Derpy Banana

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mpc-hc64-2016-12-07-06-37-19-46

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.

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Braced Frame – Snapshot – Range Finder

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.

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Perfect Balance – Snapshot – Headseeker

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.

Perfect Balance - Extended Mag - Zen Moment
Perfect Balance – Extended Mag – Zen Moment

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.

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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.

Week In Gaming 11/15/2015

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Two Times the Monday

I’ve mentioned this before, but this week we got off in the middle of it for Veterans Day.  While I completely support this holiday, I question the good of cutting a week down the middle.  What it basically created for me at least was a whole lot of time I seemed to be occupying space in a chair but not getting much accomplished… because individuals smarter than me ended up taking either the entire front half of the week off… or the entire back half of the week off.  Those people apparently did not coordinate well, which meant there was a skeleton crew on board and few of the people you actually needed to talk about this item or that available and ready to discuss.  My hope is this coming week we can make up ground for all of the perceived lost time from this fractured week.  On the gaming front though… this was a week entirely about Fallout 4.  However while prepping the AggroChat episode I watched another sequence play out on twitter that I am going to get into towards the end of the post.

Irrational Desire

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I am admitting here again that I am still struggling with an irrational desire to log in and play World of Warcraft.  I think part of it is simply because I know that as much as I loved Gladiator… it will be going away in the coming expansion.  Part of me wants to spend some more time playing as a DPS sword and board warrior while it still exists.  Then the rational mind kicks and tells me that there is still nothing really there for you.  The raid is gone, the guild is mostly gone…  there just isn’t an infrastructure to return to.  Similarly I realize that other than faffing about and running old content… there is nothing much there that I would really want to do.  This reached its peak over the weekend while I was anxiously wanting to play Fallout 4, but not able to do it yet without VPN hackery.  The problem is even though I am wallowing fully in the goodness that is post apocalyptic Boston…. there is still a bit of nostalgia tugging at my coat tails telling me that I would really like to log into World of Warcraft still.  I have a slew of new content to go experience in Final Fantasy XIV as well, so hopefully between it and Fallout 4… I will slowly quell this desire.  I am still really damned interested in seeing how Legion feels, so not giving up hopes on maybe being able to wrangle a beta invite somewhere…  but unfortunately I think my past points of access are no longer available.  If I had them I would have definitely tried to exercise one for access to Overwatch.

Viva New Vegas

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Monday night I got so low that I booted back up Fallout New Vegas and spent a good deal of time wandering around there.  I only managed to get as far as the Vikki and Vance casino before finally attempting to get Fallout 4 going.  I have to say…  it might be nostalgia talking… but I still absolutely love this game.  I even popped in for a bit this morning to get this screenshot… and there is absolutely a direct lineage between Fallout 3, New Vegas and 4.  The world feels the same… albeit considerably prettier in the newest incarnation.  I guess this is why in part folks who hated Fallout… still hate it… and the folks that loved it… are having some of the best times of their life.  New Vegas really raised the bar for the way the world felt, and it seems like Bethesda rose to the occasion and answered this narrative call.  That said… there is a part of me that kinda hopes that we end up with a DC Metro and New Vegas reboot using the Fallout 4 engine… much the same way as we have one of those under works for Morrowind and Oblivion using the Skyrim engine.  I would love to be able to roam around these areas with the fidelity that the new engine provides.  Even then…  I could still see myself returning to New Vegas time and time again…  and loving every moment of it.

Critical Mass

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The bulk of my week has been spent wandering around the Massachusetts area in the new Fallout 4 on the PC.  Firstly I have to say… I am pleased and amazed at just how good this game looks and how well it runs on my fairly aging hardware.  The game auto selected Ultra for me, and I have been playing on that since… with limited hick-ups.  The game runs between 50-60 fps at all times and just works flawlessly.  Folks are reporting all sorts of bugs… and honestly I haven’t really seen them other than the usual floating objects type issues when you are dealing with a complex open world game.  For example… if you remove a table out front under a vase…  there is a chance the vase will just hang there indefinitely rather than fall to the ground.  This sort of stuff does not bother me at all, and I come to expect it when a game has physics and the ability to place objects.  That said there are apparently a number of the traditional day one Bethesda bugs but I am happy to say that I have not encountered any of them… game breaking or not.  Maybe I am simply lucky, or maybe I just have not gotten far enough into the game to experience them.

According to steam I am roughly 50 hours into the game… the problem with that is that I accidentally left it running one day while at work… so you can discount about eight hours of that time as that event happening.  The rest of the time however is absolutely real… and I have built up at least partially every settlement that I have come across.  That is the part of the game that is the real hook for me… especially now that I have trade routes going between the towns.  I’ve said this before, but my big take away from why this game is more enjoyable than the previous incarnations is that it feels like I am actively making the world a better place.  In other Fallout games… you were the good guy, simply because you were killing off all of the bad guys in the world.  There was very little you could do to actually improve the lot of the other denizens of the wastes other than the occasional donation of money or fresh water.  In this game… from the very beginning you are actively improving segments of the world and making it a decent place to live in.  Sure the world is dangerous… but you are making it far less so for a group of settlers.  That right there is the hook, and when I am out in the wastes… every hotplate  and desk fan… excites me because I can go back and build something really cool with the parts.

Streaming and Games

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While prepping this post today I watched a little exchange on twitter.  Essentially one of my friends challenged streamers to do more with the games they are streaming.  That it would be nice to have streamers take a mostly educational stance on either showing other gamers how to do something… or working through problems.  While I think that might be pretty cool, the truth is that is not at all why game companies seek out streamers.  I am going to give an analogy that is going to be a bit long winded, but stay with me.  I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma, and in this part of the land there are few things more important than High School sports.  I have my own damage thanks to this fact, and having no interest in sports at all… but that is a tale for another day.  In a small town the team is the center of pride for the community… and while high school athletics has the possibility of making money for a district… in a small town it is mostly a giant hole that you pour money down.  So when it came to maintaining facilities, it was always a struggle… and knowing this soft drink companies would often times ride in on a white horse to save the day.

There was not a small town anywhere near me that did not have either a big Pepsi logo or a big Coca-Cola logo on their score board.  Of note I have no clue who’s scoreboard this one actually is, but I am just using it to illustrate my point.  They would offer to sponsor the scoreboard, make sure the school district had a free supply of cups, lids and straws… brand new pop machines…  and a discounted rate on the soda itself just so long as they would sign an exclusive contract with the brand and only allow their products to be sold at school events.  The schools needed the goods they were offering… and could make money selling the product which then would end up supporting the school.  Pepsi got advertising out of the deal and more than likely converted a good segment of the townsfolk into loyal Pepsi or Coke drinkers for life.  My small town had Pepsi and it is probably no small coincidence that I grew up in a household that drank Pepsi and still drink predominately Pepsi products.  The indoctrination works, and goes back for generations… so much so that when a school changes affiliation there is often times an uproar in the community.

