How to stream PC Games on Twitch
Back in 2014 I discovered a streaming platform called Twitch.tv, currently used by a lot of people to record their gameplay for whoever wants to watch it live and participate in the active chat. If you do not own a console or simply do not want to spend a huge amount of money for a game capture, you can easily stream everything directly from your computer.
Keep reading then if you want to know how to stream PC Games on Twitch and properly interact with your audience.
I’d love to say that thanks to Twitch.tv I met a lot of wonderful people and found incredible friends online. Interacting with fellow gamers and even important people such as voice actors from your favorite titles (I’m not kidding!) is an incredible experience and I suggest you to try it yourself if you never jumped on that platform before.
If you are wondering how to stream a PC game yourself you definitely need to create an account on Twitch.tv first, picking a username and setting up your personal page. Be sure that your computer is powerful enough to broadcast, check your specifications and see if they are at least like the recommended ones:
- CPU: Intel Core i5-4670 or AMD Equivalent
- MEMORY: 8GB DDR3 SDRAM
- OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
Your GPU isn’t the biggest factor but you should have at least a card that supports DirectX 10 and up.
The second important thing is your internet connection; it needs to be quite strong if you want to have a smooth video while playing without being kicked off every now and then by the broadcaster.
If you’re sure your interweb is good enough and your machine will be able to handle all of this, go ahead and download your needed broadcasting software. The most used at the moment is OBS (Open Broadcaster Software).
How to setup OBS (long process):
- Open the program and go to Settings > General. Select your language and a profile name.
- Select the Encoding menu, check Use CBR and Enable CBR padding.
- Max Bitrate should be 3300 or 80% of your upload throughput, whichever is lower. Recommended bitrates for different resolutions:
- Bitrate for 1080p: 3000-3500
- Bitrate for 720p: 1800-2500
- Bitrate for 480p: 900-1200
- Bitrate for 360p: 600-800
- Bitrate for 240p: Up to 500
Buffer Size needs to be equal to the Max Bitrate. Setting this lower will have the encoder closer to the targeted bitrate. Twitch does not recommend changing this unless you know what you are doing.
For the Audio Encoding AAC with a bitrate of 64-128 is the one you are supposed to use, although this is up to personal preference and bandwidth constraints in the end.
- Broadcast Settings
Mode: Live stream
Streaming Service: Twitch/Justin.tv
FMS URL: Closest geographical Server. If you are having issues with dropped frames and you are sure your throughput and CPU are sufficient, try changing this one.
Stream key: Go to your Dashboard and click on Stream Key
Autoreconnect: Recommended checked
Auto-Reconnect Timeout: 10 seconds
Delay: 0, but if you need delay set locally you can do this to prevent “ghosting.” Delay is NOT recommend.
Minimize Network Impact: Unchecked.
Save to file: You are HIGHLY recommend to keep local recordings on your computer as Twitch makes changes to its VOD storage, to ensure you always have easy access to your broadcasts.
File Path: Select a file path for where you want to save your local files. Not needed if you do not save a local file.
- Video Settings
Video Adapter should be set by default. If you have more than one, select the adapter you are playing your game on.
Base resolution typically is your monitors resolution. You can alternatively select a monitor to default this.
Resolution Downscale is the resolution that you send our servers. Lower resolutions will consume less bandwidth overall, and use much less processing power.
Filter should be “Bilinear” unless you have issues with blurring in your downscaling. Bicubic and Lanczos are both supported, but will take additional processing.
FPS is recommended to be 30. Note that 720p at 60 frames per second for some games will look better than low bitrate 1080p at 30 FPS.
Aero is recommended to be disabled only if you are using Monitor or Screen Capture.
Do not turn off Aero if you are using layered windows, window capture, or game capture. Windows 8 cannot disable Aero.
- Audio Settings
Desktop Audio Device: It is recommend that this be set to your “Default” playback device. To change this, right-click on your volume slider, then click on Playback Devices. Then, right-click again on the audio device you would like to make default and select Set as Default Device.
Microphone: If you have one it should be displayed in the list (or you can simply activate it from the menu).
- The Hotkeys tab is optional, but very useful if you want to start/stop streaming, setup custom scenes (eg. the ‘Be Right Back’ screen), mute/reactivate your microphone, etc quickly without having to select OBS all the time.
Use multithreaded Optimizations: Checked
Process Priority Class: Normal. Changing this higher will make OBS get CPU before other programs and can cause lag on many systems.
