A blast from the past! The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that I have begun streaming again on twitch and have been consistently doing so since the end of January. So, what is better than resurrecting a long dead (but still inexplicably popular) series ‘A Streamer’s Diary’ – for new readers this is where I chronicle my adventures in streaming and inform you budding streamers out there how I do it and what happens behind the scenes. Don’t get me wrong here guys; I’ve had a tiny success and have built a small but supportive and amazing community – please don’t confuse this as some sort of ‘how to become a massive streamer’ it’s not at all that.
…I quit Twitch over two years ago because my time was limited with two jobs and family commitments; however, this year I have found myself in receipt of a few hours a couple of days a week and after months of debating it and being asked to do it by someone (who shall remain nameless) I decided to give streaming another shot!
Mid-January I decided to play it safe on my return because I didn’t know how long this schedule would last or even if anyone would come to watch me stream; I decided to use the PS4 share button and streamed to twitch that way for the first week. This decision also affected the game I chose to play, I knew that the PS4 streaming is good, but it doesn’t cope very well with high paced games which cause a moderate amount (but unacceptable to me) of artifacting – so I played a slow-paced indie game, Prison Architect.
That is one heck of a game; my first week was extremely lo-fi; but picture quality was good and even though the mic was really poor I did get an audience and through the course of the week it did grow. My first stream had a grand total of one viewer; a die-hard Luvva fan from back in the day who has been at every single stream of mine; and by the end of the week it had doubled with a peak of 2 concurrent viewers and 8 total!
Internet stardom was destined!
The numbers aren’t important at this stage, what is though is the fact that I was, once again, bitten by the streaming bug. Soon I was looking to make improvements to my stream; I went into my garage and grabbed my broadcasting arm, my Blue Snowball mic and my pop filter- to improve the crummy sound quality of the stream. It worked – my sound quality is immeasurably better and it led to a slight increase in the number of people stopping by to lurk in chat and check out the stream. More than that though, it led to the ‘improvement bug’…
…I moved on from Prison Architect even though I loved playing it, I was aware that it hardly makes for exciting content all the time and started Horizon Zero Dawn. This was one of my most popular games of the month; I got my highest number of viewers in a stream of Jan/Feb (23 not concurrent) and it was during this game that saw some of my old regulars start to come back to the stream. I think I maxed out at an average of 2 concurrent per stream but I did notice more names and chatters dropping in then moving on. On watching back parts of the stream, I think I found out why they did this; the PS4 streaming was doing an admirable job but it was pixelating when the action ramped up. It wasn’t terrible, but it was enough to get me wanting to upgrade again…
…soon I was back out in my garage rummaging through boxes looking for my streaming gear; I found the box but as I brought it in, it became obvious that it would’ve been impossible to set up like I had a few years earlier. I have moved to a new house and had two children since my last stream and space is something that I have less of; having two monitors, a pc, 4 consoles and countless cables in my current setup (in the bedroom) is just not practical. So, I made concessions – my startech despite being brilliant capture card, has no passthrough which means I need to use a HDMI splitter which is another two cables and some space (albeit a tiny one) led me to finally using my FREE Elgato HD60S (I won a Day One edition on twitter) for convenience.
It is a fantastic card to use, although it is extremely limited in what it can capture – it means that I cannot continue my popular DREAMcast series, but it is a small price to pay for much higher quality visual stream. With the fidelity came the viewers, everyone who used to watch me regularly started to slowly filter back into chat and soon all of them were there, granted not all at the same time, but here we have people who used to watch me stream years ago coming back to enjoy playing games with me. It was amazing seeing all the old names in chat again; it was also extremely flattering that all these people remembered me and felt me worthwhile watching again! This audience kept me playing through Crash Bandicoot and Crash Bandicoot 2 with their support and their banter when things got tough – it really highlights the strength of community I built back in the day. It really is amazing and humbling.
We finished February with a new streaming software (Streamlabs OBS) which integrates Stream Labels, Alerts and OBS saving on system resources and allowing a higher quality of stream; expect a full review soon. I also downloaded Streamlabs ChatBot because my old one (NightBOT) had stopped updating and had stopped connecting to its servers so I assume it no longer exists. These two programs have made my stream better; but they also brought with them challenges and a learning curve; with plenty of behind-the-scenes tinkering and trouble-shooting however, I got them working really well was even able to boost my own settings for an even better experience (thanks to SLOBS saving about 25% processor load). I boosted my Bitrate to 4500 and have not had a single viewer complain about buffering or dropped frames whilst my stream looks amazing!
We also finished February with a flourish and our average viewer count was at 2, however, our peak viewer number was 13 and several streams had a concurrent average of 6 or above. It’s not Ninja numbers, but the community is strong, and it was growing.
I have a feeling that March will continue to show growth and that we’ll go from strength to strength.
Streaming PC: I5 4460, GTX 750Ti 2GB, 8GB Ram, 2TB HDD, 256GB SSD.
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