View Full Version : Local game streaming - Does it exist already?
16-04-2013, 03:15 AM
With all this talk of the Steambox and all that stuff I got to thinking (as I'm sure tens of thousands of PC gamers already have): Is there a sort of local 'cloud' gaming option? Could I turn my PC into a single terminal gaming server so that I could connect a TV and controller to it via a LAN connection? I find I'm wanting to just sit on my sofa with a controller to play games a lot these days but obviously I can't go back to consoles now that I've seen 60fps and actual 1080p, however running an HDMI, TOSLINK and USB cable aren't viable options. I'm sure if something did exist then it would be talked about but I guess it can't hurt to ask.
16-04-2013, 09:46 AM
You can get wireless HDMI kits that would allow you to use your PC as a PC and also to stream it to a TV so you could use it there too.
You can get them to do 1080p and I'd imagine 60fps, but there's possibilities that you might get some input lag when using a controller or a keyboard in gaming. That shouldn't really matter for single player games though unless it's something like Dark Souls. But I can't attest to how good/bad the systems are, I've heard conflicting things from people on them.
There are protocols intended to offer high-end remote desktop capabilities but the price would make buying a local gaming PC look cheap (they're also Windows Server-based for the most part) - you need hardware encoding/decoding and a lot of other optimisations and it probably still wouldn't be as lag-free as you'd like (probably similar to OnLive).
The cost of wireless HDMI streaming isn't insignificant and the quality over distance is poor (it's really intended to eliminate short cables IMO). I doubt a wireless 360 controller would work outside of a single room either - I'll try it later and tell you if it does ;)
16-04-2013, 11:29 AM
Wireless 360 controllers can work outside of the same room. I've done this years ago when at a friends house for a Halo 3 Lan night. We decided a fun game type would be "camera man" where one player would be a camera man and follow another player around, the other play trying to shoot enemies in third person and with no cross hairs. The guy I was following around was sat next to me, with his controller being wireless connected to a 360 up a flight of stairs in another room.
16-04-2013, 01:32 PM
there is the wired option, pretty cheap but it's wired so....
here's an example (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812270445)
then there is WHDI. It is a new standard that wirelessly transmits video - uncompressed video - and usb data using a 5GHz frequency band over very high distances. Typical limits are in the 150m range for these extenders. Nothing in the market yet, but you can order samples from Chinese manufacturers for a steep price ($200-$300 ballpark)
some background info:
Personally I'm waiting for the WHDI wireless screen to drop in price from it's current $600 production sample price. You get HDMI and usb ransmitted wirelessly to a 1080p 10" capacitive touch screen. The screen itself has HDMI and usb output so you can either use it on it's own or as an extender. Battery life is said to be 4 hours with the screen at full brightness and running in 1080p (I'm sure it can be extended if run at 720p and dimmed). Pretty sweet high end version of the wiiu gamepad imo.
EDIT: Seems there is already a WHDI product out there - the Belkin Screencast AV4. HDMI only though. Here's a video review:
16-04-2013, 05:14 PM
So it seems that I won't be able to play PC games from a different room in the house for a reasonable price any time soon. FINE. I shall settle for playing games on the TV in the same room, this should require nothing more than a flat 15 metre HDMI cable that I should hopefully be able to run under the carpet stealthily enough for it to be totally good. I realised shortly after posting the OP that my PC is closer to the sofa than the TV is, so plugging the controller in to the PC directly made way more sense anyway.
Thank you all.
The hard part now is working out how to deal with turning Nvidia Surround on and off and switching the HDMI port on my card to the TV's cable rather than one of the monitors already plugged in to it. And I hope games won't take offence to me re-enabling the card's built in audio, I think it was causing a conflict with my Xonar DX before. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Yes, we.
My experience of switching sound devices (between my onboard and a headset audio solution) proved to be my undoing - it's a massive, massive, massive pain in the arse...
Most games won't remember your selected device and just use the 'default windows sound device' so you have to change it in Windows - BEFORE - you run the game.
That's not something which is very easy to do with a controller!!
One solution in your case would be if you had an HDMI monitor also and switched to that permanently - but I guess you bought a proper soundcard for a reason?
Idea: Use a bluetooth sender/receiver (or a long headphone cable alongside the HDMI cable) to send the audio split-off from your soundcard - instead of using the HDMI audio (most TVs have a 3.5" audio in but not all will pair it with an HDMI input??)
p.s. I tried this once and it sort-of worked for a while
I just noticed this tho - might be a better solution?
