Steam In-Home Streaming Monopolizes Host Computer

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Steam In-Home Streaming Monopolizes Host Computer

Steam InHome Streaming diagram

Steam's upcoming In-Home Streaming feature lets you stream to any computer in the network - so long as you don't need to use the streaming computer for anything else.

As part of Valve's initiative to spread the tendrils of Steam to the living room, the company is preparing a feature called In-Home Streaming. The service lets one computer do the heavy lifting while another computer (not necessarily a Steam Machine, but probably a Steam Machine) outputs the video/audio and handles the controls. A Q&A post on the Steam Community revealed a few points of interest about the service: specifically, how it handles a user trying to do things on the host computer while streaming is happening. The short answer is that it doesn't.

"Your computer is dedicated to running the game," the post explains, "and input is coming from both the remote client and the local system. It would be very confusing if someone were trying to use the computer at the same time." Technically speaking, it's reasonable for more processor-intensive games, since there's a lot of work being done on the host computer. However, even more lightweight games will tie up the computer while streaming is active. If your household setup consists of one computer and one Steam Machine hooked up to the living room TV, you'd better hope nobody needs to use the computer while you're gaming on the couch.

One other clarification from the Q&A is that streaming will be limited to the local network. Streaming a game across the internet introduces a whole new set of latency issues and other things that Valve can't control, so don't expect that ability to be included when In-Home Streaming launches.

Source: Steam Community

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I was never big on this idea to begin with, but if you're requiring me to lose the functionality of my host computer, I'm even less sold.

I'm kinda surprised anyone thought this wasn't going to be the case.

Agayek:
I'm kinda surprised anyone thought this wasn't going to be the case.

Same. Computers aren't magic, they have to process things according to the programming of the firmware/software.

But hey, maybe someone will figure out a way to use multiple control inputs seamlessly, especially if the streaming becomes a standard.

At any rate, it's not really a loss, because if you wanted to play WITHOUT the Steam Machine, you still had to use your computer anyways.

I'm looking forward to this, because I have pretty much one of the best use cases: a desktop gaming rig in my bedroom, and my laptop in the living room connected to the TV. I can even connect my laptop with an ethernet cable for minimum latency!

Why wouldn't you just connect the host PC directly to the TV.... This seems dumb and complicated for something that could be solved with a lengthier HDMI cable. Internet streaming Would have been a true step forward.

Nice thing, you can still just have video output to the TV, switch the TV over to that INput and have your PC span/duplicate displays.

Nobody will be using the computer while you're doing this, I assume. If you're gaming, then you're not likely to be sharing the comp anyways.

O maestre:
Why wouldn't you just connect the host PC directly to the TV.... This seems dumb and complicated for something that could be solved with a lengthier HDMI cable. Internet streaming Would have been a true step forward.

So you can access you steam games round the house on less powerful devices than your gaming rig? Not useful to everyone but thats fine its almost as if evey feature doesnt need to be useful to everyone....

This isnt designed to just be a longer HDMI cable. Hell the guy above you has proposed one of the likely intended uses.

Petromir:

O maestre:
Why wouldn't you just connect the host PC directly to the TV.... This seems dumb and complicated for something that could be solved with a lengthier HDMI cable. Internet streaming Would have been a true step forward.

So you can access you steam games round the house on less powerful devices than your gaming rig? Not useful to everyone but thats fine its almost as if evey feature doesnt need to be useful to everyone....

This isnt designed to just be a longer HDMI cable. Hell the guy above you has proposed one of the likely intended uses.

The guy above me could bypass his laptop completely by getting a cable from his bedroom to his living room TV. If he needs to access files there are plenty of remote desktop apps like team viewer. I still don't see the practical or revolutionary aspect of this, maybe it is just me that has a ridiculously small apartment compared to Darkzero

Petromir:

So you can access you steam games round the house on less powerful devices than your gaming rig? Not useful to everyone but thats fine its almost as if evey feature doesnt need to be useful to everyone....

This isnt designed to just be a longer HDMI cable. Hell the guy above you has proposed one of the likely intended uses.

