Last updated: December 5, 2011
Level 3 update on January 5, 2011 (XSplit improved some, segmented section 3, Procaster crashing details noted, other extra details added)
Level 3 update on October 28, 2012 (XSplit now unusable so streaming no longer possible until an alternative video capture source is found)
Level 8 update on November 10, 2012 (Most of the page has been rewritten as I've switched to Twitch)
Level 3 update on December 18, 2012 (Updated info, added embedded player and chat for Twitch, and added in my streaming setup with Twitch)
Since November 5, I've been back in order again. No, XSplit is not fixed (it's just simply unreliable overall ("Going Live is Simple" is a false claim, it's a hassle, at least with that program). Right now, I'm using Adobe Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE), a program I despised due to the lack of screen capture support, but, thanks to one of my fans, Shugo, I now have both a screen capture source (AmaRecTV, thanks to DarkStar, another one of my fans) and something to give FMLE screen capture support that isn't ManyCam (that's limited to 10 fps and is a major CPU hog, as if poorly written).
With my move to Fargo, ND and from oversights of my sister, I can only stream at 1.5 Mbps instead of the intended 3 Mbps (since nothing in this building offers above 2 Mbps) and there's even an evil data cap. Either way, it's 120% faster than the fastest I could get in Minot. This means that the video quality of my stream can significantly improve. Unfortunately, there's an evil and unnecessary data cap of just 50 GB a month. Pass that and it costs 50 cents each GB over (of which will pretty much be inevitable unless I'm working on PM). Fortunately, there is a time frame in which I can stream without using up any of that. The only way to get rid of the data cap is to go with a 1.5 Mbps upload speed and a different ISP instead of 2 (actually 2.36 Mbps). There are 3 alternatives available for getting a faster speed. The first is that the building gets upgrades so I have access to more ISPs, especially 702 Communications. If that doesn't work, attempting to see if I can get a custom speed plan (provided it's within reason - 20 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up is easily within reason considering there's 52 Mbps available on the line (maybe more, but that's what the service I'm using caps at)). The third, if all else fails, is to move to another building, but that will have to wait until the first of June.
In general, if you encounter other problems, let me know. Contacting me on YouTube or Platform Masters's forums is much faster than E-mail as I check YouTube and PM's forums much more frequently than I do my E-mail.
3 About the live broadcast
3.1 My setup
While I'm streaming, I have things laid out on my screen in a particular way. This screenshot (click it to view the full-size version instead of the half-size (960x720) version I have here) explains it all. The top left corner is the chat window. The viewer list seems buggy as it updates typically once an hour. Note that I'm using the pop out version of the chat instead of viewing my stream directly. The top right corner is FMLE and a preview of what you see as far as quality goes. The 2 bars on the left of the preview image is the volume for each channel. What I actually use during play is in the bottom left corner. This is what I'm capturing in real time. Note the black borders all around in this area. I crop this out to optimize bandwidth usage (which, for the same bit rate, improves video quality, though very slightly as all-one-color parts of a video compress extremely well). You can tell some clear differences between what I see (crisp and clear with full detail) and what FMLE has (FMLE is also about 250 ms behind which is why you see 2 different but almost related images). The bottom right corner has the screen capture program's specs. Windows Task Manager is in the background. You can see how little of impact real time recording is having on my streaming. If there's a way to use the "fast" preset and 4 threads for encoding (forcing Amarec TV to use something else so it doesn't cause problems), then I could improve the video quality even more, though I would have to do some tests. Of course, I could also raise the processing priority for AmaRecTV, of which I should be doing and forget to (this might stablize the video more as it's time sensitive).
3.2 Streaming times shift constantly
Every day, under normal means, I begin my stream 60 to 120 minutes later every day. This is because my sleep-wake cycle is not fixed to 24 hours. As of November 10, 2012, it seems to be more around 25 1/4 hours though it's been 25 2/3 hours for several years beforehand. As a consequence to my ever-shifting sleep-wake cycle, it doesn't matter where you are in the world as you'll have pretty much equal chance of seeing my stream.
If I'm awake during the day in my area, those in the Americas and the bulk of Europe and Africa have the best chance to catch my stream.
If I'm waking up halfway through the day, those in the Americas, all of Europe and Africa, and western Asia have the best chance of catching my stream.
If I'm awake during the night, those in all of Europe and Africa as well as the bulk of Asia and Western Australia have the best chance of seeing my stream.
If I'm awake halfway through the night, those in the eastern half of Asia, all of Australia, and the western half of the Americas have the best chance of seeing my stream.