17-04-2013, 01:37 AM
I was thinking of a way to automate between switching Surround on and off, and I figured that if it can all be done with keyboard commands you could automate it with an Arduino Leonardo. I'm sure you could make a script too but I think it would be easier to link a Leonardo up to a physical HDMI switch so that pressing the button to swap to the TV would trigger it into running through the keystrokes needed to switch Surround off (and maybe change the resolution to 1080p? I don't know if this would be necessary or not), so maybe that same automation could extend to changing the audio device.
Edit: Having read those links, you could easily make a Leonardo press the hotkey combination for Soundswitch, assuming it works.
I'm considering ditching my Xonar, though, I bought it when I first built my PC because it was an option and I figured I might as well, understanding basically nothing about PCs at all. I use headphones so I don't really think I need a sound card, but then I think it would still be an issue if I was using the on-board sound anyway as I'd need to go from headphones, which the graphics card can't do, and HDMI audio, which the motherboard can't do.
17-04-2013, 08:49 PM
neema_t: try this utility I made:
note that the utility has some config files so the rar file needs to be fully extracted to a drive before running the thing. Check the readme for instructions on how to use.
EDIT: If you create a shortcut to the utlity with a path to your game exe and the required parameters, it will switch audio automatically when the shortcut is clicked (and launch the game ofcourse). It's a bit tedious at first but later on you will get the convenience of auto switching with all your games/apps.
04-02-2014, 01:53 AM
'Minor' gravedig to resurrect this thread in light of recent advancements, I've been doing some home cloud gaming experiments and thought I'd share the results.
Basically, long story short, I bought an Ouya. With my PC and Ouya connected to my LAN via 200mbps ethernet adaptors I tried:
- Kainy, image quality isn't great and latency sucks, but it ran well enough.
- Splashtop (had to be sideloaded as it's not on the Ouya store), image quality was great but it preferred quality over latency and also I think the Ouya was struggling to keep up because I was getting a pretty low frame rate.
- Limelight. Oh, Limelight.
Long story version, might be of interest to some:
Basically, Limelight is the best thing ever. It had occurred to me that my GPU (and any Nvidia card at or above the 660Ti's level, basically any Kepler GPU card) had a hardware H.264 encoder in it, and my network ping from PC to Ouya was only 4ms but the gaming latency was well over 100ms, maybe even over 250ms, I never did work out a good way to measure it though. Anyway, it was apparent that software decoding was pushing the latency beyond a useful level, so maybe there was a way to tap into the H.264 encoder. I looked at Open Broadcasting Software which has support for NVEnc (i.e. the encoder in the GPU) but it looked too complicated and I read that it wasn't so great anyway because of the software decoding. Then an RPS commenter told me about Limelight.
Limelight tricks GeForce Experience into thinking your Android device, PC or even Raspberry Pi is an Nvidia Shield, allowing it direct access to the H.264 encoder AND also allowing hardware decoding on a Tegra 3 chip, which is what the Ouya uses. In practice this meant greatly reduced (still evident but very playable) latency, very good quality (though dark areas are quite muddy, I tried sniping some people with the abduction gun at night in Saints Row 4 but couldn't see shit) and, yeah, the sound is decent too, the TV I was playing on is by no means an audiophile-level piece of kit though. One drawback is that Limelight restricts you, as a Shield would, to Steam's Big Picture Mode only; you can't navigate the desktop with it. Not a huge deal if you have a phone or tablet that supports Splashtop, though. Oh and Nvidia could probably easily kill the Limelight project, but if I just stop updating my drivers I should be ok... I have a long enough backlog, I can do without buying new games for a while.
So that's that sorted, then. But wait, what about the controller support? Well, Limelight supposedly supports any DirectInput or Xinput controller you can connect to your device, so that's cool. Unfortunately, I've recently bought a DualShock 4 and I love it - love it - and I refuse to go back to any other controller unless it's a wired Saturn controller for emulating old console games. However, while the DS4 does work with the Ouya, the button mapping is totally up the wall; I presume this is because the Ouya expects a DirectInput controller to follow a DualShock 3, but the DualShock 4's descriptor is completely different because of the touchpad button (I'm guessing). The result is that X = O, square = X, L1 = start, R1 = select... Not good. I didn't even try my DualShock 3 or 360 controller, but the Ouya pad works. Sorry, 'works', but I'm not using that piece of shit, not for all the tea in China.