The way i read this, That is exactly what this is.
But that is not necessary a bad thing.
If your PC is at the other side of the house and you have a fast network (don't know the requirements, but doubt WiFi will cut it)its a good option.
if its in the same room, i wouldn't bother.

O maestre:

Petromir:

O maestre:
Why wouldn't you just connect the host PC directly to the TV.... This seems dumb and complicated for something that could be solved with a lengthier HDMI cable. Internet streaming Would have been a true step forward.

So you can access you steam games round the house on less powerful devices than your gaming rig? Not useful to everyone but thats fine its almost as if evey feature doesnt need to be useful to everyone....

This isnt designed to just be a longer HDMI cable. Hell the guy above you has proposed one of the likely intended uses.

The guy above me could bypass his laptop completely by getting a cable from his bedroom to his living room TV. If he needs to access files there are plenty of remote desktop apps like team viewer. I still don't see the practical or revolutionary aspect of this, maybe it is just me that has a ridiculously small apartment compared to Darkzero

so you have an HDMI cable strung across the house maybe from the first floor to the second floor and are using this tv as another monitor, do you also string usb cables across the house so you can have your mouse, keyboard, controller, head set?

Be creative, people. You could use this to stream FROM a Steam Machine, which look like they'll be as small and well designed as possible for a computer that holds a high-end GPU, TO a lighter device such as an Ultrabook or an older PC.

I'm personally looking into moving away from a bulky PC and towards an Ultrabook connected to my 27" screen and keyboard. If that means I can ALSO play games with graphics only a desktop-based GPU can handle, this is amazing.

O maestre:
Why wouldn't you just connect the host PC directly to the TV.... This seems dumb and complicated for something that could be solved with a lengthier HDMI cable. Internet streaming Would have been a true step forward.

I would assume it would be for people like me who would have a giant gaming computer that wouldn't really gel well with a sitting room. When I built my current PC, I selected a Coolermaster RC1000 Cosmos case. That thing is bloody huge. It's like the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. It's something that would be an eye sore in the room and I have a modified cooling system that isn't exactly quiet meaning the best way I have to play with it is headphones and if you have other people in the room, that's just not kosher.

[Edit]

And to people who might complain about running long ethernet cables, you can get these devices at electronic shops now, they're called Broadband-Over-Mains plugs. And they work like they're labelled. You get two plugs, one goes into a power socket next to your modem/router, the other goes into a socket next to your PC or whatever and it sends the network signal through the power lines. As far as I know you can have four plugs (one transmitter and three receivers) in the one house and they're dumb terminals so it doesn't matter which plug is delegated to which role. Using these, you could easily bring network points to any part in your house. They're also plummeting in price, when we got them in at work, they were usually 80+ euros, now you can get a very decent pair for twenty six euros which, for what they are, is a steal.

O maestre:
Why wouldn't you just connect the host PC directly to the TV.... This seems dumb and complicated for something that could be solved with a lengthier HDMI cable. Internet streaming Would have been a true step forward.

Because now I can take my crappy laptop and play games on the toilet without an HDMI cable connecting my laptop to my PC.

It isnt an amazing new feature but its an option that can be convinient in some cases.

This is probably to maintain compatibility with games. Most games probably aren't coded to respond to interactions while they are minimised/hidden.

I tend not to be doing things on my computer when I am playing it. And I will be glad not to feel obliged to alt tab out to answer IMs. Plus I have a phone for that crap if I really need it. I am all for less distractions when I play games.

Lono Shrugged:
I tend not to be doing things on my computer when I am playing it. And I will be glad not to feel obliged to alt tab out to answer IMs. Plus I have a phone for that crap if I really need it. I am all for less distractions when I play games.

The point is, you are not if front of your computer, instead you are in front of the TV.
Other people in your house might not understand that you are using it siting in front of the TV.

More usefull is, you put the big ugly powerfull gameserver somewere out of sight.
And use a small formfactor pc as a sort of thinclient workstation.

I just want that controller and the ability to dual boot into the steam os...even though I don't "really" need to. My computer is connected to my tv where I already play steam games, so yeah I just want the controller.