But What about Streaming?

So you are asking yourself… Bel… you just told us an elaborate story… but you said it was about streaming?  This is precisely what is happening with game companies and streamers.  There is a natural symbiosis at work.  The gamers need a fresh supply of whatever happens to be the hotly contested games to stream, in order to keep the eyeballs on their channel, and the companies need to have their games placed strategically on as many channels with as many eyeballs as possible.  So even if there is no payola happening under the table… the streamers are actively promoting the products of these games companies.  In fact there is a not so subtle desire on the part of the streamers to keep from burning any bridges with a company… because that could very well mean that they would lose their privileged access to new releases.  On the part of the company… all they really want out of the deal is for this streamer to look like they are having a really good time playing their product, that way someone leaves the channel and gets convinced to subscribe or pre-order because it looked so appealing.

Sure it would make sense for them to serve a greater educational purpose… but honestly…  the big popular streams aren’t doing this.  The popular streamers are entertainers first and foremost.  They are selling themselves playing this game more than the game itself.  They build up loyal followings because the people are interested in the person, not so much what they are doing.  The advertising still works however because it is subtle.  They might have their back wall decorated in products of the company they are streaming for, or be wearing branded merchandise that the company provided…  or even giving away items for the game on their streams.  While all of these seems fairly natural and filters into our subconscious as benign… it is absolutely planned branding and ultimately we are the dollars that the companies and the streamers are trying to get.  Once upon a time… game companies cared deeply about what the blogosphere was saying about their game.  That time unfortunately is over, and over the last few months I have come to realize something.  Blogging is not dead by any means…  and nor is Podcasting really…  but in the gaming sphere neither are they growing.  Once you leave the land of MMO gaming… you are hard pressed to find ANY blogs devoted to games.

For example I have crawled the internet trying to find a source of news and information about Destiny other than Reddit.  There is simply no one out there blogging on a regular basis and producing content explaining how the finer points of the game work.  There are however hundreds of YouTube channels and streamers devoted to this niche.  There are almost no blogs devoted to Call of Duty, but similarly there are thousands of channels devoted to it.  While blogging was the comfort zone of my generation that grew up reading game forums…  and podcasting is the natural extension of that…  the next generation no longer really cares about it.  They are completely connected to YouTube and Twitch as their game information sources, and as a result…  I feel like the bloggers really don’t have much sway.  I am not trying to do this as a living, so in the grand scheme of thing it doesn’t matter too much other than the fact that I don’t have much of a shot in hell of getting into this exclusive alpha or that limited beta.  The companies know exactly what they are doing… and quite simply they are playing the numbers.  They are putting their product in front of as many eyeballs as they can, and doing so in the medium that has the largest majority of those eyeballs…  Twitch and YouTube.

 

 

Drag Experience

Youtube Gaming

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The big buzz worthy thing that is happening right now is that Google is rolling out its Youtube Gaming platform.  It proudly announces that finally there is a youtube for gamers!  Which causes me to pause and ask…  wasn’t YouTube already for gamers?  At least 90% of the content that I watch on YouTube tends to be video game related so… I think it was doing a fine job before.  What gets slightly lost in the marketing spin however is that they are now offering twitch like streaming services.  Which in itself is a big confusing because I have had the ability to stream to YouTube for roughly a year now.  There was even a page in my channel settings that explained how to connect OBS to the YouTube RTMP servers.  I guess the big difference is that people are starting to actually use it.  I played around a bit watching various folks streaming and there were a few issues.  The biggest thing I kept running into was the stream was hitching periodically.  It also seemed that people were confused and simply unprepared to field YouTube chat.  Also it feels strange that when I interact with other people I show up as “Tales of the Aggronaut” which is my YouTube channel and not “Belghast”.  I am wondering if this is a setting somewhere I can configure, but thusfar I have not found it.  In fact there seems to be really limited configuration options for channels in the first place, which means… I sure hope you had your YouTube channel set up how you wanted it before the gaming site imports it!

On some level I find this all interesting, but mostly in passing.  I’ve recently switched from attempting to make Hitbox a thing, to giving up and just using Twitch because I simply got more random viewers.  I felt like Hitbox was the superior service in every way, because the most crucial thing for me is minimal delay between your stream and the channel chat.  It becomes so awkward to try and hold a conversation with someone who happens to be watching your stream where there is a lengthy delay.  Twitch recently put in functionality to help alleviate some of this, and it works…  sometimes.  In order for me to even consider switching to YouTube, there would have to be a set up similar to Hitbox where there was little to no delay.  The problem being that what I am hearing in practice is that the chat delay is often longer than that of Twitch currently.  I guess at some point I will swap the configuration in OBS and give it a test to see how precisely it works.  The other thing that concerns me is that from what I understand your stream gets backed up to your YouTube channel regardless.  I liked being able to pick and choose what I exported from Twitch, keeping my YouTube channel as a cleaner version of whatever I happened to stream.  What are your thoughts so far if you have tried it or watched someone else streaming on it?

Drag Experience

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When Diablo 3 2.0 was released the AggroChat folks played it quite a bit.  For the most part all of us had characters in the level 60ish range… that is except for Kodra.  Kodra had not really played much Diablo 3, but we knew that the game granted some extreme experience to folks being drug along with you.  Over the course of a few play sessions we managed to catch him up, but it was an exceptionally fraught experience for him.  Last night after our Final Fantasy XIV raid, my good friend Grace asked if I wanted to tag along as she farmed in Diablo.  She would get bonus loot and I would be able to soak in the lions share of experience.  During the course of an hour and a half I went from level 40 on my Crusader to level 70 gaining about 5 paragon levels after that.  I got to experience first hand the sort of game play Kodra did, and I have to say I understand why it frustrated him.  I would have leveled so much faster…  if I could stay alive.  Grace was farming Torment V which meant if anything even glanced in my direction I exploded in a violent eruption of giblets.  I was simply playing a different game than what she was… which was more akin to dodgeball.  Carefully trying to stay in the part of the screen where the mobs were not spawning, and dodging projectiles as they came in.

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The resulting experience however was just silly.  There was no point in ever repairing my completely broken body, because I was leveling out of my gear too fast for it to matter.  Finally when I hit 70 I was able to piece together enough gear to be “passable”.  The biggest problem is just how behind the curve you end up being when you finally hit the level cap.  While I could survive damage for a bit, I lacked any semblance of gear to be able to actually do Torment V style damage.  We did manage to encounter a few bugs that kept us from getting loot.  The saddest of these occasions was when some treasure goblins died just out of bounds and I was able to watch a dozen legendary patterns rotting in a place I could not loot from.  However we also completed a number of bounties, and from those I got plenty of patterns as well.  This allowed me at the end of the night to craft a few legendaries and a green chest piece and get my gear at least to a point where I could function.  I am super thankful for the speed run, because this gives me something to dink around with until the new season starts Friday.  Right now the game plan is to start a Female Warrior, since I love Sonya so much in Heroes of the Storm.  The crusader is awesome, but I am not sure if I want to duplicate that experience again so quickly.

