Categories
Games News of the Weird

Puppet Twitch

Is this Peak Twitch? Is Peak Twitch even an attainable concept?

Evan Narcisse on Kotaku:

There’s A Puppet Playing Diablo on Twitch Now

Because of course there is.

He’s only got three archived broadcasts so far and no bio but it’s plain to see that the fuzzy blue puppet called Bennyfits has the glow of game-streaming greatness about him. That gravelly voice, the way that he mumbles his way through Blizzard’s loot-tastic and his banter with text chat make for some of the most entertaining stuff on Twitch I’ve ever seen.

Categories
Fails Games

Family-Friendly Twitch

I’ve been watching events and streams on Twitch for some time now, but it’s been during my sabbatical break from work that I’ve spent a decent bit more time paying attention to what’s out there and what people are streaming.

Because it’s my children’s summer vacation, they have often been sitting and watching with me, learning about games (especially the classics!) and just spending time with their dad while he has time away from work. And partially because of that, I’ve noticed something:

Twitch has a massive outbreak of foul language on an awful lot of streams. And it makes the service and consequently the watching of games as a leisure activity for kids something difficult to recommend as a result.

When I stream, I do what I can to make sure my part of the stream is family-friendly. No swearing, no inappropriate references, nothing that would make me embarrassed to have my own kids watching the stream.

I decided to do this not only because of my own family, but also because of BigJon, who is currently my only Twitch subscription because his content is always family-friendly and his speed runs are a huge hit with my kids. His dedication to being family-friendly and keeping drama out of chat is a big inspiration to how I approach streaming.

GameJ06, aka BigJon, probably the most notable specifically family-friendly streamer on Twitch.
GameJ06, aka BigJon, probably the most notable specifically family-friendly streamer on Twitch.

A Hard Call?

I know it’s hard to find what that line is when trying to determine “family-friendly.” (For instance, what to do when I’m playing a game that has non-ff content in it, even though my own language and conduct would be family-friendly?)

But I’d love to see Twitch streamers change it up a bit and realize that we aren’t going to be able to inspire the next generation of speed runners, fighting game aficionados, or modders without providing them with streams they can watch with their parents and siblings.

My kids are heavily-influenced by the streams I watch. Because of BigJon, my autistic son is now super-into The Lost Levels. Because of things like Games Done Quick and Evo, which keep their commentary family-friendly (I think) on purpose, my oldest son has purchased Virtual Console copies of Super Mario Bros. and Mega Man. My daughter picks up the arcade stick once in a while and tries to learn Ultra Street Fighter IV and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.

(Specific props to FGC commentators like James Chen, David Graham, Seth Killian, and skisonic, about whom I’ve noticed a tendency to keep the language clean even when crazy things are going down.)

There are lots of things I just won’t watch with my kids because the language is just too over-the-top–and I suspect it’s likely it limits the potential audience for lots of content. Several Mega Man X runners I respect otherwise are fountains of cursing. A runner I was going to watch who is playing through the entire NES catalog had to be turned off because the first sentence after I loaded the stream had two f-bombs in it.

I’m not anti-swearing. I think there’s a time and a place for it. But it doesn’t need to be in streams, and I want to think we can carve out a safe space for kids and families to be watching this content to engage and interest new generations in the games we love. (Not to mention the fact that it could have a significant halo effect in making the communities around these things friendlier to more people in-person.)

Teaming Up

I’d love to create a Twitch team that embraces the concept of family-friendly streaming. To find like-minded people and give them a place where families who want to watch together can find streams that would be language-free, non-discriminatory, non-sexual, etc.

Of course, there are problems with this, not the least of which reason is that I can’t create a team because I’m not streaming enough to build the audience one needs to be partnered (though time, we have time). :)

But there are other things to consider. What if I want to stream a Saints Row game (which is decidedly not kid-friendly) late at night my time, but I’m on the list and there are people either with kids up late or in a different time zone? How would you handle that? Splitting a stream into two streams isn’t always the solution to the problem because then partners wouldn’t get the full attention necessary.

