Stream Connect: New Possibilities for Multiplayer Gameplay

Stream Connect is a Stadia feature that lets you stream one player’s game directly into another’s. There, you can use the video as a texture, mix the audio into your scene, use it as game data — or create a completely new gameplay experience! In this post, we’ll give a high level overview of the feature, then show you how you can incorporate it into your next game.

When you play a game on Stadia, we stream video and audio from our computer to yours. Stream Connect allows you to send a copy of those streams from one player to another, where it gets incorporated directly into the game. In our keynote, we showed you three example uses of the feature:
  • Couch-based split-screen — Showing multiple players’ game content on a single screen.
  • Co-op squad view — incorporating all teammates’ views into each player’s perspective, without the processing cost of multiple scene renders.
  • Asymmetric multiplayer roles, i.e., “the coordinator view” — Showing how one player can not only view, but also impact others using Stream Connect.
  • The Night Forest demo was designed to make use of a coordinator view. In it, a scientific team on a distant planet has discovered an infectious outbreak in the forest. They rush to the scene and get to work.
The Botanist focuses on her work to craft an antidote — and tries to ignore the approaching critter!

The Scout makes her way across the forest while looking for and curing diseased plants.

The Protector finds an inquisitive creature and drops a repulsor to keep the Botanist safe,
then turns on his scanner to get back on patrol

The Coordinator makes sure everything runs smoothly for all players, made possible by Stream Connect.
Stream Connect provides a real time view into another player’s game as it’s happening, so you can not only watch but interact with another player’s game. The Coordinator can reach right through the screen and place a beacon to help the other players work together!

The Coordinator marks a creature on the Scout’s view with a beacon
The beacon instantly shows up in the Scout’s view...
...and allows the Protector to find it and respond
What’s even cooler about this is that you don’t need to re-render the scenes for the Coordinator. Stream Connect leverages Stadia’s powerful video compression and streaming platform to deliver the frames from one player to another, almost instantly.
In our demo, we applied those frames as a texture to screen objects, but that’s just the beginning — and we can’t wait to see what your designers do with this unique and powerful feature. Some ideas to get your brainstorm started:
  • Subscribe to many streams at once — imagine a game of tag where the player who’s “it” can press a button to spy on the other players for five seconds. The other players need quickly stare at a wall so as not to give away their position, then stand still and hope the “it” player doesn’t find them.
  • Send different video to spectators from a different point in your render pipeline. For example, you could stream video to spectators before you draw things like health bars, inventory, and other UI elements. This way, the main player gets the full view, but spectators see a clean view with no HUD — and get no private info from the main player that might facilitate cheating.
  • Stream from one game engine to another. Build separate first-person, flying, real-time strategy, and 2D platformer engines, optimized for their particular genre, then send streams between them.
  • And just for fun, register as a source and then subscribe to your own stream for a hall-of-mirrors effect:
Stream Connect is available now in the GGP SDK — sign up to be considered for developer access to try it out for yourself!

--Aaron Cammarata, Stadia Software Engineer

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