Newbie Blogger Initiative 2015

It’s That Time Again!

nbi-blog-logo Well folks it is once again May the First and as such time for us to begin the Newbie Blogger Initiative.  For those that are unfamiliar with this program, I thought I would take a few minutes this morning and talk about what exactly it is and what you can expect from it over the coming month.  May is essentially the month that bloggers set aside to helping create more bloggers.  In order to do what we do we need a thriving community to live in, and this is our version of a neighborhood block party.  I once referred to NBI as the BlizzCon of the gaming blogosphere, because really this is the event I look forward to each year.  It is exciting seeing all of the new faces filtered into our world, and seeing others rededicate themselves to creating more frequent content.  Others of us just enjoy helping folks out to get their start with whatever projects they are wanting to do.

For New Bloggers

If you have ever thought about creating a blog, a podcast, or a youtube channel this event is solely centered around you.  For years we have heard that “blogging” is dead but the fact that I have over five hundred active blogs in my feedly account would disagree.  Each time I go to read through my gaming blogs it is like drinking from a firehose.  I love this and I love the fact that there is so much creativity packed into this community.  However in order to keep this a vibrant and fresh community we keep needing to infuse it with some new blood and new ideas.  One of the most difficult parts about starting any new venture is getting an audience.  It can be frustrating to feel like you are writing into the void, and in part the Newbie Blogger Initiative is here to give you what you need most…  exposure.

During this month the gaming blogosphere turns its eyes to the Newbie Blogger Initiative and by choosing to start a blog during this month we are essentially hand delivering you readers.  Now of course starting the blog is the easy part, creating regular and creative content is the challenge.  Throughout the month veteran bloggers will be giving you tips and tricks that we have to help ease your transition.  This has always been a very blogging centric event, but we want to embrace all gaming content.  There have been quite the number of new podcasts spawned out of this event and the connections with other bloggers, as well as a few folks dipping their toes into video creation.  Essentially the sky is the limit on what you can do, but you have to start someplace and we are here to help.

For Veteran Bloggers

While all of this love is getting thrown around on the new bloggers, it is  really the Veteran bloggers that make up the backbone of this initiative.  We need you, your ideas and your wisdom.  Blogging is rough, and getting up and doing this on a daily basis means we need some tools to be able to lean on.  Each of you started out as a fledgling blogger at one point or another, and many of you got a massive boost by the Newbie Blogger Initiative in the past.  Now is the time for us to step up and help the next generation to become the awesome bloggers of tomorrow.  Many times these new bloggers just need someone to talk to and bounce their ideas off.  I personally am always open to new blogger queries and during the course of this event I will end up trying to make a personal connection with as many of the new folks as I can.

What we need more than anything however is for you to keep making awesome content.  Let the bloggers know what works for you, what you have figured out doesn’t work, and general ideas about how to make a blog successful.  I’ve talked about a lot of topics in the  past, and there are a few of them I end up dusting off almost every year.  More than anything we need you showing that this is an achievable goal, and that given dedication you can succeed.  Each of us has tricks that we use to keep us going, and at the end of the day someone starting this is going to need a big bag of tricks to lean on.  Channel your gifts in whatever direction you feel best be it with writing prompts, tutorials or lessons learned, but whatever they might be we need you to make this work.  There are already folks signed up on the forums waiting for us to find them, so I suggest you sign up as mentor today.

For Wayward Bloggers

Now especially I want to address a special kind of blogger this year that I might not have in the past.  Have you lost your way blogging, and somehow lost the will to put pen to paper and create new content?  While I am generally thought of as this prolific daily blogger, there are some pretty massive lapses in my blogging history.  I recently celebrated my second anniversary of making posts every single day…  but prior to starting that there was a seven month lag in my blog.  It is easy to “fall off the wagon” for lack of a better term.  Life gets in the way and your font of inspiration dries up…  then the longer you wait to make a post the more pressure you put yourself under about making said post.  We are our own worst enemies, and as the months tick you suddenly realize you are no longer really a blogger.

Newbie Blogger Initiative is also the perfect time of the year for you to get active once again.  Sometimes we start down a path that doesn’t end up as sustainable for our interests, and other times life just simply throws us a curve ball.  In any case I urge you to take this month to get back into blogging.  We are here and waiting to help you with whatever you might need to tweak on your blog to make it sustainable.  We are also waiting with a ready audience to consume your brand new and shiny content.  Each year we lose a number of bloggers to life, and I am hoping to help resurrect some of them and get them making content once more.  The Newbie Blogger Initiative is so much more than just a launch pad for new blogs.  It can be the vitalization of our community every single year, giving us a new perspective to carry us through the next year.  If you want to come back to blogging regularly, we are waiting for you.

#NBI2015

Hitbox is Beta

Changing Religion

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I honestly do not remember when I first signed up for Hitbox.tv but it has been some time ago.  I have this habit of signing up for everything that comes out if for not other reason than to reserve the name “Belghast” on any given network.  I have belghast at outlook.com for example but will likely never use that email for anything considering I am joined to the hip with google products.  In all honesty it was not until this week that I even considered using Hitbox for anything…  until oftentimes tastemaker Scopique mentioned in a post that he was planning on using it for his website Levelcapped.com in part because he was actually able to get the name Levelcapped.

So being a sometimes devoted member of the internet Zeitgeist I gave it another look.  It turns out that Hitbox has the single “killer feature” that I had been longing for from Twitch.  As part of the default interface you are able to organize into “teams”, which is a functionality locked away on twitch until you become a partner.  There is no way in hell I will ever have enough viewers to reach partner status on any network, let alone twitch.  That said I still wanted to be able to create a shared channel for all of the Alliance of Awesome streamers so that we could give that out as sort of a television channel to anyone who was curious what all was going on in a given evening.

The other “killer feature” is the ability to have a configurable delay.  By default everything on twitch is delayed by at least 30 seconds.  In practice if you are doing HD streaming… this delay tends to be considerably more.  Ultimately this delay was factored in for the purpose of competitive match play, but since I don’t really compete doing anything… it just becomes a pain in the ass to deal with when trying to respond to folks in chat.  I’m a carebear and so rarely doing anything where prior knowledge of what I am doing… would actually matter at all.  So while the stream is not actually instant either it is far more manageable, and probably something similar to the conditions that our oceanic gamer friends have to deal with on US servers.

