Separate your audio streams for streaming on Windows

Streaming and recording video games is something I’ve been into, casually, for years (since 2006). Recording gameplay with audio usually includes all the system audio and this can be a problem.

Recording all system audio issue

Windows, your web browser and the game’s audio will play through the default device. That default device is usually your headphones or your speakers.

OBS and ShadowPlay usually record that default device, this is something we’ll have to change.

Virtual Audio Cable

I’m using Virtual Audio Cable (VAC). You can use the trial version, buy it or use an alternative virtual cable driver, this is all up to you.

Open the Virtual Audio Control Panel as an admin (always) and setup the desired number of lines. Each line will be setup to receive audio from certain apps depending on the usage you want.

I have the main line for gameplay, my Discord line to record people I’m talking to. I also have a third line for miscellaneous things and a fourth that I’m not using.
Ideally I would’ve have set one line specifically for gaming, but Windows 10 being what it is (and standards being what they are) it ain’t going to work like that.

To complete the audio setup I also need to output those lines to something and that something is my headphones. Each output line automatically inputs the sound into a virtual input too, that way you can listen to it.

Basically this is how things go:

  • Outputs:
    1. Headphones;
    2. Line 1: Main output (default output device);
    3. Line 2: Discord output;
    4. Line 3: Misc output.
  • Inputs:
    1. USB Microphone (default input device);
    2. Line 1: Main output mirrored as input into my headphone;
    3. Line 2: Discord output mirrored as input into my headphone;
    4. Line 3: Misc output mirrored as input into my headphone.

Windows 10 doesn’t remember

Like I said previously one problem that forces me to set the line 1 as the default output device is because Windows 10 can’t exactly remember correctly which app is outputting on which device.

This issue could also be the other way around where an app will have a different output selected but still output to the default device, I’m not sure why but answers would be appreciated.

OBS recording

OBS is a great piece of software that permits me to merge lines and split some too! This is perfect for recording gameplay and streaming (at the same time).

First we need to specify that we will be recording several tracks into our ouput in OBS, for that we need to go into the settings: File, then Settings.
From there we go into the Output section and select in Streaming the first audio track as the one we will be using for streaming like so:

In recording we need to tick all audio track to enable all audio tracksfor later:

Then of course we need to name them and change the audio bitrate if you desire:

In my case I have everything playing on track 1 since it is the default track.
Track 2 will contain the game audio or the main subject of the video/stream.
Track 3 is my voice, followed by track 4 with voices from Discord.

Having different tracks enables me to control what is output when I record and stream, this way I’m able to make audio commentary when preparing a video and after that replace that commentary with a carefully recorded one, while keeping the gameplay audio without altering it.

To select where what track plays it’s necessary to go into the Edit menu, then Advanced audio properties. Set the different inputs and outputs as you wish in the new window:

Keep the first track checked for all lines, check the other numbers as you need.

Troubleshooting: static/glitch audio

After a while if the computer is not rebooted for days it might happen that the audio fizzles, glitches or becomes static. This isn’t a good experience.

The fix consists in restarting Virtual Audio Cable or the audio service from the control panel (as an admin).

FFXIV: Toggle Gamepad/Mouse mode

I love Final Fantasy XIV. I’ve been playing nothing else than FFXIV since the apocalypse pandemic started.

My setup

I’ve been playing a Monk from the start and have enjoyed it very much, at first I was having a hard time using my combos and to optimize them I must use appropriate positioning. Switching to a gamepad was really helping.

I also play Dancer, Gunbreaker, Dark Knight and Red Mage.

Healer struggles

I’ve been interested in learning how to play as a healer, Astrologian to be more precise, because I want to at least learn the job and be able to at least be good enough for any role. The things is, for healers at least, I can’t spend all day cycling through targets.

Hitting down twice on the D-pad will permit me to target the first tank, all is good until my brain glitches or I hit another direction. I struggle with precise selections with the gamepad and this isn’t good.

