We’re super excited to announce the newest iteration of Parsec — Party Finder. The new feature allows you to match with other people using Parsec to play games, hangout, and discover new games with the click of a button. Each party has a chat room, allows you to connect to the person hosting the party, and temporarily gives you permission to play offline multiplayer games together online while the party is live. Only the host needs a copy of the game, but if you enjoy playing it, you should buy it and host your own party next time. One of the exciting things about Party Finder that we’re announcing today is the ability to join party communities dedicated to a specific game or online community on another site. We’re launching Party Finder with three communities dedicated to three fantastic games with the support of their developers — Wizard of Legend, Sausage Sports Club, and Super Clash Bros. We’ll introduce new communities and games over the next couple of weeks. If you’re a game developer or the moderator of an online community that would like to host your own Parsec Parties, join our Discord and reach out to us.
We spoke to a lot of indie game developers and got their feedback about Party Finder and Co-Play before releasing the Party Finder matchmaking system. Our goal with parties is to make it easy for a game developer to introduce a matchmaking system to their community, enable online multiplayer without writing a single line of code, and make it easier to support co-op gaming without having to worry about netcode. We truly believe that this will make it easier on game developers while giving them a path to add value to the people buying their games for PC.
The entire Party Finder system has been revamped. Starting with a focus on games and communities. For instance, you can see that at the top of Party Finder, there’s a dashboard focusing your attention on the communities and games that are being highlighted during our official launch of Party Finder.
Each Community moderator or game developer has the ability to control the presentation of the Community they manage in Parsec.
Here’s a preview of the Party Finder Community For Wizard Of Legend.
Creating a Party can either be public or private with a quick link to share with friends. The party can be associated with a specific Community or open to the general public to find via regional search on the main page of Party Finder.
We’ve added location filtering based on your IP and region to optimize your experience and encourage low ping connections to reduce lag. You can continue connecting to parties outside of your region, but this filter based on your IP helps you avoid high ping parties. We were thinking about locking people to their region, but we’ve heard from a lot of people using Parsec that the streaming quality and latency is typically good enough to play games between the US and Europe as well as from the East Coast to the West Coast of the US, so you can keep doing that if you want. We certainly don’t want to stop you from using Parsec across an ocean — it’s also pretty fun to tell people that the streaming quality is good enough for that!
After Chris came up with the idea for Parsec, it took almost a year of dedicated, persistent engineering to build our low latency streaming technology. Even then, we still hadn’t built a significant amount of the technology that Parsec now relies on, such as our low latency video streaming networking protocol and NAT traversal techniques that have a 97% success rate on peer-to-peer connections. When the earliest version of Parsec was finally ready to test, Chris invited his sister Jamie to join him and watch him play some WoW. They immediately recognized that Parsec wasn’t just for connecting to your own gaming PC or a gaming PC in the cloud, but could become a social experience, opening an entirely new world of opportunities for gaming while returning to the experience of playing games together on the couch.
While the core of Parsec was being built, Chris kept this idea in mind and built the networking protocol, NAT traversal methodologies, and video capture technology to encompass the flexibility of multiple people connecting to one host for Co-play sessions. We demonstrated Co-play pretty early on with this rough YouTube video captured over Chris’ shoulder about a year ago.
Over time, this functionality became a core part of the Parsec experience. We added the capability to friend someone in the application and invite them to connect via link sharing from our website. These links gave a friend the immediate ability to request to connect via our permission system for a short amount of time. Since then, more than one hundred thousand links have been generated by users to play games together. People have played a lot of hours of games, like Cuphead, Overcooked, Wizard of Legend, old school games, and so many more online via Parsec. In fact, on Saturday this past weekend, more than 10,000 hours of game streaming happened through Parsec.
One of the biggest complaints that we heard about this system was that Parsec was giving your guests full access to the host PC. To combat this, we first released granular permissions for each connection. Each time someone joins the host computer, the host can choose if they have permission to controllers, the keyboard, the mouse, or some combination of the three.
About 6 months ago, Jamie (Chris’ sister and an engineer on the team) came up with the idea that people should be able to find other random Parsec users to play games with. She was familiar with this from her many years of playing WoW and their lobby system. To test her idea, we made a channel in our Discord Server where people could post links to join them in games. This was our MVP of the Party Finder system, and it was getting used A LOT. It was a fun and easy test, and we started using it ourselves during our game nights.
With these random connections, however, people wanted even more control over what a guest could interact with on their computer. It made a lot of sense to protect the host’s computer further with a system that locked guests into specific applications. This was an important protection against unwanted intrusion into the main parts of the PC. With granular input permissions and Approved Apps, guests could only use their inputs in specific applications and only see and hear the stream when the approved applications were in the foreground of the hosting PC.
A couple months ago, we announced Party Finder, and people got pretty excited. There were tens of thousands of people who joined the waitlist to access the general purpose lobby system that we were building.
Due to lots of usability issues with the initial implementation, we decided to keep the beta list very small. We got tons of feedback from gamers, game developers, and others and revamped the experience to be what we’re releasing today.
Last night, the Parsec Team celebrated with some Karaoke and Hot Pot. We’re just getting started with Parties, but we hope you enjoy the newest iteration of the social game streaming experience.
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