By "best chance", I mean getting a good roughly 10-hour window of opportunity of seeing my stream. Just because I'm actively streaming doesn't mean I am during those times. I may be off grocery shopping. I generally attempt to give an estimate on when I'll be back, but sometimes, the unexpected does happen. This time, thus, is generally the rough idea on when you should start checking back. When I end the stream for my day, you should start checking back 12 hours later. It takes me an hour to get to sleep from the moment I declare I want to go to bed (much longer (3+ hours even) if I've been awake for too short of a time as I can't get my mind to shut off) and about a half hour to get out of bed once I become consciously aware of my surroundings again. I then take about an hour to eat (sometimes 2, depending on the type of pizza I have), and generally about 20 minutes for doing my usual daily check (checking YouTube and PM's forums as well as E-mail). I typially sleep anywhere from 7 1/2 to 9 hours. This all totals about 11 hours.
3.3 Some things may get boring
I'm an extreme powerleveler in RPGs (and their similar counterpart, SRPGs), so some things may get very boring. Skill mastery in Disgaea 2 and powerleveling are excellent examples of this. I almost never play video games in the normal fashion.
3.4 The chat
Got a question or something about what's going on? Feel free to comment. Unfortunately, Twitch seems to require that you have an account with them in order to use the chat. I can only use the chat when one of these 3 conditions occurs: I'm waiting for the game to load, I'm waiting for effects in the game to finish, or I pause the game.
I cannot follow links in the chat. The reason for this is because I'm using screen capture. If I follow a link, then whatever new window comes up will be displayed over what I have going on. If you want to send me a link, you have 3 options: send it to me in an E-mail (no attachments), a YouTube PM, or somewhere on PM's forums, likely as a PM.
3.5 Why no voice?
In my YouTube videos, you regularly encounter narration with stereo separation. The narration is on the left and the game's original audio is on the right. I have no way to get stereo separation or to even record from more than one input source at a time. The culprit is either Windows XP not supporting this and/or my sound card not having support for capturing audio from multiple sources simultaneously. One fix for this is to get a sound card (I've considered the MAudio cards) that supports the recording of audio from more than one input source at a time. It's getting hard for me to find anything (hardware and software) that runs on XP any more and with getting only $50 a month, saving up for anything takes a long time.
I'm only after 2 input sources: "microphone", for recording my voice and narration with, and "wave", for recording the game's audio with (of which also includes any Windows sound effects that may occur (of which are extremely rare)). At the moment, if I put a check in "microphone" for Windows' audio configuration settings, the one for "wave" disappears. I want the game's audio as I very rarely speak as it is. For what few times I accidently leave it on microphone, you can easily tell that I almost never speak. This is that audio configuration settings dialog I'm referring to:
Thus, until I have a solution, I won't have a way to include both. For now, it'll be the game's audio only.
"... But you have both the game's audio and your voice in your YouTube videos! You are recording both simultaneously... or are you doing post-record editing for that?" I really am recording my voice while recording my game's audio simultaneously. The only way this is possible is if I record using my TV tuner's program (which gets the game's audio directly from the TV tuner and not my sound card) and Audacity for the microphone (which is directly from the sound card). They are 2 separate and independent input sources, bypassing my sound card's limitation as my TV tuner doesn't use my sound card (one advantage of a USB-based one).
"... Then, why not just get a USB microphone and use it to bypass the sound card's limitation?" I have, but the one I got (setting me back a half a month - $23 is fairly expensive to me) has no "+20 dB Boost" option, a must. Otherwise, it would be so faint that, if using 8-bit audio, you would only get pure silence unless I get very loud (of which I'm generally not). 16-bit audio would barely even capture anything, approximating 4-bit quality as it's so faint, and with lossy compression thrown in, it'll be very distorted or rendered as silence as it's just too faint. The fix to that is to constantly keep within 6 inches of it, and this will get very uncomfortable very fast. I've since gotten rid of that near-useless microphone that's only good if recording in 24- or 32-bit quality and only if you do editing on that instead of doing it live.
"But, if you can record the game's audio and you narration for YouTube, why can't you do that with streaming? That is, why can't you set your TV tuner as one input source and the microphone as the other and then stream that combined input?" This is not an option because of 2 things. The setup I'm stuck with pretty much prevents it. First, Flash Media Live Encoder annoyingly doesn't output any audio at all even though it's picking it up. This will make playing my games much more boring and, in some cases, more difficult. To get the audio while I play, I need a screen capture source. This is where AmaRecTV comes in, but that program cannot be used to stream with. Because that program is using my TV tuner, I can't have another program access its audio (or I'll just get "device in use" errors causing conflicts). This causes me to have to use "wave" for the input source, of which is the audio that the computer plays. This is one of the sources on my sound card of which is limited to accepting input from only one source at a time. You might be thinking that I could just use my TV tuner's preincluded software. I cannot use it to stream with and it also uses overlay which prevents me from using screen capture (what I see looks normal, but what you see is an all-one-color image). The second reason is that FMLE doesn't support taking input from multiple sources at once, as far as I know. The only real fix is to get a sound card that can record both "wave" and "microphone" simultaneously and getting some sort of program that can do the stereo separation.