This is really a lot of trouble that Valve is going through to get a bunch of people who play PC games to move to the living room. It seems more troublesome considering that there are major reasons people play PCs in the first place.

Not having to share the TV.
KB+M works better with the majority of PC games.
A lot of PC gamers are perfectly comfortable playing at a desk.

We'll see how this goes but I don't think it'll be the instant success that Valve fans want it to be.

I just don't understand the appeal of a SteamBox AT ALL. I love steam, I have a ton of steam games, but why the hell would I buy a second PC that can't do anything but hook up to a TV and play my first PC's games when I could just hook up my first PC to start with and save $500? It's not even enabling us to play better/bigger games than we could otherwise, because the game can't run on an amazing SteamBox if the host machine is still crappy.

SteamBoxes will be near useless until they can find a way to get DirectX support, allowing us to just play our games on them without doing this BS middleman approach.

TiberiusEsuriens:
I just don't understand the appeal of a SteamBox AT ALL. I love steam, I have a ton of steam games, but why the hell would I buy a second PC that can't do anything but hook up to a TV and play my first PC's games when I could just hook up my first PC to start with and save $500? It's not even enabling us to play better/bigger games than we could otherwise, because the game can't run on an amazing SteamBox if the host machine is still crappy.

SteamBoxes will be near useless until they can find a way to get DirectX support, allowing us to just play our games on them without doing this BS middleman approach.

I think what the intention of the home streaming is to get around the directX issue. RDP is platform independent so you can run your Windows games on your main PC and stream it to a SteamOS box. You can run a linux screen on windows using RDP and vica versa. I still don't see the reason why you buy two PC's but its a part solution to the problem.

albino boo:

TiberiusEsuriens:
I just don't understand the appeal of a SteamBox AT ALL. I love steam, I have a ton of steam games, but why the hell would I buy a second PC that can't do anything but hook up to a TV and play my first PC's games when I could just hook up my first PC to start with and save $500? It's not even enabling us to play better/bigger games than we could otherwise, because the game can't run on an amazing SteamBox if the host machine is still crappy.

SteamBoxes will be near useless until they can find a way to get DirectX support, allowing us to just play our games on them without doing this BS middleman approach.

I think what the intention of the home streaming is to get around the directX issue. RDP is platform independent so you can run your Windows games on your main PC and stream it to a SteamOS box. You can run a linux screen on windows using RDP and vica versa. I still don't see the reason why you buy two PC's but its a part solution to the problem.

I have a windows PC already. It has 'ok' system specs. I will not be running ANY games from next year on it with settings past Medium. If I use a SteamBox to stream it to the TV, even if that box has an i7 and a Titan in it, because there is still computation (ie DirectX, plus other) that has to be done on the source PC (my less than excellent one) that means I still have to use crappy settings. It doesn't matter how great a SteamBox is, if the source PC is bad then the SteamBox is essentially an expensive brick or router.

If all of the important heavy computation could be done on the SteamBox itself there would be no need to stream in the first place, we'd all be buying steamboxes to replace our computers. The way they've described it we would still be playing all non-linux games (my entire collection) from the source PC, not the steambox, which means we still need 2 PCs.

I need to pick up another IBM x3655 off ebay and stick a 780 in it

steamblade!

FogHornG36:

O maestre:

Petromir:

So you can access you steam games round the house on less powerful devices than your gaming rig? Not useful to everyone but thats fine its almost as if evey feature doesnt need to be useful to everyone....

This isnt designed to just be a longer HDMI cable. Hell the guy above you has proposed one of the likely intended uses.

The guy above me could bypass his laptop completely by getting a cable from his bedroom to his living room TV. If he needs to access files there are plenty of remote desktop apps like team viewer. I still don't see the practical or revolutionary aspect of this, maybe it is just me that has a ridiculously small apartment compared to Darkzero

so you have an HDMI cable strung across the house maybe from the first floor to the second floor and are using this tv as another monitor, do you also string usb cables across the house so you can have your mouse, keyboard, controller, head set?

