This past weekend I was at GoPlay Northwest and to play some games and see my friends. Now GoPlayNW might be the best local con I can go to as far as gaming goes and one of the reasons it's so good is because it tries to be on the edge of new. It embraces the edge of the hobby we love so dearly.
Last year streaming was an afterthought. After everything was done, the question of "should we do some streaming?" was put forward and it evolved into "Can we stream?" and with the weekend in the bag, I can safely say, "YES."
I was so happy and impressed by this weekend's streaming efforts, I decided to write a blog post outlining our motivations, processes, and thoughts for improvements in hopes other streamers and stream producers take up the torch for their local gaming conventions and spread the light of gaming at your favorite conventions.
The process started with the key stakeholder messaging me if I'd be interested in doing some stream production for this year's goplayNW. It was some information gathering about fleshing out what sort of requirements would be needed to do this. I'll be honest: I'm pretty cynical and tend towards caution when it comes to streaming. For our first attempt, I was prepared for an awful trashfire attempt that cuts out, no one can see or hear anything, and goes live totally unannounced and unleashed on an unprepared audience of cricket chirps.
I put forward things that will require a lot of talks with the convention hosts. like hardwired ethernet with fair speeds being the first bedrock. The space for streaming will also need to be considerable for acoustics, noise, and space to actually play. The final thing we'd need is an actual interest. You're asking someone (at LEAST one person) to be responsible for thousands of dollars of electronic equipment and sit in front of their computer watching other people play a game -- people BETTER be interested in actually streaming their games!
We had a few goals, mostly they were to let people try their hand at being a part of a game that's streamed or see what a streamed game is.
So I won't really go over the room selection process for streaming because the locations of cons are specific. All I can say is that I hope you find a good, quiet room, with easy access to a ethernet jack.
For technology pieces, to stream we required the following things:
Before the first stream, I hastily setup the graphics into OBS and imported both cameras and microphones into my scenes. Be mindful that when you're plugging in power-draining USB things like a yeti mic and 2 C920s, they take the dedicated usb slots before using a splitter-- your splitter may not have enough power to let you do things like change USB resolution or power multiple cameras from a single port.
Once I had access to the streaming room, I began the setup process. the laptop had to be close to the table due to cables and the limits of webcams, but also not in the way. Setting up the webcams was tricky because of that power issue and the lighting of the room requiring manual exposure setting and saturation.
The more risky process I had to deal with was setting up the microphone. I tried cardioid as the receiving angle and it worked suspiciously well! Everyone was to be on one side of the microphone anyways, and then the rest came down to testing and stacking a couple wooden end tables and putting the mic on them.
And that's all there was to it! The first stream, at least.
Adam Koebel's game of Scythe
I continuously monitored Twitch chat for feedback and aggressively compensated where I needed to but that's all.
For the next game the following day, with it being a TTRPG, I thought I'd try breaking up the table and having the DM on one side and the players on the other.
This would require the blue yeti be set to dual circle mode so the DM and players can both be picked up by the centrally located mic.
I didn't have time to do any real test runs other than a quick audio check on my own.
DistractedElf's game of Monsterhearts
In the future, I'd like to get something other than c920s for this job.
The high pitched sound that lingers is due to electrical interference and a common issue with yeti microphones. It'd probably require a lot of testing to isolate, but it being so close to the webcam and the rest of the wires being near the rest of the USB connections, I didn't really have a chance to rewire anything. In the future having some time to test for that whine would be good.
As far as camera angles go, a more top-down angle over a table might be cool, but that might require some kind of trellis.
If last year's GPNW question was "should we stream?" this year's question was "can we stream?" and next year it'll be "what will we stream?" and I'm excited about see the developments o
It's been really fun doing this experiment this year. I was a part of a prototype. Next year we'll have a full program of streams and a more permanent, professional setup I imagine. I'm looking forward to seeing the relationship between GPNW and twitch streams grow. Twitch and tabletop games are the single biggest growth vector for the hobby at the moment (the second probably being conventions.)
If you have any questions let me know! I like production work and I'd try and answer anything I can.
I hide in a cubicle all day until the night time where I play RPGs and other games and stuff.