I have been live streaming Rocksmith 2014 on twitch for over a year now and it has been an awesome ride. I've had an absolute blast doing it and plan to continue doing for as long as my guitar works. That being said, I've learned an awful lot about the process of streaming and putting on a 'show', that I feel it would possibly be beneficial to share this knowledge and put together a guide to Rocksmith broadcasting.
This is in no way a hard and fast rulebook to Rocksmith streaming. It's just a guide and as such I expect it to evolve and adapt as I continue streaming. Any feedback (positive or negative) both from viewers or fellow streamers would be greatly appreciated.
The guide is focused on the act of streaming and as such is not intended as a guide for learning to become a better guitarist. That's what the game is for.
1 - The Basics.
So you want to be a Rocksmith streamer? Well, you're going to need a few things to get started.
- Obviously you will need a copy of the game and the Rocksmith cable.
- An electric guitar and/or a bass. (guitar straps, plectrums, strings... blah blah)
- A PC (see system spec).
Console streaming, while technically possible is hampered by Copyright protection that effectively blocks any attempts to broadcast the game.
- A wireless headset. (Preferably with a microphone)
If you want to be able to play standing up like I do, having a wireless headset is essential, but if you're going to be seated it isn't that big a deal. A set of ordinary wired headphones and even a standalone microphone will probably work fine for you. Make sure that your headset supports 48Khz 16 bit audio at a minimum and ensure that you have it set to stereo mode only. Rocksmith 2014 is very particular about the sound configuration. Also ensure that Audio exclusivity is turned off in your Windows Sound Control Panel.
- A webcam.
While not essential, If you want to put on an entertaining show it's a very good idea to make sure people can see your epicness as you rock out. Rocksmith on its own is not the most entertaining game to watch.
- Broadcast software
I use OBS(Open Broadcast Software) there are others, such as Xsplit but this guide will be based on what I know.
I'm going to use my own system as the baseline for minimum hardware requirements for streaming Rocksmith. Mainly because it's all I know and has served me well. I have a pretty complex streaming setup now and the hardware that I am using has kept up with my requirements thus far. Simpler streaming setups will definitely be playable with lower spec PC systems so don't be completely put off if your hardware doesn't match up with mine. That being said, my rig is 3 years old now (2016) so if you've upgraded or purchased a new PC in the last year or so you will probably have no issues.
- CPU - Intel i7 4770 3.4Ghz
- RAM - 16gb
- Harddrive - 240gb SSD
an SSD is absolutely essential if you are going to have a large CDLC selection.
- GPU - Nvidia Geforce 680GTX
- MoBo - ASRock Z68 Extreme4
- Wireless Headset - Logitech g930.
- Webcam - Logitech c930 1080p
- Monitors - 2 x 24inch 1920 x 1200 Dell Ultrasharp LCD Screens.
1 x 48inch 3840 x 2160 4k TV. *
* A note about monitors. Two monitors will be more than adequate for most Rocksmith streaming setups. In fact you only really need one. However if you want to be engaged with your viewers while streaming it is incredibly useful to be able to have your twitch chat open in a separate window. I went whole hog on mine by adding a 4k TV to the mix so that I could have absolutely every window open while broadcasting my show. Don't feel like you need anything quite as excessive to be able to put on a good show.
2 - Broadcasting
So you've got the gear. You've got the attitude. Now you're ready to bring your Rocksmith show to the world. Let's get your setup fine tuned for your first stream.
Rocksmith 2014 can sometimes be a complete bastard to configure for a live stream. There are a few things you need to do first to ensure that your broadcasting software can capture the game audio and video.
When you are starting out, I strongly recommend that you set the game's graphical options to the lowest possible in the Visual settings menu. Have your game resolution set to 720p to start and disable all the fancy bells and whistles in the advanced display settings menu. Once you've confirmed that the game is playable for you while streaming feel free to bump everything up to your hearts content, but to start with, keep things as simple as possible.
In the game's audio settings menu check the audio engine is set to 4. If your PC is beefy enough feel free to drop it down to 3 or 2. Ensure that audio exclusivity is set to OFF. This is very important for streaming as your broadcasting software won't be able to capture audio if it is ON.
