This Is Living (Room): Steam In-Home Streaming Beta Soon

By Nathan Grayson on November 21st, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

Valve has named the group for this thing 'Homestream,' which sounds like something I'd call a good friend if I were trying way too hard to be hip. 'What up, homestream?' Hurrah! Now I hate myself!

Owning a gaming machine with horsepower for days can come with some pretty severe drawbacks – for instance, that it’s comparable to an actual horse in weight and portability. (And I can’t even ride it! What did I make this damn thing for, anyway?) The prospect of following Valve’s rhythmically clomping war party into the living room, then, isn’t the most attractive. Not when I have to pit my spine against weight that would bow a flagpole for multiple action-packed flights of stairs. But soon, all will be well. Valve’s officially announced its in-home streaming program for Steam, and it sounds like just what my doctor would’ve ordered after diagnosing me with folded-up-like-a-human-accordion syndrome.

Steam In-Home Streaming is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. For the uninitiated, here is what it sounds like:

“Steam in-home streaming will allow you to play a game on one computer when the game process is actually running on another computer elsewhere in your home. Through Steam, game audio and video is captured on the remote computer and sent to the player’s computer. The game input (keyboard, mouse or gamepad) is sent from the player’s computer to the game process on the remote computer.”

“Any two computers in a home can be used to stream a gameplay session and this can enable playing games on systems that would not traditionally be able to run those games. For example, a Windows only game could be streamed from a Windows PC to a Steam Machine running Linux in the living room.”

Handy! And yeah, streaming between OSes sounds especially useful, given that Linux isn’t exactly teeming with games just yet. SteamOS will need support from all corners of the game-o-verse eventually, but for now this is a nice cork to stop it from becoming a sinking ship. And in the future? Well, I have to wonder if there’s much at all that’d prevent us from streaming to, say, tablets or phones – well, aside from less-than-ideal control schemes, anyway.

Beta testing is apparently in its “early stages” right now, and you can quietly, patiently beg to be let in by joining the Steam In-Home Streaming community group conglomerate cabal Voltron. I just did, and I can feel my back, neck, arms, and legs untwisting themselves from horrific, jagged piles of wreckage already!

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43 Comments »

  1. Lev Astov says:

    So now I can play games on the TV in my bedroom streamed from my gaming monster hooked up to the TV in my living room? I’m down.

    • dog says:

      sorry to hear … cheer up, its the weekend soon :)

    • Grey Poupon says:

      Well, to be fair you’ve been able to do so from almost the dawn of time. Remote desktops are nothing new even though they’d like you to think so. With Valve’s version of it you most likely don’t need to know the first thing about computers though.

      • SquareWheel says:

        Gaming over RDP/VNC isn’t exactly ideal. I would hope that Steam’s version is sending frames directly from the game to the client to optimize performance. That isn’t a totally new idea, but there isn’t a standard solution at the moment.

      • HothMonster says:

        Trying playing a game with the built in windows remote desktop and tell me how that works out for you.

        • Grey Poupon says:

          All you have to do is spend a few minutes on Google to find out for yourself. I didn’t mention the built-in RDP client/server though.

          • HothMonster says:

            My point was while remote desktops exist and do their job they are shit for playing games. Built-in RDP client or not (though you are right, not sure why I mentioned that specifically as you did not refer to it).

      • Deadly Sinner says:

        Who, exactly, would like you to think so? You make it sound like there is no value in simplifying things.

        • stampy says:

          Hey very clearly specified. Its THEY. Having to ask just sounds shallow and pedantic.

  2. Deston says:

    Definitely sounds interesting, although I think what may make and break it is how much control you can actually have over the main gaming rig (in the other room, upstairs, next door, whatever) from the client device that’s hooked up to your telly…

    Hopefully it’ll have some sort of wake-on-LAN type support, so you can sit down at the TV and power up the gaming box and access your games elsewhere remotely. Then also be able to shut it down from the controller after you’re done.

    Not that it bothers me personally, but those kind of basic conveniences will be very important to its adoption.

  3. Little_Crow says:

    This was the only thing from the Valve announcements that piqued my interest.
    I’d like to know what sort of spec the machine you stream to needs, and I really hope a Raspberry Pi will have sufficient grunt.

  4. ravencheek says:

    Finally! Someone using the correct term for “Cloud Computing”, not this wishy washy online storage rubbish. This is true cloud computing, take note.

    • Writhe says:

      Umm… You seem to be the only one using that term, here. Except for the unfortunate shape for HOME NETWORK on the diagram, the article has nothing whatsoever to do with clouds, let alone cloud computing. There are only two machines involved, and only one of them does the real processing. It’s the second least distributed system imaginable.

      • iniudan says:

        Actually the form is not unfortunate, the reason cloud service are called cloud is due to the fact that all unknown network configuration were usually and still are illustrated by a cloud in most diagram.

        • Writhe says:

          One *could* argue that the diagram shows the whole set-up from its user’s point of view, so the network configuration is not really *unknown* – it’s just… irrelevant. But yeah – I see your point. It’s a good point.

          And re: etymology of ‘cloud services’ – really? I always thought it was due to the nebulous (eh? eh?), distributed nature of the infrastructure providing said services. I mean – some dude’s FTP server is not a cloud service. Amazon S3 is (has multiple endpoints, redundancy etc). Folding@home – even more so. I might be wrong, though.

  5. Shooop says:

    Does this mean I could play a game using the hardware I have on my main computer on another less powerful computer anywhere in my house?

