So Billy, you want to stream?
That’s great! Streaming is a great way to have fun with your friends, make new friends, and show everyone in the world just how awful you are at Dark Souls. But getting started is rough, and even when everything goes right, something will probably go wrong.
What you will need
First thing’s first, you’re going to need an account at one of the streaming services to even think about doing this. You probably already have one, but for funsies, I’m going to list them anyway.
https://www.twitch.tv/ is the most popular streaming site around. It’s currently owned by Amazon, so it won’t be going away any time soon. It has a huge base to work with too. The only problem is if you’re going for viewership you’ll be drowned out by others. There’s a LOT of people on Twitch, even the ones who don’t use the service as their job. It’s easy to set up for though, and a lot of people being on there isn’t a bad thing either, just keep your expectations of e-fame realistic.
http://www.hitbox.tv/ is the next contender for most people. It was made as a Twitch alternative and competitor, boasting better lag times than Twitch, which at the time had a built-in 30 second delay. While I had problems with it recently, I used it for years, and the staff is friendly and helpful. It won’t make you as e-famous as Twitch though, if you’re going for that sort of thing.
UPDATE: Hitbox no longer exists and has been quietly replaced by https://www.smashcast.tv/ , which seems focused purely on an e-sports angle.
https://beam.pro/ is the new kid on the block. It’s cool. It has a mode where delay is half a second or less, but you need to have the planets align just right for that to happen. While the delay is great, there’s also a bunch of gamerfication stuff associated with it I don’t like. Still, if you don’t like the Twitch delay and Hitbox isn’t playing nice, Beam’s a good alternative.
https://www.youtube.com has streaming stuff. I haven’t seen enough to form an opinion.
Second thing you’ll need is either OBS (or OBS Studio) or XSplit. These are the programs that talk to the streaming services and get them to make the video games happen on the internet. While I haven’t used XSplit, some people swear by it. I, on the other hand, cannot recommend OBS / OBS Studio enough. It’s very easy to use and set up. I’ll probably make a dedicated post to help people with that later.
Third thing you’ll need is a PC or gaming console to stream from. PC is much easier to set up a stream from, but for gaming consoles, you’ll need a capture card. Those can cost a pretty penny, but are generally worth it. I’ve had good luck with the Elgato lineup of capture cards. The Elgato HD is a very versatile card, capable of capturing most game consoles, but the disadvantage for some people is that it caps off at either 720p30 or 1080i30, and for the true 1080p60 experience, you have to get the Elgato HD60 or the Elgato HDPro, which are both more expensive and incapable of capturing anything that doesn’t have an HDMI cable. There’s ways around that I can talk about later, but for now I want to keep it simple.
If you want to have guests on your stream, the fourth thing you’ll need is a way to connect to them and chat. These are easy enough to find, and the two most common programs are Skype and Discord.