If you want to really get into the nitty gritty of rocksmith config then I recommend going through the Ubisoft PC config guide http://forums.ubi.co...-and-FAQ-Forums
To ensure you give your PC the best possible shot at producing a clean live broadcast I strongly recommend closing down any unnecessary applications. Anything that can cause random fluctuations in CPU use or your internet bandwidth should be closed. Shut off those pr0n torrents kids. You need those precious mbits.
I'd also recommend turning off any alerts or notifications that could potentially pop up and cause issues. Having said that, since upgrading to windows 10, I have actually found the new alert system to be quite useful for when I am tweeted at during a stream. On Windows 7 system notifications caused Rocksmith to lag like crazy and often necessitated a game restart to bring it back to normal. Your mileage may vary though so feel free to ignore this advice.
Go to your sound device properties menu. In the advanced tab make sure your audio device is set to 48Khz 16bit. Also be sure to deselect the audio exclusivity options. If these are active then Rocksmith won't let OBS capture audio.
Ensure that your speaker config is set to stereo (2 speakers) This is key as Rocksmith will not work with surround sound.
Your rocksmith real tone cable should be set to the same properties by default.
This guide will only deal with OBS (Open Broadcast System) it's free and regularly updated and is the only one I've used. Their are alternatives though so feel free to try those out too.
There are plenty of really good guides out there for getting the most out of the OBS product. I highly recommend you go through these to get a good overview of how to configure the software.
Twitch.tv has it's own OBS guide - here
There are plenty of guides on the OBS forums - here is one I recommend since it also includes many other useful guides to setting up a quality broadcast.
The above mentioned guides will take you through all the steps necessary for getting to the point of being able to start streaming. I'm not going to cover any of that here as those guides are far more thorough and there is no need to duplicate the info.
In terms of my config for streaming with OBS... I have 20mbit upload on my broadband
- Video Encoding - max bitrate 2000kb/s
- Audio Encoding - AAC - bitrate 160
- Base resolution - 1920x1080
- no downscale
- Filter - Bilinear
- FPS - 30
The above settings give me a reasonable balance between quality of image and bandwidth usage.
3 - Putting on a show
It really helps if you can actually play the game and can put in the time to broadcast regularly.
This guide is working under the assumption that you have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of playing guitar and are reasonably confident and comfortable playing the game. If you can average 80% or higher on a first play through of the majority of rocksmith charts then you are at a distinct advantage. The unfortunate reality is that a novice guitarist that struggles to play songs accurately is going to sound bad. This will put a lot of viewers off. The cat barbecuing sound of someone struggling their way through a song they haven't played before is not something many people will happily sit through.
That's not to say that you shouldn't do it if you aren't yet very good at playing the guitar or game. After all, LeFrenchStallion started off as a novice and well, look at him now. It is important to note that his viewership numbers started really taking off once he got good though. So keep that in mind if you are constantly streaming to an empty chatroom. Streaming on twitch can be an incredibly rewarding experience. However, like many things in life it takes a lot of time and dedication to build a meaningful following and that goes double if you are a novice guitarist. You will not get good at guitar if you don't put in the graft and you won't build a twitch following if you don't stream regularly. Try to have a schedule. If you are serious about becoming a twitch streamer you have to give your audience time to find you. Stream for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably more per show and do as many shows per week as you can.
I personally average around 3 hours per stream and I try to be live every week night from 9pm onwards. The bigger streamers like Wr4thTV and LeFrenchStallion both log an insane amount of hours on their respective shows and this effort is rewarded. They are both partnered and have decent viewership and follower numbers.
Choosing the right Twitch game category
Rocksmith 2014 has a dedicated game category in twitch, however it's probably not in your best interests to set that as your game category. The audience for Rocksmith is very limited, only ever going over the hundred mark when Ubisoft does their weekly show on Thursday evenings. Any other day of the week it's unusual to see more than 10 to 20 viewers on the entire category. With this in mind it makes a lot of sense to set your game category to 'Music' when streaming. The music category usually has 1 or 2 thousand viewers going and often spikes way higher when big shots go live. If you want the maximum possible exposure... music is the way forward.
Layout. Layout. Layout.
When streaming a normal game on twitch the game content usually takes the majority of screen real estate, while the streamer's face is relegated to a corner of the screen. This makes sense for most games as the gameplay is what people are usually interested in. When it comes to Rocksmith the reverse is true. The game itself is fairly boring to look at. The only reason to have the game as the primary focus is if you aren't using a webcam and/or you want your viewers to be able to play along with you.
