A series of articles have just gone up on Valve’s ‘homestream’ Steam group (spotted by NeoGaf,) about how the company is aiming to tackle in-home streaming. This feature will allow people to stream games between any two computers in the house, providing your home network is up to the task. You’d be able to stream a Windows title to a (Linux-based) SteamOS box, or a graphics heavy title from a fat rig to a weedy laptop.
Responsiveness and network latency obviously have major roles to play in any sort of streaming of this kind. Valve handily summerises responsiveness as follows: “the total round trip delay, or latency, between an action (pressing the fire button on a game controller) and seeing the result of that action (gun firing on the screen.)” Naturally, anyone streaming a game wants this delay to be as minimal as possible.
Basically, a wired network or a ‘good’ wireless network with minimal distance between computers are the ideals. This article goes into more detail about the problems which arise once the wireless signal begins to struggle.
Valve says it is still in the “early stages” of testing in-home streaming, but invites people who want to get involved to join the In-Home Streaming group on Steam and notes to watch out for a beta that will be “coming soon” to Steam. An additional Q&A is also available to read.
Given the company’s interest in in-home streaming, it seems a safe bet that at least one of the Steam Machine/SteamBox options will be a low-cost ‘receiver’ for those who just want to stream from a more powerful PC that they already have set up elsewhere in the house.