For those of you who are interested in joining the Let's Play community, but are a little overwhelmed with how to get started on streaming websites, what software to use, how to get it setup, and all that jazz, here's a guide you can follow step-by-step to get yourself up and on your feet. This will seem like a lot of information, but I'll explain each step of the way what's going on so that you know what you're changing and doing. Which website should I stream to? The 3 most popular are Twitch, Youtube, and Livestream. Livestream is a bit more restrictive on its viewers, as guests (people who are not logged in) cannot view your stream. Most people use Twitch, so we'll go ahead and use that as our example. It has a built-in export feature to send your videos to Youtube, as well, in case you'd like to archive your various streams. At the main webpage, click on sign up. Follow the steps to create a username, password, and get yourself registered on Twitch. Once you've logged on, go to the settings page and customize your Twitch profile. You can add a profile picture, add text and information, and on and on. The only thing I would recommend going out of your way to check is the box in the Channel & Videos header that says "Automatically archive my broadcasts." If you don't, then your past broadcasts won't show up on your channel, and you won't be able to export any of your videos to Youtube. If you don't care about people being able to see your past broadcasts, then don't worry about this option. The only thing you'll need for later is your Stream Key. In order to get that, click on your profile name to open up the drop-down menu, then go to the dashboard. From there, you'll see a heading that says "Stream Key." Don't show this to anyone else - anybody who has it will be able to stream to your channel, so this is just for you to use with your streaming software (that we'll setup in a moment). Just keep note of it. After you click on "show key" and "I understand," you can simply highlight the stream key and hit Ctrl-C to copy it to the clipboard, then use Ctrl-V to paste it later when you need it. After that, you're ready to get your software setup. Software The first thing you'll need to begin streaming is some sort of streaming program. The two most popular ones that I know of are OBS (Open Broadcasting Software) and XSplit. XSplit used to be popular, mostly because Twitch promoted it, but some of its features are gated behind a paid membership. As a result, just about everybody nowadays uses OBS. It's a completely free-to-use, open source program that will offer you better utility than XSplit without having to pay for anything. You can download it here. Once you open up OBS, you'll be greeted with this screen: Setting your OBS up for the best stream quality Find the settings button, over in the lower right collection of 8 buttons, or go to the menu and select Settings -> Settings. You'll be at this screen: Here you select what language you want to use and a name for your profile. If you want to stream to more than one website, or you want to have multiple stream accounts, then you'll want to name and create one profile for each. After you have your profile(s) named, just click the "Add" button. The only other important option on the General settings is whether you want your mouse to appear in your stream or not. If not, uncheck the box that says "Enable Cursor over project." Next, you'll be looking at the Encoding window: I'd recommend you use the x264 encoder, and leave "Use CBR" and "Enable CBR padding" checked. CBR stands for "constant bitrate" - without going into the technical aspects of why you would or wouldn't want to use constant bitrate, the short version is your stream will probably be of a more stable quality if you use CBR, but it will put a little extra strain on your bandwidth (that is, your internet connection, basically). If you have really poor internet, you can consider unchecking the use of CBR, but for most people, you'll want to leave it checked. The max bitrate is effectively telling the software, "Use this much of my available upload bandwidth." How much should you use? Well, if you have a really high upload speed, then your viewers will need a really high download speed to watch your stream, so as a general rule, it's recommended not to go over 3500 kbps for your max bitrate. If you want to know what kind of upload speed you're capable of, go to Speedtest.net and run a speed test. It will tell you just how fast your computer is generally going to be downloading and uploading data. It will return the value to you in Mbps (Megabits per second), and 1 megabit is 1024 kilobits. You won't want to use more than about 70 or 80% of your maximum upload speed for your bitrate, so find out what your upload speed is through Speedtest, convert it to kbps (basically, multiply it by 1000), then set your max bitrate to about 70-80% of that, or to about 3500, whichever is lower. What are you talking about? Here's an example. I go to Speedtest.net and run a speed test. It tells me that my download speed is 15.2 Mbps and my upload speed is 5.65 Mbps. So, if I multiply my upload speed by 1000, I get 5650 kbps as my upload rate. 80% of that would be 4520, so I could set my max bitrate to about 4500 - however, that might put a lot of strain on some viewers who don't have very good internet, so we'll just set it at the recommended cap of 3500. For audio encoding, AAC is recommended, though if for some reason you'd like to use MP3, you can. AAC is more compatible with a lot of programs. Your bitrate should be set to either 128, 160, or 192 for audio - the OBS software will generally