So I found a program made by a company called VirtualHere that turns a Raspberry Pi into a USB server, then my PC connects to whatever USB device is plugged in to the Pi remotely. I've so far only tested it with Kainy and a 360 controller but it worked perfectly, so I have no doubt it would also work perfectly with a Bluetooth dongle, my DS4 and Limelight. I also have no doubt that it would work with a keyboard and mouse (if I buy the software as the free version only allows you to connect one device at a time), racing wheel, flight stick; whatever, so this is probably the most flexible solution.
The result is that I'm now considering how I could have the Ouya's PCB, Raspberry Pi, an ethernet switch, the powerline ethernet adaptor and a bluetooth dongle in a compact case, basically a sort of hybrid console kind of thing instead of carrying all the stuff around whenever I want to go somewhere else. I can even install an AirPlay client on the Ouya so I could stream my iTunes library as well, I must try that out immediately. Not bad for such a piece of shit console, I must say!
I'm waiting to see what Steam's streaming software is like but I don't have a beta invite yet, but I imagine it won't compete with Limelight since it probably doesn't access the H.264 encoder. Also an Ouya is way cheaper than a second PC, but I imagine Steam OS will bring some real innovation with regards to streaming.
p.s. as for the audio switching problem I had, I found that if my TV is active in Nvidia control panel and set as the default device in Windows control panel, it will select the TV. Deactivate the TV in Nvidia control panel and it goes back to my sound card. If only it were possible to activate, deactivate and rearrange monitors with keyboard shortcuts...
Steam's streaming uses hardware encoding on the client but currently not on the server as I understand it!?
That said - from what I've seen - a moderately decent gaming PC has no issues generating the stream - the issue is more on the client decoding it (I tried it with 2 laptops - one worked OK and the other was much worse so that proves, to me, that the client will probably be the bigger technical bottleneck!?)
I just gave Limelight a spin on my S3 and it worked pretty much perfectly - I have a GPU at the bottom of Shield's supported range (a 650 TI Boost) and it worked fine (only supported game I had installed was Dirt Showdown). I can't actually PLAY the game as I've no controller I can connect to the S3 - but I have an Android TV box I'll try it with later (it has USBs so i should be able to connect a 360 controller I think!?)
It seems a nice solution IF Shield remains a supported platform. I've used Splashtop for less taxing games before too.
04-02-2014, 01:13 PM
Yeah, Limelight is pretty much the perfect solution but has a few prerequisites; first, most obviously, is that Nvidia doesn't kill it which it easily could and probably will. Second, you need a client device that supports the controllers you want. And third, which is less essential, a device with Ethernet would be good. But if you have an Ouya and a Raspberry Pi those two are covered, the first is the most important one and it doesn't inspire much hope in me.
I got an invite to home streaming almost as soon as I posted the above, I haven't tried it yet and I only have a Mac to test it on so I hope it's compatible. It'll be interesting to see how they compare, especially since an Ouya, Pi and Ethernet switch are far cheaper than even an ultra budget PC... But then you do gain another PC and proper actual first-party support.
As a small aside, I installed an Airplay client on the Ouya after my last post here, it works very well and even supports mirroring, albeit a little shoddily (looking at photos brings up an 'I/O error' screen if you try to scroll through them), but for watching short videos and playing music it works well. If I was just going for music playback I'd probably get a Pi, a USB DAC, a wi-fi dongle and embed it inside a hi-fi, but for video and music an Ouya is again a pretty good choice.
In the end, while £100 is a lot of money for a tragically piss-poor console, the Ouya has so far proven to be worth the expense through sideloaded apps. That controller, though... I'm thinking I might turn it into a remote control instead, it's the worst controller I've ever used.
04-02-2014, 08:20 PM
Just trying Steam home streaming now, it does indeed work on Mac OS.
So the latency seems... Alright, I guess. I tried Nuclear Throne and was able to play pretty well, despite the fact it looked like this:
Then I tried Payday 2 and while it was ok, it was a bit jittery and I don't know if it's because it was at 30fps but it felt weird. Here's what the graph thing said about... Something:
The biggest barrier to this streaming thing for me right now, as in at this very second, is that I only have a one-button mouse for my Mac. Well, it technically can do two clicks but you can't do both at the same time, so I tried a heist and couldn't look down my sight.