Thankfully, FFXIV has great UI customization and macros that will help me:

  • Design a better mouse UI;
  • Toggle the display for hotbars or the crosshotbars (gamepad bars);
  • Switch the UI;
  • Switch classes.

I’ve already played around with macro to make a quick side collapsible menu, but now I need to understand how I can tweak the whole UI with macros.

One setting to rule them all

First of all it’s important to identify how we will interact with the main menu and the best way is to enable the mouse input to avoid having a non clickable main menu that only fits gamepads.

FFXIV: Character Settings > UI > General

We must make sure to be in Mouse Mode Type either by click the toggle on the left top side or in the Main Menu choices.

This is not strictly required but it will make life easier since you cannot interact with the main menu without a gamepad in gamepad mode (big oversight? Please fix this Square).

Two macros for switching

I’ve built two HUDs that will display differently based on my selected input device, the gamepad HUD is less dense on the lower part of my screen while the keyboard/mouse HUD keeps everything important at arm’s length.

Click to enlarge.
The main idea is to have a HUD you are comfortable with. Trial and error is the only way.

Macro: To keyboard

Create a macro with the following:

/hudlayout 3
/hotbar display 2 on
/hotbar display 3 on
/hotbar display 4 on
/crosshotbardisplay off

Macro: To gamepad

Create a macro with the following:

/hudlayout 1
/hotbar display 2 off
/hotbar display 3 off
/hotbar display 4 off
/crosshotbardisplay on

Toggling between the two

You will now need to add both macros to a hotbar, this is up to you to do. Keep in mind that if the game settings window is open the macros might not work well since some commands are disabled.

You can also add these macros to your switch classes macro if you do that. That is what I did.

Gaming: You had to be there

Recently I’ve been getting so much FOMO (fear of missing out) with some games that I just started feeling burnt out from things that I enjoy because I might end up no longer enjoying them.

Games are supposed to be fun and are to be enjoyed during my freetime. But I’m missing out on the fun because I don’t have all that freetime.

Events, seasons & schedules

Gaming is now a live service thanks to battlepasses and season passes (that actually last for a season). You no longer buy a game and enjoy it as it is, it always comes back for your money through DLC a bit like a subscription.

More often than not you’ll have the “two lanes reward system” where having the season pass unlocks a new lane in the levelling system with rewards for each level.

Sometimes you’ll only have access to certain timegated activities that happen outside of your free time.

Once a timegated event is over there’s no chance left to enjoy the content and its rewards. You missed that shiny item from a collaboration event ? Too bad mate.
And I can’t even share mine with you because it’s untradable.

Destiny 2

When Destiny 2 turned free-to-play it permitted free users to enjoy the base campaign and the two first extensions (Osiris and Warmind). One you got past the extensions you have the seasonal content that is locked behind a season pass.

Each seasons provides story elements, activities, rewards and “content”. They run for about 3 months with many changes made to the balance and the inner working of the game sometimes.

Depending on how invested you get into the seasonal event you will feel like you are missing out if you do not have the time or if you are not playing enough of the game.

Right now I missed out on the season of the worthy, it was not fun to play and was very grindy. I didn’t care enough about the season of arrivals and couldn’t grind it to the end, there’s still 24 hours in a day over here.
With some content getting vaulted I have officially missed out on some items and activites such as:

  • Catalyst for exotic weapons;
  • Raids;
  • Side quests.

I feel sad about all this because I really did enjoy the Shadowkeep extension and really got into the game for the season of undying and the season of dawn.

If you have time read what Forbes had to say about it: Destiny 2’s “You Had To Be There” Philosophy Is Turning Off Players.

Phantasy Star Online 2

Now this is something else… I’ve been enjoying Phantasy Star Online 2 since its release in Japan and I’ve built a nice big community around it. But ever since summer of 2020 I just don’t have time to farm. I don’t have the energy to think about farming it. I’m burnt out.

I’ve thought about the new North American/Global release but decided to not bother since I’ve been playing the Japanese one for ever, nothing against it and if you need to know which version to choose, just go the Global one (it even exists on Steam).