Hitbox is Beta

hitbox-icon-green The problem with the switch to Hitbox is that Twitch has become so damned ubiquitous that it works with almost everything simply by default.  So while the livestreaming and video playback functionality work amazingly well, little things that I have come to just expect don’t function at all.  For example after playing with it, I can seem to find no way that actually embeds a video from hitbox into my blog, nor does the documented embed a stream seem to work either.  This would not be a huge deal since I try not to embed twitch either… but for the time being both their download your stream and export to youtube functionality also seems to be broken.  They mentioned a few days ago on the @hitboxliveHelp twitter account that they should have a fix tomorrow… but at this point that tomorrow was two days ago.

In a day and age when “Beta” has come to mean a highly polished public preview… it is both refreshing and frustrating at the same time to see that Hitbox in fact really uses beta in the appropriate sense of the word.  However none of us is really enough to scare me away from the service.  For starters it seems like there might be a better integration point between my favorite little social network that could Anook and Hitbox in the near future.  Also there are just so many things that are nicer for the streamer.  Built in polls, and contests and the whole popout dashboard is extremely all nice.  There are so many times that you have a few technical hurdles when you start up your stream, and having twitch spam your friends each time you start and stop OBS gets old.  Having a panel that automates the message for you when you are good and ready is awesome.  Additionally it seems to actually remember my channel title and the game I am playing, unlike with twitch when I seem to have to rename things half a dozen times each time I switch games.

The Results

All of this doesn’t really matter unless the results are nice.  I’ve streamed for roughly five hours now and a combination of three different games.  So far I think the end product has been excellent.  There was a little bit of tweaking in my OBS settings, but I think all of that is working nicely.   If you are curious check out some of the broadcasts below…  since you know I can’t export them to youtube or embed them directly yet.

I think overall the stream looks really good, or at least good enough to keep me using the service given all the other advantages.  The biggest thing for me is the ability to have the Alliance of Awesome team.  So if you are using Hitbox or want to use Hitbox and already a member of the Alliance of Awesome community…  let me know and I will throw you an invite to the team.

Blaugust Update

I am still very much working on a mega prompts post, that I will likely make a little closer to the event.  So far I have had a bit of interest in the proceedings and this makes me happy.  My goal is to have sixty or more prompts that folks can pick from when in need of a topic.  In part this is going to give me something to fall back on as well when I am having one of those blah mornings where I can’t think of anything to write.  One thing that I wanted to make sure folks knew about is the Blaugust Anook community.  If you are going to participate please pop out there and join the nook, as I am going to give folks elevated access to advertise their new posts out there.

The truth behind this initiative is a simple one.  Newbie Blogger Initiative is like this shot of adrenaline in the arm of the blogging community.  While it is going on everything is active and vibrant and regularly updated.  That said a few months after the proceedings… folks start to wane a bit.  My idea was to have Blaugust a few months after the initiative as a way of maybe kicking up the volume again.  For some of the folks who have responded thusfar, this seems to be doing exactly that.  At this point however I have no clue just how many people will be participating, but I am hopeful.

#HitBox #Blaugust

Impressive but Still Beta

Auto Update

“Wow, I’ve never seen that happen before” is generally something you never want to hear uttered from an auto mechanic.  That said at this point my wife’s vehicle is fixed and ready to go and seems to have no negative impact.  Apparently on the Pontiac Torrent there are two different sizes of bolts that can be used to attach the tensioner.  Quite simply when they replaced that part they used the wrong one, and as we were driving Sunday the vibration and force sheared the bolt off completely causing the serpentine belt to shread, and at the same time stopping the flow of motion to both the water pump and the alternator.

The good folks at Hibdon were more than willing to fix the problem, and after getting the vehicle towed there yesterday morning they had already fixed everything by mid day.  It is one one of those “honest mistake” type situations, and I don’t fault them for it… especially since they are also the ones responsible for making it right.  It was a grand inconvenience but thankfully my wife really had nowhere that she needed to go yesterday.  I cringe when I think how much worse this could have gone had the bolt sheared and she lost power to major systems while out on the highway with no place to really pull to the side of the road.  We were likely saved by the fact that it happened so close to our home and we did not drive it long enough to cause a radiator boil over.

Steam In Home Streaming

steamstreaming One of the problems with having multiple machines is that ultimately the game you happen to want to play is not installed on the machine you are sitting at.  Yes I realize this is a first world problem, as I am extremely lucky to be able to have both a nice gaming laptop and gaming desktop, but this is something I have tried to deal with for some time.  I’ve tried gaming over various versions of remote desktop, and none of them work well enough to offer a passable experience.  I am not sure who mentioned it first, but the other day I said something about steam logging you out when you tried to log in a second machine.  Apparently this has not been the case for some time.  What happens now is that you see all of the games available installed from all of the machines you happen to be logged into on your network.  The cool thing about this is instead of the play button you now see a Stream button as shown above.

Last night I decided to try this out, and I had some mixed results.  This all started because I decided that I wanted to play catch up on True Blood which meant needing to hang out downstairs with my laptop.  True Blood is one of those shows where about halfway through the third season it went off the rails and I stopped caring about it.  That said at the same time I felt like after spending that much time watching it… I felt committed to seeing it through to the end.  Like if I stopped my choice to watch it in the first place would have somehow been invalidated.  Sadly this is how I end up feeling about most television, and why I am still watching Bleach after all these episodes… when essentially every season is EXACTLY THE SAME.  All that aside the game I wanted to play last night was not installed on my laptop, so it was either steam streaming or a 10 gig download over wifi.

Impressive but Still Beta

I have to say that the actual game play was rather impressive.  The game I was streaming was not exactly fast paced and action oriented… in that I was playing Divinity:  Original Sin.  There was a minor input lag, but I seriously might be the only one who actually would have noticed it.  For example I refuse to use a wireless mouse because I can feel the slight hesitation of the wireless lag…  whereas none of the rest of the world seems to be able to.  The biggest thing I noticed is that it felt like I was watching YouTube video.  Since you are in essense streaming video across your network, there was a certain measure of blurring and artifacting of the screen.  This was most noticeable when confronted with large areas of a dark color, but it was not bad enough to be anything more than an annoyance.

The deal breaker for me however was that every time I tried to alt+tab out of the game to check something… the stream would crash out, and in a game where saving your progress is important this meant that a couple of times last night I lost a bunch of progress.  Alt+tabbing is something that is just habitual at this point, and I have done it before I even realize I did it.  So all of the problems I had with Skyrim apply here, in that either I have to force myself to NEVER alt tab… or I have to deal with the consequences of my actions.  As a result I decided to just simply deal with installing yet another game in two places.  Unfortunately since Divinity: Original Sin does not use the steamworks cloud save functionality… this also means I will be manually copying saved games between the two machines each time I decide to switch systems.

