So You Want To Start Streaming: A Guide

A note: This is just about how to get the basic setup down.  This will not guarantee you an audience.  The market is kinda saturated these days with people streaming all kinds of games.  Promote yourself (nicely.)  Share to your family and friends on social media.  People will find you based on what you’re playing.  You’re not gonna be the next BrownMan overnight.  (If you are, awesome, show me what you did.)  Streaming is work, fun work, but work nonetheless that you will probably not get any money out of for quite some time, if ever.  Keep that in mind as you read this.  And if you’re feeling especially generous, check me out on both Youtube and Twitch.

Welcome to the wide world of Twitch streaming!  There are a few different ways to approach this.  If you have a PC or console that allows for built-in stream integration, you’re all set  with this part.  For those of us who don’t, there are two main options for broadcast software – Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) and XSplit.  The big difference here is that OBS is entirely free, whereas though XSplit does have a free version, it offers paid licenses for premium features.  Since I’m broke as hell, I stick to OBS.

OBS has two versions – “Classic” and “Studio.”  “Studio” is the most recent version, the most recently updated, and tends to be the most popular.  There is a very fantastic wonderful setup guide here that will walk you through things like getting your stream key, selecting which streaming service to use, and setting up custom stream layouts.  I personally use OBS Classic, which is no longer directly supported, but serves its purpose to me.

Now that you have the software, you’ve got a few options.  Depending on the type of stream you want to have, you can do a few things for layout.

Some people prefer to have the stream speak for itself, full screen, go for it.
Some people include webcam by chroma keying themselves into the corner (I see this mostly in people who stream MOBA-type games)
Some people, myself included, have set up layouts to include stream information, facecam, and other important information alongside the game or Creative endeavor.

I tend to prefer option #3, but I have friends who don’t like to watch streams with cams, and I have friends that stream that don’t like to show their face and instead focus on the game.  That’s fine!  Whatever you’re comfortable with.  I personally feel like it’s a lot easier to engage the audience if you’ve got facecam on, but YMMV.  This is your stream, not mine.

Additionally, if you’re looking to stream console games legally, you’ll need some sort of capture device.  The Elgato comes highly recommended to me, but I do not own one at the moment so I can’t entirely vouch for it.  I’ll update this post when I get there.

Anyway, this is what my screen setup looks like at the moment:


As you can see, I have several different scenes I can switch between and even more sources in my “main” screen.  Having multiple scenes is nice so that you can easily switch back and forth between, say, full screen camera and my “default” scene.  What you can’t see in this picture, though, is what my full desktop looks like:
(This is where you guys get to laugh at me because I only have one monitor set up currently.  I don’t have the desk space.)

So the way I have everything set up, and this works best for people with only one monitor, is the game in the upper left, OBS itself in the upper right, Chatty down below, and StreamLabs in the bottom left.  I tend to minimize that though and only bring it up if I get a donation that I need to read out.  Clearly you know what the game is, and we’ve discussed what OBS is, but what are Chatty and StreamLabs?

Chatty  is a Javascript applet that lets you read and run your Twitch chat without having the Twitch website open.  It is EXTREMELY helpful for streamers or people guesting on other people’s streams so that you don’t have to worry about running Twitch in the background.  There will always be a stream delay, that’s just how Twitch works.  But this saves a LOT of trouble, at least for me, when it comes to moderating the chat in real time.

SPEAKING OF MODERATING.  You may want to enable a bot to help you when you first get started and may not have friends or otherwise trustworthy people to help take care of things when and if trolls attack.  I personally use Moobot.  Moobot is great and lets me have timed commands, blacklisted phrases, and other assorted commands that you may not want in rotation, but are nice to have if you want to sporadically have them (if you’re ever in my stream, check out !salty and !maya for examples)  It’s also nice to have the ability to blacklist phrases instantly in case of unsavory trolling.  For instance, I’m a fat girl that uses facecam.  So therefore I have a lot of phrases that are related but people use perjoratively blacklisted so that the offending party will get timed out immediately.  This can have some amusing side effects (for instance, I have the phrase ‘whale’ banned, which has caused trouble when playing Scribblenauts. A friend of mine has the phrase ‘daddy’ banned, which made his playthroughs of Bioshock VERY amusing)

StreamLabs (formerly known as TwitchAlerts) is a nice little add-on that lets you manage alerts on your stream.  People use them in different ways: some larger streamers will have their alerts go off in a scroll across the top of the page, some smaller streamers prefer to have static positions on their screen to display certain aspects.  I personally have my most recent follower, most recent donor, and top monthly donor displayed because why not?

StreamLabs also allows you to include pop-up notifications when people follow, host, or donate (among other things).  You can add custom animations (usually gifs) and sounds to pop up along with it, too.  It can add a nice personal touch to your stream to add graphics that reflect who you are as opposed to the default suggestions that StreamLabs offers.  StreamLabs has some really nice tutorials on how to use their applications on their website, too.

So that’s it!  There are lots of other stream addons out there you may want to look into – different bots, giveaways, stuff like that that I don’t really look into much, but I just kinda wanted to get a rough starter’s guide out there somewhere.  Hopefully it’ll help you!

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