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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is my first topic in this subforum. I've commented before, but primarily post in the non-gaming HTPC subforums

Biography aside, I didn't notice an actual topic on Game Streaming here. There is a steam topic and a couple Nvidia Shield tablet topics, but there is more to the story these days with more on the landscape

Steam
In Home Streaming was the first to adopt this concept, and made interesting moves in this area which essentially allows your Windows Gaming box to stream to all steam-supported platforms (with talks of the low powered steam streamer boxes as well as dedicated gaming steamOS boxes)

Steam's big upside is that it supports AMD VCE as well as NVIDIA NVENC. However, you do have to enable HW encoding within steam's in home streaming settings on the server, they aren't enabled by default. HW decoding is enabled by default (which makes sense as most boxes can hw decode h264) but you'll get very poor performance without a new enough NVIDIA or AMD card that supports NVENC/VCE respectively

Steam's biggest downside in this area is that they offer no iOS/Android support yet

NVIDIA
So there are two options here for Nvidia. The first is just to buy a shield tablet, or wait another month for the shield console to be released. This is the supported way of using Nvidia GameStream protocol.

However, the second option is much better, and that is to use Limelight which is an open-source reverse engineered version of the GameStream protocol. http://limelight-stream.com/ It's so freakin' sweet that Nvidia should just adopt it to replace their own offerings. In the xda thread where the devs announced the project, people who own Shield tablets actually have better success using the limelight app than the official game stream app (there words not mine, I don't own one to try)

Where limelight falls short is it's current PC implementation is java. This sucks if you are using a linux or windows htpc. However, there is talk of adding limelight's common-c implementation to Kodi in the future under the upcoming Retroplayer feature in Kodi. This would be fantastic as it would support android, linux, windows, and osx with a pretty abstract input mapping for a variety of gamepads that you could easily adjust on the fly (one of the biggest annoyances for all gaming htpcs)

Where limelight excels is that it already has iOS and Android offerings (which are farther ahead than it's basic java PC implementation according to their own github)

The android portion is the part that is more pertinent to HTPCs since there are a few emerging options that make a nice HTPC, and the upcoming Shield TV Console (based on the Android TV platform) is supposed to bring HD audio passthrough and refresh rate switching. Other android boxes already have refresh rate switching (not important for games, but important for an HTPC)

Currently the Fire TV kind of sucks for Limelight. However, the Nexus Player and ADT-1 are very good limelight platforms that make good "secondary" HTPCs. I have a Nexus Player at my non-AVR HDTV (where I always use the TV speakers anyway) and I enjoyed limelight so much that I moved my graphics card over to my windows server and exclusively play games in limelight now. I will certainly be adopting a Shield Console if it delivers all of it's paper specs. If Limelight makes it's way to Kodi, the RPi would probably make a great option. Another possibility is the odroid c1 which ships with android as an option. I've not used this though. My latency is 7-8 ms (server) / 8 ms (client) with the Nexus Player and the latest version of limelight. When I first tried it was about 10ms server/client, so there has been some improvement already but 10ms is plenty good to me. The Nexus Player, ADT-1, and Shield Tablet are called "Tier 1" devices with a few others because of how well they run limelight. Interestingly the Fire Stick does better than the FireTV :confused: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=2505510

I like the move towards a powerful server (which I already had) with fanless, low power SoC HTPCs at various TVs. I keep my server in a study, so we don't have to hear any fans ;)

Multiplayer fanatics always have something or other to whine about, so I can't see this being satisfactory for them. It would provide no benefits if that is your main reason for gaming. I don't happen to fall into that category (over a decade past when I cared about multiplayer gaming) and that makes game streaming very enjoyable for me. I did try SteamOS as well, but it was not as easy to switch between SteamOS and Kodi as it is to switch between Kodi and Limelight on a Nexus Player (or any android device). If you are like me and enjoy "silent" gaming from the couch you should consider giving limelight a try
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
There is always usually someone who initially hears about game streaming and asks "Why would I use that instead of remote desktop or VNC?"

The two answers are
  • NVENC (and if steam-only then amd-vce) - while remote desktop may seem okay at normal tasks with little input lag, Nvidia's hw encoding ASIC takes the input lag on gaming down to a level that feels like real time to me. They also create their own websockets, but I don't know which protocol they end up using. I know that in my experience I've yet to notice any sort of packet loss. I'm sure there is some occurring, but I've played for hours without ever noticing a skip. It always feels like I'm at the gaming box instead of streaming
  • Input - Steam and Limelight both support PS3 and X360 controller's very well. I have essentially recycled my dual shock 3 controllers, and I've used the x360 wireless-pc adapter with android as well (though it's light always flashes which annoys me). The android sixaxis app is very good with the ps3 controller in my experience. RDP or VNC may (in some implementations) be able to give pretty good latency and video/audio support, but I've never known one to support gamepad input the way limelight or steam-IHS do
 

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I use Limelight on my Galaxy S4 to stream off my gaming PC, over ac dual band WiFi (local only, obviously).

It works surprisingly well. The input lag is measured ~25ms or so which is pretty low. However, even that seems to be a tiny bit too much for any serious gaming (keeping in mind that the 25ms is in addition to any controller + screen lag you already experience. Each small amount may be imperceptible but they all add up to that "few frames behind" feeling).

I think any gaming involving key precision / timing is out, but I have been using it for some casual off line games like Saints Row 3 pretty effectively.
 

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Splashtop is also quite good but works a bit differently. It is more of a classic RDP but highly optimized for graphic quality and gaming performance. It comes in handy for games that are more mouse/touch based while Limelight only works for controller based games.

I use Splashtop for things like Hearthstone / HexTCG / etc.
 
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