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Valve Beta Streaming Impressions

Ars Technica has firsthand impressions of Valve's upcoming game streaming service, after checking out the invitation-only beta on Steam. This streams from another PC across your home network, so depending on your setup, this involves less latency than cloud-based services. Since this involves playing a game that resides on another machine in your same location, they do a little explaining of why someone would want to do this:

Valve’s Linux-based SteamOS has one big limitation compared with the full Steam experience: it can only run games compatible with Linux. That limitation may be mostly put to rest when a Steam Box is now paired with a Windows PC, allowing users to run any game in the Steam library either natively in the Steam Box or streamed. The other key benefit to the new streaming option is convenience. Graphically rich games often suffer when run on thermally limited notebooks. Decoding a video stream requires drastically less computing power than rendering a 3D environment, so gaming on a modestly specced laptop could become much more satisfying.

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29. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 22:06 Krovven
 
I wonder if it would be possible to stream to the PS Vita. Might require some crossover work with Sony, but I can't see why it wouldn't be doable.

 
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28. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 19:41 Panickd
 
ledhead1969 wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 17:17:
It was flawless in this setup?:

Server (game being run on) wired to wireless router

to

wireless computer linked to TV (or just another laptop wireless connected)

?

Not flawless, it is a beta. I would describe that setup as playable with ac wireless but it probably depends a lot on interference (at it's highest setting the video encode uses 15mbps according to the FAQ). I get just the slightest amount of lag when streaming from a gaming rig on a wired connection sent to a laptop on wireless with nothing else sharing the wireless connection. Hardwired on both ends it's like you're playing on the host.
 
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27. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 17:17 ledhead1969
 
It was flawless in this setup?:

Server (game being run on) wired to wireless router

to

wireless computer linked to TV (or just another laptop wireless connected)

?
 
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26. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 16:13 Draugr
 
jdreyer wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 14:37:
Panickd wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 13:25:
Jivaro wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 12:32:
Can a single gaming rig stream more than one game to multiple devices at a time? For example, if I want to play Skyrim on my laptop and my step-son wants to play *insert random FPS here* on his laptop, could we do that? Does it have to be local network streaming or can I do it from a hotel room 500 miles away?

Sorry if this was covered already...new to this particular topic. I haven't been paying attention to it.

Nope. To use the streaming service you must be on the same LAN and you must log in to the two instances of Steam with the same login. If you attempt to login on a third device it will ask you to logout on one of the other two devices. So, same local network, two login limit.

Edit: I haven't tried launching a different game directly on the host machine from what it's streaming but I can't imagine that Steam will allow that.
Could work in offline mode?


I've gotten in as well, the wired performance is nearly flawless, and on my wireless N network it's definitely playable.

as to it working offline mode, it seemed like it was trying to do so but not really succeeding, so Im not sure if it's intentional or not. I really hope that is the case, we'll see.

Many people are in the beta and don't realize it, I was hopping around houses showing it off but at one place after we updated both clients to beta my friend was able to do it using his account.(perhaps he just got an invite and didn't realize it, but he never joined the community group you were supposed to join to get one)

When you're streaming you're able pull up stats, on my wireless N (I'm at 40ms total input, so it's playable. This is contigent upon there not being too much wireless traffic as well, of course.

Edit: I was in the onlive beta for a while as well, and while they obviously serve content differently/different reasons, this looks leaps and bounds better, I rarely if ever feel like Im watching a youtube video becuase of compression, and it always felt like that on onlive.

Another edit: it is definitely noteworthy enough to remark that when I was doing it wirelessly I seemed to be capped at 30fps, and it would only broadcast it to the screen at 1720x1080...and I'm not sure as to why, exactly.

ASIDE from those things, it's still pretty impressive, not ideal for every game of course.

This comment was edited on Jan 27, 2014, 17:34.
 
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25. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 15:03 Jivaro
 
Panickd wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 13:25:
Jivaro wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 12:32:
Can a single gaming rig stream more than one game to multiple devices at a time? For example, if I want to play Skyrim on my laptop and my step-son wants to play *insert random FPS here* on his laptop, could we do that? Does it have to be local network streaming or can I do it from a hotel room 500 miles away?

Sorry if this was covered already...new to this particular topic. I haven't been paying attention to it.

Nope. To use the streaming service you must be on the same LAN and you must log in to the two instances of Steam with the same login. If you attempt to login on a third device it will ask you to logout on one of the other two devices. So, same local network, two login limit.

