Houdini Indie Steam set-up

I just bought Houdin Indie on Steam and wanted to share some notes on setting it up for the first time here. Unfortunately the two year rental path is not available on the platform yet (Update: It is now!) but the benefit of having the license locked to my Steam account instead of my mac address seemed worth while. So lets go through the steps to set it up to function like any normal Houdini installation.

Installation is straightforward unless you dont want to use your default Steam install directory. I have games on my Raid0 but wanted to install Houdini on my SSD aka C:\Progam Files. This is easy to change, just remember that you will have to run Steam as administrator whenever changes to the application are made.

Switching Builds
If you want to use a different build or version of Houdini you can opt into the respective beta option. Navigate to the application properties in the Steam UI and select your desired build and version from the dropdown. Currently there are daily and production builds of 16.5 and 17.0 available. Wait for Steam to download the files and update your Houdini installation. This worked nicely, with steam only fetching necessary files and cleaning leftovers of previous installs.

Desktop, Start Menu and Taskbar Shortcuts
Creating shortcuts was a bit weird as Steam does not generate .lnk files that Windows would recognize. If you use the ‘Create Desktop Shortcut’ command in the application properties it will generate a .url file that calls the Steam API with the application key – steam://rungameid/502570. Since those can not be pinned to the Start Menu/Taskbar we’ll have to manually create a shortcut that Windows recognizes.
To create a new shortcut we will have to link to an exe file. Calling the Steam API via the explorer works, so we may use C:\WINDOWS\explorer.exe steam://rungameid/502570 as our item location. Just change the shortcut icon to the one of hindie.steam.exe and maybe pin it to start/taskbar.
Note that linking directly to hindie.steam.exe would not work as the application does not start using that shortcut.

Default File Associations
After uninstalling Houdini Apprentice and setting up Houdini Indie I was puzzled that the default file type associations were not updated. In fact it seems like the Houdini installer on Steam does not add any application specific file types as I had no entrys for .hiplc, .hip or .hipnc. We’ll have to do that manually with our trusty friend cmd (run as admin). First add the file types:

assoc .hip=Houdini_File
assoc .hiplc=Houdini_Indie_File
assoc .hipnc=Houdini_Apprentice_File

then link them to hindie.steam.exe:

ftype Houdini_File="C:\Program Files\path_to\hindie.steam.exe" "%1"
ftype Houdini_Indie_File="C:\Program Files\path_to\hindie.steam.exe" "%1"
ftype Houdini_Apprentice_File="C:\Program Files\path_to\hindie.steam.exe" "%1"

Note that the “%1” is important as it will be replaced with the file name when the command line is constructed. If you leave that out Houdini will launch but no file is loaded.

Steam Cloud
If you want to keep your settings synched between workstations you can store them in the Steam Cloud. They will be uploaded every time you quit Houdini Indie adding between 2-7 seconds until you can start the application again, which can be quite annoying. Since I keep my workspaces on OneDrive anyways I disabled it.

Now you should be set-up and ready to enjoy Houdini Indie on Steam.


  1. Robby

    How did you get past the “Check code” to opt into the Houdini beta?

    1. nuki

      You dont have to enter a code, just select the appropriate option in the dropdown. Steam should begin updating houdini to the selected beta branch immediately. Maybe you didnt run it in admin mode?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *