Browsing: Cloud gaming

The bad side of the cloud: LiquidSky 2.0 Review

This review has been a long time coming. I wish I never had to post this article in fact. I wish Cloud Gaming would have never had such companies.

What is LiquidSky?

It’s a Cloud Gaming Service. Okay, what’s that, you might ask.

Instead of having a powerful PC or gaming laptop at home, you can just rent a very powerful machine far from your home and you can play games on almost any PC. Sounds good, right? Well, it can be good. There are good providers – I will put them at the bottom of the article – but bad ones also started popping up. Take LiquidSky for example.

But it wasn’t always bad. LiquidSky is called 2.0 at the moment. A few months ago LiquidSky forced a new interface and ecosystem on to the users. They promised unparalleled gaming performance. Everyone was hyped of course. People loved LiquidSky 1.0, but the GPU performance was not that good. It could run most games on normal details, but if it would have received a bit of a bump, it would have been a gamer’s dream come true.

What was LiquidSky 1.0?

  • The service had a solid client. It worked perfectly, it never dropped the viewer and the input lag was negligible.
  • The CPU performance was absolutely great.
  • I/O performance was superb. I could install games with 100+MB/s and do several other tasks without any slowdown at all.
  • The service had 1TB of storage.
  • The stream quality was excellent. On lower bitrates the grass became a bit blurry, but nothing too bad. It was really good. If you pumped up the settings, the picture quality became very sharp, it was like playing locally. It’s not just rose-tinted glasses, it was that good.
  • The service had a very low monthly price tag. 9.99$. I cannot recall all the details, maybe it was for 80 hours of gaming, but for me, that covered all my entire month. I mean 80 hours as a working man, for 9.99 only? Yes, please.

So it was a good service overall. There were things that you could improve upon, but it was a solid offer.

What went wrong with LiquidSky 2.0?

Everything.

First, the launch.

It was supposed to be a glorious launch. After LS1.0 shut down, we had to wait a week or so – and then we would have all access to 2.0. We were so hyped. But the launch just did not want to come. When the first date hit, we were informed that they hit a few issues. Nothing big we thought. So we waited a week. Then another. And another.

Then finally we hit the “now we will finally launch now for like really real” date. We were all on the site that day, but as you would already suspect by this time, nothing happened. What did happen though is that people got trolled mad by the very staff of LiquidSky. If someone told me I would be also skeptic, but I believe it’s still on their forums. They basically kept asking people for more forum posts and kept saying if they reach this or that number, the service will launch. People took days off their jobs, they were waiting now for weeks. Everyone was anxious, tired, and still hyped. And we got trolled.

Of course the service launched after some 12 hours later, but no one could connect, it crashed immediately. Good times.
Long weeks came after this ‘launch’ while no one could really connect. Some people, somewhere, sometime were able to start up the lowest tiers. There was a single person who had a real screenshot from the working 2.0 machine on the forums in the first month. Wow.

The real problems only came later, though.

 

Closing thoughts?

I had this thought in the back of my head ever since the botched 2.0 launch, but never really thought about it. When we started receiving ‘updates’ that were nothing but tiny bug fixes and just dirty workaround (i.e.: one update added “boarding groups”, another took them out), I started to get suspicious.

 

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Cloud gaming. State of the Cloud – 19/03/2018

This will be a very tl;dr post.

What is cloud gaming?

Basically you have a full virtual computer running ‘in the cloud’. Which simply means it’s on a remote location. You can use it, game on it, everything. You pretty much only need internet speed, and a good ping. And a h264-decode capable hardware.

What providers are out there?

Shadow.tech (unlimited)

Pros:
– Dedicated GTX 1080 or Quadro P5000 GPU
– Unlimited flat-rate usage
– 1gbps/100mbps speed
– Very good quality client that can push up to 50mbps AND 70mbps (with Shadow Box).
– Windows 10 Home (licensed) with Store OS.
– They offer a “Shadow Box” thin client for EU customers (for now, expansion soon).

Cons:
– The CPU has speed issues. It’s being worked at according to the team. AAA games still work fine that can scale out – most of the time. But if the bug hits real hard, even Ghost Recon can dip to unplayable 5FPS.
– RAM amount is only 12GB.
– Storage is only 256GB but this is being worked at, paid expansion will be introduced “soon”.

What is it for?
Gamers, work folks, everyone. They pretty much intend to replace your laptop/PC with Shadow.

Location:
EU (France (Paris)), US (California) – expansion is on the way.

Paperspace + Parsec (pay / hour)

Pros:
– Tons of resources. Like 30GB of RAM.
– Can have P6000 Quadro GPU.
– You can add tons of storage, up to 1TB (or even more, did not check).
– Parsec is an OKAY client. Not the best, but it’s OK.

Cons:
– GPU performance is like a rollercoaster. It has serious dips, making it very bad for gaming.
– CPU performance is very mediocre. Just bad in general.

What is it for?
3D work, CAD usage, game development. Work basically.

Location: Europe (Netherlands (Amsterdam)), worldwide.

Simplay (unlimited)

Pros:
– Strong CPU. Strong as Geforce Now.
– Up to 512GB of storage.
– Fast SSD storage.

Cons:
– Worse client than Shadow. And Parsec also is “meh”.
– GPU is worse than Shadow.
– Just 12GB of RAM, like Shadow.

What is it for?
Games, work, anything. Like Shadow.