And there’s the added problem that the non-web apps don’t support the team structure or (I believe) the mature flag on streams. (Thinking that members of the team could set the flag if they are streaming something not-appropriate.)

This is mostly thinking out loud, but it’s an interesting problem to consider.

So What Then?

In the meantime, I think the best thing I (and you, if you are interested) as a streamer can do is just make sure that I do what I can to keep my conduct family-friendly. If I’m playing a game that’s not, I can either turn on the mature flag or depend on viewers to know that what I’m playing doesn’t lie in that spectrum (and play later at night, of course).

I’m interested in your thoughts. What do you think about how family-friendly (or not) video game streaming is? Do you keep your stream that way on purpose? Do you think streamers shouldn’t care? Do you know of streams that are friendly that you’d like others to know about? Do you think this is important to growing the audience for this type of content?

Leave a comment on the post (all comments are moderated) with your musings.

Categories
Markel!

Sabbatical Start!

As I type this, I have just closed Slack on my main workstation, and I don’t plan on opening it up very often (if at all) for the next three months.

I previously mentioned the benefit at Automattic of the sabbatical every five years of employment, and I’m taking mine starting this weekend. I hope to be blogging a bit about what I’m doing with the time I’m gifted and other things while I am out.

I do have some rough goals for the time I’m out. I’d like to:

  • Take the family on a road trip at some point during the summer.
  • Get in an hour of guitar practice at least three days a week, to focus on just basic learning.
  • Up my CrossFit activity from the current 3 times a week to five times a week.
  • Get another one of my eternally half-baked plugins out there for others to start using.
  • Raise some money for Extra Life prior to my 24-hour marathon for the year, hopefully a good chunk of it. This means more streaming on Twitch!

If I get in even half of that, I’ll feel like I’ve done a good job. I want to use the time to spend it with my family and do more things with my children while they are out of school, but I also want to take the time to level up some skills and improve myself while I’m not in the daily routine.

It’s going to fun! If you want to follow along, following this blog is a pretty good way to do that, or following me on Twitter.

And subscribe to my channel on Twitch!

 

Categories
Games

YouTube Gaming: Shots Fired

YouTube came out swinging as part of the pre-E3 hype train today, announcing through a series of tweets and some PR pushed to gaming sites that they are launching YouTube Gaming this summer:

Is it a big market? You betcha. Just look at Twitch’s own data regarding their audience reach in this post recapping their 2014. 100 million unique monthly viewers is nothing to sneeze at. And 1.5 million unique broadcasters. There’s ad dollars in them thar hills.

There’s a post on Polygon that’s largely regurgitated PR-speak, but it includes most of the information you need to know about the service. The last paragraph hits what YouTube thinks is their main competitive angle here:

Product manager Barbara Macdonald showed off YouTube’s improvements for livestreamers at today’s event, walking attendees through the streamlined process that only requires a few clicks to set up. YouTube Gaming will let streamers enable DVR so viewers can rewind live broadcasts, and a new low latency streaming option will let streamers “really interact with [their] fans while gaming.” Macdonald also promised improvements to chat moderation, something she’d said users had been requesting.

As a pretty infrequent and not horribly successful streamer on Twitch, here are some brief thoughts on the upcoming competition. (YouTube Gaming doesn’t launch until “summer.”)

The Twitch Advantage

Twitch has a huge head start and a dedicated vertical audience. And they have done some things very, very well:

  • They have a fairly robust app ecosystem that encompasses not just iOS and Android but also consoles and some set-top boxes. It’s pretty easy to consume Twitch content.
  • It’s also very easy to stream with Twitch, with support being built in to some games now and both the Xbox One and Playstation 4 having support for streaming built in at the OS layer. There are multiple app choices on PC/Mac for streaming to the platform, as well.
  • They have a chat and streamer community that (at least so far) isn’t overly toxic and tends to be pretty positive.
  • They have a great API and other aspects of the service (like chat operating over IRC) that give them a pretty broad support base within the developer community.
  • They make it pretty easy to find other content that you are interested in, either through game listings, channel hosting (where someone you watch can “host” someone else’s stream to boost their reach), and a featured channels list that is fairly well-curated.
  • They dogfood their own service and host various programs of their own—and a lot of their staff have been hired from within the community itself.
  • Major gaming events are almost exclusively streamed on Twitch.