If you don't see anything, there could be one or more of these cases applying.
I'm simply not streaming.
If I'm working on Platform Masters or I'm on vacation, there won't be any streaming. Platform Masters' development is confidential and thus I won't stream it. When I'm on vacation, I generally have no access to a computer (video game systems like the PS2 or Sega Genesis don't count) nor Internet access. This is why you don't see me responding to any E-mails or the like when on vacation.
I'm sleeping. Just because I'm in the middle of the US, 1500+ miles from any coast, doesn't mean anything. One day I'm streaming during the entire day (when the Sun is out) in my area then, 10 days later, I'm streaming during the night (when the stars are out). 10 more days later, I'm back to where I was. For this, just check PM's forum for when I'm about to start streaming or check back every half hour.
I'm out shopping. Grocery shopping a must so I'm, every now and then, doing this. Check PM's forums for when I'm doing this. Grocery shopping usually takes 3 to 4 hours. That may seem long, but you have to also account for my rather long shower times as well. Being in Fargo may significantly shorten this, however. It's very rare I ever shop anywhere else though. When you get $50 a month, you get very used to not buying things, or even looking around.
I'm recording. Because I have to use my TV tuner's preincluded software for recording with to get the game's audio and Audacity to record my narration with, I can't stream and record simultaneously. So, in order to record, I'll have to stop streaming as I have to use my TV Tuner's preincluded software for that (of which uses overlay, preventing video capture (you see an all-one-color image and I see everything just fine)). When I'm done recording and the upload is complete, I'll be back, unless I note it in the chat.
I'm processing or uploading videos. Processing videos is very CPU demanding. With the entire CPU being hogged up by this, this will result in unstable video and streaming. Thus, I cannot possibly stream while processing videos. Then, because video uploading can go on for a long time, tying up all the upload bandwidth I have (since I cannot control the speed limit), I have to wait for that to finish before I can even stream, even with just 256 Kbps.
Either my ISP or your ISP is down. Should either of these happen, the stream will be cut off. To rule out your ISP as the culprit, try viewing other sites, especially your ISP's site. Try a traceroute and/or ping as well to pinpoint the location at fault.
The streaming server is down. Should Twitch go down for some reason, streaming is not possible. Try back in a few minutes or, in the worst case, a few hours or days.
Your Flash Player is out of date and/or buggy (glitched). Try updating it or try beta version if all else.
Your firewall or security software is blocking Twitch. Add Twitch to the white list.
Your parental control software is blocking access. Speak with your parents about it and ask for permission.
One of the 2 required program crashes or becomes unusable. If my screen capture source, AmaRecTV, decides to stop working or become unstable or unusable or FMLE crashes or becomes unusable, then streaming won't be possible. You may recall when XSplit became so unstable one day, from it forcing me to update, that I could no longer use it, leaving me out a screen capture source for some time. Crashes are temporary - just wait and I'll be back. I'll always indicate when I'm about to sign off for real, unless my ISP decides to go down at that time.
Some other very rare issue is present. If you feel that none of these apply, feel free to contact me. You'll get a faster response on YouTube or PM's forums as I check these far more frequently than E-mail.
5 Other notes
Why did I choose to go to Twitch? Twitch has many advantages:
You can be notified when I'm streaming again, more so than just via PM's forums. I think you get E-mail notifications on when I start.
If you missed my stream, you can also check back on my recent streams, of which are kept for a whole month.
My bandwidth limit is far greater, limited only by my upload speed (though I target about 2/3 of this limit). This means much greater video quality is possible.
You have the option to disable the ads, not me and me only. Thus, if you don't want the ads, and AdBlock or the like doesn't work, you'd pay for it, not me, giving you far more of an advantage over Livestream, of which forces you to have to put up with the ads because I cannot possibly afford the monthly fee (and I'm not always streaming every month either).
Twitch is focused on gaming, of which is pretty much the only thing I ever stream.
Embeddable video and chat. This means you can embed the video and chat supposedly anywhere.
I do have 2 disadvantages though, both minor. The first is that, with Twitch, I have to have 3 windows present on screen at once to stream. That 1920x1440 resolution really comes in very handy for that - I couldn't do it with a 1600x900 display or smaller as there's not enough screen space. The first window is the screen capture source, AmaRecTV. This has to contain the entire 720x480 base video stream, along with all the buttons, title bar, and the like on the window. The second is the streaming program, FMLE. I prefer to see what the output is like. The third is the chat window, Firefox. Thankfully, I can dismount from the video stream (I've got a handy shortcut for quick access to it so I only have to load the chat and nothing else which won't affect the audio stream). The other disadvantage is that it's hard to tell how many viewers are watching at once.