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Steam In-Home Streaming

RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 4,162Member Uncommon

It's released for general use today. I've been playing around with it all afternoon. The game runs on your Windows gaMING PC, and you can stream it over a LAN (or presumably a VPN if you wanted to be a masochist and try it over the internet) to any other device running Steam (another Windows PC, OS X, Linux, etc). Right now streaming is limited to a Windows client as the Host, but presumably any Steam client (OS X/Linux) as the client. Since the game is running on your Windows PC, you get the full Steam library (and then some, it's not limited to games purchased through Steam).

It's not limited to Steam-only games, you can get it to stream any program or desktop if you wish. That isn't really new, lots of programs do this.

In my home, over WiFi-N, I was getting 60+fps at 1080 over the LAN. That isn't too bad. Again, other programs have been known to do this, but most general purpose "remote access" programs can't do this, even over a LAN. There are still a few hiccups occasionally, I wouldn't advise anyone to play competitively, but for the most part I was extremely surprised at how fluid it was. Streaming from my Desktop to my laptop and setting them side by side, it was nearly like looking at mirrored displays - that was a very slight perceivable lag on the streamed client, but the video and input were all smooth and responsive, and it was very playable. The additional lag may be enough that if your in an extremely competitive situation it would put you at a disadvantage, but then again, if playing your in such a situation you probably aren't the core audience for this technology.

This makes SteamOS/Steam Boxes make a lot more sense, although not in the configurations I've seen being bantered around. If this is the model for SteamOS/Steam Boxes -- very inexpensive set-top boxes that can stream from a more powerful computer (similar to nVidia Shield), I can totally understand that. This is something I've been fiddling with for a very long time, and now it finally works. I spent all afternoon playing various Windows games over my WiFi LAN on my Mac Mini on my TV running OS X. It was wonderful. And if you have a gaming PC already, all you need to hook up to your TV is a old or bare bones PC, the hardware in the client is mostly irrelevant and your LAN setup makes a bigger impact.

All you really need for in home streaming is the ability to output to the native resolution of your TV. Mine ran at 60fps very well, on a Conroe Core2Duo and nVidia 320GT - which is probably slower than current Intel integrated video. Old hardware would do this just as well as anything new, really. But for those SteamBoxes with 780GTXs in them - that I don't quite understand. HTPC is nice, and I guess if you didn't already have a PC then it would make a bit more sense, but then your not really competing with a console, your competing with a PC, and your major selling point is that you don't have an OS that is required for 90% of the games....

For me, In-Home Streaming is 100x better than a console. I get to sit on my couch and be fat and lazy, it supports any controller the client OS supports (keyboard, mouse, 360/PS, Logitech, whatever), I get full access to my Steam library ~and~ my Windows gaming library, and I get to use all the expensive hardware I have in my PC to mostly it's full extent.

Comments

  • redbug1redbug1 gainesville, FLPosts: 21Member
    Pardon my ignorance but is this basically for videos or is there something else involved?
  • AethaerynAethaeryn Kitchener, ONPosts: 1,970Member Uncommon
    I use this to play Walking dead on my laptop upstairs. .streaming from PC downstairs.  My Laptop sucks but I hook it up to my TV and use a controller and all is good.  I love this feature.  I can also quickly log into an mmo and check mail or start crafting etc. wtithout installing it on the laptop :)

    Wa min God! Se æx on min heafod is!

  • AethaerynAethaeryn Kitchener, ONPosts: 1,970Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by redbug1
    Pardon my ignorance but is this basically for videos or is there something else involved?

    You can play most games through streaming the game to another platform running steam.

    Wa min God! Se æx on min heafod is!

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member
    Originally posted by Aethaeryn
    I use this to play Walking dead on my laptop upstairs. .streaming from PC downstairs.  My Laptop sucks but I hook it up to my TV and use a controller and all is good.  I love this feature.  I can also quickly log into an mmo and check mail or start crafting etc. wtithout installing it on the laptop :)

     

    The Walking Dead from Tell Tale Games?  I couldn't get A Wolf Among Us to run well at all.  Something to do with the mouse tanked my framerates. 

     

    Alan Wake was pretty playable though.  I imagine if my laptop wasn't nearly ten years old and my PC five years old, things would have been even smoother. :-)

     

     

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • NitthNitth AustraliaPosts: 3,684Member Uncommon

    Don't hold your breath for a linux server, It needs windows libraries to runencodesend the games..

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  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member
    Originally posted by Nitth

    Don't hold your breath for a linux server, It needs windows libraries to runencodesend the games..

     

    Why would you want to build a Linux server for this anyway?  The point is to be able to play the games you want to play on machines that normally wouldn't be able to run them.  A Linux gaming rig, never mind a IHS server is a decade or more away from being a viable alternative so the niche this would fill is a very nice Windows gaming rig streaming to a very cheap Linux box in another part of the house.