I haven't tried either of these games with Limelight (mainly because Nuclear Throne doesn't play well with a pad and I don't really want to play online shooters over a streamed connection anyway), so I'm going to try Saints Row IV.
Interestingly, here are the stats for my connection:
Latency: 106.48ms (5.77ms input, 19.87ms game, ~80ms display)
Ping time: 17-24ms
Bit rate: 14000ish kbit/s from PC to Mac, 65kbit/s from Mac to PC
Link utilisation: ~40% (of estimated 33-34Mbps) << I'm using 200mbps ethernet adaptors in a 15-year-old house, so that's quite a long way off the advertised speed!
Packet loss: 0%. Frame loss was at 0% after about 5 minutes of play until I cmd-tabbed out to write this, now it's at 1.39%.
The game itself is very controllable, although some latency is there it's nothing to get worked up about and doesn't affect my ability to play. Quality is probably a little better than Limelight but I'd have to test them side by side on the same monitor.
So yeah, I'm impressed, the only problem is my Mac and PC are right next to one another. Limelight seems more compatible, I did run into some issues with Steam streaming when I tried to launch Anodyne; the screen was just the Big Picture background with Anodyne's audio, I quickly logged in to my PC with Splashtop to see what the deal was and it was doing the controller config stuff but I couldn't see it. I had no proper method of quitting so I cmd-Q'd it, then I was unable to launch anything else because it said a game was already running, so I had to exit Big Picture on both computers to fix it.
Also when I started Payday 2 - this is a glitch that won't happen often, I'm sure - I forgot I had Splashtop running and it shunted me back to the desktop to warn me that Splashtop doesn't support fullscreen apps; my Mac was displaying my PC's desktop via Steam's streaming service and I could control my PC with it, but when I just wanted to close the warning and get back to Payday 2, it kept briefly showing me the game then cycling me back to the desktop... Now that I think about it that could've been because Splashtop Streamer hadn't quite realised I'd closed it on my phone. Never mind.
My Mac's relevant specs:
Quad 2.66GHz Xeon CPU
6GB DDR3-1066 ECC RAM
i5 2500K at 3.3GHz
The router and PC are connected via TP Link PA211 (200mbps) ethernet adaptors and my Mac via a 411 which is 500mbps, I have a pair and was originally using them for my PC and router but one or both seemed to be intermittent; every now and then my LAN would stop working while wi-fi was fine, then when I swapped the router's adaptor my PC intermittently dropped its connection when my Mac was fine.
Hey, I'm good at this wall of text stuff!
I got around to trying Limelight on my Android 'box' and results were middling to say the least.
It's a Sumvision Cyclone X2 - one of the variants of the Geniatech ATV 1200 (others include MyGicas and ExTVs and allsorts) - and whilst it recognises a wired 360 controller (indeed it will allow it's use to control the box!!) streaming is pretty atrocious.
Where it was smooth on the S3 it's chunky, artifacted and slow on the X2. My guess is that it's hardware decoder isn't supported (it's a MALI 400 setup I think) - this was true of XBMC until recently so I'm not surprised it's not covered here.
I was also using Wifi which can't have helped but it's some way from being playable right now...
06-02-2014, 01:38 PM
They do say you need a SoC that can do H.264 High Profile hardware decoding (so, like a Tegra 3 or whatever) or one that is powerful enough to do it in software, so I guess your set top box just isn't fast enough.
Also for the wireless vs. wired performance, I tried both on my Mac (PC connected to the router with a wire) with Saints Row 4; wireless I got ~20fps, 170-200ms total latency and both slow decode and slow network warnings. Wired was ~30fps, 100ish total latency and it was a perfectly smooth experience, so the powerline ethernet adaptors are proving useful right now.
The Mali can easily do that - it streams 1080p perfectly well since XBMC had it's hardware decoder added to the standard build - it's just not the commonest Android option and so you tend not to get it 'out of the box'.
For the record - it's the same hardware that was in the Galaxy S2 I think - so it's pre-Exynos but still perfectly upto most app's demands (I know plenty of people still using S2s!!)
"Force Hardware Decoding" causes Limelight to crash which pretty much confirms it doesn't support the chipset I guess...
It's all academic to me - I have no desire to play PC games on my TV at all - I just like to see what works and how well it works and it was pretty smooth on my S3 - I might even grab an OTG cable and try that out... ;0
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