PSO2 is the kind of game where you’ll be able to enjoy being timegated to get new items because you will not have access to the raids called “emergency quests” when they happens at scheduled hours. After a while some scheduled quests might happen randomly and we’ll be given the opportunity to play they by purchasing items called “triggers”.

If you want to get the hundreds of items required to gear up, you need to play multiple emergency quests, sometimes over 50 times, before you can finally upgrade or obtain the item. Sadly this doesn’t work well with my working hours.

Lately I have not felt like farming the “divide quests” to get the materials needed to get the best weapon out there, and you only had a limited fixed yield per week.
Counting on my own luck to shorten the grind is not something I consider worth it or even healthy.

The game also introduced a battle pass system, with double the rewards if you purchase it with either real money or some in-game currency that can be obtained by playing the game (but that is not infinite).

PSO2 New Genesis has been announced and will permit you to port your weapons and fashion into the new game. This game is exploiting FOMO and will certainly run into legacy issues.

Meanwhile many categories of quests are no longer been played like:

  • Ultimate Quests;
  • Buster Quests;
  • Advanced Quests;
  • Challenge Quests.

Some quests can be enjoyed alone, but some do required at least a couple of players to be enjoyed correctly. Keep in mind that all the rewards from these quests are now totally worthless too.

Miss directing the blame am I?

Now let’s take a step back for a second.

Am I whining because I decided to play other games? No!
Am I whining because I work? Not really.
Am I whining because I’m not getting shiny new items? It’s not that…

I’m pissed at the live service games because I can not longer enjoy all of the content on my own schedule. For me gaming used to be as simple as popping a cardridge into my Megadrive and switching it on.

Now I’m supposed to live around the events and schedules if I want to be part of something.

Don’t get me wrong, if I was part of a guild/clan/team in a game that scheduled some raids or evening I’d still have to make some time to be part of it, but this is something the participants can choose to do while discussing it. We would schedule something when people are available.

Game companies on the other hand don’t have time for that, they build schedules on their own and we must be there, until we decide that we will miss out.
Sometimes life just happens.

Photography

I took up a new hobby: I take photos now!

I invested in a Canon 90D with a 18-135mm lens and the 50mm prime lens. I liked taking photos with my OnePlus 6 but I’ve always wanted to up my game and do better, and I am now.

But photography takes time because I’m shooting and I’m editing my shots (I even invested in Lightroom, classic version with Creative Cloud).

Conclusion

Like often, I’m pissed and mad. I’m whining about a first world problem that doesn’t really affect my life. Gaming is a hobby that I want to be able to enjoy on my own time and not have it dictate my life.

But currently I’m missing out too much on some things and it’s making me a bit sad because I want to be part of it and be able to say that I was there. This is no longer the case.

Keep in mind that other games than those I mentioned are also guilty of that and I didn’t even cover the stability and viability of games and the space they take on the users’ device. Getting new content is often synonymous of having to download a huge patch, introducing balance issues and all sorts of bugs that will be ironed out over time. The most lucrative exploits for players will be patched fast, but those that affect the players negatively will most likely take a bit more time to be fixed.

My FOMO will kick in.

I am no longer there, I don’t miss it.

Not Streaming on Mixer

UPDATE 2020-06-22: I dropped Mixer. Didn’t even stream much on it.

They were not the savior we needed: The Next Step for Mixer.
Twitch got some improvements on its features, now I hope it’ll get itself sorted out on other aspects.

Original post

We all know by now that Ninja has signed up for Mixer and will be streaming exclusively over there. I also don’t care about Fortnite but I thought it was interesting to see the number 1 move over to a competitor.

I’ve actually tried this new platform and I like it.

What is Mixer?

Mixer is a streaming platform just like Twitch but with a much cleaner and modern UI than Twitch.

Reactions and effects can be sent to the streamer through the chat with the Sparks and Embers, a digital currency that can be bought or accumulated for watching streams.