     

    It does work well Streaming from Windows to Linux though.  Well, it definitely works.  How well it works depends on which game you're running and how well your server runs the game. :-)

     

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • LyrianLyrian Mississagua, ONPosts: 290Member Uncommon

    This whole thing blew my mind yesterday. It is just that awesome. It'll be great to be able to run some of the heavier strategy games on my beast desktop to stream on my laptop. For anything competitive it'll still be better to actually play at the desktop which is fine though.

    Though now the crazy part of me needs to run a wire to the lower part of the house to have a better bit rate. I had some network issues running Divinity: Original Sin where the "slow network" thing came up while on fully maxed out settings. All I get with wireless according to Lan Speed Test is 30MB/s which I guess isn't enough. But if I can run a nice 100MB or 1GB line to the laptop area...That'd be sweet as fck.

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 4,162Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Nitth
    Don't hold your breath for a linux server, It needs windows libraries to runencodesend the games..

    I'm sure there's a way around that - VNC (which I am assuming this is loosely based on) runs on darn near everything, client and server.

    That being said - what Lizardbones said is entirely true. While it may be technically possible to get the server running on Linux/OS X/whatever - the demand to stream games from machines powered by those would be much much lower. I think they will eventually get there, but a lot of the draw to this technology is to be able to play Windows games on "something else".

    I'll like to see a tablet version of the client too, but I don't think Steam will ever do that.

  • syntax42syntax42 Columbus, OHPosts: 1,305Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Lyrian

    This whole thing blew my mind yesterday. It is just that awesome. It'll be great to be able to run some of the heavier strategy games on my beast desktop to stream on my laptop. For anything competitive it'll still be better to actually play at the desktop which is fine though.

    Though now the crazy part of me needs to run a wire to the lower part of the house to have a better bit rate. I had some network issues running Divinity: Original Sin where the "slow network" thing came up while on fully maxed out settings. All I get with wireless according to Lan Speed Test is 30MB/s which I guess isn't enough. But if I can run a nice 100MB or 1GB line to the laptop area...That'd be sweet as fck.

    Wireless is very susceptible to interference.  Most wireless devices in your house operate on the same band.  Your microwave is also a nasty source of interference.  Application coding and radio transmission techniques do a fair job at mitigating that interference, but can only do so much.

    Time-sensitive applications often do not work well on wireless.  This includes VOIP, certain VPN programs, and, as you experienced, streaming a game from one machine in the house to another.  

    It isn't the bandwidth that's the problem.  It is the unstable latency and bursty periods of interrupted connections.  Your connection could be fine one second, then get a 100 - 250ms interruption.  That might not sound like a lot, but for gaming purposes, a quarter of a second is a lot of missed frames.

    Try to use powerline Ethernet if you can't re-wire the house.  That would give you a decent amount of portability while ensuring you have a stable connection for gaming.

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 4,162Member Uncommon

    Another semi-pertinent point:

    The settings your game uses won't make a huge dent in how it transmits, unless your pushing the computer to it's absolute limit and you don't have enough cycles left over to perform the network compression -- which probably isn't going to happen even if you think your pushing your computer fairly hard, as right now the compression is done entirely in software on the CPU, and nearly every game out there has spare CPU cycles, if not entire spare cores available for the compression.

    Essentially, In-Home Streaming just takes your video game and treats it about like Netflix to the client computer. The settings in the game aren't really going to affect how that Netflix transmission looks. The goal of streaming is that the client sees what the host sees, as soon as possible to the time the host sees it. It's all Pixels, Bandwidth, Latency, and Compression.

    Screen resolution will have a huge impact. The level of compression (which Steam loosely lets you set as either Fast/Balanced/Beautiful, and also is somehow determined by your client Bandwidth selection in Steam - Automatic/some number vs Unlimited) will have a decent impact. Having QoS on your router may help some, but unless you have multiple computers all trying to stream simultaneously (or bastard roommates who believe in "free internet" and won't ever turn off their torrent server/porn download) you probably aren't going to saturate your router to the point where QoS really matters.

    Settings like antialiasing, physx, textures, etc - aren't going to affect how well the game streams. It may make the game run poorly on the host (and whatever the host sees, so should the client), but that's a different problem than those to do with streaming.

    Wireless networking (especially streaming) can be very frustrating to troubleshoot. It's almost always intermittent interference, which is extraordinarily difficult to pin down. Some years ago, I was using WiFi G to play games on - nothing fancy. Every evening for some reason, my signal would totally drop out for a minute or two. I tried different routers, I tried different NICs... it drove me crazy. Then one quiet day, my network had dropped out yet again in the middle of a raid, and then I heard the upstair's neighbor's microwave DING, and then my network came back, to me dead and the raid wiped. Every time she cooked popcorn I would lag out. That took me 6 months to figure out. I've heard other people have similar experiences with baby monitors, cordless (not cell) phones, 2-way radios, congested WiFi airspace (dorms and apartments are horrible for this), and a lot of other various electronic stuff that you wouldn't otherwise always think of.

