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Valve announces new networking APIs for developers and Steam Link Anywhere

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Valve is getting ahead of the game with GDC fast approaching, with two bits of Steam news coming in hot today.

Firstly, Steam Link Anywhere actually sounds very interesting. It's now officially in beta and it allows you to essentially connect to your computer and play games from anywhere. Since it's just an extension of the Steam Link functionality, it's free for all Steam users. It works with both the Steam Link App and the Steam Link hardware.

To access it, you do need to opt into the Steam Client beta version. Valve say it requires "A high upload speed from your computer and strong network connection to your Steam Link device are required to use Steam Link Anywhere". More on that here.

On top of that, for developers they've announced the Steam Networking Sockets APIs, available to all Steam approved developers to access the technologies and infrastructure built to support CS:GO and Dota 2. The gist of it is this:

  • Access to our network, giving your players protection from attack, 100% reliable NAT traversal, and improved connectivity.
  • Tools for instantly estimating the ping between two arbitrary hosts without sending any packets.
  • A high quality end-to-end encrypted reliable-over-UDP protocol.

A bunch of it is open source too, available to look over on GitHub on Valve's GameNetworkingSockets repository.

For a lot more info on the networking stuff, see this post from Valve. They do say that this is only the first of a "series" of updates aimed at "improving the networked gaming experience for Steam partners". An additional bit mentions stuff for dedicated servers also coming soon, which will be interesting.

Also, Valve are doing a talk at GDC on Thursday next week, to talk about this plus what else is to come. For anyone attending, it's happening at "12:45 pmin Moscone West Hall 2011".

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62 comments
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Shmerl 14 March 2019 at 10:19 pm UTC
Sure, developers decide, but if they do want NAT traversal, they can't use Steam one without being tied to Steam. At least now.
x_wing 14 March 2019 at 10:34 pm UTC
ShmerlSure, developers decide, but if they do want NAT traversal, they can't use Steam one without being tied to Steam. At least now.

But they are not tied to Steam in order to provide multiplayer. This is optional and, as I said, you can have multiplayer support without NAT traversal in all the versions of your game without any extra work (the extra work is actually creating the abstraction layer in order to support Steam networking API).
WJMazepas 14 March 2019 at 10:38 pm UTC
Xaero_VincentDoes Steam Link Anywhere work with the Linux client or only Android and Steam Link hardware?

Can you use it to stream Windows games to a Linux box over the Internet?

It is already possible to do over your own house, so probably will be possible to do this with Steam Link Anywhere too
Shmerl 14 March 2019 at 10:44 pm UTC
x_wingBut they are not tied to Steam in order to provide multiplayer. This is optional and, as I said, you can have multiplayer support without NAT traversal in all the versions of your game without any extra work (the extra work is actually creating the abstraction layer in order to support Steam networking API).

You can have multiplayer without backend altogether, just run one instance as a server. I suppose most don't like that due to matchmaking logic and scalability issues.


Last edited by Shmerl at 14 March 2019 at 10:45 pm UTC
bingus 14 March 2019 at 10:46 pm UTC
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EPIC store does not support Linux.

The other day on Twitter someone asked them about Proton on the Epic store, they said they couldn't because of the tech they used. But then went on to say they were hiring Linux people... I guess that doesn't necessarily mean they will be working on a client but its something.
Shmerl 14 March 2019 at 10:48 pm UTC
bingusThe other day on Twitter someone asked them about Proton on the Epic store, they said they couldn't because of the tech they used.

That doesn't make much sense. If something is missing in Wine, they can add support, it's open source and CodeWeavers are open to contributions. And no one stops them from making their own custom Wine variant like Valve did with Proton, if some stuff is too hard to upstream.


Last edited by Shmerl at 14 March 2019 at 10:49 pm UTC
x_wing 14 March 2019 at 11:03 pm UTC
ShmerlYou can have multiplayer without backend altogether, just run one instance as a server. I suppose most don't like that due to matchmaking logic and scalability issues.

Still, not an impediment to support multiplayer outside of Steam. If they decide to only use Steam network API (or GoG network API or whatever proprietary library), it definitely isn't because of a feature such as NAT traversal. For me that's just a vague excuse.
Shmerl 14 March 2019 at 11:04 pm UTC
x_wingStill, not an impediment to support multiplayer outside of Steam. If they decide to only use Steam network API (or GoG network API or whatever proprietary library), it definitely isn't because of a feature such as NAT traversal. For me that's just a vague excuse.

That's what developer claimed in my case when I asked about it. It doesn't need to be NAT traversal specifically. Any feature that's tied to Steam store, in the service that can be general purpose can cause such kind of problem.


Last edited by Shmerl at 14 March 2019 at 11:05 pm UTC
x_wing 14 March 2019 at 11:09 pm UTC
ShmerlThat's what developer claimed in my case when I asked about it. It doesn't need to be NAT traversal specifically. Any feature that's tied to Steam store, in the service that can be general purpose can cause such kind of problem.

Then the same goes for the GoG API. From my point of view, what they don't want to implement/support is a server infrastructure in order to create a server/clients lobby.
Shmerl 14 March 2019 at 11:27 pm UTC
Server alone wasn't the issue for them, but NAT was, I suppose since rolling out their own NAT traversal is far from trivial.


Last edited by Shmerl at 14 March 2019 at 11:27 pm UTC
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