They also have been doing what they can to improve things recently, with changes like reduced video latency to make it easier to interact with the chat channel, and the addition of more features to their mobile apps, which have been okay-but-not-great for a while now.

YouTube’s Potential Supremacy

YouTube has some potential to shake things up, though. Here’s what they need to do to snag significant numbers of audience and streamers from Twitch:

  • Good integration with their existing device app ecosystem (like on consoles or Apple TV).
  • An amazing mobile and tablet app that just smokes everything Twitch offers right now—which according to the language in their press so far, sounds like it’s a priority.
  • Low chat latency and the ability for users to write bots and other community tools that interface with things like follows, subscriptions, etc.
  • Moderation tools that don’t horribly suck for dealing with their notoriously toxic community.
  • Better console and app support for people who want to start streaming to their service.
  • Analytics and monetization tools that are easy-to-use and available to everyone using the platform. This is where they can hit Twitch the hardest. Twitch requires you to be selected as a Partner before you are able to make money off your stream or get good insights into your numbers. It’s kept the subscription-enabled streams at a pretty high quality, but if there’s a gold rush to YouTube the numbers will suffer.
  • Hiring of people within the community to represent streamers and viewers and be enabled and encouraged to participate in that same community as part of their jobs. Based on some other tweets from today, it sounds like they are indeed doing this.

YouTube’s biggest problem is just going to be making this a vertical that gets the right amount of attention and focus, while enabling content creators to moderate their communities to keep the toxicity at a minimum.

If they spend the correct amount of time and money on this product, I think they will have a success on their hands. And I think the best-case scenario is YouTube growing the overall game streaming community, not stealing numbers from Twitch. Competition is good!

The best response to this announcement came from Twitch’s Twitter account, by the way:

And poor Hitbox is just kind of over in their own little corner, neither being noticed nor making much noise.

Categories
Games

Looking Good.

Just getting things ready for Saturday. Decided my old streaming scene was a bit boring, so I tried upping my game. So far I like what I’m seeing and probably won’t change it too much.

Screenshot 2014-10-24 01.30.39

There’s a bunch more color and visual interest. Before, I was using a super-sparse background and I thought it best to change it to something that was busier, but dropped the opacity so it wouldn’t dominate.

I kind of dig adding the silhouette of the St. Louis skyline there. I’m raising money specifically for children’s hospitals in the St. Louis metro area, so it feels fitting and gives it some additional personality.

This kept me up way too late but I love giving just a touch more effort to the look of the stream. Hopefully this will catch some eyes in the main Extra Life directory.

I hope you’ll join me on Saturday.

Categories
Games Markel!

Extra Life 2014 – Coming Soon

Last year, I participated in the Extra Life fundraising campaign, and raised over $700 for St. Louis Children’s and Cardinal Glennon Children’s hospitals. (The campaign benefits Children’s Miracle Network hospitals in a given local area.)

This year, I’ve set what I think is a somewhat audacious goal of $2,000 as my marathon stream goal.

I’ll be streaming from 8 a.m. on Saturday the 25th of October until 8 a.m. the next morning, taking only occasional breaks. I’ll be involving my family and hopefully some of my friends in the marathon. (If you want to help, please let me know if you are available and what you want to play.)

Please consider watching! I’ll post more details soon. And if you would be so kind, please consider donating and spreading the word regarding this marathon! I hope you’ll help me provide donations directly to hospitals for children who need medical care. :)

Categories
Fails Games

A Translation to Plain English of Twitch’s New Audio VOD Policy Post

So if you didn’t catch wind of this yet, Twitch’s general counsel put up a blog post today showcasing their new partnership with Audible Magic, which is apparently a content scanning service that is designed to enrich content creators dinosaur publishers when their copyrighted content is found used in online media.

