7 votes

Tell your hopes and experiences with Cloud gaming

So I just upgraded to an M1 Mac Mini. I was a little iffy on it, part of me wanted to build a PC just to play games but I really like MacOS and I mostly play on PS5 and the Switch with the PC only being for indie titles and stuff that only works with a keyboard and mouse like RTS, 4x, or city builders. I just don't play PC games enough to prioritize gaming as a use case in buying a computer, but I also really like RTS and city builder games.

I figured WINE and Parallels would meet most of my gaming needs but my forays into WINE have been frustrating and buggy, and this reddit thread about what works on Parallels is, frankly, just kind of sad to look at. What's worse, apparently the new Age of Empires has some kind of pathfinding instruction set that ONLY works with x86 architecture. So it won't work under any kind of virtualization or emulation.

Enter Cloud gaming. It seems the big contenders right now are ShadowPC, GeForce Now, and Paperspace. Has anyone tried these? When I last costed these out Shadow was only around $15-$20 a month which was almost a no-brainer. But it seems to have gone up to $30 a month now, which gets costly enough to where it almost seems like I'd rather get a Steam Deck. Paperspace is like $10 per month plus another ~$1 per hour of play, which would probably end up cheapest for how little I play. But how it is in terms of configuration and latency I have no idea.

21 comments

  1. [4]
    Bullmaestro
    Link
    Out of all the cloud platforms I've used... Stadia - Input lag is barely noticaeble, but the bitrate and overall quality of the stream is utter shit. The visual quality of my stream is kinda like...

    Out of all the cloud platforms I've used...

    Stadia - Input lag is barely noticaeble, but the bitrate and overall quality of the stream is utter shit. The visual quality of my stream is kinda like playing a YouTube vid in 480p at the best of times. Also the worst business model where you need a subscription to stream in 4K and must buy each game individually for full RRP.

    PSNow - Basically unusable. Visual quality ain't that good. Input lag makes games unplayable. It may have the best game library but that can't excuse what

    Xbox Cloud - Actually the best one I've used so far. Minimal input lag, decent visual quality (albeit capped at 720p?) and a decent selection of games. You mentioned AOE4, so that may be the best bet to play when/if Microsoft port the game to Xbox or finally add PC game and M&K support to their cloud service.

    GeForce Now - Used the free tier. Visual quality is pretty good but input lag was definitely noticeable.

    Haven't used Shadow or Paperspace. The former has a massive waiting list which just doesn't seem worth it.

    7 votes
    1. [3]
      psi
      Link Parent
      Have you tried the subscription/4K tier (despite your reservations about price)? I'd agree that the quality is pretty abysmal at 1080p (better described as "1080p"), but at 4K I thought the...

      Input lag is barely noticeable, but the bitrate and overall quality of the stream is utter shit. The visual quality of my stream is kinda like playing a YouTube vid in 480p at the best of times.

      Have you tried the subscription/4K tier (despite your reservations about price)? I'd agree that the quality is pretty abysmal at 1080p (better described as "1080p"), but at 4K I thought the streams looked pretty great. I finished Ys VIII on Stadia, and I though the input lag/visuals were (at minimum) comparable to playing on a console.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        Bullmaestro
        Link Parent
        I tried it as a Stadia Pro member back when Google were offering three months free and for a few months after. Even purchased Doom Eternal to see if it was just an issue with games that were...

        I tried it as a Stadia Pro member back when Google were offering three months free and for a few months after. Even purchased Doom Eternal to see if it was just an issue with games that were included with a Stadia Pro subscription. Both ran like utter ass.

        I tried many solutions to fix the problem, like:

        • Enabling hardware acceleration
        • Clearing browser files.
        • Port forwarding.
        • Incognito Mode.
        • Using other browsers, like Chrome Canary, Brave (Stadia's menu would load up but no game would boot), Firefox, Opera GX and Edge (latter three gave an incompatible message so I couldn't even sign in to the service.)
        • Downloading the Stadia app on the Windows 10 Store.
        • Using Stadia+ to force H.264 and VD9 codecs, or to force the resolution to 4K, 1080p or 720p. None of these worked.

        Those are all the solutions (which I still remember) that I tried. You name it, I probably tried it.

