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Google's game streaming platform Project Stream is built on Linux and Vulkan

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Project Stream, the game streaming platform Google is currently building is apparently built on Linux and uses the Vulkan API. While this isn't specifically Linux desktop gaming news, hopefully some of our readers will find it interesting.

For Project Stream, Google has partnered up with Ubisoft to show off Assassin's Creed Odyssey running on it. This is something I touched on, in an editorial I wrote at the start of last month with my thoughts on Valve doing such a service.

The interesting thing here, is that it seems to be part of some wider effort from Google for something code-named Yeti. According to Eurogamer, who had some hands-on time with the system. Here's the relevant text:

Our understanding is that Yeti is a bespoke platform, built on Linux and using Vulkan as the graphics API of choice. We are also told by sources that there will be deep integration with YouTube, not just in terms of infrastructure but also in being able to leap from watching a video into playing a game. Whether these innovative ideas will make it into the final product remains to be seen, but suffice to say, Yeti may well be a major next-gen contender, especially with that kind of backing.

Emphasis mine. 

It's interesting, since Project Stream itself already works well on Linux. I've had multiple reports, from people who've also had hands-on with it tell me that it's working just as well on Linux as it does on Windows. Regardless of your feelings towards cloud gaming, including the technical hurdles it faces (which are pretty big) it's going to eventually be a much bigger thing with more developers pushing it.

A lot of questions remain, such as have Ubisoft essentially ported Assassin's Creed Odyssey to Linux with Vulkan, exclusively for use on Project Stream or is it using something more like Valve's Steam Play? Considering the performance it would need, it's likely a native port.

Regardless of either way it's been done, the little point I want to make is that with enough backing, big titles like this can be ported to Linux. Most of us know this already of course, with companies like Feral Interactive, Aspyr Media and Virtual Programming all having ported some bigger titles to Linux.

What do you make of this?

Hat tip to Marc.

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hardpenguin 1 December 2018 at 10:37 pm UTC
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The article is super ambigous so we don't know do they mean clients running Linux (a dedicated streaming device, like NVIDIA Shield or Shadow Box) or Linux servers responsible for running the game.

But of course, as always, I am big into streaming technologies since they allow me to easily play many non-Linux games like PUBG, Fortnite, Rainbow Six Siege that don't run with Wine/Steam Play without the need to install Windows, dual boot or setup GPU passthrough. Big kudos to Parsec client here.

Can't wait to see where this one goes.


Last edited by hardpenguin at 1 December 2018 at 10:37 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
liamdawe 1 December 2018 at 10:39 pm UTC
hardpenguinThe article is super ambigous so we don't know do they mean clients running Linux (a dedicated streaming device, like NVIDIA Shield or Shadow Box) or Linux servers responsible for running the game.
Well, considering Project Stream as it is right now runs directly in your browser, why would it mean the client? Since currently, the client is just your browser.
Leopard 1 December 2018 at 10:51 pm UTC
Well , that is also a long term goal for Valve too. Otherwise with everybody investing only Windows platform ; Microsoft would be the monopol in cloud gaming area too.

You know Windows server edition prices? That is pretty high , even for companies like Valve since they have essentially tons of them.

And there is no guarentee MS won't go with even higher prices also.

So ; that is a plausible way forward.
jens 1 December 2018 at 10:58 pm UTC
LeopardWell , that is also a long term goal for Valve too. Otherwise with everybody investing only Windows platform ; Microsoft would be the monopol in cloud gaming area too.

You know Windows server edition prices? That is pretty high , even for companies like Valve since they have essentially tons of them.

And there is no guarentee MS won't go with even higher prices also.

So ; that is a plausible way forward.

May be that's also one of the reasons behind the heavy investment in proton and friends: being able to run a lot of windows games on a Linux box in the cloud for streaming services.. dunno.


Last edited by jens at 2 December 2018 at 2:01 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
Leopard 1 December 2018 at 11:04 pm UTC
jens
LeopardWell , that is also a long term goal for Valve too. Otherwise with everybody investing only Windows platform ; Microsoft would be the monopol in cloud gaming area too.

You know Windows server edition prices? That is pretty high , even for companies like Valve since they have essentially tons of them.

And there is no guarentee MS won't go with even higher prices also.

So ; that is a plausible way forward.

May be that's also one of the reason behind the heavy investment in proton and friends: being able to run a lot of windows games on a Linux box in the cloud for streaming services.. dunno.

Of course , since native tools and market share didn't get interest of existing devs ; Valve literally said we can handle the Windows "surface" needs.

Just be sure to use Vulkan for best performance on it and stay away from DRM's we can't handle.

But Valve would be careful i guess. Even Google just tried on a select area and with one game. Given how large and how crowded Steam is ; that won't be an easy task to rollout this system in short time.
Pikolo 1 December 2018 at 11:04 pm UTC
LeopardWell , that is also a long term goal for Valve too. Otherwise with everybody investing only Windows platform ; Microsoft would be the monopol in cloud gaming area too.

You know Windows server edition prices? That is pretty high , even for companies like Valve since they have essentially tons of them.

And there is no guarentee MS won't go with even higher prices also.

So ; that is a plausible way forward.
Microsoft has recently hiked the way Windows Server deployments are priced by linking them to the number of cores on the server's CPU and increasing prices despite the recent core count explosion. Their plan was to nudge people towards Azure, but instead, no company on earth wants to have more Windows Servers anymore. And MS knows, that's why MS SQL Server was ported to Linux, and that's just the middle of the dusk of server side Windows.

It will be interesting to see if that helps us get any more Linux native games though.
Brisse 1 December 2018 at 11:30 pm UTC
This is scary and exciting at the same time.

+ Platform and hardware no longer matters as long as it can run a web browser.
+ Linux gamers might get access to games they would never had access to otherwise.
+ Servers are going to run Linux. Potentially means more native ports will appear for those of us not streaming.
+ We got Proton and DXVK, which I suspect are parts of a secret Valve streaming project and only released in the Linux Steam client as some sort of icing on the cake.
- The ultimate DRM.
- Big corporations will have way to much power over the consumer.
- The internet will collapse under the huge bandwidth requirements.
- There will always be more latency even though some things can be done to mitigate it.


Last edited by Brisse at 1 December 2018 at 11:32 pm UTC. Edited 2 times.
hardpenguin 1 December 2018 at 11:32 pm UTC
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liamdaweWell, considering Project Stream as it is right now runs directly in your browser, why would it mean the client? Since currently, the client is just your browser.
Earlier rumors speculated Google working on a gaming hardware, namely a console:

https://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/gaming/982766/Google-game-console-leak-sony-playstation-xbox-news
https://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/google-yeti-game-console-rumors/
https://kotaku.com/sources-google-is-planning-a-game-platform-that-could-1827217387
https://www.dailystar.co.uk/tech/guides/680845/Google-Yeti-PlayStation-Xbox-One-Nintendo-Switch-games-release-date-news-october-21

And their streaming project could be easily linked with that as streaming is one of cheaper(?) ways to increase platform's games library.
vskye 1 December 2018 at 11:33 pm UTC
I've been playing via Project Stream the Assassin’s Creed Odyssey game, and it works fairly well. I was quite surprised actually.
Ehvis 1 December 2018 at 11:33 pm UTC
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So if the game has to run on Windows (let's face it, Ubisoft did not suddenly make Linux/Vulkan port for this) and the client is a browser, where does Vulkan factor in? Even if Linux is in between there for the hosting side, I still don't see a role for Vulkan.
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