With lots of folks staying in as a result of COVID-19, there's a good chance that some of y'all who play games will want to get started with streaming. It's a great thing to do while we all maintain distance, since it allows you to be social and talkative, get friends involved, and have a great time online. OBS Studio has made streaming easier than ever to get started with, and all for absolutely no cost. If you want to get that side of things set up, check out our quick start guide! (or, check out Nerd or Die’s Quick Start Guide videos!)
With that in mind, here's a handful of tips to help you get started streaming! Some of these may even help you if you're a more experienced streamer, or if you just need a refresher.
Keep yourself up-to-date.
There’s lots of moving pieces in the world of game streaming, and lots of things to keep yourself up to date on. Before you go live, make sure that you have the latest updates for OBS Studio, your games, your operating system, and your graphics drivers installed and ready to go.
Keeping yourself up to date will mean you always have access to the latest features and fixes in any software. It also means that you’ll be able to play multiplayer games without issue.
It’s also a good idea to keep up to date on what your streaming service is doing, as they may be adding new features you can take advantage of!
Save overlays, alerts, and tech for later.
Lots of people use overlays, and alerts, or they invest in expensive mics and hardware to help them stream. You do not need to do this to start streaming. You also don’t even need to use OBS: modern consoles like the Xbox One or PS4 have built-in tools to help you go live.
Use what you have to start, and keep things as simple as possible. Don’t worry too much about alerts, overlays, mic quality, etc. Make sure that you like streaming, and if you want to continue doing it, think about what you want to invest in first (if anything).
If you decide to invest in new tech, I recommend investing in lighting and microphones first, cameras second, and anything else after that.
Ignore your viewer count
Don't stress if nobody comes around. Ignoring your viewer count, and always talking as if someone's watching is the right way to go about this. Ignoring chat isn't as good an idea, but ignoring your viewer count will keep you focused on the game, and take away a source of anxiety for new streamers.
Here are a couple of ideas and questions to help you keep talking:
- Talk about what your strategy is right now. Are you planning things out ahead? On your way to finish a quest?
- Comment on things in the environment. Is anything interesting standing out to you in the world?
- What is the game making you feel right now?
- What is the game doing that you like?
- What's it doing that you don't like? How would you improve it?
Play what you love
It's easy to see when a streamer isn't passionate about or interested in what they're playing. Faking interest doesn't work, and chasing after numbers and only playing the most popular games will burn you out very quickly.
Start with stuff that you know you love already before you branch out into trying new games that you're interested in! Don't play something just because it's the most popular thing online at the moment, and build your community around the games you love. Keep that in mind and your stream will be better for it. You might even show someone their new favorite game!
Save some games for yourself
Playing everything on stream will turn every game into work. There's a risk that when you do that, you won't feel satisfied when you play games on your own time.
There's an easier than expected solution to that though: save games for yourself.
As a personal example, I don't stream the Yakuza games because those games are very special to me. They’re narrative and writing heavy, so they’re hard to stream as is. Instead of trying to force myself to stream them, I save them for my off time, and I enjoy them more as a result. Having games to play in your off-time is essential if you want to continue to stream long-term, so choose a handful of games that you don't want to stream. Doing this will make sure you also continue to enjoy gaming in your spare time, otherwise it can just feel like you’re doing work all the time.
That's it! That's five super easy tips to help you while you get started streaming!
There are a ton of other resources out there once you're more comfortable with the basics. When you’re ready, learn more about the tools at your disposal. OBS, for example, has a wiki with all sorts of guides - not just for troubleshooting, but to expand your skills and to use OBS to its full potential. The best part is, you get to learn at your own pace. Happy streaming!
This article was edited by Jim, Matt, Melody and Llaren; thanks for helping with this!
Jessica can be found @tielqt on Twitter.