[This post is part of a blogging collaboration by Later Levels and Hundstrasse called #BloggersWhoStream. Make sure to give them both credit and follow the hashtag on Twitter for more posts from the community!]
Building the game streaming setup of one’s dreams is an evolutionary process for most. It’s an expensive hobby to get into and the majority of those interested in pursuing it don’t start out with the equipment they need to produce a high-quality product. For example, I started streaming in 2017 with just the laptop I already had. Great for blogging, but it didn’t have the horsepower to display my gameplay and camera feeds at the same time.
More importantly, it’s a hobby that you really need to try for yourself before you go all in. Just because you like playing video games doesn’t mean that you’ll like playing them on stream. For instance, I love playing Tetris Effect when I’m not on stream and no one’s watching. However, when I streamed it and no one watched, I came away from that experience feeling miserable.
The outcome of no one watching was the same, but the dynamics and expectations change when broadcasting was introduced to the mix. The worst thing one can do is to buy all of the most expensive equipment and realize after the fact that they don’t actually like how streaming warps the gaming experience. You’re better off starting with whatever you have and determining whether you want to pursue it further.
This tour through my streaming setup is the culmination of my journey thus far. The road to get here was filled with failure, doubt, and MacGyver-esque life hacks. Even so, I truck along thanks to everything I’ve learned, the friends I’ve made along the way, and positive impact I’ve made on the world. From providing entertainment, to those that tune in to the money I’ve raised for charity (over $2,000 and counting for Extra Life!), I don’t take any of this for granted. All of this has inspired me to continue honing my craft and improving as a streamer on every front. As long as I continue to grow within the hobby, so will my streaming setup. Without further ado, let me show you where the magic happens.
Streaming equipment can be addictive. As soon as you get one piece, the desire to get more and better stuff doesn’t stop gnawing at your consciousness. Around this time of year, there’s a glimmer of hope that Saint Nick has also binged on the same Alpha Gaming videos you watched and is ready to trick out your streaming setup with everything you’ve been longing for.
Or, you could just write it out in a list for him like this!
Black Friday is a wonderful time to buy streaming equipment as a gift for the streamer in your life. As part of this year’s festivities, Elgato has a number of its products on sale. They are my go-to company for streaming equipment and I may have to pick up an item or two for myself.
If you want to check out the full list of deals, check out this link and find the deals being offered in your country. But if you want a few of my recos, keep on reading!
Before owning one, I perceived the Elgato Stream Deck as a frivolous expense. Why would I need one of these when I can do everything it offers with a keyboard and mouse? Or with one of many free alternatives on my phone?
Once I got it, the Stream Deck proved its worth almost immediately. Having a dedicated device that I can interact with is so much easier than a keyboard and mouse. Its programmable buttons and folders gives me way more control in a smaller package. Versus touchscreen alternatives, the tactile buttons make it easy for me to trigger actions without breaking eye contact with the audience. As Elgato has added more functionality through software updates, the value proposition of this device is only getting better.
I tinker with mine all the time, always finding more features I can use while streamlining my workflow. By the time I post this, the layouts pictured here will probably be outdated. Nevertheless, I thought it would be fun to discuss how I use this thing and the ways it’s made my life better. Maybe it’ll inspire you to step your Stream Deck game up. Or maybe you’ll have tips to help me improve!
As someone who doesn’t really play mobile games, the thought of using my phone as part of my streaming arsenal didn’t really cross my mind. However, after watching Alpha Gaming’s video about the Elgato Screen Link, I may have to reconsider.
I love my original Elgato Stream Deck. It may just look like a set of buttons, but being able to program each one with a growing set of functions has streamlined my experience so much. From being able to quickly trigger the airhorn sound that starts every stream, to switching between overlays, to running elaborate game shows on Boss Rush, I can easily perform all of these functions and more without breaking the flow of the show.
If I had one wish, it would be for the Stream Deck to have more buttons. While you do get the option of adding folders to the mix, my default setup uses more than the 15 buttons available. In particular, Boss Rush can require upwards of 60 (!) buttons, making it a hassle at times to fish between folders for certain functions.
Elgato heard me. The new Stream Deck XL is out now, with a whopping 32 buttons. It’s not quite 60, but it’s more than what you’d get from running up two regular Stream Decks at once.
Looking to start streaming?
Having the right hardware is just a part of the overall experience, but it’s an important foundation to have. Without the right gear, your stream could suffer from lag, blurriness, your voice sounding scratchy through a crappy microphone, or any number of other problems that negatively impact your production quality. With so many good streams out there, it’s important to not let your hardware deter others from enjoying your show.
Compiling the lessons I’ve learned over the past two years, here’s a list of hardware upgrades to consider as you build the streaming rig of your dreams!
Before I began streaming, I dismissed the Elgato Stream Deck as an expensive gimmick. At its regular price of $150 US/$220 CAD, you are paying a lot for what simply appears to be nothing more than 15 buttons. Once I started getting into streaming, I felt that I could manage my stream just fine with a keyboard and mouse.
With many hours of streaming under my belt now, I’ve begun to understand where a device like the Stream Deck could come in handy. I use my keyboard for hot keys, but I can’t unbind them from their default functions. For example, I want to type in a new numerical value to adjust the volume of the game. All of a sudden, my scene quickly flashes and ends on the wrong view because those same numbers are mapped to my different scenes. I’ve streamed for far too long with a muted mic because I didn’t realize it was muted. For a production-heavy show like Boss Rush, where I’m the host and the producer, I spend too much time not engaging with the crew or the audience because I’m too busy looking at the screen trying to cue up the next video or manage all of the visual elements that go into our game shows.
At this point in my streaming career, I knew that I needed more buttons. There are alternatives to the pricey Stream Deck, such as phone apps that offer similar functionality, or DIY solutions that can be done for much cheaper. You can even buy a cheaper Stream Deck featuring only six buttons. But when the original 15-button model went on sale as part of Black Friday, I scooped one up immediately.
Part of my push towards video included retro games. I want to be able to broadcast and capture video from old classics. For quite some time, I struggled with the technical logistics of getting my computer to read analog signals. Eventually, I figured it out. Or so I thought.
I’m still just getting my feet wet with the whole game capture thing, but I’m already thinking ahead to capturing PlayStation 4 content. As of writing, the PlayStation 4 currently doesn’t support capture through a device such as the Elgato Game Capture HD due to its built-in HDCP. However, through some research and a few extra bucks, I could be capturing PlayStation 4 video today.