(An In-Character record of life in New Eden. Posts based on real events of my day to day play sessions.)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

OOC: Playing Eve on a Budget

My background is Computer Support so I'm always on the lookout for new technologies. One of the ones I'm most interested in is remote control software that let you see your home pc elsewhere. And, if possible, run Eve on such a connection so the game client is always at my fingertips, to a degree.

Windows Remote Desktop works great for just operating the computer over a network, and over the internet requires a bit of configuring on your router, namely, opening TCP and UDP ports 3389 and port forwarding that port to the specific IP address of your gaming machine. Plus, you always need to know your home external IP address, which on some/most providers are DHCP, and change over time. This is handy for things like tinkering with a server, working on Industry Spreadsheets, or other simple tasks, but displaying video or graphics over the thing is a painful torture of watching frames redraw over and over across your screen as it updates. It's just bad and can't be used for playing eve.

Usually, when I'm looking for something to connect to my home PC with, I look for something lightweight and something web based (preferably) so I don't have to install a client. This does eliminate majority of the solutions out there: Teamviewer, NoMachine, Logmein, Splashtop, VNC, Etc. One of the ones that I don't mind, however, is Chrome Remote Desktop. This one at least will show a decent picture of the Eve client and I can do things like update market orders, update Manufacturing jobs, and even undock and fly somewhere using autopilot (eww), or manually if I have the patience. It's super choppy and flying around is definitely not recommended. but doable in a pinch. Plus, it can be run from within Chrome and not much else needs to be installed besides the addon, unless you want to set your machine up as a server, but then again, it's not that bad.

So here's where the thrifty part comes in. What if you put all your money into a decent gaming desktop, like I have, put it in another room, like your 'Man Cave' in the basement, yet spend most of your time in the living room on the couch with an older laptop because you want to be around your family instead of in a basement. Would you go buy an expensive gaming laptop that can actually run Eve and not play in 'Potato Mode' (All settings on low/disabled)?

No, and ain't nobody got money for that either.

A friend of mine is into streaming media using programs like CouchPotato, XBMC, Sickbeard, PLEX and whatnot to download, manage, and stream his movies and TV shows. He also started playing his large Steam library on a slower media PC connected to his TV in the living room.

He introduced me to Steam In Home Streaming.

If anyone has heard of services such as Onlive, which has shut down now, the concept was interesting. I've tried Onlive, played high end graphical games on my Laptop I lovingly call the "Walmartop" as it was cheap and not that powerful. The concept was that the server or remote machine would run the game, use it's resources and graphics card to render the game, and just stream the video output to you, then accept the input from your remote keyboard to the game instead of the local. So basically, the performance just relied on your connection speed to send input data, and receive video. Sure, the video got a little fuzzy at times of latency, but it worked kind of well.

Steam In Home Streaming is sort of the same thing, except you set up your server on your own gaming PC in the basement, then connect to it using this option on your craptop. It runs smoothly, you can spin your ship like it was running locally, clicks are responsive, and flying around is fine too. I tried a few low level missions and found that once you got alot of things moving around on the screen at once that went kind of fast, it got a little choppy, but you can mine all day to your hearts content without worry. However, I still don't trust it enough to try PVP or use my Null Sec character on it just yet as our wireless isn't that great. Yes, this only works on your local network and is not designed for over the internet.

Enter the baby monitor......

Oh yes. Things were just peachy once I discovered this solution of streaming my game from my gaming machine in the basement, however, becoming new parents not only limited my play time, but once I did get on during the baby's naps, the baby monitor was on and it killed my connection. The video baby monitor runs on 2.4 Ghz which is the same frequency as WiFi. After some research and trying to discover a way around this menace, I was out of luck. First, I looked up the exact frequency the monitor ran at, then tried to tweak the router to operate on a channel far away from it, but low and behold, I had to buy the only monitor that constantly changes it's frequency all over the available spectrum of the WiFi signal. That means it could be working fine, then the monitor goes on it's scanning phase and switches it's frequency to one that's the same as the Wifi, then the screen on the laptop goes all pixelated, the sound cuts out or gets choppy and I can't do anything. A few seconds later, the stream drops and Eve is no longer available in my library because Steam has disconnected from the PC in the basement. The only thing that I can do to reconnect, is to use Chrome Remote Desktop to my Gaming PC, open Steam, go to file>Settings, Select Steam In Home Streaming and then it reconnects by itself as it is forced to check the connection.

This is why I don't trust it. I could be in the middle of a fight and the bloody monitor will do it's check for a better signal and boot me off, taking several minutes to reconnect, meanwhile my client remains connected and doing whatever I left it doing without me there. It's alot worse than disconnecting from the game. At least then, the client tries to warp you off to a safe and log you out. Not in this case. The client is connected and it's as if you stood up and walked away from the keyboard and went upstairs.

I think my solution here is already in the works. I could have bought a new Baby Monitor, but they're more expensive than a new router. Canada day sale at Staples and I'm the proud new owner of a dual band router. Once it comes in the mail, I'll set it up, connect our laptops on a much faster, 5.0Ghz connection and all will be good in the world again.


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