Streaming: Next Generation YouTubers

By V0x. Art by Bummer.
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If you've ever had the urge to show off your sick hax ladder skills, once upon a time YouTube was the option for that (it still probably is). However, the process of recording your screen and providing commentary is probably a bit tedious, so I would like to introduce an alternative known as TwitchTV. Twitch is a streaming service that, contrary to what you may have heard, is free to use with open source programs such as OBS and FFSplit (as opposed to XSplit and the likes). There are plenty of tutorials out there on OBS and FFSplit at YouTube, so I won't talk about that here.

Streaming Pokémon Showdown! on OBS and FFSplit is also very simple. Because Showdown uses much less system power than, say, Dota 2, most recent laptops can stream at a relatively high quality. Furthermore, you can save a copy of the stream session to your computer if you wish to edit it, and Twitch itself has the option of directly uploading your videos to YouTube. If you have a mic, using it to give live commentary on your laddering is easy.

If you've been tuning in to the SmogCasts and played around with Google Hangouts on Air, you may have noticed the ability to broadcast your own monitor, which is basically what Twitch does as well. However, there are some key differences that I think make Twitch a better option for the non-conference style streaming. First off, Twitch's delay is a few seconds at max (you can set it manually if you want). It is common for streamers to read their chat and talk to or answer questions that viewers may have, and chances are people are going to like that. Next, OBS and FFSplit have the option to overlay many layers of video capture onto one stream. This means you can have a webcam view of yourself as you ladder, which many streamers actually recommend as a way to gain more popularity. Also, OBS and FFSplit's capture is better than Google Hangouts's, especially if you like having animations turned on in Showdown. More specifically, Google Hangouts's screen capture lags because as far as I know it's not designed to be for capturing movement; rather, it's mainly for text.

Twitch is also dedicated to streaming video games. If you just broadcast to YouTube, chances are most of your viewers are people who were told "I am streaming now, come watch!". However, Twitch lists each game being played, so someone interested in Pokémon could easily stumble upon your stream. Twitch streams are also easy to remember. They are just username). Also, you can connect to the Twitch chat through IRC. Given that Smogon has a large IRC presence, it is easy to see why this is a good thing.

There are still a few downsides to Twitch, however. One is that viewers will need an account to interact in chat. However, I don't find this to be a big problem, as joining Twitch isn't a bad idea if you like video games. Another problem is unless you "partner" with Twitch, your stream only has one quality setting, which could be a problem for people with slower internet. Luckily, Pokémon isn't that graphically detailed, so you can simply stream at a lower quality to ensure most people who want to watch can watch.

While I prefer Twitch, I think both it and Google Hangouts are good options for streaming. It just depends on your preferences as to how much control you want over your settings. Google Hangouts does not automatically imply lower quality because it's not for video games; for example, Eternal over at Pokémon Online has a livestream with many informative videos. In the end, all I hope is that people become aware of this option and are able to bring competitive Pokémon beyond very select communities, especially in time for XY.

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