Twitch Streaming Basics

Twitch Streaming Basics Featured Image

Twitch Streaming is something you’ve heard a lot about in recent years. As online gaming and high-end gaming becomes a more popular industry, another industry of watching people game has taken off. As someone in their mid-30s who grew up in the console era, I am not surprised. Today I’m going to talk to you about the basics of Twitch Streaming and the mistakes we’ve made so far.

Last night during our weekly Wednesday Night Dash event, one of our viewers said that they heard a weird clicking on the stream. I didn’t hear it, so I assumed it was audio from the game. It was audio from the game…or lack thereof. The streaming capture card I was using was not pulling game audio from the card back to my laptop. I could hear the game audio just fine locally, but our viewers could not:

Twitch Streaming Basics – The Equipment

Before getting too far into this post, first let us go over the equipment you need to get started:

  • Gaming PC (duh)
  • Capture Card (we’ll get more into this later)
  • Optional: Second PC with Microphone and Web Cam
    • If you do not have a second PC, it is highly reccommended to have a second monitor
  • External microphone and webcam (if not using second PC)

Gaming PC

The Gaming PC is pretty obvious. If you don’t have a gaming PC, then there’s not really much of a reason to stream.

Capture Card

The capture card is the key to streaming. It can be done in multiple ways and for a variety of price points. The more expensive and arguably better way to do it is to purchase an internal card that plugs into your PC motherboard directly. If you do not want to spend the money, lack the technical abilities to modify a PC, or are using a second computer as your “streaming computer”, a USB streaming card would be better for your setup. Quality of video may be an issue, though…

Off Brand USB Capture Card for Basic Twitch Streaming
Lower cost off-brand capture card

This is the unit I am currently using. I connected the video card of my gaming PC to the “HDMI INPUT” connection. Next, the HDMI output is connected to my gaming monitor. the USB cable is plugged into my MacBook where I run my streaming software. The catch with this device is that I have to plug the gaming headphone into the headphone jack of the capture card and not the PC to hear the game audio AND be able to stream it. There does not appear to be any significant delay with the audio. Kind of a clumsy setup, but it appears to work.

The negative issue about this model (that as I mentioned above) is that I lost the audio between the capture card and the MacBook. I had to remove the USB cable to power cycle it and it came back.

Optional Streaming Computer

This article is called Twitch Streaming Basics. so we intend to keep it pretty basic. If you don’t have a powerful enough gaming computer, lack a separate monitor, or prefer to keep your stream and game separate, you’ll need a second computer. I have a fairly powerful 2020 Macbook Pro and my streams look decent. The other advantage of using a second computer, especially if it’s a laptop is that it usually has a decent microphone and webcam built-in, so you can show your beautiful face to the streaming world.

Optional External Web Cam, Microphone, Second Monitor

If you do not have a second computer or an external capture card, you’ll need to do your streaming on the gaming PC. An advantage/disadvantage is that you can put your chat window on the screen and it makes it easier to respond back to the viewer chats. Some people don’t like this because it can clutter the window if you don’t have a massive monitor. You also want to make sure that your gaming PC can handle both the stream and the game at the same time without causing performance issues.

Having a second monitor attached to the gaming PC allows you to keep your streaming manager software separate. Many streamers prefer to keep the game and the streaming software separated so chat windows do not clutter the screen. Streaming with one monitor is definitely possible and is quite common.

Streaming Software

There are quite a few options on the market and some are more complex than others. I’m not going to spend too much time on this since there are plenty of great reviews and tutorials to get you started on other sites or even by the software developer.

Twitch Studio

Twitch Studio is free software that allows you to easily connect your streaming computer to Twitch and record locally or stream your sessions. The disadvantage of this software is you can only connect to Twitch. There’s no way to “simulcast” to YouTube, Facebook, etc. I actually recorded the above broadcast entirely in Twitch Studio. In addition, I created our “intro video” using old clips and loaded them onto a screen that would auto-play the video after the screen loads. Think of it as a fun version of Microsoft PowerPoint, which is not fun by the way.

OBS Studio

OBS Studio has become the gold standard for streaming software because it’s free and it’s very powerful. It can also be very complex as far as configurations go. There are a lot of great tutorials on the Internet (mainly YouTube) that shows basically all the known capabilities of the software. There isn’t much in the way of direct support for the software.

Restream.IO

I mention Restream below OBS because it works as a supplement with OBS or runs by itself. The main selling point is that it allows you to connect to over 30 different streaming platforms. Twitch, YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and others are among the 30 platforms. They offer a free plan, but if you want custom branding, or grow your stream at professional levels, you will have to pay for a subscription.

Closing Thoughts

Thanks for reading about our Twitch Streaming Basics. Have a suggestion or a correction? Comment below on the article! Streaming can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be, so my best advice is to experiment with what works best for you.

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