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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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Liam Dawe 24 May, 2017
Quoting: crt0megaIt's basically some sort of Steam In-Home Streaming without being bound to Steam and a client which even runs on a RasPi? Now that's interesting!
That's a reasonable way of putting it yes. Hopefully they will find a way to allow Linux to be a host as well as a client.
crt0mega 24 May, 2017
Quoting: liamdawe
Quoting: crt0megaIt's basically some sort of Steam In-Home Streaming without being bound to Steam and a client which even runs on a RasPi? Now that's interesting!
That's a reasonable way of putting it yes. Hopefully they will find a way to allow Linux to be a host as well as a client.
Heh. You've been faster than my edit-fu :D Yes, that'd be great!
Purple Pudding 24 May, 2017
Quoting: liamdawe
Quoting: crt0megaIt's basically some sort of Steam In-Home Streaming without being bound to Steam and a client which even runs on a RasPi? Now that's interesting!
That's a reasonable way of putting it yes. Hopefully they will find a way to allow Linux to be a host as well as a client.

But the game is still streamed in the cloud and you have to pay for the cloud service, right?

I'd love a streaming service to my Raspi like Geoforce Experience or Steam without being bound in Windows on the host (for NVIDIA) or Steam for the client (for Steam).
Liam Dawe 24 May, 2017
Quoting: Purple Pudding
Quoting: liamdawe
Quoting: crt0megaIt's basically some sort of Steam In-Home Streaming without being bound to Steam and a client which even runs on a RasPi? Now that's interesting!
That's a reasonable way of putting it yes. Hopefully they will find a way to allow Linux to be a host as well as a client.

But the game is still streamed in the cloud and you have to pay for the cloud service, right?
Not always, you can host it yourself on your own Windows machine if you have one. Which is my point about hopefully allowing Linux hosts in future.
Aimela 24 May, 2017
Call me a heathen, but I'd personally rather keep my Windows installation around than use a cloud-based steaming service for games. I'm not a big fan of them, although I could see why others would be. My personal preference is to run games on my own hardware above all else.

Besides, I've become so acclimated to 144Hz lately, I don't think I could go back to 60fps again for a fast-paced game such as Overwatch, along with the added network latency. But I definitely can see this type of service being more preferable to a casual gamer.


Last edited by Aimela on 24 May 2017 at 8:08 pm UTC
BigJ 24 May, 2017
Since so many folks say they stick with Windows because of gaming, this could be the start of finally making Linux a viable operating system for everybody.
ntfwc 25 May, 2017
This does seem like an interesting option. My internet options are not great right now, so I don't think it would work for me. I could see it being useful for people who don't already have a powerful gaming computer lying around.

If you do have such a computer, and would like a similar convenience, you could setting up Tightvnc and GamingAnywhere on it. That's a free and open source option.
bubexel 25 May, 2017
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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 the same. Similar would be if i get streaming data from game and i play it on my computer. Like i can play games without install on my computer and the loadings are done via internet. What it's show on the video is that you rent a full computer with windows 10 and you stream its screen. It's computer, with forced windows 10, rent with a good teamviewer nothing else. I really hope that future of gaming is not in that way. It will damage more gaming than benefits.

I hope it will be possible to do with steamOS or other OS done to this proposal. I dont see the point on have a computer and pay a license to microsoft to connect to a rent computer with other windows OS. Paying 2 times :D could be funny.


Last edited by bubexel on 25 May 2017 at 7:17 am UTC
Enverex 25 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.

That's not really the same. Music/TV/Movies aren't sensitive to latency, they just need to be streamed from a server, literally any server. Games on the other hand are incredibly sensitive to latency and also need serious hardware to run well. Not to mention needing so much bandwidth to stream at an acceptable quality and framerate.
razing32 25 May, 2017
Quoting: Enverex
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.

That's not really the same. Music/TV/Movies aren't sensitive to latency, they just need to be streamed from a server, literally any server. Games on the other hand are incredibly sensitive to latency and also need serious hardware to run well. Not to mention needing so much bandwidth to stream at an acceptable quality and framerate.

It's not just bandwidth.
You need the ISPs in the path to agree on QOS.
Without it your traffic does not get priority and you get lag.
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