Let’s take a look:

Starting today, Twitch will be implementing technology intended to help broadcasters avoid the storage of videos containing unauthorized third-party audio.

You didn’t ask for anyone to help you with this, but we don’t care.

We respect the rights of copyright owners, and are voluntarily undertaking this effort to help protect both our broadcasters and copyright owners.

We suddenly care about copyrighted material being used on our site, but for some reason don’t care about the DMCA—which is designed to deal with this kind of thing—so we’re doing this other thing instead. Check this out; you’re going to love it.

We’ve partnered with Audible Magic, which works closely with the recorded music industry, to scan past and future VODs for music owned or controlled by clients of Audible Magic. This includes in-game and ambient music. When music in the Audible Magic database is detected (“Flagged Content”), the affected portion of the VOD will be muted and volume controls for that VOD will be turned off. Additionally, past broadcasts and highlights with Flagged Content are exportable but will remain muted.

We’ve muted probably half of all archived videos on Twitch, because we’re scanning for music that is used in the very games we want you to stream.

No; we don’t see the irony in this. Maybe you should mute the games you are playing and just talk when you do a show; it would really help us out. Thanks.

You can even make laser gun sounds when you play. Your viewers might find that interesting.

The Audible Magic technology will scan for third party music in 30 minute blocks — if Audible Magic does not detect its clients’ music, that portion of the VOD will not be muted. If third party audio is detected anywhere in the 30-minute scanned block, the entire 30 minutes will be muted.

Why use a scalpel when you can use a sledgehammer?

Seriously, you should be wowed by what we are doing here. We took the concepts behind YouTube’s ContentID—a system pretty much everyone hates with a passion—and found a way to make it even shittier by making sure that instead of monetizing your content for other people, we’re just making it useless instead.

Audio Recognition will only be run against audio in VODs. We are not scanning live broadcasts and there is no automated takedown of live content.

Yet.

Flagged Content will display an on-screen notification informing viewers that content owned or controlled by a third party has been identified. The progress bar will also be red for the duration of the muted section.

We’d like to make it painfully obvious how many videos have been affected by this change and how screwed you are at the same time. We hope you like this new feature.

Please note that Audio Recognition is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.  It may return false positives or miss content from copyright owners who do not work with Audible Magic.  If you wish to include music in your VODs, please remember that you are responsible for clearing all such rights (this includes ambient music that may be playing in the background while you are broadcasting).  If you would like to include free-to-use music in your VODs, there are a variety of resources available to you, including:

Automated content scanning and action has worked really well in the past, right? I mean, it’s surely not going to end up causing things like this, or this, or even such ridiculousness as this.

Nope; automated scanning has always been the chickenshit way out of defending users’ rights, so we’re taking it because it never goes wrong.

If you believe that your video has been flagged improperly and that you have cleared the rights to all of the sound recordings in your uploaded video, then we will consider unmuting your video if you send us a counter-notification that is compliant with the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).

We are going to make you file a legal statement to defend your content even though the appropriate legal statement to take down your content that would normally cause you to file a counter-notice was never filed in the first place.

We’re either so understaffed that we can’t process the barrage of DMCA notices we get in, we are (as above) refusing to defend the rights of our users (and by extension our own rights), or both.

Oh: we’re not really going to tell you what to do in these cases. Instead, we’ll pretend you know about the law that we’re not forcing copyright holders to adhere to.

Any copyright owner that believes that any of their content is used in any live broadcasts or VOD without authorization should submit a notification of claimed infringement to Twitch pursuant to our Terms of Service. If you are the legal owner of copyrighted music that you would like to protect via Audible Magic’s technology, visit AudibleMagic.com.

If you own the music that is used in a game and have problems with it being showcased on a streaming service that is supposed to be for games, and would like us to mute that content so that people can’t hear the game others are saying is pretty awesome and which might cause other people to buy the game in question and thus earn you more money, please, by all means, let us or our new partner know.