Steam in home streaming is of course still very much a beta product, and hopefully they will fix the alt+tab thing.  When they do I can see myself using it quite a bit more often, especially as my laptop ages.  What this really gives you is the ability to play games using the full horse power of your gaming machine, while on another machine that simply acts as a viewer and input device.  I’ve even seen video of someone playing games at full frame rate using a chromebook with linux side loaded onto it.  If they ever get internet streaming working, and manageable lag wise… this means there might be a time when you could play all the games on your home machine from your tablet while travelling.  What I would love to see is for this to work in a more universal fashion, so I could play the games from my PS4 while sitting at my PC or versa vicea.  I don’t think we are anywhere near there yet, but it gives me hope that maybe at some point we will be.

Old Addictions

GameCapture 2014-07-08 06-38-41-777 Over the weekend there was a point where my wife needed to get out of the house and do anything.  She had been sitting in the house for over 72 hours at that point, and just needed to see something other than the walls around her.  While we didn’t really have much in the way of errands to run, I decided to co-opt the trip and run around and visit a few pawn shops.  I’ve always loved going to pawn shops, because you really never know what you might find there.  Since I hate paying full price for anything, they are a smorgasbord of potentially awesome things for cheap.  One of the various ones we went to had a bunch of their Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 games for as low as $5 a piece.  I picked up used copies of Tekken 6, The Simpsons Game, Metal Gear Solid 4, Heavy Rain and a copy of Fallout 3: Game of the Year edition.

One of the things I have always been curious about is playing Fallout or Elder Scrolls on a console, so for $5 I could not pass the the chance to see “how the other half lived”.  When we got home I had this grand idea of testing out all of the games… but never actually made it past Fallout 3.  I booted up the game and spent the next three hours playing it before I realized how much time had passed.  This is one of those games that I can play over and over and never quite get bored of it, and I always thought it was the ability to modify it that made it so intriguing to me.  Playing on a console I have no modding at all available, so I realize it really was the game itself.  I am completely happy to wander around with wastes with nothing but a pistol, dispensing justice.

Last night after we finished our walk I went back upstairs to cool down, and made the mistake of turning on the television and continuing the journey into the wastes.  Next thing I know it is 12:30 and I am scrambling to get back to Megaton extremely encumbered, but at the same time completely unwilling to drop any of my plunder.  This will be interesting to say the least.  One of the “mods” I always install when playing the PC game is something that removes encumbrance, because I absolutely hate playing the inventory management simulation that is a Bethesda game.  That said at this point I feel committed to seeing just how well the Fallout 3 experience translates to a console.  Additionally it has been a really long time since I have played Fallout 3, as more recently I tend to play New Vegas when I get the fallout itch.  It is amazing just how much more I like Three Dog, than Mister New Vegas.

#SteamStreaming #Fallout3 #PS3

Recording Console Games

Bombing Run

Yesterday was an interesting day, partially because I dinged another level and am now officially in my “late thirties”.  Most of the morning was spent in preparation for my wife to fly in, and doing a last minute run through the house to “pick up” a bit.  Honestly this year I somehow managed to pick up successfully as I went and didn’t really hit the point where I simply stopped caring that there was a pizza box on the kitchen counter.  So it really only took a few minutes, and I streamed some Warlords of Draenor while waiting.  For a reason that I did not know at the time… none of my voice over was coming through in the stream, but I will get to that later.

I picked up my wife around noon and we ran across town to my favorite Indian restaurant… where I proceeded to order something completely new in honor of the occasion.  My standby has always been Chicken Tika Masala medium hot, and no matter how many times I consider ordering something else… I always end up back on that.  The new dish was a sort of super spicy egg fried rice with chicken in it that they call Desi Rice.  In any fashion it was pretty freaking good.  Overall the day was pretty relaxing, and it served as the perfect break in the working week.  It was awesome to have my wife back, even if it is only for a few days as she flies out to the second conference of the year Sunday.

What completely overwhelmed me yesterday was all the well wishes from my internet family.  Both my twitter and g+ feeds were blowing up with well wishes all day yesterday, and upon logging into teamspeak that night I got another round.  I feel completely bombarded, and I thank all of you for that feeling.  It kinda feels like the whole Sally Fields “You like me, You really like me” moment.  But amazing friends aside… I find it always interesting to see which bot wishes me a happy birthday first.  This year and I believe many of the other years recently… the reward goes for the WoW Ace Forums…  who wished me a happy birthday at 7 pm on the 17th, which I can only assume is on Australian time?  In all seriousness… I am humbled by the amount of support I get from you all.

Recording Console Games

One of the coolest things about the PS4 is that it can stream live to twitch.  It also happens to be one of the most disappointing, since the twitch streaming rate is locked to 480p which shocked me.  I pretty much religiously stream in 1080p so it was frustrating the first time I cracked open one of my Destiny Alpha videos and saw how blurry the footage was.  The other nuisance is that it seems to only record MY voice chat as part of the stream, and not that of the other people I happen to be partied with.  The end result is this disjointed experience of listening to an often times hilarious one sided conversation.  I figured there had to be a better way.

For some time I had looked at a capture card, but honestly that whole concept was foreign to me.  After doing a ton of research I realized there was a huge problem there, with the way the streaming worked.  The two consoles that I most wanted to stream from were the Sony Playstation 3 and Sony Playstation 4… both of which I absolutely love.  The problem is that in both cases they use HDCP or High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection aka a screwball system that tries to encrypt the video data from the source to the television.  Apparently the Xbox One also struggles with this, and for some reason in all of these systems it is either on all of the time… or turned on the first time you play a movie and then stays on.  Normally this would prevent you from recording gameplay footage, because the recording device is not “HDCP Compliant”.

The widely accepted workaround is to plug these consoles into the capture card using component cables.  This however causes its own stream of problems as you take a digital signal… convert it to analog and then convert it back to digital.  The end result is often blurry and color shifted and just not something I wanted to mess with.  So after a lot of research I stumbled on the above video.  Basically the idea is to use an HDMI splitter to get around the HDCP lockout without actually stripping the HDCP protection and making the device illegal for sale.  All of this is voodoo to me to be honest, but I wanted to give it a shot.  I managed to find an Elgato HD Capture device on Craigslist and got a ridiculously good deal on it, therefore enabling this entire thing to work.  As of last night I had the set up going and it worked successfully, after a few attempts to work out the kinks.  Sorry for the twitch advertisement spam on twitter.

Rube Goldberg of Streaming

ConsoleStreamingSetup This ladies and gentleman is my streaming setup.  I decided to diagram it out in part because it made it actually make sense rather than the jumble of cables that I have running around my desktop.  Right now I have both the PS3 and PS4 hooked up in this fashion and will ultimately move the Xbox 360 in here as well.  For the setup I am proposing you need the following materials.

