Have you been interested in testing Cloud Gaming, but didn’t want to invest before trying it? Today’s your lucky day because Google is offering $300 of free credit for new accounts. You’ll be able to sign up and enjoy a substantial amount of free Cloud Gaming. Continue reading to learn how to get started.
Setup your Account
Google is currently offering $300 of free credit to new users of Google Cloud. With an average rate of $1.50 per hour, that could be as much as 200 hours of free Cloud Gaming!
NOTE: When you first sign up for an account, you are in free-trial mode. You’ll notice that your credits are on your account, but you won’t be able to use them to setup a server with a GPU. You’ll need to upgrade the account to a normal account in order to setup a Cloud Gaming Server. It doesn’t cost anything to upgrade the account, and your free credits will still be available to you. You won’t be billed for anything until you exceed the $300 worth of credits.
- Visit Google Cloud’s Website and create a new Google Cloud Account. Sign into that account when you’re finished and open the Google Cloud Console.
- On the next screen you’ll be prompted to create a new Project. Select this option and give your project a name. It can be anything that you want.
Create a Virtual Machine
- From the Google Cloud Console, select Compute Engine from the left sidebar. Click on VM Instances.
- Choose the option to create a new Instance.
- Give your new Cloud Server a name (this can be anything that you want).
- Use Google’s Website to research the servers that are available in your region. You’ll need to select a server that offers the Nvidia Tesla P100 Workstation GPU. It’s also important to select a location that is physically close to where you live.
- Under Machine Type, choose your CPU and RAM from the dropdown list. For our testing we chose an 8 Core CPU with 30 GB of RAM. Next click on the option to Customize.
- In the Customize menu, select 1 for the number of GPU’s, and then select NVIDIA Tesla P100 Virtual Workstation for the GPU Type.
NOTE: Usually the P100 is available by default for new instances. In cases where it’s not, you can request that one be added to your account.
Go to IAM & admin in the sidebar from the Cloud Console. Choose Quotas. Click on the Metric Dropdown and choose None to clear the selections. In the dropdown menu’s search type in NVIDIA. Then select the Preemptible NVIDIA P100 Virtual Worstation GPU from the list. This will provide you a list of locations that offer this GPU. Put a checkmark next to your location. At the top of the page, click on the button to Edit Quotas. Fill out your contact info, and request that they add 1 to your quota limit. In the request description explain what you’re doing.
- Under Boot Disk, select Windows Server 2016 Datacenter for your Operating System. Near the bottom of this menu, you can choose the amount of Hard Drive Storage for your server. Be aware that each 100 GB of Storage is roughly $17 per month. For our server we chose 120 GB.
- At the bottom of the screen click Create to finalize your machine.
Open Ports for Parsec
- Go back to the main Google Console page and select VPC Network from the sidebar. From this menu select Firewall Rules.
- On the next screen, click Create Firewall Rule near the top of the page.
- Give your Firewall Rule a name. It can be anything you want (we chose parsec).
- In the Description field you are also welcome to write anything that you want.
- Leave Logs, Network, Priority, Direction of Traffic, Action on Match, Targets, Source Filter, and Second Source Filter at their default values.
- In the Target Tags field, give your rule a nickname. It’s important to make a note of this name because you’ll use it later to link the rule to your instance.
- In the Source IP Ranges field enter 0.0.0.0/0
- Under Protocols and Ports select Specific Protocols and Ports, and then check the UDP box. In the UDP field enter 8000-8011.
- Click Create at the bottom of the page, and allow the rule to activate.
- Return to the Google Cloud Console page and select Compute Engine and then VM Instances.
- Click on the name of your Instance. At the top of the next page, choose the option to edit your Instance.
- Near the middle of the following page, enter your Firewall tag in the Tags field (ie: If you gave your Firewall rule the nickname of parsec then enter parsec in the Tags field).
- Save your changes at the bottom of the page.
Generate a Windows Password
- From the VM Instances page, click the dropdown arrow next to RDP.
- Click the option to Set Windows Password and then click Set from the popup window that opens.
- The system will display a randomized password. Copy this Password (we also recommend that you paste it somewhere safe in case you lose it).
Connect to your Server
- From the VM Instances page, click the RDP button. You may be prompted to install an RDP Extension for Google Chrome. Go ahead and do this if prompted.
- You’ll be prompted to log in before starting your desktop session. Paste the Windows Password that we generated earlier.
- Your first server bootup may take a few minutes. Give it time to complete.
Disable Windows Server Manager
- After your server is fully booted up, you’ll be presented with a Windows Server Manager Screen. From the sidebar click on Local Server.
- Near the right side of the page, you’ll see an option for IE Enhanced Security Configuration. It’s currently turned on. Go ahead and disable it.
- In the top right corner of the page, you’ll see an option for Manage. Click on this and then choose Server Manager Properties.
- A window will pop up, and you’ll want to put a check mark in the Do Not Start Server Manager Automatically At Login box.
- At this point you’re welcome to close Windows Server Manager.
