Wednesday 30 November 2016

Jam Enslaver Plays...No Man's Sky LIVE

A couple of weeks ago I started playing the pen-and-paper RPG Stars Without Number online with some of my friends from the Games Only Podcast. If you haven't watched it yet the archive of the live stream is up on YouTube and I can recommend watching it: we've set up some really fun, unusual characters who's adventures I'm looking forward to discovering over the coming months.

Having to buy a webcam to be on Stars Without Number, and then highly enjoying the experience of doing the live stream itself, meant that I had started to think about doing my own live stream playing a game. The thing that was holding me back was the lack of a game I was really excited to play. The week before I had been accepted into the Gwent closed beta and thought it would be useful to show off that game, but since it's a multiplayer game I wasn't confident that I could talk about all the things I wanted to and also concentrate on playing the game.

Then on Sunday Hello Games released their first big update for No Man's Sky, a game I had really wanted to like but bounced off after only a few hours. As soon as I saw the news that they had added a substantial amount of content to the game I had the idea to run a live stream to find out what was the deal with this new patch.

Before I could do that I had to do some set up, which is why I'm writing a blog post about it. Firstly I should mention that I was using OBS since that seems to be the de-facto standard open-source application for setting up live streams. It allows easy combining of various different media sources including my webcam, the Roxio which I was using to capture footage from the PS4, and my microphone. I was even able to compose a couple of different 'scenes' before I started which allowed me to switch the view of the livestream to show off the cool artwork that Hello Games had put on their website to announce the patch. Once again I used the trick of piping the audio out of my monitor into the Line In port of my PC and using the listen functionality to be able to hear the sound of the game through the headphones plugged into the computer.

Since I'm still very new to live streaming I wasn't sure about what would happen to the video after I was done. I spent some time playing around with Twitch's settings and found a way of getting it to archive the stream, but I was also aware that the quality of that recording would be very dependent on how well my internet connection was behaving at the time. Luckily OBS has a really cool feature that allows it to record and stream at the same time, so I had a nice local copy once I was done that I could just upload directly to YouTube.

The only real problem I encountered was with using the webcam, which is understandable since this is the first time I was using it to record. For some reason OBS was recognising that the webcam was plugged in but not showing anything on-screen. The fix turned out to with setting OBS to use the camera's default resolution. Presumably the cheap webcam I bought doesn't present a usable default resolution that OBS can use and it was just showing nothing. Setting a custom resolution of 1080p solved the issue immediately.

Something I discovered after I had finished recording was a sync issue between the video from the webcam and the video from the Roxio. As I've mentioned in previous posts, the Roxio footage comes with a roughly 1 second lag. The footage on the webcam, on the other hand, has no noticeable lag and thus there are times in the video where I seem to react to things happening in the game before they actually happen. I'm going to experiment with introducing a lag to the webcam video to fix this issue, something that you can supposedly do in OBS. I'll report back following my next stream on how that goes!

I had a lot of fun doing this live stream and plan to do more in future! Look out for those soon. I'm also starting to think about what game I want to tackle for my next review...