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I've been chatting to the founders of Parsec, a new game streaming service that allows you to stream games from any cloud machine to your desktop. They just released Linux support and apparently it even works on streaming to a Raspberry Pi.

You might remember I checked out another recently called Snoost, but I was sadly left unimpressed as it just didn't work properly.

I actually love the idea of game streaming services. As a fan of TV/Movie/Music streaming and a subscriber to Netflix, Amazon Prime and Google Play Music I can certainly appreciate the appeal for games as well. Running a game your computer perhaps cannot handle or from a different operating system (like Windows games for us) is certainly an interesting and useful idea. Sadly, it never usually works well. Enter Parsec, which has genuinely blown me away.

Note: The actual Parsec client is free to use, you only pay for the cloud hosting at whatever provider you want.

It works by streaming games from services like Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud, their partner Paperspace and others. It seems they will also launch their own managed service for the actual hosting of the PC that does the rendering for you, but that's not open to the public right now. Although, if you own a Windows license, you can actually host a server yourself too at home.

It uses a Windows host machine, with clients connecting from Linux, Mac or Windows to it. I appreciate plenty of you won't be interested, especially considering the host machine is Windows, but for me it's actually quite exciting tech. I'm a tech enthusiast who loves Linux, not a Linux zealot, so using things like this doesn't massively bother me. I'm not about to go and buy a bunch of Windows games to play in it, but I find it very cool anyway. For those of you who have some Windows games you really can't be without or various other reasons this just might be your thing.

Note: One drawback to how Parsec works, is that it requires games to be in Windowed or Fullscreen Windowed Mode for it to work properly. Some games can be a little tricky to get into those modes, so certain games may have issues.

What I really like about this service, other than the fact that you can use plenty of different cloud hosting providers is that it's not tied to Steam, like Snoost is. It will work with Blizzard, Steam, Origin and pretty much anything.

Another highlight of this service is that multiple people can connect to the same cloud server, so you could potentially split the cost with a friend, or play a game that only has local multiplayer with a friend in a different location.

The developers set up an Amazon AWS instance for me to play with for a while, so play I did, and play some more and some more and so on. I was utterly amazed at just how buttery smooth the experience was. I played Overwatch, on Linux, without feeling like there was a drawback.

You can read more about the technology behind Parsec in this detailed blog post by the developers. They tell me a lot has changed since then, but that should give you a reasonable idea.

Here's a short video to show you that it really does work:

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I really need a mousepad, my mouse keeps sticking to the desk making FPS games a nuisance.

You might notice a slight bit of blurring, which can be adjusted. They have some advanced settings you can manually adjust like a "Encoder Video Output Quality" option which auto adjusts based on your network, but you can set it manually for a super clear picture. I tried adjusting it manually myself and it seemed to work fine with an ultra clear picture too.

I also enlisted the help of our streamer, who happens to dual boot for the sole purpose of playing Overwatch. They tried out a game and loved it, to quote "I'm impressed, it really works! I would actually pay for this to not have Windows!". Well, that's pretty high praise.

The problem is as always though, pricing. All providers I looked up for the actual cloud hosting weren't exactly cheap. When you take into account you're buying the games, then paying the hourly fee for your time spent connected to your live server then it can end up costing a bit. Since you can run your own server for Parsec, that might not be an issue for everyone. Pricing is gradually coming down, since competition is increasing in this space.

Interesting stuff, but personally I have too many Linux-native games as it is to enjoy with my time. However, hopefully some of you found this interesting. It was certainly fun to give it a try and tinker with it. Check out the Parsec official website if you're interested in more.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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kalin 24 May, 2017
The client is for ubuntu 16.04. Can I use it on ubuntu 17.04 or manjaro for example ?
bubexel 24 May, 2017
Resume: you rent a computer with windows to play with latency....
So stupid...
Liam Dawe 24 May, 2017
Quoting: kalinThe client is for ubuntu 16.04. Can I use it on ubuntu 17.04 or manjaro for example ?
I tested it on 17.04 with no problems.
Liam Dawe 24 May, 2017
Quoting: bubexelResume: you rent a computer with windows to play with latency....
So stupid...
I bet people said similair stuff about music/tv/movie streaming, now they're massively popular.
Dolus 24 May, 2017
Uh... correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't "game streaming" basically the most potent form of DRM that currently exists? I can't really get behind this.
Samsai 24 May, 2017
Quoting: DolusUh... correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't "game streaming" basically the most potent form of DRM that currently exists? I can't really get behind this.
Except that what you get is a Windows environment where you can install your games (presumably from any and all sources). So there's no more DRM there than when you play games on your own rig.
Dolus 24 May, 2017
Quoting: Samsaithere's no more DRM there than when you play games on your own rig.

The streaming itself is functionally DRM. Not to get all Stallmanist about the matter, but if you're running things from the cloud, and it's not your cloud, it's basically an unbreakable form of DRM. And since games, unlike movies, books and music, are interactive in nature, it makes the drawbacks of streaming (freedom-wise) even worse.


Last edited by Dolus on 24 May 2017 at 2:17 pm UTC
thelimeydragon 24 May, 2017
Quoting: liamdawe
Quoting: bubexelResume: you rent a computer with windows to play with latency....
So stupid...
I bet people said similair stuff about music/tv/movie streaming, now they're massively popular.

It's not really a 1:1 comparison.

You don't rent a computer with Windows to watch a film on Windows Media Player.

However with game streaming.. that's pretty much the only way to do it.

I don't mind the concept of such services. The thing that irks me is that it doesn't help with software freedom. If these services really took off. Then companies would simply only make games for Windows and just tell everyone else to stream it.
Maki 24 May, 2017
The moment Parsec opens up cloud funding for a Linux client or similar, I need to know. There's so much to be gained from a service like this becoming platform-agnostic on the server-side as well as the client-side...

As for the configuration of the system; there is the option, once money starts flowing in, to hire some GUI peeps and set up a frontend which can offer one-click configuration for the more popular games at the time, perhaps in collaboration with game developers or distributors, but that's future talk.

Having the configuration as open as possible to allow the most diverse of configurations means they opened up Pandora's box on the largest collection of games they could hope to find.
The more they narrow that collection down with GUIs for the lazy among us, the less they will appeal to the larger masses. In this way it's a good choice to just dump to a Windows environment and allow the user to do whatever they want right now.

Basic economics.


Last edited by Maki on 24 May 2017 at 2:20 pm UTC
Samsai 24 May, 2017
Quoting: DolusThe streaming itself is functionally DRM. Not to get all Stallmanist about the matter, but if you're running things from the cloud, and it's not your cloud, it's basically an unbreakable form of DRM.
You need to have access to those games before you can play them with Parsec, so I just don't see the point you are trying to make. You could download a bunch of GOG games onto the cloud PC and your DRM-free access to those games doesn't just disappear. Plus, regarding the "your cloud" thing I quote the following from this very article:

QuoteSince you can run your own server for Parsec...
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