Change your Windows Password
- Earlier we generated a random complex password for Windows. Let’s go ahead and create one that is easier to remember. Click on your Start Button and then open Settings.
- From Settings click on Accounts.
- On the left sidebar select Sign-In Options.
- Near the middle of the window click the button to Change Password.
- Paste your original Windows Password in the box and then continue.
- Enter a new Windows Password and then confirm it (this can be anything that you want).
Install Google Chrome
- Ironically Google Cloud is configured with Internet Explorer. Internet Explorer has the potential to meet our needs, but it struggles with a few of the files that we will need to download later. We recommend that you install Google Chrome instead.
- Download and install Google Chrome on your server.
Enable Automatic Login
- We want our user to automatically log into Windows when we boot up the server. As an important note, this does technically mean that your server is less secure. We don’t recommend storing anything important on the server if you choose to log in automatically.
- Click the Search Button next to the Start button. Search for netplwiz and open it.
- Uncheck the Users Must Enter A User Name And Password To Use This Computer box. Type in your Windows Password when prompted.
- Right now your server doesn’t support any audio. We’ll fix this in two steps. First click on the search button and type in Services. Open the Services App.
- In the Services App, scroll to the bottom and double click Windows Audio.
- In the properties window click on the dropdown and switch from Manual to Automatic. Start the service and then close the Services App.
- The second step is to install an Audio driver. Open Google Chrome and download Virtual Audio Cable.
- Extract the downloaded file to safe place on the computer. I recommend extracting it into a folder because there are many loose files in the archive.
- In the extracted files, right click on VBCABLE_Setup_x64 and choose to run it as an Administrator.
- Click Install and wait for it to complete.
Elevate your User
- Windows Server 2016 treats certain users a bit strangely, and can make it difficult to install certain programs. We can fix this by elevating our user permissions.
- Click on the Windows Search button and search for Powershell.
- Open a new Powershell window and then type powershell -ExecutionPolicy Unrestricted
- After typing the command, hit the Enter key on your keyboard to activate this setting.
Install Nvidia Graphics Driver
- Now we’re ready to install our Graphics Driver. It is extremely important to install the one that we are providing in this guide.
- Open Google Chrome on your server and download the driver from here.
- Install your Driver using default settings. When the install is complete, return to the Google Cloud Console.
- Select Compute Engine and then VM Instances. Restart your server.
Enable Virtual Displays
- Perform a search for Device Manager and open it.
- Expand the Monitors category. You should see two virtual monitors. Right click on each monitor and uninstall it. The Monitors category should disappear.
- Expand Display Adapters and right click on your P100 GPU. Choose to disable it. After it’s disabled, right click on it again and enable it. This process will generate two new monitors.
- Expand the Monitors category again and right click on the first one. Select Properties. It will show that it’s either attached to the Nvidia GPU or a Microsoft Generic Adapter. Right click on the monitor that is attached to the Generic Adapter and disable it.
- Open up Google Chrome and visit the Parsec Website. Click on the option to download Parsec for Windows.
- Open the file that you downloaded and install Parsec. When prompted, enable Controller Support.
- Parsec will automatically open after the installation is complete. It will prompt you to log in with your Parsec account. You’ll also have an option to create a Parsec account if needed. Log into Parsec.
- At the top of the Parsec window, choose to enable Hosting.
- Click on the Settings Gear in the top right corner of the Parsec window and open Settings.
- Select the Network tab and enter 8000 for the Server Start Port.
- Click on the Hosting tab and make sure that Parsec has the correct display selected (the one attached to your Nvidia GPU).
- Also in Hosting, you’ll have the option to increase Parsec’s bandwidth. Increasing this number will improve the quality of the stream. If you do make changes here, make sure that you don’t choose a number that exceeds your internet download speed at home.
Setup Parsec to Start Automatically
- Right click on the Windows Start Button and choose Run.
- In the Run window, type shell:startup
- This command will open a startup folder. Anything that you put in the folder will launch automatically when the server turns on.
- Click the Windows Start Button and drag the Parsec shortcut from the Start Menu and drop it on your Desktop. From there drag the Parsec shortcut and drop it in the Startup Folder.
- Finish this process by restarting your server from the VM Instances page.
At this point all you need to do is install Parsec on your home Computer and sign into it with the same Parsec account that you used for the server. Your server should show up automatically in Parsec.
Keep in mind that you’re billed by the second. $300 worth of credit is a lot, but you will be billed if you go over. Remember to shut down your server from the Google Cloud Console when you’re done playing. This can be done through your web browser or through the Google Cloud App on your smartphone.
If you’d like to see this tutorial in action, take a look at the video below:
Also published on Medium.
Josh is a long-time Gamer and Technology Guru. He is known for his writing and troubleshooting skills. Josh can solve just about any problem, and is especially good at getting to the bottom of technology challenges. He has a background in Networking and holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology degree. When he’s not gaming, Josh can be found blogging, testing new tech, and interacting with Flickstiq’s social media following. He lives in Ohio with his wife and children.