This Mad Genius Built His Own Game Streaming Server For Almost Nothing

Illustration for article titled This Mad Genius Built His Own Game Streaming Server For Almost Nothing

In less than a month OnLive, the world’s first cloud-based PC game streaming service, will be gone forever . Most of us took this news with a shrug. Madman Larry Gadea took it as a challenge—he built his own PC gaming cloud service. You can too.

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It’s both more and less complicated than it sounds: you don’t need to build or own your own sever. You don’t even need to spend a lot of money—Gadea’s setup was built entirely with free software, Amazon Web Services and Valve’s Steam In-Home Streaming feature.

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The setup can be a little obtuse if you’re not familiar with servers and VPN tunneling, but here’s how it works: Gadea used Amazon Web Services to set up a Windows-based EC2 server instance with NVIDIA GRID (yes, that NVIDIA GRID ) K520 graphics. He installed Steam on it, updated the graphics drivers from NVIDIA’s website and tweaked Windows settings to enable sound and prioritize the GRID graphics card.

Next, he set up a VPN service to make his MacBook Air appear on the same “local” network as the NVIDIA-powered server. Finally, he turned on Steam, downloaded a game to the server and started it via Steam In-Home Streaming on his Laptop. That’s it. The AWS server was running the game (Bioshock Infinite, specifically) at its highest configurable settings and streaming it directly to his local computer. Just like OnLive, but a hell of a lot more work.

It’s a brilliant solution to an uncommon problem, but it isn’t easy: Gadea told me that it took him the better part of a weekend to get everything working right, and unless you live near an Amazon data center it probably won’t work well enough for you to actually play games on it. On the other hand, it’s a compelling alternative to building a gaming PC—between server costs and data transfer, Gadea’s cloud-gaming costs him just $0.52 an hour. Not bad. [ Larry Land]

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DISCUSSION

$0.52 an hour. Let's presume the user games for 4 hours a day on average, and plays daily. That's $757.12 per year. That's the price of a nice used gaming laptop, a decent mid-grade laptop, or a nice DIY desktop. Factor the server cost over multiple years, and you're well into the thousands of dollars, which unlocks even nicer gaming equipment. Heck, for the cost of the MuckBook he could have had a good gaming setup, and a better experience overall.

TL;DR: there are better ways to spend $0.52 an hour for gaming, or more including the cost of the computer.