Stream Video Games To Your Mobile Device
As a society, we are moving more and more towards mobile computing. And while mobile devices do have the obvious benefit of being small, practical, and allowing us to have computing power just about anywhere, they do limit how much computing power we can carry around with us. Granted, the computing power of smartphones and tablets is continually increasing (e.g. modern phones already use multi-core processors), but some capabilities are still limited. One of these is limitations of mobile devices is gaming, and in particular, playing the latest and greatest PC video games. To enjoy these, one still needs a console with dedicated graphics or a PC with a fast graphics expansion card. In fact, the size of just the graphics expansion card itself needed to play cutting edge PC video games today is a few times that of the average mobile phone or tablet.
On the outset, it would seem that it is essentially impossible to play the latest PC video games on your mobile device until technology catches up. But is it? In this article we look closer at a mobile app called Remotr, which has found a way too make the seemingly impossible, possible. Read on to find out more.
An Introduction To Remotr
Remotr is a free mobile app that can stream video games to mobile devices. The Remotr platform consists of two separate pieces of software: The Remotr Streamer software that needs to be installed on the PC itself so that games can be streamed to the mobile device, and the Remotr Client, which is installed on the mobile device to receive the stream from the PC. At the moment, the only streamer/client combinations that are supported are Windows for streaming and Android for the mobile client. An iOS app, however is currently in the works according to Remotr. The Remotr Streamer can be downloaded from the Remotr website directly, and the mobile client from from Google play. In terms of game compatibility, most major PC games are already supported. In fact, Remotr includes on its website a list of games that have already been tested and known to to work, but keep in that this list certainly isn’t exhaustive.
How Does Remotr Work?
The primary goal or Remotr is to provide the best streaming experience possible from all PCs to all mobile devices. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, as there are any number of mobile devices out there, with a similar number of PC rigs, and a seemingly endless amount of games that people play. To start, the software captures the the computer’s screen so that it can be streamed through the network. The screen from the PC can be captured at more than 60 frames per second, but it generally limited because it needs to be optimized for the wireless network’s capabilities (i.e. speed) and other resources (keep in mind that video in Full HD at 60 fps needs over 30 Mbps of network throughput, but most Android devices support Full HD only at 30 frames per second).
The Remotr capture technology is based on DirectX 11 interfaces (which is the main reason why the software’s minimum requirement is a graphics card with DirectX 10.1 support and Windows 7 and newer for the OS). After the video has been captured, it is encoded further to reduce video size and improve the streaming experience. The video is processed directly on GPU because this is much faster compared to using the system memory and processor. More specifically, Remotr supports video encoding by utilizing Nvidia’s NVENC and AMD’s AMF application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) available on Nvidia and AMD graphic cards.
After the video and audio have been captured, both are optimized to reduce network delay and then sent over the local (wireless) network to the client. Finally, in order to control the game, input from the mobile device such as touch, keyboard keys, gamepad moves, etc. are transferred back to the PC.
Now that we’ve covered how Remotr works, we’ll look next briefly at how to setup Remotr and its capabilities.
Get Started With Remotr
To get started with Remotr, you need to install the mobile app and the streamer software on your PC.
Once Remotr is installed on your PC, click the tray icon to log in – this needs to be done only once. An email address and a password are required (make sure to remember it!), and Remotr will automatically find all games that are in your Steam, Origin, or Battle.Net library.
Next, the Remotr mobile app needs to be installed on your mobile phone or tablet. When the app is first started up, a list of potential streamers should show up, including the computer the streaming software was just installed on. To connect to it, the computer needs to be selected in the app and the same email and password given as the access credentials.
Once connected, it will take a second for the video game library to load. Once the games are loaded, all you need to do is select a game to start playing – it’s that simple.
Remotr also includes a host of features and options in the app itself to fine tune game play to your liking. When a game starts in the mobile app, the Remotr menu is shown as an overlay in order to quickly access the different options. It can be hidden or shown by pressing the Remotr logo (on the left side).
The item in the menu that displays allow you to do the following (from left to right):
- Return to the game library
- Add and move controls such as the WASD analogue stick, mouse buttons, and more
- Load your saved control presets
- Open a keyboard
- Open Remotr settings
The control creator looks menu including the following options (again from left to right)
- Back to the main menu
- Save preset
- Add mouse buttons or keys from the keyboard
- Add arrows or WASD as buttons
- Add analog sticks
- Voice controls (still in Beta)
- Gesture controls (still in Beta)
The control creator is where you add keys to the game overlay –fire, reload, jump, and more. As mobile devices usually have smaller screens than an average desktop monitor, one of the challenges is to squeeze in all the necessary controls for each game. To address this challenge, Remotr allows you to move the control buttons around the screen and change the icon sizes as well.
However, Remotr has done even more since mobile devices have certain control advantages over regular PCs that can be utilized. One of those is voice control, which is natively supported on most mobile devices. To set it up in Remotr, you enter into the control creator menu (as described above) and then press the voice controls button to set it up: A long press is required to start the recorder, then say the command word you want to use (for example, ‘fire’), and finally choose the button that should be sent to the PC when the word is spoken.
Another advantage of mobile devices is the accelerometer. What better way to drive a car like in Need For Speed, aim a gun in Cs:GO, or fly a spaceship like in X Rebirth than to simple move the mobile in the direction you want to go? Here too, you configure the option in the control creator menu (gesture controls). For instance, you can reset the mouse to the current mobile position, or reverse the X and Y axis.
Looking ahead, Remotr is currently actively working on an app to support Apple iOS devices. Remotr is also developing streaming to TVs so that one can use the mobile device just as the controller, but play games on a large screen TV. Be sure to look out for these additional features in the near future.
If you are looking for a way to enjoy current PC games on your mobile device(s), Remotr is definitely worth checking out. For any questions, or thoughts, please comment below or start a new thread in the PCMech Community Forum.