There it is! For me it would be over 200 ft of cable to do this. I have 5 computers in my house but only one of them is the real Beast. The others are just crappy laptops and decent desk units. This lets me play a game on my best PC is ANY ROOM, and I do not have to sit next to the giant unit.

lacktheknack:

Agayek:
I'm kinda surprised anyone thought this wasn't going to be the case.

Same. Computers aren't magic, they have to process things according to the programming of the firmware/software.

But hey, maybe someone will figure out a way to use multiple control inputs seamlessly, especially if the streaming becomes a standard.

At any rate, it's not really a loss, because if you wanted to play WITHOUT the Steam Machine, you still had to use your computer anyways.

Actually on *nix system it is simple, use an other tty instance, trouble is that the streaming server in the case of Steam is most likely not running a *nix OS. =p

albino boo:

TiberiusEsuriens:
I just don't understand the appeal of a SteamBox AT ALL. I love steam, I have a ton of steam games, but why the hell would I buy a second PC that can't do anything but hook up to a TV and play my first PC's games when I could just hook up my first PC to start with and save $500? It's not even enabling us to play better/bigger games than we could otherwise, because the game can't run on an amazing SteamBox if the host machine is still crappy.

SteamBoxes will be near useless until they can find a way to get DirectX support, allowing us to just play our games on them without doing this BS middleman approach.

I think what the intention of the home streaming is to get around the directX issue. RDP is platform independent so you can run your Windows games on your main PC and stream it to a SteamOS box. You can run a linux screen on windows using RDP and vica versa. I still don't see the reason why you buy two PC's but its a part solution to the problem.

SteamOS is not using RDP, has the server is only present in professional or higher version of Windows.

If the computer used RDP there wouldn't be problem of input duplication anyway.

iniudan:

albino boo:

TiberiusEsuriens:
I just don't understand the appeal of a SteamBox AT ALL. I love steam, I have a ton of steam games, but why the hell would I buy a second PC that can't do anything but hook up to a TV and play my first PC's games when I could just hook up my first PC to start with and save $500? It's not even enabling us to play better/bigger games than we could otherwise, because the game can't run on an amazing SteamBox if the host machine is still crappy.

SteamBoxes will be near useless until they can find a way to get DirectX support, allowing us to just play our games on them without doing this BS middleman approach.

I think what the intention of the home streaming is to get around the directX issue. RDP is platform independent so you can run your Windows games on your main PC and stream it to a SteamOS box. You can run a linux screen on windows using RDP and vica versa. I still don't see the reason why you buy two PC's but its a part solution to the problem.

SteamOS is not using RDP, has the server is only present in professional or higher version of Windows.

If the computer used RDP there wouldn't be problem of input duplication anyway.

RDP is microsoft's implantation of the T.120 standard. There are plenty of software that does the same and even some that use RDP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_remote_desktop_software

Its not beyond the whit of man, to either license another remote desktop or seeing that valve have enough programmers to make an OS version of their own, to make there own implementation.

O maestre:

Petromir:

O maestre:
Why wouldn't you just connect the host PC directly to the TV.... This seems dumb and complicated for something that could be solved with a lengthier HDMI cable. Internet streaming Would have been a true step forward.

So you can access you steam games round the house on less powerful devices than your gaming rig? Not useful to everyone but thats fine its almost as if evey feature doesnt need to be useful to everyone....

This isnt designed to just be a longer HDMI cable. Hell the guy above you has proposed one of the likely intended uses.

The guy above me could bypass his laptop completely by getting a cable from his bedroom to his living room TV. If he needs to access files there are plenty of remote desktop apps like team viewer. I still don't see the practical or revolutionary aspect of this, maybe it is just me that has a ridiculously small apartment compared to Darkzero

My computer and my Big screen are 100 ft apart (as I would lay the cable.) In my old apartment connecting my computer to my big screen required a 25 ft cable. Running cables this distance is annoying, and running cables between rooms and though hallways (where they are ugly and can be tripped over) is not a good option.

While you are right that this is not exactly revolutionary in its current form it is still a very useful function for many people. In fact, I would say you are in the minority in thinking that connecting your computer to your TV is no big deal.