The Elgato comes with one HDMI cable and the necessary Micro to Full USB Cable.  Like I said I got mine through a craigslist deal for $75 enabling this whole setup to work.  So the only thing I was actually missing was the splitter.  After doing a lot of research on the subject it seems like only a few splitters do what is needed.  Thankfully the one I ordered and linked above is both tiny and works great.  Ultimately I want to get some much shorter usb cables because right now… having all these 6 foot cables is a mess.  Essentially you hook all of your game systems to the HDMI switch, and then hook the switch to an HDMI splitter, and then hook one of the two outbound ports to the Elgato.  That then passes the signal to the television and your computer.  You can download software from the Elgato website that does a decent job at capture, but I simply integrated all of this into my existing OBS setup.

Trial and Error

After a lot of trial and error I was able to produce a video of me playing Castle of Illusion on the PS3.  I do a rather horrible job at playing the game, but that is entirely beside the point.  Basically I could have died over and over and still would have been amused because the setup was working.  The only problem is… I seemed to be unable to record any dialog from my microphone.  I spent the better part of this video fiddling with my settings in OBS trying to make it function again.  The video however looked great, and was streaming to twitch and exporting to youtube in glorious 1080p.  The trouble with my headset started over the weekend when I decided to disconnect it from my machine and hook it to my ps4 for the purpose of grouping up in Destiny.

Being a USB headset, everything seemed to go wonky when I did this and everything from mumble, to teamspeak to obs treated the headset as though it had never been connected to the system, forcing me to remap everything.  Then I remembered… I had hooked the headset previously directly into my machine, and was now trying to go through my powered hub.  So I pulled the headset out, hooked it directly into the machine and bam… all of the sudden OBS started working again.  This second video has dialog coming across and with the help of my good friend Ashgar, I managed to sort out the volume levels so that I could actually be heard over the game audio.  So I feel like right now I have a repeatable solution for streaming HDMI connected consoles over twitch.

Now my specific setup is not a requirement… there are lots of different ways to do this.  Some folks have had good luck installing a cheap capture card in their PC and streaming through that.  The Elgato seemed like a more hands free solution to working out the finer points of video conversion.  There however are a bunch of different devices on the market that do essentially the same thing.  I wanted the Elgato simply because it did not require an additional power source and could draw power entirely from my PC over USB.  Since the HDMI switch and splitter each have their own power supplies, this just cut down on the total number of cords needed.  Right now the hole thing is a colossal mess, and at some point I want to hook it up with significantly shorter cables.  For now however it works great and I am super happy to be able to do this.

So You Want to Stream

Why I Stream?

This morning I found myself sitting here at the computer struggling to come up with a topic that I felt was worth writing about.  For the last several days I have been kicking around the notion of trying to do a very basic streaming guide, but really like everything I do… I don’t actually feel like I know what I am doing.  When I decided to start streaming on a whim a few months back, I had to pretty much figure everything out from scratch.  Thanks to lots of Google searches I managed to cobble together just enough information to do a passable job.  I am far from a streaming celebrity, and to be truthful no one actually watches my stream all that often.  I am happy to have a single other person in twitch chat with me.

So you might ask me then, why do I even bother streaming?  Honestly I am not really sure but it just seems fun to me.  There is something neat about showing the world what you are doing, and in some aspect that’s why we do any of this.  At least at a base level we blog, podcast, YouTube and stream all to share our lives with the world.  When I decided to start streaming I set up a structure on our guild voice server.  I created a channel called “Bel is Streaming”, and the basic idea was that if I was streaming I would join the channel and folks could pop in and chat with me… thereby making the entire feed seem more interesting.  This has worked pretty well, and on many evenings most of the people in channel are not even playing what I happen to be playing.

As a side note… I would not have had the courage to start the Aggrochat Podcast were it not for these streams.  For years I have said that we should be recording our mumble conversations… because some of the topics we end up delving into are really awesome.  It was while listening to one of these game streams one day at while working that I realized our nightly conversations sounded quite a bit like an impromptu podcast.  A few weeks later I was pulling together some of the regular members of these nightly discussions and AggroChat was born.  So if nothing else my piddling around with game streaming has had a mostly positive effect.   As to why I do it..  I am still trying to figure that one out.

Getting Started

The first thing you need to start streaming, is an account on a streaming provider.  The defacto industry leader right now is Twitch.tv which is the gaming offshoot of Justin.tv.  This is what I use personally but I have been hearing some really good things about Hitbox.tv for those who are wanting to use something different.  For the purpose of this guide we are going to primarily talk about what I use which is Twitch.  When you initially sign up, your username will be the default channel name for your stream.  However you can go into settings and change the Display name property to switch this up.  Basically I would suggest that you pick something simple and relatable to your blog or other social media efforts.  I am a simple monkey, so I try and pick /Belghast on all of the things unless it is already taken.

Moving forward what you really want from the twitch website can be found on the Dashboard.  You want to copy to a notepad document (or anywhere else you will remember it) the long string found on the Stream Key tab of the dashboard.  You will end up using this from that point on in any third party software to let you stream to your channel.  Another setting you might want to fiddle with while you are in the Twitch interface can be found on the Channel Settings page.  I highly suggest you toggle on the “Automatically archive my broadcasts” checkbox, because this opens up a whole world of options.  Firstly there will be folks that hit your page because it is “YOUR” page… not necessarily because you happen to be streaming something at the time.    Checking this box means that anything you broadcast will show up under the “Past Broadcasts” tab inside of your twitch profile.

The other cool thing this does for you, is that you can export directly from Twitch to YouTube.  Ultimately this is how I record anything that ends up on my YouTube channel.  I like keeping things simple, and being able to export directly without having to fiddling with the YouTube interface is a huge win to me.  The twitch interface is actually rather robust and it allows you to export individual segments of your video to YouTube, as well as having a default functionality to split videos into fifteen minute chunks.  By default YouTube will only allow you to upload videos that long until you have gone through the process of verifying your account…  which is an entirely different topic for a different day.  I am by no means “good at YouTube” but I do a passing job at having a channel.