Edit: I haven't tried launching a different game directly on the host machine from what it's streaming but I can't imagine that Steam will allow that.

Loose Cannon wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 13:19:
Jivaro wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 12:32:
Can a single gaming rig stream more than one game to multiple devices at a time?

No, I doubt it. The game is physically playing on the host machine (ie, I could sit in my dungeon as my wife streamed Broken Age, seeing the video/audio/input).

Thank you to both of you for the answers.
 
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24. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 14:37 jdreyer
 
Panickd wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 13:25:
Jivaro wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 12:32:
Can a single gaming rig stream more than one game to multiple devices at a time? For example, if I want to play Skyrim on my laptop and my step-son wants to play *insert random FPS here* on his laptop, could we do that? Does it have to be local network streaming or can I do it from a hotel room 500 miles away?

Sorry if this was covered already...new to this particular topic. I haven't been paying attention to it.

Nope. To use the streaming service you must be on the same LAN and you must log in to the two instances of Steam with the same login. If you attempt to login on a third device it will ask you to logout on one of the other two devices. So, same local network, two login limit.

Edit: I haven't tried launching a different game directly on the host machine from what it's streaming but I can't imagine that Steam will allow that.
Could work in offline mode?
 
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23. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 14:35 jdreyer
 
Loose Cannon wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 13:29:
jdreyer wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 12:45:
Right, this is the weak link in the chain. This makes the most sense for laptops, yet most laptops run low bandwidth wireless connectivity. So people would have to run an ethernet cable, and that kind of ruins the point of it. If you're streaming to your TV, you'll have to run ethernet to it, so you may as well run an HDMI cable.

I get where you're going with the HDMI cable, but that doesn't make sense. My main switch is in the office/dungeon and I ran Cat5 upstairs, to another switch/hotspot. Definitely longer than 50', and I wouldn't want to run HDMI that far. But even if I did, that's just the display/audio... what about input?

If I wanted to game outside the dungeon, it would make the most sense for me to use Valve's streaming. If it works well on more intense games, it might even make sense for a dedicated steam box for TV gaming.
Good points. And I guess someone could upgrade their router if they had lag.
 
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22. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 14:31 Loose Cannon
 
Creston wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 14:04:
But since this will stream to anything with SteamOS installed, my main concern is alleviated anyway.

I'm pretty sure you made a typo, but just to clarify, In-Home streaming will stream to anything that can install Steam. SteamOS is unnecessary.
 
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21. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 14:04 Creston
 
Beamer wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 12:19:
I don't think "move some things around" is feasible for many people.

Your desktop is a huge ugly bulk of wires likely buried somewhere it isn't seen.
Your best TV is probably in your best decorated room and one of the centerpieces of your family.


No, but the average consumer isn't the target for this technology anyway. Joe Schmoe console user isn't going to get a PC capable of playing games, then fiddling with a linux OS to get it to stream his PC games to his TV.

The tech-savvy PC gamer who this is aimed at is more likely to use it, and for those guys the concept of moving things around isn't going to be as upsetting.

But since this will stream to anything with SteamOS installed, my main concern is alleviated anyway.
 
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20. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 13:45 Loose Cannon
 
KS wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 13:25:
That's fascinating. I know there was a failed cloud-based gaming service that rendered your 3D and piped video to you. This seems like a local version where you run the video card server.

I can see consumer-level configurations of a tower with multiple 3D cards in it serving a whole family, even if one card could handle more than one game at once.

I've also used OnLive in the past, briefly. In-home streaming is no comparison. Even with a 15mbps connection (5mbps was required, if I remember correctly), it was noticeably laggy. I remember trying to play UT3 on it, and it was terrible.

1gps in-home streaming is like playing on the host rig itself... and Valve still has a ways to go yet (ie currently there is only software encoding).

As it stands now, a tower of 3D cards couldn't serve the whole family, just 1 person.
 
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19. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 13:39 HorrorScope
 
Is there any streaming service that allows to give k/m control to a remote user?  
Avatar 17232
 
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18. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 13:29 Loose Cannon
 
jdreyer wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 12:45:
Right, this is the weak link in the chain. This makes the most sense for laptops, yet most laptops run low bandwidth wireless connectivity. So people would have to run an ethernet cable, and that kind of ruins the point of it. If you're streaming to your TV, you'll have to run ethernet to it, so you may as well run an HDMI cable.

I get where you're going with the HDMI cable, but that doesn't make sense. My main switch is in the office/dungeon and I ran Cat5 upstairs, to another switch/hotspot. Definitely longer than 50', and I wouldn't want to run HDMI that far. But even if I did, that's just the display/audio... what about input?