Twitch has partnered with Audible Magic without waiving any rights or defenses available to it under law. Twitch is not obligated to filter content stored on  the Twitch platform by its users and assumes no liability for the actions of its users notwithstanding the implementation of the Audible Magic technology. Twitch reserves the right to stop filtering audio content in VODs in its sole discretion at any time and without liability to any third party, subject only to any contractual obligations.

Legally, we didn’t actually have to do this, but we’re doing it anyway.

No; we aren’t going to tell you why.

We want to hear your feedback and questions. Tune in to the following events to ask us (almost!) anything:

  • Reddit AMA on /r/Twitch: Thursday, August 7, 10:30am PST

  • Twitch Weekly: Friday, August 8 at 2pm PST

We really hate the person who signed us up for an AMA the day after we made this change. And we’ll probably ignore anything that isn’t “how awesome is this new feature?”

And, as always, please feel free to leave your comments below. We will answer as best we can.

We are high as a kite.

Categories
Games

Title Safe

This past weekend was Evo weekend, which means that for most waking hours for three days, I’m tuned in to Twitch streams from SRK and watching the best fighting game players in the world do things that I’ve only dreamed of.

It’s a fantastic weekend and overall, the streams are well-produced and it’s easy to follow along with the action, get excited, and have a good time. I can’t recommend it enough if you like anything competitive and strongly suggest you watch next year.

While watching, there’s a great group of friends I hang out with in IRC and we discuss the competition and the games being played. Some of us sit at our desks, and some of us sit in living rooms watching the action on a PC display, a tablet or even a phone, or a TV through a device app, like the options available on Xbox 360, PS4, and Xbox One. (Hey, Twitch – how about an Apple TV app?)

I gave no thought to this, but one of that group mentioned that he couldn’t see the players’ names and what sides they were on during the broadcasts from srkevo1. Taking a look, I thought about this and it’s true. On some TVs and using some options on some TVs, the information that was on the screen would not have been visible.

The reason why is what’s called overscan. Let’s take a look at what that means.

Overscan

Traditionally, televisions have had at least some portion of the image outside the bounds of the actual “frame” that was visible. I won’t bore you with a discussion of the history of television, but originally this was because of manufacturing imperfections in CRT (“tube”) displays.

The solution to the manufacturing problem was to put a certain percentage of the display area of the set outside the physical frame of the TV set. This would mean that some of the image would not normally be visible, and a different “slice” of the image wasn’t available to different people.

Today, HDTVs use technologies that measure panels in pixels, so theoretically there should be no overscan. Sets are capable of 1:1 mapping of the pixels of the transmitted image. In practice, this is not how TVs are configured, especially straight out of the box:

I have a Sharp Aquos, and out of the box, it does not display 1:1 pixels, though you can change that and have the TV show the exact image. The same for the Sony set I had previously (both LCDs). The DLP set I had before that had a non-adjustable overscan and I would lose something like 7% of the image.

No; I don’t have any idea why HDTVs overscan by default. The only thing I can think of is that it might be some kind of self-perpetuating problem; broadcasters continue to plan for overscan, and so TV manufacturers build it in by design to make consumers think they are seeing “more” of the image. (Try looking at the ESPN Bottom Line on a display with no overscan and you’ll see what I mean. It takes up a whole lot of real estate.)

So tl;dr: on a lot of TVs, the people watching can’t see all of a given 720p or 1080p image. It’s stupid, but that’s the TV industry for you.

The solution for this in the days of CRT televisions—and something that lives on to this day—is a set of recommendations called safe areas.

Playing It Safe

To make sure information shown on a TV can be seen by all people, various broadcasters came up with the idea of safe areas. These are guidelines for the image to be broadcast that try to make sure that what you put on screen can be seen by as many people as possible.

