One of the reasons I created this website was to give me an anonymous vehicle for sharing my experiences building the stream. This is primarily because while I only work part time, its something I generally keep on the down low so for the time being I'm attempting to keep my streaming identity separate from my real-world identity on-line. While I hope in time that I will be able to merge these identities, the current situation offers me a unique opportunity. To talk frankly and openly about my experiences building this stream up from nothing.
When I started this stream, I had three questions I wanted to answer:
How much work it was to actually setup and run a twitch stream?
After a few weeks the answer here is clear. Setting up and running a Twitch stream was a lot more work than I thought it would be. There are so many nuances that I didn't even know I needed to consider when I went into this. Despite the fact I went into this not wanting to spend much money, I ended up buying a USB 3.0 Linux compatible video capture device in relatively short order as full screen captures with OBS just don't work that well. While this problem seems worse under Linux, it actually appears to exist on Windows as well albeit to a lessor extent.
Beyond the video capture device, there was the matter of hardware setup. My previous office configuration was really centered around augmenting my work with background streams of entertainment such as Netflix shows / Twitch Streams played via the Apple TV, music from my library via Ampache and/or other sources of media. I had it setup so I could listen to the audio from these activities (regardless of source device) on my wireless headphones while listening to whatever audio was being output from my work PC.
This configuration really doesn't work for streaming. The primary reason being is that depending on the device, I could be playing my current game on two different monitors. This change meant I needed to do things like reposition my web cam so that it didn't look like I was perennially distracted while streaming. So last weekend I rewired it so that the secondary PC monitor (upon which the PC games are played), the RetroPie (upon which the reteo-console games are played) and the PS4 (upon which modern AAA games are played) all output to the same monitor. This also allowed me to split the HDMI output from the HDMI switch I setup so that the output goes both to the monitor in question and to the input of my video capture device.
This solved a number of problems and after three weeks, marked the transition from office oriented setup to streaming oriented setup. For the record, while I do work at home the new setup accommodates that quite well as the way in which I work from home has fundamentally changed since I changed jobs six months ago. The reality is that now I rarely wear my headphones while working as I'm not video conferencing with colleagues on a regular basis. This means that I can just pump all the output audio to my Logitech speakers for the purposes of work and my needs will be satisfied.
Could I do all of this on Linux?
After a few weeks I also have a clear answer to this question. And it is: Hell yes. I know of a handful of other streamers that have done this on Linux so I knew it was possible. Nevertheless I have to admit to being concerned about it.
The reality is that OBS (Open Broadcasting Studio) is a phenomenal piece of software. It works on Windows and Mac OS X as well so everybody gets to benefit from it which I think is great. Nevertheless without OBS I honestly don't know how I would be able to stream on Linux. OBS and the video capture device are the lynch pins of my streaming operation. While I originally bought the video capture device so that I could stream games off the PS4 and RetroPie, I soon realized that I could use it to capture the entire game screen reliably on the PC as well. The real magic of OBS is how easily it allows you to modify your video streams layout and content in real time. It's a very impressive piece of software and I cannot laud enough praise upon it.
The other Linux related concern was one of games supply. Coming into the project, this wasn't a huge concern of mine as I've been gaming almost exclusively on Linux for years now. So I know the games are there. The real question, which I have yet to answer, is whether or not there is an audience for those games. That is a question that remains to be answered. Though it would be unfair to judge the appeal of the games based solely upon the success or failure of this venture which leads me to my next question.
Am I capable of adding value as a streamer above and beyond what somebody would get out of watching raw footage of the games?
If you spend enough time on Twitch, you soon realize that it is less about the games and more about the streamer. People are attracted to certain personality types which happen to compliment whatever the current activity happens to be. This basic truth largely explains the rise of IRL streaming on Twitch in my humble opinion.
That having been said, does my personality augment the games I am playing? I believe that for the most part it does. While I do love gaming, I won't deny that certain gaming situations tend to lead me down the road of agitation. Knowing this I tried to structure a stream in such a way that this would be considered more of a feature rather than a bug on the part of the viewer. By calling myself the Bumbling Rogue and making a steady stream of "Gaming Failboat" references, my hope is that I can set the stage where such agitation is not only unsurprising but expected.
This also benefits me in that it lowers the standards of success so far that anything less than a complete failboat tends to make me look good. That in turn relieves pressure on me to perform well as a gamer in a competitive sense which in turn increases my personal enjoyment and allows me to hopefully make the stream a bit more tongue and cheek in terms of how failure is handled.
Still, it hasn't all been perfect. My Super Mario World 100% attempt stream last weekend was undeniably a mistake. I'm not a 100 percenter and I shouldn't try to be. That having been said, that stream probably would have worked if I had split it into two or three parts rather than trying to cram it all into a marathon session of gaming. Nevertheless I got close enough to meeting the goal (86 out of 96 exit points) that I plan on finishing the game in a future stream (albeit with a twist that I'll reveal only when the stream starts).
As for whether or not this approach has worked, the jury is still out. It is far too early for me to judge my success as a streamer based on the number of viewers or followers as I have barely just gotten started. I expect we'll be returning to this question in future posts.
As it stands now my plan is to keep streaming for the foreseeable future. That should be patently obvious though to anybody who is paying attention as I took the time to register a domain name and setup an actual website. In truth, I've already learned a lot. In addition I am way more appreciative of the hard work my favorite twitch streamers are doing to put on a good show. To my fellow streamers: Don't let anybody tell you that streaming full time isn't a job, because it sure as hell is. No doubt about it. Keep up the good work!