        Only things I haven't tried were using Stadia on mobile (you have to use a bluetooth gamepad, which I don't have), on a different PC, and on Chromecast (I don't own a Chromecast Ultra nor do I plan on getting one.) A friend of mine has had a near-flawless experience with Chromecast Ultra on his couch setup, so maybe it's just that Stadia runs like shit on browser.

        1 vote
        1. psi
          Link Parent
          That's unfortunate. I had similar pains with Stadia performance at first (why isn't hardware acceleration enabled by default for chrome on linux?), but eventually I prevailed (but only after a...

          That's unfortunate. I had similar pains with Stadia performance at first (why isn't hardware acceleration enabled by default for chrome on linux?), but eventually I prevailed (but only after a great deal of suffering).

          1 vote
  2. [4]
    circaechos
    (edited )
    Link
    If you're ok with taking a pause from gaming after about an hour, I'd check out GeForce's free tier. You'll have to queue up (which has only taken under 2 minutes, in my experience), and re-queue...

    If you're ok with taking a pause from gaming after about an hour, I'd check out GeForce's free tier. You'll have to queue up (which has only taken under 2 minutes, in my experience), and re-queue after an hour of playing (which, for me, is a helpful cue to stand up and move around), but the experience is pretty solid and entirely free for now? My partner and I have been using it to run the new Life is Strange on pretty high graphics a couple times a month; no complaints yet.

    Edit: I should clarify that we don't games that require quick reactions or key combos, input lag might be more of an issue for others.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      Yeah I considered giving it a try but GeForce Now doesn't actually have many of the games I'd like to try. No Age of Empires, no They are Billions. Iron Harvest is there at least so I could give...

      Yeah I considered giving it a try but GeForce Now doesn't actually have many of the games I'd like to try. No Age of Empires, no They are Billions. Iron Harvest is there at least so I could give that a shot.

      It's a shame, they're all focused on providing games I can already play on the Mac, Switch, or PS5 rather than the PC games I'm looking for.

      1 vote
      1. [2]
        circaechos
        Link Parent
        Yeah, I would've been much more inclined to pay anything if I wasn't limited to their exceedingly limited selection and could just point a server to my steam library.

        Yeah, I would've been much more inclined to pay anything if I wasn't limited to their exceedingly limited selection and could just point a server to my steam library.

        1 vote
        1. Akir
          Link Parent
          I thought that was one of their features? That you could log into steam and download your games if they weren’t officially supported.

          I thought that was one of their features? That you could log into steam and download your games if they weren’t officially supported.

          2 votes
  3. [2]
    moocow1452
    Link
    You'll want to consider how close you are to any particular server, that might make a difference on what service you pick if one has a server down the street from you.

    You'll want to consider how close you are to any particular server, that might make a difference on what service you pick if one has a server down the street from you.

    2 votes
    1. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      Fortunately GeForce Now, PaperSpace, and Shadow all have data centers within a 3 hour's drive from me so I'm a bit spoiled for choice. It's just the performance considerations and whether it's...

      Fortunately GeForce Now, PaperSpace, and Shadow all have data centers within a 3 hour's drive from me so I'm a bit spoiled for choice. It's just the performance considerations and whether it's actually worth the money that holds me back.

      2 votes
  4. [3]
    Akir
    Link
    Somewhat off topic, but I'm surprised at how many indie games I've found that work on the current version of MacOS. Though to be fair, it's almost entirely because everything I've been playing are...

    Somewhat off topic, but I'm surprised at how many indie games I've found that work on the current version of MacOS.

    Though to be fair, it's almost entirely because everything I've been playing are a bunch of low quality VNs written in Ren'py, which makes it trivial to run on anything that has Python.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      Are those the Choose Your Own Adventure style novels? Are there any that are any good? I think the only 'visual novel' type game I've actually liked was Florence but I've been told that barely counts.

      Are those the Choose Your Own Adventure style novels? Are there any that are any good? I think the only 'visual novel' type game I've actually liked was Florence but I've been told that barely counts.

      1. Akir
        Link Parent
        I had to look that one up because I wouldn’t have thought of that game as that genre. Though I have really been meaning to pick it up. To answer your question, sorta. VNs are basically stories...

        I had to look that one up because I wouldn’t have thought of that game as that genre. Though I have really been meaning to pick it up.

