Retro Games and Streaming

It may have looked a little odd when it first appeared, but the birth of “gamers watching gamers” has created a multi-billion-dollar industry. Reminiscent of the days when you’d crowd around the Mortal Kombat machine at arcades, the entire concept is based on interaction and great gameplay. With such retro roots, is there a place for retro games on streaming services like Twitch and Mixer?

Retro Streamers

Streamers combine gaming skills with personality and humor, potentially earning thousands from sponsors. Even the smallest cat can find fame and fortune by playing some of their favorite titles for generous fans.

In recent years, Twitch has rapidly become one of the most popular game streaming sites. With countless viewers, streamers are spending thousands of hours creating and sharing content on the platform. 

With the new release of DOOM Eternal coming and the recent Wolfenstein game, there’s been an uptick of gamers exploring older titles. 

One such user is Twitch streamer Joana, who has gained over 70 thousand followers playing a mix of World of Warcraft and old school Castlevania. RyuQuezacotl logged 120,321 viewer hours with Diablo 2 speedruns. Strange to think that after 15 years, even Diablo is already considered retro. Specifics on how much these users earn are just guesses, but their success is proof that Retro Game Streaming is alive and growing.

Monetization

Now hold on to your bits, while getting set up can be a walk in the park or a bit more involved (depending on your tech-savvy), getting paid is a guide for another post. For now, let’s discuss how to get set up for a shot at some money.

Money Cat Streaming

Source : (TheDailyDot)

First things first, you’ll need to create an account on a streaming platform. Twitch is one of the most popular, but Facebook, Mixer, and Youtube are all in on the game. When choosing a username, it’s equally important to be memorable and unique. You might want to avoid profanity or identifying information just in case you gain popularity.

Once you’ve created your profile, it’s time to choose a game. Modern consoles tend to be plug-n-play, with Xbox and PS4 coming with integrated streaming services out of the box. PC and older consoles will require broadcasting software. While Streamlabs and Xsplit both offer great features, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than OBS.

Not just free, OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) is a powerful open-source software that has the perfect flexibility for streaming both current and retro games. It has plug-ins to optimize your video quality, which will come in handy with the lower frame rates of yester-years titles.

OBS Snippet

Once downloaded: you’ll need to open settings, select ‘Stream,’ and choose your service. OBS will then prompt you for your streaming key. If you are streaming on Twitch, you will find it within your user dashboard.

Twitch Dashboard

Stream Key

Connecting Old and New

If you are running the game off a PC, you’re ready to go. But older consoles, like the N64, Genesis, or NES, will need some extra gear and/or modding before you show the world your skills.

Some in the gaming community would bypass the following steps and just run games through an emulator. If you are a purist, you’ll need to get yourself a CRT television, a video capture card, and adapters to convert old ports to HDMI. Consoles like the SNES have branded s-video outputs for your system, but NES will require splitter cables and some modification. Experienced retro streamers recommend getting an RCA Switch box, so you don’t need to switch the systems out repeatedly.

NES Splitter

Scanlines, Latency, and Other Visual Bugs

Once you have all of the wires and doo-dads connected, you’ll want to adjust your video resolution settings. While OBS has many plug-ins to help with that, some streamers experience delays. Enter AmarecTv, a direct video capture recording tool. You can use Amarec to boost quality so that your capture hits 60 frames per second without lag affecting gameplay or stream quality. 

AmarecTV screenshot

There is definitely a learning curve since the latest version of Amarec is in Japanese, but makes capture card configuration a breeze. After clicking settings, you should come across two “Graph” tabs. Neither the tutorial I used or I have any idea why they are called that, but this is where you’ll adjust your capture settings. Open “Graph 1” and make sure to select your card for both video and audio. By messing with the resolution, frame rate, and color space, we can maximize the stream quality.

Most cards will read the low definition signal of older consoles as 720x480. Counterintuitively, we don’t want to set it at 59.97 fps but at 29.97fps. You’ll want to set the color space to YUY2 16bit for composite or s-video output.

In “Graph 2”, we’ll fix the resolution. By selecting a 4:3 ratio, Amarec will condense the signal to 640x480, separate the alternating lines of footage into full frames and run them consecutively, giving us smooth, interlace-free footage running at 60fps. Once finished: you are ready to open OBS, select your window capture source, and game your way to fame.

BTBFC

Ready, Set, Stream!

When it comes to populating and engaging with your channel, checking out other popular streams can give you insight into how their channels are run. Streamers often list their gaming set up components on their bios, so check them out to get inspiration. Don’t forget to interact with your viewers and of course, add a donate button. 

If you are using Twitch, be sure to play under Retro as your game. List the actual game name in the stream title to maximize your viewership. The Retro community on Twitch has over 600k followers and is a friendly group open to a variety of streams and new streamers.

A huge thanks to TheBigCheese, FuriousPaul, and The Art of MMO War for compiling the tutorials that made this guide possible.

Sources:

http://www.artofmmowar.com/2015/11/guide-to-streaming-retro-consoles-on.html

https://obsproject.com/forum/resources/capturing-streaming-your-retro-consoles-the-right-way.289/

https://www.furiouspaul.com/articles/twitch-tv-setup.ht

 

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