You Need Some Software

Now in order to get your video stream to twitch.tv you are going to need some software.  I know absolutely nothing about Mac gaming…  so if you fall into this category, I am sorry this guide is going to leave you in the cold.  I am a PC gamer and as such only really experienced with PC configurations.  The Twitch broadcast page has a bunch of different options, and I am assuming that one or more of them can run on a Mac.  The “Gold Standard” in streaming seems to be Xsplit, as that is really what all the professional streamers seem to use.  However, to get the most out of it… it is a yearly subscription service.  I am totally fine with using the “Bronze Standard” in streaming software… because I am cheap.  That honor seems to fall to Open Broadcast Software or OBS, a very solid open source alternative to Xsplit.  Basically you have to ask yourself what your level of comfort is with software in general.  If you truly dislike fiddling with things until they work… save yourself some headache and pay for Xsplit.  If you are like me and are willing to scour internet forums for information to save some money… then OBS should work well for you.

image This is what my OBS configuration looks like.  The software is arranged into a few basic concepts.  Scenes can be thought of as a “screen setup” that you plan on broadcasting to the world.  I have one set up for each game that I happen to be playing, as well as a generic “Thanks”, “AFK” and “Pre-stream screen”.  You can swap back and forth between these rapidly from within the software, so it is completely to personal taste how many you configure.  You are going to need at least one scene to be able to broadcast anything to the world.  The next concept is Sources… these are essentially things you want to place on screen at the same time.  One of these will be your video game feed, then a lot of streamers include a feed from their web cam and various image overlays.  You can use ANY transparent image, and overlay it on your video.

I personally keep things pretty simple, my personal preference is that I have an image in the top left corner identifying what game I happen to be streaming at a glance.  I find this important since sometimes it takes a time or two for twitch to actually update your stream title and game you are playing.  Additionally I have a “Tales of the Aggronaut” image that floats on screen… that I use for a pretty simple purpose, to cover up the majority of my chat box.  Not that I do anything super secretive in game, but I would prefer to guard anyone’s account information that might happen to be sending me a message for guild business.  Not that I have a lot of followers, but I don’t want to just assume that everyone I deal with in the games wants their information broadcast on the internet.  The floating image does a nice job of obfuscating the text but at the same time advertising my blog and providing my twitter information.

For the purpose of this setup, the most important thing that you add is a “Game Capture” source.  This will ask you to name the source, which can be anything that makes sense to you.  Next you will get a drop down of every active application on your system.  In this case you would choose whatever game you are wanting to stream.  On this same screen there is a “stretch image to screen” check box and generally I would suggest doing this.  This is going to be important for most Indie games especially since the resolution may not be the actual resolution you happen to be streaming.  I personally stream everything 1080p, but a lot of streamers drop down to 720p for the purpose of compatibility.  I can’t stand to play games at that low of resolution, so I have not really figured out a viable way to play at 1080p but have something scale me down to 720p without the stream looking like crap.

image At this point you want to preview your new Scene by hitting the “Preview Stream” button.  You should in theory see your game image coming through in the little window inside of OBS.  If you see nothing but a black screen… now begins the “fiddly portion”.  OBS generally seems to work best when playing a game in “Fullscreen Windowed” mode.  There are a few exceptions to this rule, but in theory you will want to configure your game to run in that mode if at all possible.  Black screen means you are not getting a feed of video from the game.  There are also options for “Window Capture” and “Monitor Capture”, but those are more thermonuclear.  If you choose to broadcast your Monitor, it will literally broadcast everything that comes across your monitor even stuff you don’t necessarily want to broadcast.  I suggest only ever doing that if you happen to have a multiple monitor setup.  Window Capture in general seems a little flaky, but right now I am having to use that for ArcheAge to get it to work well.

The Super Technical Bits

Now comes the hardest part of the setup, and the one I cannot give you any “firm” answers for.  There are a few settings that you need to configure based on your internet connection.  If you are not comfortable with thinking of things in terms of kilobits per second aka kbps…  then you are likely going to find this bit frustrating.  There are essentially two schools of thought here, the super technical is to go through a process of figuring out exactly what your connection will support and assigning the values accordingly.  The second school of thought is to try 2000, and if that doesn’t work smoothly… try 1500.  I am going to actually cover the technical aspects, because the trial and error method is exactly that.

image Inside of OBS settings, there is the encoding tab, and more than anything else this tab dictates how smooth your stream looks.  For the most part everyone should be using the x264 encoder.  I did some tests with the Nvidia NVENC encoder, and the end results looked horrible.  It greatly reduced the system requirements of doing the encoding, the end result was a choppy and blocky mess.  Use CBR should also be checked as well as the CBR padding.  This means it is going to try its best to keep your stream at a constant bit rate, which should go a lot way to preventing stutters and stops.  The Audio settings should for the most part work for everyone as well.  The piece that is going to be unique however will be Max Bitrate and Buffer Size.  I personally like having a buffer a little bit larger than my Max Bitrate for extra padding and hopefully extra stability, however for most individuals they set these values to the exact same thing.

The above image is a test of my internet connection this morning while working on this post.  I will be using it as an example, but ultimately you are going to want to test your own line… because quite frankly my connection is way faster than most internet connections.  There are many testing providers out there but for this example I am using Speedtest.net just hit “Begin Test” and you should see your own results shortly.  This tester ends up giving us our speed in mbps, which is fine but for the purpose of the tool that estimates what these settings should be in OBS, we are going to want kbps.  This is simply a case of taking your mbps value, in this case 22.82 and multiplying it by 1024 the number of kb in a mb.  The end result in my case is 23367.68 kbps and then I take that number and dump it into the OBS estimator.  In my case it suggests that I set my max bitrate to 3500 and my buffer size to 3500 as well.  I however did not want my stream ever to take up my entire pipe so I dialed those back to the settings I actually use.

Hooking it to Twitch

image Now that we have our encoding configured, it is time to actually hook the thing to Twitch.tv and see what happens.  Remember that stream key I asked you to copy out to a notepad document?  This is the point where you actually need it.  This is what twitch uses instead of a username/password authentication scheme to allow someone to broadcast to your channel.  Guard this with your life… or at least take some precautions because with this key anyone can use your channel.  You want to set the mode to “Live Stream” and since we are going to be piping our output to Twitch, you want to select the “Twitch / Justin.tv” option from the streaming service drop down box.  The next setting is pretty important, for Server you want to select the closest location geographically.  I live in the Tulsa, OK area so for me I choose “US Central: Dallas, TX” and it works pretty smoothly.  Finally you want to paste your stream key in the “Play Path/Stream Key (if any):” box.  If you did not copy this down earlier you can retrieve it from the “Stream Key” tab of your Dashboard.