Scene Buffering Time (ms): 400
Disable encoding while previewing: Unchecked unless you have lag while previewing your stream.
Allow other modifiers on hotkeys: Checked
x264 CPU Preset: This will set the encoding level. You are recommended to use “veryfast” unless you have no bandwidth and beastly computer. Then, set it to be slower.
Warning: setting your stream to a lower setting when at a high resolution is very CPU intensive.
Encoding profile: This setting changes what profile you record on. Some devices (notably tablets and phones) may have issues with decoding streams with “high” profiles, so you are recommended to use “main” if you want to have the highest compatibility at the sacrifice of some quality.
Use CFR: Checked [newer versions may not need this!]
Custom x264 Encoder Settings: Default (blank)
Allow 61-120 FPS entry in video settings: Unchecked. Users are not recommended to go above 60FPS for any game.
Force desktop audio to use timestamps as a base for audio time: Check this if you are having problems with syncing only.
Global audio Time Offset (ms): Set this to the number of ms you would like to offset this to. 0 is recommended unless having issues with sync.
Use Mic QPC timestamps: Use this only if having sync issues.
Bind to Interface: Default. You can select another network adapter here if you need to.
Automatic low latency mode: Check this only if you have talked to a OBS developer or Twitch staff as very few users would need this.
Latency tuning factor: Set this only if you have talked to a OBS developer or Twitch staff as very few users would need this.
- Microphone Noise Gate: This setting allows users to set an automatic threshold for their mic being turned on and off. You can select the decibel level of the Close and Open thresholds here.
Attack Time: This is the time it takes for your mic to “spin up” to reach hold to output. You generally do not modify this.
Hold time(ms): How long the gate will stay open after it falls below threshold. You generally do not modify this.
Release time: Inverse of attack time. You generally do not modify this.
Now, you are ready to add scenes, and then sources to those created scenes!
Scenes and sources within OBS are fairly simple to add and highly customizable. Broadcasting a game directly or through a window is the recommended setup, although this is not compatible with every game or system.
1. To add a scene, right-click the blank space under Scenes in the main OBS window, then click Add Scene.
2. Enter a descriptive name such as “League of Legends Game”
3. Next, make sure you have your scene selected, and right-click into the white space under the Sources header.
4. The best capture system to stream your game of choice usually is the Game Capture. Select your running game from the drop-down list next to Application, check or uncheck your hotkeys options and then you should be ready to go.
5. If you want to preview your stream to be sure everything is working as it should, just click the Preview Stream button and make your checks.
6. If you are wondering how to add some cool static overlay over your video, all you need to do is create a new scene again and select Image in the Sources window. Click on Browse to open your picture of choice, the OK button to apply and edit its size and position simply going on Edit Scene while previewing (every scene modification can be done only with the active preview).
There are actually many different possibilities. To have a better, more professional and complete overview on how to properly set up your custom scenes, check this video tutorial:
One of the most recommended things you should add to your page is the Nightbot chatbot. Login using your Twitch account and it should be immediatly connected to you. In order to fully activate it and add it in your chat list, click on the Join Channel button and you will see a confirmation window with a message:
Head to your Twitch channel and type
/mod nightbotin the chat.
If you want this bot to work and use your applied settings you definitely need to make it a Twitch mod.
You then can proceed with the customization of some useful commands in the Commands tab. Head to the Default commands if you want to enable/disable some existing codes or simply open the Custom tab to add your personal messages. You can also set up a timer (Timers menu) in order to display specific texts automatically every selected minutes.
Another common feature is TwitchAlerts, used for custom notifications on screen. Just like Nightbot you have to login using your Twitch account clicking on Launch TwitchAlerts, then select the Alert Box menu to add images and sounds tp your alerts.
Under Alert Settings you can choose the type of alert you want on your channel (for example a notification for every follow you get), pick a layout from the three available, select your favorite type of animations in the drop-down menu, customaze the message template and finally upload a picture (which can also be an animated gif) followed by an audio file.
You can manage your uploaded media content clicking on this icon
Again check this complete guide for more optional addons:
To conclude, if you want to read the chat while streaming and playing you definitely need a second monitor or a laptop connected to your page (if you keep the video open all the time you might experience some dropping frames or disconnection from OBS, thus be careful with it).
You apparently can stream games in fullscreen too, but many streamers suggest to select a windowed game to avoid issues/conflicts with OBS.