A developer website is available for creating bots and integrating features into games or apps with Mixer: https://dev.mixer.com/

Stream Faster Than Light

Mixer uses the FTL technology that permits the streamer sub-second latency.

This technology exists on other streaming services but I’ve tried it with Mixer and I can’t live without it. I’m done waiting for my viewers to see what I was talking about and getting delayed reactions to me failing at the most basic things.

Isn’t exclusivity bad?

Unlike games being products, streamers are more like performers and they usually need to consolidate a fanbase somewhere so following is easy and communicating with followers is too.

It’s possible to stream to multiple services with a bit of setting up but interactions would be hard to handle well.

The quirks

Okay so let’s be real for a second. Even though I’d support Mixer over Twitch it still isn’t perfect and I have had multiple issues with my channel not showing the stream or the FTL streaming not performing correctly.

I made sure to not stream over 10Mbps in AVerMedia RECentral and OBS.

The settings page is actually quite easy to understand and helps setting up the encoder correctly. But there’s no way to debug stream errors for now.

Twitch is bad

Twitch also experimented with Ninja’s channel, since he’s not streaming on it anymore, to recommend other Fortnite streamers… Without validating the streams or notifying him. It obviously when wrong when someone was streaming porn instead of Fortnite. Ninja has addressed this on Twitter:

While Ninja’s channel could be seen as belonging to Twitch, attacking his brand by advertising other streamers, especially without hand picking the content, is scummy at best and is a blatant attack on his brand.

Twitch is also know for banning some streamers for little to no offense or honest mistakes while giving a pass on the more famous offenders such as Alinity (covered on the second bullet point). Sometime you’ve got to agree with PETA:

One should never feed vodka to their cat, in my book this counts as dangerous consumption of alcohol for such a small animal.

While Twitch permits other streams than gaming, it sometimes looks more like a cam show platform than anything else. Reddit user RainZone asked the following question:

…why are people bothered by female streamers who use their body for subs? I mean sure it’t not the most ethical thing to do, but nobody forces someone to watch her streams?

To which reddit user MagamanDS responded (full response):

Long story short – Twitch was built and designed solely for the purpose of gaming… Twitch has been adding categories and features outside of gaming…

Non-gamer female streamers started growing in popularity VERY QUICKLY. This made many serious gamers upset because it feels like their ‘safe space’ gaming environment is being taken over by girls who don’t play games, thus resulting in ‘ruining’ Twitch (or their safe-space/home)…

The rest of MagamanDS’ response is also very interesting and you should read it.

Let’s finish by saying that Twitch isn’t only about gaming anymore, which is not a bad thing in itself. But what is bad is having content that belongs on camshow websites such as body painting and having people exposing their bodies.

Conclusion

I want Mixer to become the major streaming platform that YouTube Gaming never became, I want it to be able to compete with Twitch on its own and deliver a great user experience.

Right now getting partnered isn’t easy due to the goals being set very high for the random nobody but I’m willing to ignore that.

I’ll be streaming a bit more on Mixer here: https://mixer.com/SenpaiSilver

Steam sales don’t suck

Whenever a Steam sale happens nowadays it’s always the same thing: people whine about the sale being worse than before.
But is it true? No it’s not.

The Steam Grand Prix event on the other hand sucks and is the worst event we have had.

Why do sales suck?

I said they don’t. The problem isn’t actually the sale, it’s the player’s library.
This is a supply and demand problem.

Every year new games come out, some get their prices lowered while other will go on a nice sale. If you buy a game you want, then during the next sale you will not buy it again, unless you are generous and gift it to someone.

When a new sale happens but you are neither interested in a game or willing to pay a price that seems to high, you will not buy anything. By not buying anything most players will think that there’s nothing of interest and therefore the sale sucks hard.

The sale is actually fine, just not particularly interesting.

Conclusion

Please don’t say this sale sucks, you already have everything you want. The event minigame on the other hand is really bad and actually quite predatory and we should call out Valve for this.

Rogue Squadron 3D in 1080p

Rogue Squadron 3D is my very first Star Wars game. I’ve played countless hours trying to get all gold medals in every mission in the past, today I’ve gotten them in under 7 hours.
I’ve played this game.

