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Video Game Video Streaming

Last response: in Video Games
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September 20, 2010 9:49:15 PM

Hey,

Been searching on this and haven't been coming up with really anything, so I'm not sure if it just hasn't been done (doubt it) or my google-fu and forum-fu is pretty bad (more likely).

Okay, so here's the deal. I have a lan center/used game store hybrid. I have multiple TVs in the retail portion that people can test games on before they buy (importance of this in a minute). I have a back area that houses 32 machines.

Because we host tournaments, it is hard to fit any number of viewers in the back more than a couple, yet there are quite a few spectators. What I would like to do, is for some way to stream the video data from the machines in the back to the TVs in the front when I host tournaments (Left 4 Dead, DotA, League of Legends, Counter Strike, etc).

Here's what I would like to do; I would like to be able to stream the games to a centralized server, then from the server (either from the web or console) I would like to display any number of screens to the TVs. For example, if I have four people doing Left 4 Dead, I can limit the view to just those four inputs, and if I have people playing DotA, limit it to those five in some sort of grid arrangement. The best example I can think of would be akin to video surveillance cameras and monitoring.

Now, getting the video from the server to the TVs aren't really a problem. I can just use either a PC->TV converter, or similar. This part, is easy.

The hard part is being able to screen capture up to 32 machines onto the centralized server.

I am completely aware of lag and fps drops if I use a software solution on the machine to try and capture and send data simultaneously, so I'm looking more for a hardware solution (however, software-wise, I'm not against it, as long as the performance hit isn't much, although I know this is unlikely).

I know they make switch matrices, but in order to even get something like a 16x4 matrix, those are expensive, not to mention, they limit what is shown by not being able to show multiple inputs on a single output.

The best I have been able to come up with thus far, would be to clone the video output of the computer using the VGA and the Component out (These video cards have a DVI, VGA, and TV-Component out), then use a down-scaler to convert the component to a composite/s-video signal, connected to the central server over BNC connectors utilizing a CCTV input card (Q-SEE cards, for example). The software I have found that would support this would be Zoneminder for linux. Basically treating each computer input data as a security camera.

The output would allow showing multiple 'cameras' in a grid or other pattern to be displayed on a TV.

The downside of this method, is that the quality would be pretty bad, as composite or s-video has a pretty limited resolution capability.

I know for some games that are based off the source engine you can use HLTV and have a dedicated machine running as a spectator, but any game-specific method requires quite a bit of set up unique to that game and would be 'future proof', so to speak.

I do not care about sound, just video. I really much prefer to be able to show multiple inputs on one screen (4 inputs arranged in a grid).

The limits I've been running into, is that a solution like this is usually possible, but usually very expensive (thousands of dollars actually), as well as the fact that I run wide-screen monitors so I can't just use a normal VGA->TV adapter (hence the component->composite to preserve some of the widescreen capabilities).

Any ideas are welcome, and appreciated.

Thanks.
September 20, 2010 10:33:44 PM

Here is an issue you will have, and it's huge. Security video cameras are set to record, for the most part, at very low resolution, color depth, fps and compression. And even then for 32 inputs you need a fairly heavy duty system.

To capture 32 PCs feeding 1280x1024 (to use a fairly conservative resoltion for gaming), 32bit 60fps gameplay to a server you need more hardware than I can think of spending money for. 10s of thousands here. This is without even thinking about how you will output 32 screens and stich them together, or how you will cable the 32 systems into one with cables long enough and not have some serious signal loss.

You may need to contact a A/V company that sets up conferences and see what can be done.

I'm thinking what you will end up with is picking one system of the group and sending that signal directly to a monitor through a wall jack that will feed to the monitor. You can pick any system to connect though and swap between them even if you spend the money on a switch. So if you have 4 systems playing a game, the all go to one video switch. That switch connects to the monitor connection and you can switch between the systems. You can maybe even setup a system to take the 4 inputs and make a matrix from them. But to do all of your PCs at once, and then cut them up and send the signals out, is a much much harder task.
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September 20, 2010 10:49:01 PM

Thanks for the reply and the input.

Let me clarify a little bit. I don't plan on doing any recording or encoding really, just use the server as a way to stitch some of the screens together. I don't think I would ever do more than 9 screens (in a 3x3 array), and even then that would be at the more extreme end.

In the original idea I had, the component->composite converters were around $60, and an 8-port Q-SEE is around $180. For 8 machines, that would be a total of under $700 (not counting the server).

But yeah, I do agree that cctv cameras are pretty low res. I'm not expecting a full 1920x1200 resolution, but something like 1280x720 max would be nice.

Guess it's time for the yellow pages. If anyone else has a suggestion, feel free to add your input.

Also, a small bit more information; I do have a full gigabit network with decent quality switches (not the cheaper ones).
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September 21, 2010 9:52:01 AM

how about cloning the display, so you use both outputs on the GPU, in a cloned display setup (not spanned), and then push these into a hdmi switch (through an amp to get down to composite if needed) and from the switch go to the TV's then select what you want to see. if you have a multiplexing switch (4 in 2 out) or several switches you could run several displays. Shouldn't be a performance impact because you are only cloning, no need to re-render.

didn't read whole thing, sorry
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September 21, 2010 1:47:37 PM

Zyzzx said:
Thanks for the reply and the input.

Let me clarify a little bit. I don't plan on doing any recording or encoding really, just use the server as a way to stitch some of the screens together. I don't think I would ever do more than 9 screens (in a 3x3 array), and even then that would be at the more extreme end.

In the original idea I had, the component->composite converters were around $60, and an 8-port Q-SEE is around $180. For 8 machines, that would be a total of under $700 (not counting the server).

But yeah, I do agree that cctv cameras are pretty low res. I'm not expecting a full 1920x1200 resolution, but something like 1280x720 max would be nice.

Guess it's time for the yellow pages. If anyone else has a suggestion, feel free to add your input.

Also, a small bit more information; I do have a full gigabit network with decent quality switches (not the cheaper ones).


Even without encoding or recording, the PC has to take the inputs and manipulate them, 9 should be decent for a standard PC to handle. The converters will really mess up your quality, I have yet to run across any converters worth using for non-trivial things under several hundred. Even 1280x720 is high for almost all security hardware/software. I don't know the exact details, but a run of the mill one is something like 320 lines of resolution. I don't think they even match a standard def TV. You can obviously get higher rez, but that is quite a bit more cash for pro level items.
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September 22, 2010 2:25:24 AM

I skipped the whole conversation, but regarding counterstrike, i think there is an HLTV.. Its been a while. heh just to throw that out there.
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