For various TV standards and various broadcasters, these suggestions have been different over time. To help with the visualization, I’m using this blog post from developer Allen Pestaluky, which claims that the Xbox certification team had (has?) definite guidelines for safe areas on the Xbox 360. It’s in turn based on these comments by Shawn Hargreaves in the XBLIG forums:

Native Xbox games have two different safe areas. They are strongly recommended to keep everything within 80%, and strictly required to keep everything within 90%. A single UI pixel outside the 90% region is an instant cert fail. UI outside the 80% region is going to get mentioned in the cert report, and they’ll most likely be asked to fix it, but if a big commercial developer pushes back and decides they don’t want to do that, it’s not a totally rigid requirement.

For indie games, there is no official cert and thus no rigid fail threshold. Our recommendation for indie games is exactly the same as for commercial titles: Microsoft thinks all games should keep all UI within the 80% region, and would love it if every developer would do this.

These comments are pretty old now, but I think the 90%/80% rules are pretty good. And as we’ll see later, they have been followed quite well. You can see what that looks like in this HD frame:

safe-area-overlay-background

The guides to follow are the insides of each line. To use the traditional terminology, the 90% is action safe and the 80% line is title safe. That means that:

  • You should assume that anything outside the 90% line can’t be seen by anyone and should not put anything there at all.
  • You should assume that anything outside the 80% line can’t be seen by at least some viewers and you should not put anything you definitely want people to see there.

Now, I’ll assume you are reading this as someone broadcasting to Twitch. This means that you should not put any tickers, donation notifications, counters, or anything you want to make sure people can see outside the 80% guideline.

If you are showing just the game, you do not need to worry about this because the game designers already have. You’ll see what I mean in a bit here as I’m going to show you some examples.

I know this sounds ridiculous. “Why would I need to follow these guides if I am streaming in HD and most people are going to be watching on a computer screen—in a browser?” Look at the proliferation of apps embedded in TVs, installed on our game consoles, or used in set-top-boxes like Apple TVs and Rokus.

And if you are also pushing your broadcasts to YouTube, you need to be thinking about this as well because YouTube already has a much greater foothold at the device level. If you are pushing to YouTube you should be more worried about using safe areas.

If we streamers as an enthusiast community want to see the medium gain more mainstream acceptance, we’ll need to consider a broader set of rules for a broader set of devices.

So let’s see how this works in practice.

SRK versus CapcomFighters: FIGHT

Here’s a capture of the titles being used by SRK in their Twitch broadcasting this weekend, conveniently overlaid with the safe areas mentioned above:

srkevo1-safe

Oof.

You can already see the game UI and how it’s plotted through the Evo titles. UMvC3 pushes display all the way out to the action safe area. (This is probably why the positions of these elements are adjustable in the game’s options.)

But the Evo stream data is way out of bounds. Because they are using the boundaries of the game UI to position their elements, almost everything they are adding to the game image is unsafe. This explains why my friends were unable to see the elements.

Not being able to see who is playing what side sucks and can dramatically change the tone of the experience. Some device viewers might just turn it off because they can’t get the information they want out of the frame.

But oh—what’s this? It’s a frame grab from a match (not from Evo) showing the UI frame CapcomFighters uses for its streams:

capcomfighters-safe

You can see the difference immediately. Again, you can see what the game itself does to keep things safe; for SF4, the UI elements that matter are all within title safe! Everything the stream adds that is necessary information is within the 90% boundary. The only elements outside that are the Capcom logo and part of the CPT logo, neither of which are important to someone seeing what’s going on.

Care has been taken here to make sure that everyone will be able to see the status of the match, who is playing, and the score.

CapcomFighters used the same UI bits for their Evo streams. (I like their consistency.) With just a little bit of tweaking, SRK’s streams could do that as well. This isn’t just something that professionals should be paying attention to: if you stream on Twitch or record for YouTube, or do whatever with online video, you should heed these guides and make sure everything you broadcast is at least within the 90% safe guides.

You can download a PNG template for this with transparency here. Add it as an element in your XSplit or OBS scenes as you arrange elements to make sure they fit within the guides. (Just toggle it on and off as you build to make sure.)

You can safely ignore the next section unless you have natural curiosity regarding how games adhere to the guidelines. Go forth and use these guides in your next broadcast!