recommend 160. Unless you're a big audiophile, you probably won't notice a difference from one to the other, so if you have really poor bandwidth, go ahead and set this as low as 96 if you wish. It's also recommended to stream at 48 Khz and in stereo sound, but if you want to save on bandwidth, you can change your sound to mono. After the encoding window comes Broadcast Settings: The mode is basically choosing if you'd like to stream live to a website, or create a local recording somewhere on your hard drive. Select Twitch, and a list of servers will pop up. As a general rule, you'll want to stream to whichever server location is closest to you, as that will create the smallest delay when you stream, as well as be more likely to give you a better upload and download rate, thus achieving a better quality. Remember when I mentioned your stream key earlier? This is where you'll paste it in. Go ahead and leave auto-reconnect checked, timeout at 10 seconds, and delay at 0. If you end up streaming competitive gaming, you might want to increase the delay, but for RPG Maker purposes, there's really no reason. If you happen to be streaming some sort of multiplayer game and you're getting a lot of lag, then you can check the box that says "Minimize Network Impact" - however, it will impact the quality of your stream, so most people are going to want to leave this box unchecked. If you'd like to have a copy of your stream as a video file on your hard drive (perhaps to edit later), you can check the box that says "Automatically save stream to file." The other boxes are basically asking you what locations you'd like to save the file and the format. Next are your video settings: Select your video card from the dropdown box for your video adapter. Your base resolution is what kind of definition you'd like to stream at. This will depend on the quality of your computer and, to some extent, your internet connection. Go ahead and try setting it to 1920 x 1080 (HD) first, or 1280 x 720 (also HD), unless you have a computer that has trouble running whatever game you intend to stream. If you're not very confident in your computer's graphics and processing power, you can set your resolution to 960 x 540. If you'd prefer, you can also just tell OBS to use whatever resolution your monitor is set to using the monitor option. Resolution downscale is for those of you who have poor processing power. Effectively, it will reduce the size of your image before actually uploading it, thus reducing the strain on your CPU. So if you're finding that your computer is having a really difficult time keeping up with your gaming, try setting the resolution downscale to a value greater than 1. For RPG Maker games, you'll probably be fine to just leave Resolution Downscale as none. Disabling aero should only be done if you're intending to do a monitor capture - most of you probably won't be using this option, and for those that do need it, you'll probably know if you want to disable aero. Next are your audio settings: Your desktop audio device is basically what's going to be sent through your stream in addition to your microphone. OBS will transmit both your "stereo mix" and your microphone when you stream - in short, stereo mix is your computer's sound output, which you'll want to send so that people can hear the game audio in addition to you. It will also send anything else you happen to be listening to, such as music, or Skype. Unless you know a reason to change it, leave the desktop audio device at "default." Your microphone is where you'll pick your microphone (shocking). Just find your respective device in the dropdown menu. Everything else can pretty well be left alone for now. We may come back to this window if your microphone is quiet later. Hotkeys are not really necessary, but if you want to set some for various options, you can set them in the hotkey window. Messing with advanced options is something you shouldn't do unless you know what you're doing. The only thing I would recommend is changing your keyframe interval to 2 seconds instead of 0 - or, I should say, that's what OBS recommends in the "broadcast settings" window. That should be it for your OBS settings. Selecting what to stream So now you're back at your main window. In order to actually stream anything, you'll need to create a scene with sources. What is a scene? A scene is, basically, a collection of sources. For the most part, you'll only want one scene. If the scene window is blank, right click and select "add scene," then give it a name. What are sources? Sources are what you'll be telling OBS to stream. A window is just that, a window - for example, when you open up an RPG Maker game, that's a window. Your internet browser is open in a window. Monitor capture is to capture your entire monitor (not recommended). If you want to capture something in full screen, then you'll want to use Game Capture. Video capture device would be if you want to use something like a webcam or a capture card (for streaming your consoles). Image is if you'd like to add a static image to your stream. Slide show is a slide show, text is text. At the most basic level, you'll really just want to do either a window capture or a game capture. Let's assume you want to be able to talk to chat while you're playing and you will thus be playing in windowed mode (unless you have two monitors, in which case you could do game capture). So, open up your RM game, then in your "source" window in OBS, right-click, select add, then select window capture, and give it a name. In this window, you'll want to select which window you want to capture from the dropdown menu. In this particular