During the “May the 4th be with you” Steam sale I decided it was time to get it. But it’s an old game.

Prerequisites

First of all you’ll need Windows and then you’ll need nGlide. We will not be using DirectX since we want to achieve 1080p (even though we’ll have that 4:3 aspect ratio).

You’ll also need to access the registry.

Installing nGlide

Go download and install nGlide from the official website.

Once it is installed you’ll want to open the nGlide configuration to set up the game for your resolution:

My main screen is 1080p, but I’ll want to preserve the original aspect ratio. I’ve set the refreshed rate to the desktop, if you get weird issues you can try locking it to 60FPS.
Vertical synchronization might be required.

Do not forget to apply the settings.

Forcing nGlide

The game will now need to use nGlide, to do so we need to set it in the launcher and then in the registry.

Click “Hardware Configuration” then “Change 3D Video Card”. You’ll be prompted to select a video driver, select “Voodoo Card (Driver: GLIDE)” then apply.
Close the launcher once everything is set.

Run regedit by opening the Start menu, the navigate to right key:

Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\LucasArts Entertainment Company LLC\Rogue Squadron\v1.0

Here we’ll have to create a String value called VDEVICE and set with the value:

Voodoo (Glide)

This will force the game to use nGlide.

Conclusion

The game will now play in 1080p and your windows will not longer be moved due to the resolution change. But there’s sadly no way to play it in windowed mode and leaving the focus might crash the game.
If you wish to try playing in windowed mode just hit ALT + Enter.

This is the only game of the Rogue Squadron series you can play on PC natively and it’s a shame since Rogue Leader is clearly a very good game too, Rebel Strike on the other hand has some issues.

Credit goes to wALLY for his solution on how to force nGlide for Rogue Squadron 3D.

Buy Rogue Squadron 3D

Review: Wargroove

Wargroove is the latest game by Chucklefish, those that made Starbound previously and have published many great games.

Availability

The game has been release for PC, XBox One, Nintendo Switch and will be available on Playstation 4. I’m running the PC version and have purchased the game on Steam.

Gameplay

Are you familiar with Advance Wars? This game works in the same way but let’s not be lazy and let’s elaborate on that.

This is a turn based strategy game where you control units and building, you have a base and/or a commander and you must not lose either of them.
There are villages you can capture to increase your income. With your income you will craft units in barracks.

The game features a campaign, an arcade mode, a puzzle mode and multiplayer with crossplay. The game also features a built-in map and campaign editor.

Full mouse, keyboard and controller support is available. There are also accessibility settings for color blindness. So much care has been put in the game.

The “Groove”

Each commander has an ultimate move called the “groove”. For example this move heals Mercia and all surrounding units by 50% when used, or Valder can summon a skeleton from the dead.

These moves can make quite the difference but are not necessarily game changers, unlike ultimates in Overwatch for example.

Difficulty curve

The tutorial does a great job explaining where to get information and how to advance but most of the work will be done by the player and it’s a challenging game. I have yet to get 3 stars in a mission that is not a tutorial during the campaign while playing on the normal difficulty. I am not a smart person maybe.
No need to be smart to have fun.

“Ragna challenged you to a battle!”

Special thanks

I would like to personaly thank Chucklefish for bringing this game on multiple platforms and not making it exclusive to any store and also because of crossplay enabling games from everywhere, with every kind of hardware, to connect and play together.

Thank you for making Wargroove the way it is.

Conclusion

I’m not very good but I’m willing to learn from my mistakes. The game looks good and I do enjoy it very much.

If you wish to purchase Wargroove check out the official site or the tweet below:

Exclusivity is not competiton

Metro Exodus, part of the Metro series, was up for preorder on Steam. But then it was taken down because Epic slapped lightly Deep Silver with dollars bills. While the early preorder will be honored this is bad for PC gaming as a whole.

Exclusivity is not competition

When the Epic Games store had been announced they promised a much bigger share of the sales to the developers and even promoted exclusivity deals.