    If so then I’m all for this.

    • HothMonster says:

      Exactly what it means. The powerful computer processes the game and the endpoint just displays it and takes your inputs. Something to do with these extra rasberry pis I have!

  6. TT says:

    mm.. Will this finally allow to use a tablet as input (and display) running the software from the desktop PC?
    Forget games, I want to use my wacom penable old tabletpc to run heavy graphic software.

  7. LionsPhil says:

    It will be interesting to see what they’re doing to make this work better than VNC or RDP, which solve the same problem, but not to gaming-performance levels.

  8. Flarn says:

    What will TRULY make or break this is how it handles latency from the originating PC, the gaming rig, the LAN, and the Internet. Little hiccups here and there from any of those sources can really kill twitch gameplay. I remain skeptical.

    • HothMonster says:

      No internet involved just LAN. Makes me wish I had bought that enterprise networking switch when my companies lease ran out on it.

    • Falcon says:

      If you’re wired in, 0.5ms (POINT FIVE!) average according to Valve’s tests. (I’d recommend reading Valve’s actual announcement – especially part 3 http://steamcommunity.com/groups/homestream#announcements/detail/1496614934736756460 – it’s a quick read to read all five parts.) Wireless is where twitch gameplay would suffer most as while it was under 10ms for good wireless conditions, there were spikes up as high as 100ms, and weak wireless connections will spike all over the place.

  9. db1331 says:

    I’m already sort of doing this now, and I have to say, it is pretty fucking choice. I’ve got my PC hooked up to my TV, and extension cables (All completely hidden) running to my monitor, M+KB at my desk. I’ve got a separate wireless M+KB connected as well. My sound card is simultaneously connected to my HTS, and a pair of wireless headphones. Want to play some BF4? Wireless headset at my desk with my gaming M+KB. Want to play Assassin’s Creed, Arkham City, or maybe The Walking Dead? Kick back on the couch with the wireless 360 pad and listen through the HTS. Holding my sleeping baby while I play? Better turn of the HTS and use the headphones. Games played in windowed mode can just be dragged back and forth between the two screens as needed It’s great having so many options. .

    • sharks.don't.sleep says:

      You don’t have to run the games in window mode to enjoy them on the TV or your desk, you can display the image simultaneously on both screens via the windows settings. Works best if both run at the same resolution.

      • db1331 says:

        I know, but my gaming monitor is 16:10, while my TV is 16:9. so it’s a little wonky doing it that way.

  10. Radiant says:

    You should be able to do this with the tiniest of tiny dongles to a tv. OR directly to a dnla enabled networked tv. The same way serviio streams [and transcodes] movies from your pc to your tv.

  11. SteelPriest says:

    I like this news, but not as much as I like HDMI over dual ethernet.

  12. FCA says:

    Unfortunately, no one else can use the computer streaming the game :(
    Valve’s saying that it messes up the input, hopefully at some point they can fix this. Maybe it’s a Windows inherent problem, on Linux there was no problem with multiple users on one computer, each with their own screen/desktop (performance though, was a problem).

    • SuicideKing says:

      I *think* it’s a windows limitation, in the sense that it can only have one active windows at a time (everything else runs in the background) that takes in input.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Terminal Services allows that kind of shenanigans, I think, but I suspect there are problems for games in getting hardware-accellerated fullscreen things to play nice when not really pointing to a screen, even in this modern age of render-to-texture and GPU-is-just-a-co-processor tricks. Drivers and such.

        Linux did this kind of thing with multiple X servers last I knew. I’m not sure it would fare much differently.

  13. Moraven says:

    I wonder if they would do something over Wi-Fi if it was a direct connection like the Wii U Game Pad?

    Some sort of plug in Wi-Fi device you plug into your PC and into your TV. Probably would depend on the speed that USB offers.

    I will try this with the HTPC from my main desktop. Both are connected to the router by LAN. The HTPC is enough now for Space Marine, XCom, Batman at medium or lower settings at 1080p, but it would be nice to have them at ultra with less fps spikes.

  14. Solidstate89 says:

    Although I would never try this as I just don’t see the point in it, I wonder if one could stream from their desktop, to a VM they have hosted on their same desktop.

    Would that fuck with that NAT at all?

    • 00000 says:

      They could. The question is how many VMs inside VMs do you need for it to stop working.

      I will try… I will find out… I will report back on this…

    • LionsPhil says:

      NAT isn’t part of this?

      Most VNC/RDP-alikes detect and prevent loops IIRC.

  15. suat88 says:

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  16. racccoon says:

    Steam doing something that’s been done for many moons, its old school shit that steam is imploding into the not too smart youth or young game player, they all buy first buy second, buy third, buy! bloody buy, and wonder why later the shit hits the fan! Its the age of idiots with money and credit cards in abundance! not even thinking about where it is going. They don’t care, they just payout for crap crap more crap.buy houses for more than there worth,buy cars they don’t need, buy any new tech shit! anything without a thought! Steam has seen this with dollar sign eyes, they are going to take them to the cleaners just like every other company is doing today. You know we are more in debt n credit than we were before the 2008 crash! they still keep spending. they are dumb we can’t stop them. :( we are all doomed!~ STEAM SUCKS!

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  18. Carr0t says:

    Love the idea. Wonder what the input lag will be like…

  19. bstard says:

    This looks too complicated for it to be a konsole.

  20. Synesthesia says:

    ooh, i can’t wait. That 10m hdmi i was using was clumsy as hell.