In-Game Examples

I was curious to see what other fighting games did with this, so here’s a collection of frame grabs I took, with as many direct grabs as possible. You can see how the information is arranged for each game to make sure it doesn’t get crowded out by overscan. UI designers are still dealing with this even in the age of ubiquitous pixel-oriented displays.

BlazBlue

blazblue-safe

This is one of the lesser safe designs I saw. Everything necessary is within action safe, but some elements that should probably have at least some portion within title safe (like the health bars) don’t.

Injustice

injustice-safe

All of the UI is outside of title safe on Injustice, but it’s all action safe. This is the worst one I have found so far.

Killer Instinct

killer-instinct-safe

I thought that perhaps being on Xbox One would mean that the UI would be pushed further out, but for KI, all the health information is within title safe. You could theoretically infer the timer information with only the bottom half of the numbers. The meters at the bottom are just on the edge of action safe and it’s possible that some people might not be able to see them by default.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3

mvc3-safe

I posted this above with the Evo chrome but thought I would put a clean one here just for reasons. I think the health display is pretty clever as the active main is always in title safe and in action safe you are missing only one team member’s health. The super meter is a different story.

Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix

ssft2hd-safe

I’m including this mostly for fun, but it’s interesting that the health being title safe and the super meters being action safe appears to be somewhat consistent for Capcom. This one’s very conservative.

Virtua Fighter 5

vf5-safe

This is pretty safe. Even if you were way out at 80%, you’d still be able to see the health bars somewhat.

Ultra Street Fighter IV

This one’s interesting because there are two separate defaults in the game options. There is one that is the default default, and a setting for “arcade” default. This is the standard default:

ultra-standard-safe

Super-safe. Everything necessary is within the title safe area. I really appreciate the design thought that went in to this because it’s literally just the basic information. Any UI that could be trimmed at title safe is.

Here’s the arcade default setting:

ultra-arcade-safe

This pushes everything out to action safe. I’m assuming this is because arcade operators would have more control over the display panels that are used in the machines and would have to worry about overscan much less than Capcom apparently needs to worry about to keep the game in cert.

 

 

Categories
WordPress

Let’s Think Out Loud: Making a Twitch Embed Handler

Earlier tonight, I said:

This is because I am looking at writing a new embed handler for WordPress that would allow embedding of a Twitch stream, video, or highlight using just the URL of the video itself. Let’s collaborate on this, because I don’t know what I’m doing.

First, enumerate the options that are available.

Live Broadcasts

The URL to a live broadcast is just the channel URL, like this one:

http://www.twitch.tv/backlogathon/

(Twitch forces “www” but we should probably act like it’s possible it won’t be there when someone adds the URL manually.)

The embed for that URL looks like this:

<object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" height="378" width="620" id="live_embed_player_flash" data="http://www.twitch.tv/widgets/live_embed_player.swf?channel=backlogathon" bgcolor="#000000”>
	<param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" />
	<param name="allowScriptAccess" value="always" />
	<param name="allowNetworking" value="all" />
	<param name="movie" value="http://www.twitch.tv/widgets/live_embed_player.swf" />
	<param name="flashvars" value="hostname=www.twitch.tv&channel=backlogathon&auto_play=true&start_volume=25" />
</object>
<a href="http://www.twitch.tv/backlogathon" style="padding:2px 0px 4px; display:block; width:345px; font-weight:normal; font-size:10px;text-decoration:underline; text-align:center;">Watch live video from backlogathon on www.twitch.tv</a>

The only thing in there that is provided in the URL is the channel ID, so the embed should assume using full $content_width in the embed handler and provide options for the rest in a shortcode.

There’s also a chat embed, but for the purposes of the media embed it’s not needed. Let’s leave that for the shortcode. We can probably omit the link addition to the bottom of the video, assuming that the blog owner will be adding that automatically.