        To answer your question, sorta. VNs are basically stories with fancy presentation you read on a computer. Some have a lot of interaction and may even have mini games. Some won’t have any interactivity at all. I’m even aware of one without any visuals at all. Some have branching storylines and some are completely linear. But usuallly with branching storylines there is one “true” ending.

        The key thing to be aware of is that when a VN is done right you get an experience that transcends traditional mediums in one way or another.

        There’s a few good examples that are available for free if you want to sink your teeth into the genre. If you want to try something very conventional, grab Katawa Shojo. It has a weird premise but it’s surprisingly good. If you want something that justifies the interactivity of video games, try out Digital: A Love Story.

        Doki Doki Literature club is also a VN but I wouldn’t really recommend playing it as your first example.

        The best examples are going to be paid though. Yu-No is a classic that got remade a while back, and while I haven’t played the remake it’s definitely an experience I would recommmend. There’s also a website called VNDB that catalogs games in the genre and you can find some great recommendations there.

        4 votes
  5. [3]
    JXM
    Link
    I got the Stadia bundle a while ago that was $99 for the controller and 6 months of Stadia Pro for free. As @Bullmaestro said, the input lag was non-existent but the stream quality varied wildly....

    I got the Stadia bundle a while ago that was $99 for the controller and 6 months of Stadia Pro for free. As @Bullmaestro said, the input lag was non-existent but the stream quality varied wildly. There were times that it would dramatically dip in quality for either a minute or just a few seconds and then ramp back up to HD.

    I do wish that they had a good tool as part of the service to measure things like ping over time or connection stability to give users an idea of what the issues are.

    The one downside to Stadia is that there is no "wired" mode, since even if your Chromecast is wired directly to ethernet, the controller uses wifi.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      That's a weird design choice. I'm surprised latency isn't an issue then. I wonder how well it works for people who use their ISP's router and keep it inside a drawer in a distant corner of the...

      The one downside to Stadia is that there is no "wired" mode, since even if your Chromecast is wired directly to ethernet, the controller uses wifi.

      That's a weird design choice. I'm surprised latency isn't an issue then. I wonder how well it works for people who use their ISP's router and keep it inside a drawer in a distant corner of the house. (i.e. most people)

      1 vote
      1. JXM
        Link Parent
        I had that thought too. My house isn't too big and my router is smack dab in the middle so I've got excellent reception everywhere so I can't speak to how a bad signal would impact game play.

        I had that thought too. My house isn't too big and my router is smack dab in the middle so I've got excellent reception everywhere so I can't speak to how a bad signal would impact game play.

        1 vote
  6. [5]
    mtset
    Link
    I thought x86 software was supposed to magically Just Work with the M1?

    I thought x86 software was supposed to magically Just Work with the M1?

    1. NaraVara
      Link Parent
      64 bit Mac software was but most games on Mac were either 32 bit or being played via Boot Camp/virtualization. The DirectX to Vulcan translation seems to be the main culprit with compatibility...

      64 bit Mac software was but most games on Mac were either 32 bit or being played via Boot Camp/virtualization. The DirectX to Vulcan translation seems to be the main culprit with compatibility issues right now. Games are an edge case they never bother to design around.

      4 votes
    2. [3]
      Akir
      Link Parent
      Native x86-64 software works natively (so long as it doesn’t require kernel plugins). But a while ago Apple dropped support for native 32 bit applications entirely, so none of the software...

      Native x86-64 software works natively (so long as it doesn’t require kernel plugins). But a while ago Apple dropped support for native 32 bit applications entirely, so none of the software designed for those work - even on Intel Macs.

      And as it turns out a vast majority of games get a very short period where they are actively supported.

      4 votes
      1. [2]
        mtset
        Link Parent
        Oh, that's awful. Meanwhile I'm out here playing native Windows games on Linux like nobody's business - I guess WINE on Mac still needs the 32bit libs to translate calls to?

        Oh, that's awful. Meanwhile I'm out here playing native Windows games on Linux like nobody's business - I guess WINE on Mac still needs the 32bit libs to translate calls to?

        2 votes
        1. NaraVara
          Link Parent
          They have one for Intel Macs, but it doesn't work with M1 Macs.

          They have one for Intel Macs, but it doesn't work with M1 Macs.

          3 votes