Also, it could very well be revolutionary down the road. I could very easily see myself setting up a beast server somewhere out of the way, say in a storage room or in the basement, and streaming all my games from that machine. The functionality isn't quite there yet but it could get there soon.

I am not surprised and the feature is still cool. A Steambox will still be able to play games locally.

It's an obvious way to it and the simplest and most non-invasive one.
If you want to monopolize the host PC, you either have to have deep in-game support of this feature or significantly tinker with the OS to make a virtual secondary display, virtual controller/kb/mouse that do not interact with real ones. Something similar to virtual machine. And then some games will be troublesome with this setup because they want to go to the primary monitor or pick up wrong set of control method. It should be less troublesome on linux though.

albino boo:

iniudan:

albino boo:

I think what the intention of the home streaming is to get around the directX issue. RDP is platform independent so you can run your Windows games on your main PC and stream it to a SteamOS box. You can run a linux screen on windows using RDP and vica versa. I still don't see the reason why you buy two PC's but its a part solution to the problem.

SteamOS is not using RDP, has the server is only present in professional or higher version of Windows.

If the computer used RDP there wouldn't be problem of input duplication anyway.

RDP is microsoft's implantation of the T.120 standard. There are plenty of software that does the same and even some that use RDP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_remote_desktop_software

Its not beyond the whit of man, to either license another remote desktop or seeing that valve have enough programmers to make an OS version of their own, to make there own implementation.

First, why would Valve license RDP server to integrate it into steam, when they are trying to distance themselves from Microsoft ?

Second that kind of implementation got too much latency for Valve need, thus why they are doing video streaming of GPU output and whatever input method they prefer (most likely raw, which easily explain the duplication problem).

Jeroenr:

Lono Shrugged:
I tend not to be doing things on my computer when I am playing it. And I will be glad not to feel obliged to alt tab out to answer IMs. Plus I have a phone for that crap if I really need it. I am all for less distractions when I play games.

The point is, you are not if front of your computer, instead you are in front of the TV.
Other people in your house might not understand that you are using it siting in front of the TV.

More usefull is, you put the big ugly powerfull gameserver somewere out of sight.
And use a small formfactor pc as a sort of thinclient workstation.

I am the only one who uses my computer but I see your point.

iniudan:

albino boo:

iniudan:

SteamOS is not using RDP, has the server is only present in professional or higher version of Windows.

If the computer used RDP there wouldn't be problem of input duplication anyway.

RDP is microsoft's implantation of the T.120 standard. There are plenty of software that does the same and even some that use RDP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_remote_desktop_software

Its not beyond the whit of man, to either license another remote desktop or seeing that valve have enough programmers to make an OS version of their own, to make there own implementation.

First, why would Valve license RDP server to integrate it into steam, when they are trying to distance themselves from Microsoft ?

Second that kind of implementation got too much latency for Valve need, thus why they are doing video streaming of GPU output and whatever input method they prefer (most likely raw, which easily explain the duplication problem).

You don't have to license from microsoft to get remote desktop software, RDP is only one implantation of a standard and they all do pretty much the same thing. Latency is not much of an issue when you are dealing with home networks, if you play online with sub 10 ms pings you are doing fine. Even on wirless your ping isn't going to be over 40ms, which is again perfectly acceptable for online play.

The reason for the control lock out is that windows only has 1 cursor by default so any control input will move the single cursor. To get multiple cursors you need to add some kind of version of unix's window manager, which is another layer of complexity and cost. Its simpler and cheaper just to lock out

I'd just like to point out that both the PS4 and the Xbox One can stream what you're playing without having to buy a second machine, as can any half-decent PC. (Well, the Xbox One doesn't have the feature yet, but they're working on it.) I'm really starting to wonder how Valve thinks this thing won't be laughed out the door before it even launches.

Steve the Pocket:
I'd just like to point out that both the PS4 and the Xbox One can stream what you're playing without having to buy a second machine, as can any half-decent PC. (Well, the Xbox One doesn't have the feature yet, but they're working on it.) I'm really starting to wonder how Valve thinks this thing won't be laughed out the door before it even launches.

You...you DO realize the difference between just streaming a video feed and syncing remote video feeds and remote inputs across a network, right?

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