Test That Puppy Out

image

If you did all of the things above, now you should be able to click the “Start Streaming” button and be off and running.  Some things to make sure before you do this.  Firstly make sure the game you are wanting to stream is running in the background and preferably running “Fullscreen Windowed” mode or whatever the equivalent is in that game.  Secondly make sure you have the correct scene selected inside of OBS.  Lastly I highly suggest you decouple your twitch account from your twitter account for the purpose of testing.  Otherwise every time you press that start stream button you are going to be spamming the hell out of your twitter friends.  In theory you should be able to open your twitch stream and see the output of your game on the screen.  But before you do it… there is one last thing.

image Make sure your stream is actually showing the correct game being played and the title you wish it to show.  I have had more issue with this one than anything else, and now I load my profile three times in a row just to make sure the edit took.  Initially it seems like the first edit NEVER takes.  When when I reload my stream I have to log back in and change it again, and sometimes it doesn’t actually take until I do it a third time.  I wish there was a way to set this inside of OBS, but as far as I know you have to keep logging into the Twitch website to set it up.  The only reason why this is important is because it will broadcast to people browsing the twitch interface that you are playing a specific game, and in theory you want it to be the right one.  At this point… press the start button, cross your fingers and hopefully you are live to the world.  If not… it is time to hit Google and figure out why exactly a given game isn’t working with this setup.  I am by no means an expert, but hopefully this guide will be useful to at least some of you.

The Impossible Plateau

Forced Fasting

Screenshot_20140422_193251 This blog post is going to suck, I just wanted to get that out of the way now so you can avoid reading it.  In the mornings I muster the “oomph” to blog by channeling the dark arcane magic of coffee.  I am completely un-caffeinated today and it is horrible.  I am having to fast this morning as part of some blood work, and I have no problem with the not eating part…  but no coffee is hitting a little below the belt.  I totally imagine that once I have had my blood drawn I am going to go to the nearest QuikTrip and like try and drink straight from the coffee pot or something like that.  I’ve never really understood the purpose of fasting before blood work, since don’t you really want to see the persons stats how they actually are all the time?  What is the point of having this fasted idealistic state, when you know the person is going to screw everything up with caffeine anyways.

As part of our insurance plan at work, we are having to submit to a “biometric screening”, which seems really damned Orwellian to me.  The last few years I had been a conscientious objector to the process and as a result paid a significantly higher insurance premium, but this year that reached a critical mass.  If you do not take the screening your monthly insurance rates are literally over double what they would be if you submitted to the finger prick.  We did not find that out until after all of the normal screening sessions were finished.  So now I have to go to some massive last call session this morning.  I still think this entire process is bullshit.  I’m curious, are any of you having to do this for your work insurance?  My working theory is still that our HR department is incompetent and just simply cannot negotiate for new insurance plans worth a shit.

The Impossible Plateau

Last night I decided to faff about again in Alik’r and start the stream going while I did so.  There is a spot on the map that seems like it should have something cool at it, but for the life of me I cannot figure out how to get up there.  During a good chunk of the video I am trying to get up to the place and failing miserably.  I go for a really long swim, which I am sure was boring for everyone watching… and by everyone I mean no one.  Actually to be truthful over the course of the video I did manage to pick up two viewers.  First I was joined by ShinyWhip who apparently was bored and was willing to watch me go for a swim.  She got to watch me fail miserably at trying to solo a world boss as well.  Eventually I was joined by my guildie Saia who also got to watch me fail at a few things.  That is pretty much the subtext of my streams…  me failing at playing video games.

At some point I had to go afk for an extended period of time and I cut off the stream after returning.  Later in the evening I attempted a public dungeon with Warenwolf but we seemed to be missing a lot of the bosses.  Turning in the quest from inside gave us credit for the place, but I have never seen a public dungeon without a slew of optional bosses. In grand total I think we found three, and none of them actually seemed to drop anything of use.  Honestly I have been on a bad streak as far as bosses go.  I am reaching a point where the greens I craft seem to be significantly better than the blues I am getting as drops.  Crafting in this game is extremely overpowered, and I now have enough skill points dumped into blacksmithing that I have a pretty great chance of getting a temper off anything I deconstruct.

I dinged 38 last night, so In theory I could craft up an entirely new set of gear.  Not sure if this is really worth it however.  Thinking I am going to try and limp on with the 36 set I have until I ding 40, and then craft all new gear then.  The problem with crafting sets of gear is that it is a serious drain on your available tempers.  I am really not sure how many I have, but I don’t think I have near enough to be throwing them away randomly.  The big frustration so far with Alik’r is that I am still mostly finding Orichalcum.  I thought by now that I would be swimming in a sea of Dwarven Ore, but so far it has been extremely rare… which means I may not even have enough ingots to craft a full set of anything right now.

On Streaming

I am really bad about not touching social media or my RSS feed on the weekend, and as a result I usually have a significant backlog that starts sometime on Friday night.  Since I was off for Good Friday this past week, it mean this void started on a Thursday night.  As a result I missed this post by Scopique on his thoughts about streaming.  I am honestly not sure how I feel about streaming in general.  Twitch is one of those weird things that I am not really sure what to do about.  While I have a twitch channel and I stream somewhat regularly, and then dump said videos on Youtube…  I really don’t watch twitch much at all.  Well there was that period of time when all of us were watching Twitch Plays Pokemon… but that was more of the “trainwreck you just can’t help but watch” thing than something I genuinely enjoyed.  Generally speaking the only time I watch anything on twitch is when there is some presentation relating to a game I am playing.

As a result I feel kinda bad that I am streaming and love it when people watch my stream…  but I don’t ever actually end up watching anyone elses streams.  I feel like that is a big reason why my stream and youtube channel will never really be successful on their own.  They will always be attached to my blog, since the blog is what is really important to me.  I don’t fully get the twitch or youtube cultures, and in order to get either to really work it feels like you need to fully immerse yourself into said culture.  Right now I am streaming mostly because going back and listening to the things that my friends and I say on my stream entertains me.  I say all sorts of stuff and fifteen minutes later I cannot remember what the hell I just said, so it cracks me up the random stuff that comes out of my mouth while I game.  Ultimately I stream for the same reason I blog, because for whatever reason I find it entertaining and fun, and would probably be doing both even if I never had a single reader or viewer.  The stream however is just not something I think of as meaningful or permanent… it is very much a throwaway experience to me.  Entertaining for the moment it is happening, but not something to really ponder once the stream has been turned off.

That is not to say that there are not some absolutely amazing and entertaining folks out there.  Qelric for example does amazing videos, and her production value is just great.  I tend to watch whatever videos come down the pipe from her, because I find them equally entertaining and informative.  That said I have never really gotten into the “let’s play” culture on YouTube.  I tried doing some of it with my series on Trove… and really I just didn’t like the way it felt.  For a period of time I was trying to get people to do the like and subscribe thing… before I realized that I just didn’t really care much.  If people watch my YouTube channel and like my videos… awesome…  if they don’t… equally awesome.  I think the big difference is I am not trying to make a career out of being an internet persona.  I don’t need viewers or clicks or likes or whatever to get a pay check.  At the end of the day my blogging and my faffing about in streams and videos… is just something I do for entertainment.  I respect the folks who are trying to make this work as a career but I don’t think I could ever deal with the inherent instability that is trying to make a living off the whims of others.