case, select the game you want to play. For now, leave everything else as is (unless you don't want the mouse to show up on stream, in which case you can uncheck "Capture mouse cursor"). Previewing your stream In those bottom right 8 buttons, you'll see a button that says "Preview Stream." This is where you can move your various sources around to change how your stream will ultimately end up looking. So go ahead and preview your game. You'll probably notice that it seems to only take up a small portion of the window. Well, that's no good! So how do we resize it and move it around? There's another button you'll see that says "Edit Scene." If you click on it, it will put you in "editing mode." While in editing mode, you'll see boxes appear around any sources you have added to capture. You can click and drag to move them around or resize them by clicking in the smaller boxes in the corner of what you have selected. If you want to crop a source (that is, shrink it on either of its 4 sides), just hold ALT and then click and drag whichever side you'd like to crop. This can be useful for editing the window size of your captured webcam, or images and such. If you want to ignore aspect ratio and resize it any way you wish, just hold shift and then click and drag in the corner boxes as usual. In this way, you could get your game to take up the whole stream screen. Getting ready to stream Once you've previewed your stream to make sure it looks the way you want it to look, you're probably going to want to do some sound checks. An easy way to do this is to make a local recording. In those 8 buttons on the bottom right, you'll see "start streaming," and just below it, "start recording." You remember in the Broadcast Settings window where you could select a file path to save local recordings to? If you click, "Start recording," it will just stream directly to your hard drive. That way, you can check what your stream would look like without having to actually go live. Simply find the .FLV file in the directory you chose in Broadcast Settings, open it, and take a look. My game is too loud! You'll notice a couple sections on your main OBS window that have a microphone and a speaker next to them. You can adjust your system volume by clicking on the red bars to lower the volume. If that's not good enough, you can go down to the bottom right corner of your start bar, find the speaker icon, right-click it, and open up the volume mixer. You should see slider bars for each application currently open, and you can individually lower the volume of whatever happens to be too loud. My microphone is too quiet! In the same place you adjusted your system sound, you can also raise or lower the volume of your microphone. You can also go into your Windows system settings by once again right-clicking on the speaker icon, except this time going to "recording devices." Find your microphone in the list of devices, then right-click it and click on properties. If you go to the Levels tab, you can adjust the volume there. It's still too quiet! Last-ditch effort, I wouldn't recommend this, but if your microphone is still too quiet, then you can also do a microphone boost in the OBS software. Go into settings, then audio, and find the line that says "Mic/Aux Boost Multiple." This is basically saying, "Multiply the volume of my microphone by the following amount." Try setting that to 2, then give it a try. If it's still no good, then try 3. If THAT'S still no good, there's probably something else wrong with your microphone besides volume and there will be other steps you should take to try and fix it (maybe you're not using the microphone you think you are, or it's too far away from your mouth, or something like that). Everything looks and sounds good! If, after checking your local recording, you're pleased with the way your stream looks and the volume levels of everything, then you're ready to go live. Go to the Twitch website, then go to your dashboard again, and hang out under the Live tab. Here you can give your stream a title, let viewers know what game you're playing, and what language you're speaking. You can also see a preview of your stream, but I'd recommend to hide it or, at the very least, mute it. If you don't, then you're going to get a bit of an audio loop. You can also see chat, where your viewers will show up and you can either interact with them via stream or by typing in chat. Once you're ready, just go into OBS and click on the button that says "Start streaming." After about 10-15 seconds, your stream will begin on your Twitch channel. Streaming always operates on a bit of a delay, so viewers won't see or hear what you're doing for about 10-30 seconds, depending on your and their internet connection and your stream settings. This is totally normal. Most viewers will understand that they won't hear your response to what they type in chat right away. If you want to make one last check on your stream to make sure everything seems good streaming, then grab a friend to come sit in on your channel (which will simply be "twitch.tv/your user name", e.g. "twitch.tv/zevia") and have them give you feedback. Otherwise, if you checked "Automatically archive my broadcasts," then you can stream for about 30 seconds, stop, then go check your past broadcasts after a few minutes (found by going into the video manager on Twitch) and you can watch what you just streamed and see how it looked. If you would like an in-depth guide on all the settings for OBS, you can visit this webpage here. If you have any questions or don't quite understand something, feel free to let me know and I'll try to help get you setup. Happy playing!