A streamers diary (Feb)

I am just a guy, playing games.

They are just people, who like watching games

If November, December and January were my teething months – the point in which viewers will give you leeway on technical hitches and issues then that makes February my first ‘real’ month of being a streamer.

This was a pressure that I embraced and as I scoured the internet looking for ways to avoid issues, pre-empt problems and cure what ails my stream and I think I have succeeded in all these counts.

February was a massive leap forward for twitch.tv/mr_luvva_luvva and I think that my stream is unrecognisable from those first few months.

Hi guys, and welcome to my update on my experience of a twitch streamer for the month of February.

TwitchTV

As I said at the end of my last update – I had made the move from GameCaster to BroadCaster and was reeping the benefits of using a full featured streaming program. I was conscious in the need to keep moving my stream forward to improve the viewers experience as much as possible; which is a really difficult balancing act without being partnered you have no transcoding options and nor do your viewers, as a result you have to balance bitrate with buffer settings.

As my audience grew I got a few complaints about my stream buffering more than other streams – upon researching the cause of this it transpires that it is caused by my bitrate being higher than my audiences download speed – when you’re streaming at 2500 (2.5mbps) lowering it can cause havoc with your picture quality.

Twitch recommend that non-partnered streams do not surpass a bitrate of 2000 as this is the “sweet spot” and global average download time. However if you play a racing game (or indeed any title with fast-moving action) 2000 is simply not high enough to avoid ‘artifcating’ and pixellation. Which lowers your audiences enjoyment of the game as the video becomes a cluster fuck of blurriness.

I HAD to find a solution to this.

And solve I did, there are many ways around this problem;

1) Mug off the viewers who can’t enjoy the stream and ignore their calls of lowering your bitrate.

2) Lower your bitrate and live with an oft-blurry image quality.

3) Slow the transcoding rate from fastest (reccomended) to fast.

4) Leave your bitrate high and lower the buffer to below the sweet spot of 2000.

5) Lower your bitrate and double that number and apply it to the buffer (e.g. a bitrate of 2000 would give you a buffer of 4000).

For me, options 1 and 2 were dead in the water – I was not prepared to ignore my viewers nor was I prepared to greatly impair the quality of my stream. Option 3 was only a viable option if I was streaming a console game – with a PC title the strain on my processor was lowering my frame rate too much. So I was left with either options 4 or 5.

I started playing with settings and found the solution that best suited my needs. I researched the buffer and bitrate and found that the buffer is basically a valve that allows information into the stream, the higher it is the more information it allows to potentially enterthe bandwidth – it essentially allows my stream to maintain the highest possible bitrate by “storing” information in case there is a lag in my upload. It makes no effect on the viewer and doesn’t lock them out of my stream…the results were far better than I thought they’d be and I no longer get complaints about quality or buffering.

In fact it gets complimented, regularly.

settings

my current settings

Now that I wasn’t restricting my audience february began the push for more viewers and followers. I remember the process I went through in order to get viewers here – and did a lot of the same things;

Step 1) I networked like a mofo! I remember being approached by Izlain about taking part in the NBI and the positive effect it had on my readership and applied that to twitch. I was no longer lurking in chats – I was participating and meeting people – I never spammed peoples chat; rather I relied on people who enjoy talking to me to naturally click my name and look at your stuff – this got me a significant number of viewers.

Step 2) Entertaining new viewers in order to get them to click that follow button – this was perhaps the easiest change. I am (ahem) quite a funny person, who naturally likes talking to people…viewers on twitch like to feel involved in the streams and I always greet them personally and constantly talk to them; except during cut scenes – thems the rules.

Step 3) I follow a lot of small streamers who are like myself – we share experiences in chats and talk help each other out with technical problems. I host as many of these people as possible and they host me too! We’re forming a little community and share our viewers and followers which is great for everyone and co-beneficial for us all. (BTW check out Hydr0holic and Goati_)

Step 4) Branding. I’ve spent a lot of time (too much time as I am a shit artist) building some form of branding – My twitch channel is minimal but contains buttons to here, my facebook, twitter and youtube channel – this does direct flow and helps Mr_Luvva_Luvva share his readers, viewers and subscriber (on YT) with everything. I’m trying to create a little Luvva eco-system.

Step 5) Rewarding my viewers. Viewers like two things, being included and being valued; I include them in every stream and had to find a way to reward them for watching me. Hello Bots! There are many bots that make a casters life easier, and included powerful tools but the one I use is called DeepBot – it has mini games (I use these when there is a lull in onscreen action) and reward points.

deepbot

deepbot

Every 5 minutes my viewers gain 10 ‘Luvva Hearts’ which they can gamble in the minigames, they also gain ranks as they watch. Many viewers really like the idea that they are earning while they watch and most will participate in the minigames. for those that don’t like I have small giveaways too…

Step 6) Public Targets. Viewers and other streamers like pulling together to meet a target – at the end of January I set a target of 75 followers and put up a ticker on stream – not only did I get to that target but I smashed passed it! When I hit 75  I gave away a title from the Star Wars humble bundle!

People got so excited and really appreciated the giveaway! I’m having another at 100 (currently at 86).

Hardware – on the hardware side of things I’ve moved my Playstation 3 to a place I can stream it (it’s a pain in the ass to stream), I’ve bought a new microphone (a Blue Snowball – excellent mic) and even bought a broadcaster arm to hold it. Next level stream!

This month alone I’ve hit 1000 views, 86 followers and completed two games (well Deadly Premonition will be beaten before month end) live on stream!

It’s been one hell of a month.

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