than downloading the whole installer, the game's able to be played when only a small fraction of the game's actually downloaded. An 8-bit line gets enough to play in less than ten minutes. Meanwhile, it continues to stream the rest while you play. I tried it. And it works fine. I suspect I threw it by going into a historical battle rather than the campaign, which needed a couple more minutes pause while it presumably got more data, but after that it was totally Total War. What's most impressive about this as a Beta project for the system is that Total War is close to the definition of a game which isn't built to be streamed in play. It's got a mass of content, almost any bit of which could be called first. Compared to - say - a linear first person shooter, where you know you need to stream the levels in order, this is a tricky task. I suppose it's one thing which makes Rome suitable for the beta.
I suspect there's more things to say about streaming technology - how it both speeds and frustrates the experience (e.g. The gloriously robust Guild Wars which can have you playing in minutes - a good thing - but pauses when you head off to an area it hasn't streamed yet - a bad thing. The problem being, if you start to play, you want to play.) But that can be saved for another time, I suspect, just so we don't distract ourselves from the main point:
Rome: Total War. For Free. Go!
[And thanks for The_B for chatting to me about it]