    You can try playing with the channels, or going to a 5GHz band, and that may help some. You can get some WiFi analysis software and totally geek out over what is happening to "optimize" your setup, but that may take you just as long to do if you've never done it as hunting and pecking on different channels and frequencies (although once you learn it, it's nice to have in your back packet). Powerline Ethernet is nice as well, I have used that before as well, and it worked fairly well - it can have some speed issues if it has to jump across circuit breakers, but I never had a problem with variable signal quality.

    But there is just no substitute for a good old hard line when you can possibly do it. It's the cheapest and most effective networking available still.

  • TorvalTorval Oregon CountryPosts: 7,187Member Uncommon

    This isn't a real huge benefit for me at home with how we're set up. We have 4 gamers and we stream media (Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, VUDU, etc) while we play. The router can handle all that, but our setup and habits just don't call for in home streaming.

    With that said, I'm super excited by this. I think this brings more to the table than just the option to stream on lower end hardware. It brings a shift in thinking about how gaming content is delivered and played.

    Virtualization technology is improving at a rapid pace. I can see a time in the future where a SteamOS box has a Windows emulator running on it (it could be a licensed and paid for extension) that can stream the full Steam library to any device or play games without needing a full desktop OS install.

    Unlike Nvidia with Shield or Sony with PS4 to Vita, I think Steam is better positioned to make this feel like a more seamless ubiquitous experience.

  • RidelynnRidelynn Fresno, CAPosts: 4,162Member Uncommon

    I was wondering off hand if they would consider supporting tablets (or even as an app on an actual console), the tech seems primed for it, but it diverges from Steam's PC-only mentality so I wouldn't hold my breath on it.

    It could be we see someone else do it. I know a lot of people have talked about SplashTop - I haven't tried it, but it could be at or near this level of streaming locally.

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member
    Originally posted by Ridelynn

    I was wondering off hand if they would consider supporting tablets (or even as an app on an actual console), the tech seems primed for it, but it diverges from Steam's PC-only mentality so I wouldn't hold my breath on it.

    It could be we see someone else do it. I know a lot of people have talked about SplashTop - I haven't tried it, but it could be at or near this level of streaming locally.

     

    Splashtop has an app for this, and it definitely works, but mileage varies.

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  • DeniZgDeniZg ZagrebPosts: 669Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lizardbones
    Originally posted by Ridelynn

    I was wondering off hand if they would consider supporting tablets (or even as an app on an actual console), the tech seems primed for it, but it diverges from Steam's PC-only mentality so I wouldn't hold my breath on it.

    It could be we see someone else do it. I know a lot of people have talked about SplashTop - I haven't tried it, but it could be at or near this level of streaming locally.

     

    Splashtop has an app for this, and it definitely works, but mileage varies.

    I've tried to stream Splashtop from desktop PC to mobile phone couple of times, but I've always experienced lag. There's also the issue of controller settings (if you like palying with gamepad like I do).

    Steam on the other hand works fantastic. I was able to stream (and play without any lag) Battlefield 4, from my desktop to my laptop. And that's with both devices connected to router via WLAN. Simply amazing. Only downside is that Usb Wlan card on ym desktop got super hot and made Steam crash on my host PC after 30 minutes of BF4 gameplay. And ofc you need to have decent  router (mine is 40$, N router with 2.4 Ghz) 

  • TheLizardbonesTheLizardbones Arkham, VAPosts: 10,910Member
    Originally posted by DeniZg
    Originally posted by lizardbones
    Originally posted by Ridelynn

    I was wondering off hand if they would consider supporting tablets (or even as an app on an actual console), the tech seems primed for it, but it diverges from Steam's PC-only mentality so I wouldn't hold my breath on it.

    It could be we see someone else do it. I know a lot of people have talked about SplashTop - I haven't tried it, but it could be at or near this level of streaming locally.

     

    Splashtop has an app for this, and it definitely works, but mileage varies.

    I've tried to stream Splashtop from desktop PC to mobile phone couple of times, but I've always experienced lag. There's also the issue of controller settings (if you like palying with gamepad like I do).

    Steam on the other hand works fantastic. I was able to stream (and play without any lag) Battlefield 4, from my desktop to my laptop. And that's with both devices connected to router via WLAN. Simply amazing. Only downside is that Usb Wlan card on ym desktop got super hot and made Steam crash on my host PC after 30 minutes of BF4 gameplay. And ofc you need to have decent  router (mine is 40$, N router with 2.4 Ghz) 

     

    "My usb wlan card overheated and crashed my PC" is not something I thought I would ever hear.

     

    Yeah, there are a couple different versions of Splashtop, and the reviews vary widely.  A friend of mine at work uses it to play Final Fantasy from work, over the internet, but with considerable lag.  For a lot of people, it seems to work really well, but you have to buy the "THX" version for gaming, and even then there are complaints, but when are there not complaints? :-)

     

    IHS does work though.  My Linux laptop is an AMD Turion X2, nearly ten years old, and a laptop to boot.  It literally cannot run any games like Portal because the video part doesn't have the featured needed to even initialize the OpenGL version.  However, I can play those games from my desktop on my laptop.  Not all of them, some of them seem to have issues, but the ones I want to play seem to work just fine.

     

    I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

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