On the Steam In-Home Streaming group, Valve reports that beta testing game streaming within a user’s home network will begin soon. The company has also posted an article on how this streaming process will work, which will not be locked to the upcoming SteamOS platform: any two computers can be used to stream a gameplay session.
"We are currently in the early stages of testing Steam in-home streaming," reads Valve’s blog entry. "There is a huge variety in home hardware and network configurations, and we would like your help in learning about what works best. If you’re interested in helping out or would like more information about in-home streaming, please join the Steam In-Home Streaming community group and stay tuned for details on a beta coming soon to Steam."
In this article, Valve explains how the streaming aspect will work. Essentially the gaming computer will be locked, preventing other people from logging on and disrupting the flow. This rig will obviously need enough hardware to both run the game admirably and stream the content simultaneously. Plus given that the client PC is sending input, it would be confusing if someone was trying to use the gaming PC at the same time input-wise.
"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," reads Valve’s blog entry. "For example, a Windows only game could be streamed from a Windows PC to a Steam Machine running Linux in the living room. A graphically intensive game could be streamed from a beefy gaming rig in the office to your low powered laptop that you are using in bed. You could even start a game on one computer and move to a more comfortable location and continue playing it there."
Naturally the whole streaming system depends on the local network (no Internet streaming at this time). The company explains that network latency can be significantly impacted by the amount of video data streamed between the two machines. A good experience requires minimizing the amount of data being processed while keeping the highest possible image quality. Valve is currently working on that.
"We’re working on ways to dynamically adapt to network conditions but sometimes the best way to improve your streaming experience is simply to reduce your game’s video resolution or reduce the number of frames per second (FPS) used in the stream," reads the blog.
Valve points out that Ethernet-based networks are designed for latency and high bandwidth, and are perfect for game streaming, Powerline-based networks aren’t too bad, as their quality depends on the age and configuration of the building’s electrical system. Wireless networks pose as the biggest challenge because most routers are designed for downloading files and steaming video that can be buffered.
"The quality of networks can vary widely and choosing a good in-home network configuration can significantly improve the streaming experience," the blog reads. "As we continue to develop and test streaming within Steam, we hope to collect and share tips on creating the best home hardware and network configurations."
So far the system specs for Valve's streaming feature aren’t provided, which is likely what the beta program is all about: to test the streaming on a number of different hardware and network configurations. Be sure to secure a spot by joining the Steam In-home Streaming group here.