Location: several, but currently undergoing heavy restructure.

Geforce Now (pay / hour, currently free in Beta)

It’s just crap. It’s a locked down DRM hell. You log in to GFN, and you can access a few pre-installed titles. That’s it. That’s PC gaming for you, in 2018, by Nvidia. Thank you Nvidia for destroying what PC gaming is about. The mods. The freedom. The openness.

Thankfully the service costs a fortune according to press news and leaked information, so it will not pose a long-term risk. But still, this service needs to die. Real fast.

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How to configure Parsec for best quality + performance! (BUILD 137-1)

This will be our best friend from now on: https://parsec.tv/config

How to edit and apply the new config:

  1. Start the Parsec client
  2. Click Settings
  3. Click Advanced Settings (config.txt) on the bottom

Now we can move on.
First and foremost, you have to edit the config on both your server and client!
You can include the server settings in your client.
If you do NOT want your client to become a host, set “app_host to 0” simply.


My  configuration (you can just include all the client options too and vice versa):


# For help and a full list of settings visit: https://parsec.tv/config/

# All configuration settings must appear on a new line.
# Comments are allowed after a '#' character (end-of-line style).
# All whitespace, besides the newline character '\n', is ignored.
# All settings passed via the command line, or via the website, take precedence.
# The configuration file will be overwritten by the application when changing settings.

# EDIT THIS AS NEEDED
# This sets the MAX resolution.
# Mine is 2560x1080. According to the site, DO NOT EXCEEED 2K, that is 2560x1440.
server_resolution_x=1920
server_resolution_y=1080

# You can force refresh rate.
# By default it uses server rate, so it should be OK by default.
# server_refresh_rate=60

# Audio delay - modify if you have to, but leave it if you can.
# client_audio_buffer=20000

# By default, if an admin is connecting to a host PC, Parsec mutes the audio on the host
# computer's speakers. If you'd like to turn this default off, please set the 
# server_admin_mute value to 0.
# server_admin_mute=1

# Set this to "warp" to have the newer (preview) version, you have to add this on both sides.
# If it messes your client/server up, you have to re-download Parsec!
# app_channel=release

# If you manually manage port forwarding for the server, you'll need to forward ports 8000-8002
# for UDP traffic on the server network. 
# If you would like to invite others to join your gaming session, you need to increase the ports
# forwarded by 3 for each concurrent connection. For instance, if you have 5 friends connecting to your server,
# you should forward ports 8000-8014.
# network_server_start_port=8000

# Highest video quality
app_lan_quality = 3
app_wan_quality = 3

# Since I have 100mbps internet.
# It will use a lot less usually, so don't worry much
encoder_bitrate = 100
# Disable fps limit (this is default btw)
encoder_fps=0

# Encoder Video Output quality
# Higher value = worse picture
# 3 is very good, 25 is default
encoder_min_qp = 0

# Encoder quality
# Lower value = worse picture
# 3 is very good, 1 is worst
# I use 3, never noticed much impact from it
encoder_quality = 3

# Enable hosting
app_host = 1

# Edit as needed, but never exceed 2560x1440.
server_resolution_x=1920
server_resolution_y=1080

 

That’s all folks. This config works like a charm for me. I have a sharp picture with no latency and no noticeable slowdowns.
Mind you, the slowest hardware I use as a client is a Core2Duo mobile processor. So if you use something very weak, you might have to edit this here and there.

I also went for max quality, because I never noticed much performance drop from higher values at all. Again, your mileage may vary.
Learning how to configure Parsec only takes like 15 minutes. Just read the linked page, and copy values, adjust them to your needs. Simple as that.

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LiquidSky + Parsec (not anymore)

NOTE: LiquidSky has gone downhill. Service quality is absolutely trash, crap. There is no service.

Just use Shadow.tech; Paperspace + Parsec; Simplay.
Stay away from LiquidSky. It’s a scam.

 

First of all, why would you do this?

  • Parsec has no service globally yet.
  • Parsec has a lower latency. Much lower.
  • Parsec has no video discolor / artifacting whatsoever.

So in many ways, Parsec’s client is just superior to LiquidSky’s. And it’s completely free.

1. Login to your SkyComputer

Start and log in to your SkyComputer using the LiquidSky client.
If you haven’t managed to get the LiquidSky windows client running on your Mac in some form, first follow this easy guide to install it using Wine.

2. Create a Parsec.tv account

Go to parsec.tv and create a new account

3. Install Parsec Gaming Server

Now you need to install the Parsec Gaming Server on your SkyComputer.
Go to the Parsec downloads page in a browser on your SkyComputer
and download the Parsec Gaming Server.
Install it on your SkyComputer.

4. Turn off automatic timeout

Make sure automatic timeout in your SkyComputer is set to None, or else your SkyComputer will shut down during your mythic Karazhan run. You can start/shut down your LiquidSky from your Android client. You can also shut down your machine once you are done by simply using the Windows “shutdown” in your SkyComputer.

5. Change the following config file:

By default, your SkyComputer hides your cursor.
We want to turn this off by editing a simple line in the sky.cfg file.
Open the file sky.cfg in the directory C:\Windows\liquidsky.
Change the ShowCursor=0 value to ShowCursor=1.
Restart your SkyComputer to make this change active.

Original guide was posted here: https://parsec.carrd.co/
(This is more or less a backup for myself and the public.)

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