Archived Broadcasts

Twitch archived broadcasts are referred to by channel ID, then a divider, then the ID of the archived broadcast, like this:

http://www.twitch.tv/backlogathon/b/512356452

The embed for that looks like this:

<object bgcolor='#000000' data='http://www.twitch.tv/widgets/archive_embed_player.swf' height='378' id='clip_embed_player_flash' type='application/x-shockwave-flash' width='620’>
	<param name='movie' value='http://www.twitch.tv/widgets/archive_embed_player.swf'>
	<param name='allowScriptAccess' value='always’>
	<param name='allowNetworking' value='all’>
	<param name='allowFullScreen' value='true’>
	<param name='flashvars' value='title=It%2BCame%2Bfrom%2Bthe%2BBacklog%2521&amp;channel=backlogathon&amp;auto_play=false&amp;start_volume=25&amp;archive_id=512356452’>
</object>
<br>
<a href="http://www.twitch.tv/backlogathon" class="trk" style="padding:2px 0px 4px; display:block; width: 320px; font-weight:normal; font-size:10px; text-decoration:underline; text-align:center;">Watch live video from backlogathon on TwitchTV</a>

The same bits from above would seem to apply here. We can omit the link at the end, and assume we want the video to span the content width.

Everything else we’ll leave to a shortcode, which will need some regex anyway.

Edited Highlights

Once you have edited a clip using the built-in tools, it’s available at a different URL, but much the same as the archive one:

http://www.twitch.tv/backlogathon/c/3915617

It generates this embed:

<object bgcolor='#000000' data='http://www.twitch.tv/widgets/archive_embed_player.swf' height='378' id='clip_embed_player_flash' type='application/x-shockwave-flash' width='620’>
	<param name='movie' value='http://www.twitch.tv/widgets/archive_embed_player.swf'>
	<param name='allowScriptAccess' value='always’>
	<param name='allowNetworking' value='all’>
	<param name='allowFullScreen' value='true’>
	<param name='flashvars' value='title=Titanfall%2B-%2BCTF%2Bon%2BCorporate%2B-%2B4.7%2BK%252FD%2BRun&amp;channel=backlogathon&amp;auto_play=false&amp;start_volume=25&amp;chapter_id=3915617’>
</object>
<br>
<a href="http://www.twitch.tv/backlogathon" class="trk" style="padding:2px 0px 4px; display:block; width: 320px; font-weight:normal; font-size:10px; text-decoration:underline; text-align:center;">Watch live video from backlogathon on TwitchTV</a>

Repeat the above.

I don’t think there are any other URL possibilities with Twitch, or at least I have not seen them yet.

So that’s the list of what needs to be figured; next step (which I’m currently avoiding and/or failing at) is writing the correct regex and the handler for it.

Categories
Markel!

PS4 Is Getting Improved Streaming

Speaking of streaming, from a post on the PlayStation Blog:

In addition, this update will add an HDCP off option for capturing gameplay via HDMI, a feature we’ve previously said would come after launch. We recognize that some gamers want to record and share longer clips of their gameplay sessions, and we’re excited to deliver this option with PS4.

HDCP-protected game content was something they never “fixed” with the PS3, though I would like to see them handle that with an update at some point there as well. It makes it quite a bit harder for people to stream games from PlayStation platforms.

When they announced that this was going to happen in a “future update,” I assumed this would be vapor, so I’m happy they are actually going to ship it. But why will it apparently default to on? Having HDCP on for game output has never made any sense.

As part of a separate system software update in the future, we have been working with our partners at Twitch and Ustream, and will also be adding the ability for Twitch broadcasts to be archived – another highly requested feature among PS4 fans who are taking advantage of the SHARE button features. These broadcasts will be also provided with a higher resolution of 720p, so PS4 fans can enjoy live broadcasts with clearer images.

This fixes the other big thing that annoys about the PS4 streaming: the inability to archive the broadcasts on Twitch. And to be honest, I didn’t even know the streams weren’t 720p, I just knew that the Xbox One streaming looked a lot better (which it does).

Either way this shakes out, this is good proof that the console situation this time around is much more competitive. I love seeing these two companies trying to outdo each other with updates and content.