My friends and I would like to play Jackbox Party Pack online. The only way to do this is to have one person host the game, and stream the video to the other players.

The problem is that Steam Broadcast and Twitch both have a 15-20 second stream latency, which is way too high to play the game together.

Is there some way to stream the game online without such a high latency?

  • I don't know about Steam's broadcasting solution, but you could try using Twitch and see if it is better that way. Twitch usually has about 5-10 seconds of delay even for non-partnered streamers. – GiantTree Jan 24 '16 at 8:54
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    Twitch had a feature that would try to reduce the lag time, but it still wasn't enough to make a difference in our tests. – user973 Jan 29 '16 at 17:49
  • raspberry pi ftw – Aequitas Feb 2 '16 at 3:09
  • @Aequitas: I have a raspberry pi. How does that help? – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Feb 2 '16 at 3:49
  • I've read that you can use it to set up very fast streaming, I can't find it right now I'll look for it later, but I did find this guy who did something similar, and got 700ms. – Aequitas Feb 2 '16 at 4:15

Unless you're planning on allowing people other than your group of friends to watch the game, any group video chat or screen sharing software would be perfect for your needs.

Google Hangouts have incredibly low latency (< 1 second in my experience) and allow you to share your screen with others in the chat. Google Hangouts are also free if you already have a Google account. I've personally used Google Hangouts for this purpose, and many other times I've had to share my screen / look at someone else's screen. While there are some quirks if you also speak through the Hangout, this shouldn't be a problem for you if you're using Teamspeak.

As another option, join.me is a screen-sharing alternative that is free, lightweight, and easy to configure.

  • +1; probably better than my suggestion if that's all you need out of it. – Michaellogg Jan 29 '16 at 22:36

There is a new streaming service over at https://mixer.com/ which offers almost instant streaming (roughly 500ms in the worst case scenario) when using their FTL protocol. As long as your friends use a HTML5 compatible browser they'll see what you see with little to no visible latency. FTL will be rolling out to everyone over the next month or two by the sounds of it. Streaming on their service without using FTL is also quick, however. Last time I checked it had less latency than that of Hitbox and Twitch providing your network speed supports at least 2000kbps upload and your streaming software's settings are correct.

You can watch their blog at https://blog.mixer.com/ for announcements as to when they launch FTL to the whole userbase.

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    +1 this sounds awesome, though I can't give you the bounty since it sounds like I can't test it for several months :( – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Feb 2 '16 at 16:18
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft Just in case you haven't tried it yet, Beam, which has recently been rebranded and renamed as Mixer, now works really well and doesn't require waiting to test. I stream Jackbox myself regularly and those I stream to always seem to beat me to answering the questions, even though the game is playing on my own computer! – Benny Lewis Aug 6 '17 at 12:55
  • Unfortunately Mixer no longer exists. See my new answer below. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Sep 10 '20 at 7:27

For what it's worth, my personal experience was that Hitbox has far less stream delay than Twitch, which was why I preferred it over the more popular site. Something closer to 5-7 seconds was the norm, from what I recall. I haven't personally tried Steam Broadcasting in any significant amount, so I'm not sure how it compares.

(Just in case, disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any streaming service, other than using Hitbox on the rare occasions that I stream.)

  • 5-7 seconds is still pretty high. If my friends and I can stream high-quality audio over Teamspeak with <100ms latency, I don't think it's too much to ask to stream low-quality video with <3 second latency. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jan 29 '16 at 19:02
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft Because video is just that much more data than audio. – Michaellogg Jan 29 '16 at 19:05
  • It should still be possible. Netflix's lowest quality video stream is about 400kbps, and their highest quality HD stream is 8mbps. My Internet upload is 50mbps, 5x the bandwidth necessary for HD and over 100x for SD. My computer can also easily encode SD video in real-time. So, there should be no technical issue to making this happen. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jan 29 '16 at 19:11
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    @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft network speed plays a part but there's a lot more at play here. The video needs to be compressed (encoded) which depends on many things such as hardware(faster)/software encoders, variable or constant(faster) bit rates. as well as decoded after being streamed (to media server over local network and then to the viewer over the internet) to the viewer. The protocols used to stream pay a massive part and not just the badnwidth, the Apple Http based, HLS implementation adds an additional 10 seconds because it sends it in 10 second segments. – Aequitas Feb 2 '16 at 4:46
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    @Aequitas My GPU supports realtime H.264 encoding, so that would not be a problem. And HLS supports real-time streaming with alternate segment-sizes (source: am DASH developer, know a decent amount about HLS) – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Feb 2 '16 at 4:58

Updated for 2020:

Now that Mixer is gone, the best option by far has been Discord. It has even lower latency than Mixer did, and it automatically works with Discord voice chat, so you don't need to do any complicated setup to avoid people hearing themselves on the stream!

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