As long as your viewers can see how you are doing on a particular chart in terms of accuracy then the gameplay element of rocksmith is covered. Stick the game in one of the corners of your stream and expand your webcam to fill as much of the screen as you are comfortable with. At a minimum you should try to ensure that your guitar is in full view at all times. Generally, people watching want to see your performance and this means being able to see how your hands are moving on the fretboard as well as the picking/strumming side. Many of your viewers will be aspiring guitar players too and they often like watching another guitarist playing to get tips and tricks.
Try to ensure that you are well lit. If you are playing in low light even the best webcams will struggle to capture a decent picture. Try to have multiple light sources to ensure a nice evenly lit image. This is especially important because your webcam is taking up a good portion of the screen.
If you really want to push the limits on stream quality you can do something like Wr4thTV or LeFrenchStallion, which is to use a green screen. This can look amazing if you have the money to invest in proper lighting and have a room that you can dedicate to streaming.
As for everything else layout wise... this is up to you and your own personal preference. Personally I have window on my stream showing the chat, plus I include recent follower and donation info in banners at the top of the stream. Follow/donation/Sub alerts are all handled by twitchalerts and gamewisp overlays. How you configure those is up to you.
Building a following
Pretty much everyone knows that building a strong following and sense of community in a twitch stream depends a lot on the interaction between the streamer and their chat. Rocksmith can sometimes make this quite difficult as playing a song really requires a lot of focus, but that said, with practice and the right monitor setup it is possible to keep an eye on your twitch chat and play the game at the same time.
There are a few ways to ensure that you capture those elusive viewers and potentially turn them into followers.
- Take requests.
This can be daunting at first as it adds a few wrinkles to the workflow of putting on a live show. Firstly you will quite often be asked to play songs you've never even heard before let alone played and this will be very challenging to you if you struggle to sight read songs in Rocksmith. On the plus side you will be introduced to some amazing music and you will definitely improve as a guitarist by forcing yourself to play outside your comfort zone. It is worth it though since a viewer who has a song in your setlist is a viewer who is likely to stay around to hear it and if you do a good job or at least have fun trying then they are more likely to want to see more.
The simplest way to take song requests is to setup a chat bot like moobot or ankhbot. Some rocksmith streamers use their own custom bots. Personally I use moobot for song requests.
- Loyalty points.
Some chat bots like Ankhbot allow you to offer your viewers points for watching your stream. Having a loyalty point system is an incredibly powerful way to give your viewers a way to feel connected to your stream. If nothing else, people like collecting free internet points and gamifying the viewing of your stream gives your viewers motivation to stay in your stream. It goes way deeper than that though since you can really allow your viewers to connect/interact with you and your stream in some surprisingly fun ways.
Simply allowing your viewers to skip your existing song request queue by spending a specific number of their loyalty points, turns those 'free' internet points into something that has an intrinsic value.
Ankhbot also enables your viewers to activate sound files by using specific commands. You can assign a point cost to these too as another way to give those 'free' internet points value. I have created a whole library of sound file commands that my viewers can activate during the stream and these add a great way from them to interact with me.
- Try to stay positive.
Spend some time watching the bigger Rocksmith streamers like LeFrenchStallion, Wr4thTV and take a leaf out of their books. They have totally different streaming personalities, LeFrenchStallion is incredibly animated and interactive and always seems to be having the time of his life, while Wr4thTV has a calm and almost relaxed vibe. Very different streaming styles that appeal to quite different audiences and yet the common theme is they both maintain a positive attitude and commendable level of engagement with their viewers. I don't think I've ever seen either of them express anger or frustration while streaming.
This is important to keep in mind since, if you are taking requests, there will be times you are asked to play things that make you want to pull your hair out and punch your monitor. Or, if you're a novice guitarsmith or playing something new you may struggle to follow a chart and become flustered by all the mistakes you are making. Staying positive through those moments is personally one of the hardest things about streaming Rocksmith, because you are doing it for an audience. You absolutely must learn to be like water and let those frustrations flow off you.
That's pretty much it for now. This is a long and wordy post but if you've read it this far I hope you've found something of value in it. I will probably add to it as an when I think of new things to add.
thanks for reading.