If I wanted to game outside the dungeon, it would make the most sense for me to use Valve's streaming. If it works well on more intense games, it might even make sense for a dedicated steam box for TV gaming.
 
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17. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 13:25 Panickd
 
Jivaro wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 12:32:
Can a single gaming rig stream more than one game to multiple devices at a time? For example, if I want to play Skyrim on my laptop and my step-son wants to play *insert random FPS here* on his laptop, could we do that? Does it have to be local network streaming or can I do it from a hotel room 500 miles away?

Sorry if this was covered already...new to this particular topic. I haven't been paying attention to it.

Nope. To use the streaming service you must be on the same LAN and you must log in to the two instances of Steam with the same login. If you attempt to login on a third device it will ask you to logout on one of the other two devices. So, same local network, two login limit.

Edit: I haven't tried launching a different game directly on the host machine from what it's streaming but I can't imagine that Steam will allow that.
 
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16. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 13:25 KS
 
Loose Cannon wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 11:27:
I'm in the streaming beta. My gaming rig is in the basement (or the dungeon as my wife likes to call it). She doesn't like the dungeon, but she recently played Broken Age on her laptop, streaming from my gaming rig (I realize that Broken Age isn't the most demanding game ever made).

Connected 1gps wired, it was flawless, as if running locally. Connected wireless it was a bit laggy.

I might actually do some gaming on the laptop, maybe.

That's fascinating. I know there was a failed cloud-based gaming service that rendered your 3D and piped video to you. This seems like a local version where you run the video card server.

I can see consumer-level configurations of a tower with multiple 3D cards in it serving a whole family, even if one card could handle more than one game at once.
 
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15. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 13:19 Loose Cannon
 
Jivaro wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 12:32:
Can a single gaming rig stream more than one game to multiple devices at a time?

No, I doubt it. The game is physically playing on the host machine (ie, I could sit in my dungeon as my wife streamed Broken Age, seeing the video/audio/input).
 
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14. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 12:45 jdreyer
 
Loose Cannon wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 11:27:
I'm in the streaming beta. My gaming rig is in the basement (or the dungeon as my wife likes to call it). She doesn't like the dungeon, but she recently played Broken Age on her laptop, streaming from my gaming rig (I realize that Broken Age isn't the most demanding game ever made).

Connected 1gps wired, it was flawless, as if running locally. Connected wireless it was a bit laggy.

I might actually do some gaming on the laptop, maybe.

Right, this is the weak link in the chain. This makes the most sense for laptops, yet most laptops run low bandwidth wireless connectivity. So people would have to run an ethernet cable, and that kind of ruins the point of it. If you're streaming to your TV, you'll have to run ethernet to it, so you may as well run an HDMI cable.
 
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13. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 12:41 Boston
 
Wait, what "firsthand impressions"? I don't see anything in the linked article.  
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12. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 12:32 Jivaro
 
Can a single gaming rig stream more than one game to multiple devices at a time? For example, if I want to play Skyrim on my laptop and my step-son wants to play *insert random FPS here* on his laptop, could we do that? Does it have to be local network streaming or can I do it from a hotel room 500 miles away?

Sorry if this was covered already...new to this particular topic. I haven't been paying attention to it.
 
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11. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 12:19 Beamer
 
Creston wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 11:21:
Beamer wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 11:18:
Creston wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 11:15:
If the latter, that's great. If the former, then why not just buy a long HDMI cable instead?


Because your workhorse PC and your great TV may not be remotely near each other.

No, but how many people are going to spend 500 bucks rather than move some things around?

Esoteric wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 11:18:
You can stream to/from anything that can run a Steam client (doesn't have to be SteamOS).

Ah, okay. Thanks Esoteric.


I don't think "move some things around" is feasible for many people.

Your desktop is a huge ugly bulk of wires likely buried somewhere it isn't seen.
Your best TV is probably in your best decorated room and one of the centerpieces of your family.

 
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10. Re: Valve Beta Streaming Impressions Jan 27, 2014, 11:49 Panickd
 
Creston wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 11:30:
Loose Cannon wrote on Jan 27, 2014, 11:27:
Connected wireless it was a bit laggy.


That... doesn't sound very promising. Laggy as in noticeable?

The lag depends heavily on your wireless setup and the amount of interference in the area. For me on an ac setup with the host system hardlined into the router it's barely perceptible most of the time. The hitches in the changing frame rate are far more noticeable.
 
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