Painting Steam as the bad guy with 30+5% are we?

Being able to earn 88% of a sale instead of 70% is good for the developer, especially the one that wants to maximize its revenue for less sales. But is it consumer friendly ? It’s not when it can’t be bought everywhere.

This exclusivity is unfair and unhealthy to the PC gaming community.

Metro Exodus

The Epic Games store has the advantage of giving a larger share of each sale to the developers/publishers than Steam, this is good for developers, but making the game available on Steam and then pulling out for a one year exclusivity deal is unfair to players who have preordered and to those who were planning on buying it.

While I’m not concerned about spoilers and I actually have my own opinion about the value of spoilers and how I experience media, I can wholeheartedly say that I will not care about a game striking an exclusivity deal like that.
I made the decision to protest this by not getting the game (legally or not) and I will probably not even bother once it’s out on Steam.

The Steam store page currently has a notice posted:

Notice: Sales of Metro Exodus have been discontinued on Steam due to a publisher decision to make the game exclusive to another PC store.

The developer and publisher have assured us that all prior sales of the game on Steam will be fulfilled on Steam, and Steam owners will be able to access the game and any future updates or DLC through Steam.

We think the decision to remove the game is unfair to Steam customers, especially after a long pre-sale period. We apologize to Steam customers that were expecting it to be available for sale through the February 15th release date, but we were only recently informed of the decision and given limited time to let everyone know.

Source: Steam store page

Even Mike Ybarra, XBox Vice President, has something to say about it:

What a time to be alive. Is this how this great platform ends?
Steam isn’t getting killed, it’s actually not even dying, but PC gaming is hurting.

We already knew for The Division 2 being exclusive to Epic, but having Metro Exodus advertised on Steam during a long preorder period and then making it unavailable for purchase for a whole year is scummy at best.

Time to vote

It’s time to vote with our wallets.

I will personally not stand for this. Games that will be exclusive (or even time exclusive) will not get my attention. I take pride in my Steam library.

GOG and Steam are both much more consumer friendly than what is Epic now, and even when Epic will become friendlier I will still not support it. The only thing I might use the launcher for is the engine since I’ve always wanted to try making some games, but I’m still quite turned off.

The Epic Games Store

While it can sell games and microtransations for Fortnite it lacks forums, players are encourages to go to the Steam forums for interaction. It also lacks groups, wishlists, user profiles, user reviews and Linux support.

We have seen recently that user reviews have been used to review bomb, or protest, the lack of user reviews hurts consumers. When a bad or broken game comes out we can usually get an idea about what it’s like with user review in the store but this isn’t the case here.

While we could search for reviews on YouTube or on any famous gaming news website, there’s no guarantee you will get the whole picture and avoid spoilers (if you care about that), unlike store reviews that can be moderated and voted as useful.

Epic will most certainly not offer any better DRM than Denuevo.

GOG and Origin

GOG and Origin are currently the two other stores that work pretty well.
GOG is great for having DRM free games and older games adapted to run on modern systems. They have a few first party games with the Witcher series and will be getting Cyberpunk 2077 (hopefully not a timed exclusive).
They have a service used to add games to your GOG account depending on the games you own on Steam: GOG Connect.

Let’s give credit where it’s due, EA has many first party games to build their store with exclusives such as Star Wars, FIFA, Battlefield, Dragon Age and many more. They are not poaching any other stores (at the time of writing). While exclusives are still bad they still produce many first party games.

“Sorry, we only serve DRM-less games here.”

Conclusion

Epic Games doesn’t have the perfect record they should have, for a couple of months prior to this post, I’ve been receiving emails about failed login attempts and the recent account theft vulnerability triggers some many red flags when launching their own store that I have no interest in giving it a try.
I’ve invested time and money into Steam and I’m happy about it.

I’m sad to see PC gaming becoming like console, where we all run x86_64 code but not the same software. They would be a great competitor if they were not aggressively pushing exclusivity like that. You can read more here: