Last night I moved a little bit out of my comfort zone and decided to do what I had hoped to do some time ago… and test Beam.pro. Firstly you have to understand that I have gone around and around with streaming services because none of them really seemed to fit me. Twitch is the ten ton juggernaut in the room, and in a way that generally makes all other services irrelevant. That said… I feel like it is a generally inferior experience for both the viewer and the streamer. The lag delay between video stream and chat is horrendous and it pretty much makes any attempt at having a conversation with someone watching you impossible. Hitbox seemed really cool other than some weird issues I had regularly with stream quality. It however had little to no lag between video stream and chat and made it super easy to have conversations over. They also seemed to have way better back end tools to support the day to day management of your stream and syndicating it to various social media platforms when you go live. Beam however entered the ring some time ago, or at least came into my general consciousness when my friend Maeka decided to switch over to streaming on it exclusively.
So Beam represents a more twitch like experience in quality, but with far better chat delay and an interesting reward model for viewers and streamers. Watching streams earns folks sparks, that can then be spent on either unlocking features for your own channel… or spending those sparks on other streamers who often offer weird things like sound boards for you to play with. I admit the gamification aspect of the streaming interested me, and I find myself way more connected to the concept of letting a stream run while I am doing other things because I know that eventually it is going to benefit me. For example… something I have always wanted was the ability to create an AggroChat team, and that functionality apparently unlocks when I hit 5000 sparks… to which I am sitting at roughly 2000 currently after a few days of usage. Over the weekend I got my setup rearranged and organized so that things were going through the appropriate devices, thinking that sometime in the future I might maybe start streaming again. However a thread on the That Gaming Forum Imzy was the catalyst needed to go ahead and push me across the line to trying to stream something properly. When I got home last night I quickly assembled a fresh OBS install and pulled in the artwork I had from the previous attempts and before long I was up and running.
The end result is me playing some of the absolute worst Iron Banner ever, but you can check out the VOD here on Beam. I spent way more time turning my head to the left and checking chat than I did actually playing the game. This is compounded by the fact that before last night I had played a half dozen Rift matches period, and it is a vastly different style of gameplay than I am used to in the Crucible. Generally speaking I am used to the “rush to the choke point” style of game play that comes from Control or Supremacy, and in trying to play Rift that way… I died a lot. Later on in the night after I chilled the hell out and started taking things more slowly… I started doing better but unfortunately this was LONG after I ended my stream. I was still recording, however when I configured OBS I ended up accepting the default flv format… which Adobe Premiere seems not to know what to do with. So I am either going to have to find a plugin that lets me import them… or find something to convert that to a format so I can actually properly edit it. I did get one really solid match recorded, and I would like to edit that up and post it on my youtube channel at some point.
One of the big positives about Beam is that they are now owned by Microsoft which in theory means they are going to get more support. The negative there is that Microsoft has a long and storied history of abandoning products… zune anyone? However the killer feature seems to be that it integrates perfectly with the Xbox One… which also adds to a little platform bias. Most of the streams I have watched were streamed from an Xbone… so it confused my viewers when I said I was playing Destiny on the PS4. Ultimately I have a pretty cool setup that I am happy with in that in my office I have my desktop beside what is essentially a console gaming area. In a storage cabinet beneath my 48 inch television I have a PS4, PS3, Xbox 360 and now Xbox One all connected through an HDMI switch that then goes through a splitter before going into an Elgato HD that I picked up off craigslist for around $35 used. That then feeds into my PC and is served up by OBS using the Elgato streaming tools. So that means quite literally anything I can connect to my television through HDMI can then end up getting streamed out. At one point I had my WiiU connected here, but I took that downstairs so I could hang out in bed and play on the weird remote device. Also Nintendo has some pretty draconian practices surrounding streaming and youtube videos so I figured it was probably a good idea NOT to do that.
At one point I drew up this diagram quickly to show how my set up works. The key element there is the splitter and you can read more about that in a previous post I made back in June 2014 when I got the setup running. As far as Iron Banner itself… I have interspersed some of my best rolls from the night in amongst the paragraphs. In total I am sitting 3/4 of the way through Rank 3 and have picked up 3 fusion rifles, 1 scout rifle, 1 pulse rifle, 2 legs, and a helm… that I then bought the 100% roll from Lady Efrideet and infused that into it. I feel like I made a decent start to getting to Rank 5 and I finally grasped the unique rhythm of the game mode as I went through the night. I suddenly stopped being the lowest person on the team to vying for the top spot once again. I am not terribly great at crucible but I am generally not as bad as I am in the stream test. However that wasn’t really the purpose of the stream… it was to test out Beam.pro and I think so far I am saying it passes with flying colors. I accepted the absolute default settings and it performed admirably. Now is the time for me to actually set my channel up properly and try and sort out how precisely is the best way to use the service.