YouTube – The Next Mountain

mountains

Thank god, I don’t have to climb that mountain. I’m only going to be talking about figurative mountains. On my side quest, constructing a YouTube channel, I hit this mountain like an express train. What’s the issue? Well I thought I had my OBS settings perfect, but it appears this isn’t the case. The recordings are experiencing visual feed lag, even though the audio is coming out fine,

The scuttle butt is that if you are recording, you are using double the CPU and GPU power. The frame rate itself drops off astronomically on the recorded feed, unless you have a really powerful rig. So you could be getting 60fps in game, but the recording could come out the other end at 20fps as it generates the next screen.

I am using my laptop and not my desktop/server for recording, I just prefer using it, but that comes with its own price. Even though it has an I-7 4 core processor, 8g ram and a NVidia 650m. I had a chat with a few guys at my Star Citizen organisation and they were very helpful in chipping in some ideas on what to do.

A sudden idea had occurred to me after there advice had filtered through (takes a day cause of time zones). It was to force OBS to use my Nvidia card out of the Nvidia card manager, but this resulted in a black screen. I did this because normally my laptop fights over using the weaker intel card to save battery with fullscreen programs, rather than the Nvida. Whatever the reason, OBS chucked a wobbly. So I let it have its way and returned it to the intel card in the Nvida manager and just let it use the Nvidia from OBS’ own internal settings.

Anyway the recommendations were to drop the bit rate from 30,000 to 12,000-16,000, drop frame rate to lock in at 30fps output (Because at 60fps it just keeps demanding resources regardless of them being there) and also dropped the output to 720p HD. In addition, since I was using my laptop to use less intensive games like Battlefield 4. Well I am an optimist. So I kept with Star Citizen (Since its the most intensive game I have apart from DOOM), then tried each setting one at a time in the recording

Sure enough after this trial and error, it brought the video feed into alignment with what I was actually getting onscreen in game. OBS suddenly became quite smooth in its recording. So I think I am laughing now. All setup for the recording side in game. Here are my current video settings in OBS if you are curious. Hopefully that is of some use to you:

settings 1settings 2

Anyway that wraps it up for this segment, next time we are going to look at editing software. Have you used OBS, how are you finding it? Feel free to comment below or o my social media. Hope you have a great day wherever you are in the world.

YouTube Channel Update – Best laid plans…

Alright folks, as the saying goes, ‘the best laid plays go astray.’ I hit a minor hurdle with the banner, well not a super hurdle, but an annoying one. YouTube tells you its recommended banner size is 2560 X 1440 pixels. What it doesn’t alert you to, is the fact this is the banner size for all mediums, specifically it has TV’s in mind. So when it comes to looking at the banner on a laptop, you miss pretty much everything, but the centre. I tested out that first nebula field background experimentally and I only got blue and some stars. I am not saying it’s terrible, but considering the hard work that went into making planets happen, it was a little bit annoying.

That’s easy fixed though, just means moving in the planets, adjusting the background here and there. She’ll be right again before we know it. Onwards and upwards, I did a little bit of research into recording software and tried out FRAPS and OBS (Open Broadcaster Software). FRAPS doesn’t seem to like windows ten or at least doesn’t like my laptop. I jumped straight into a game of Stellaris, hit record and all I got after I had finished up, was sound and a black screen. It’s highly likely it could be my knowledge of the program, but it seemed to be working perfectly fine.

So back to the drawing board after FRAPS (It was the main one I knew). I had a hunt around, looked through forums and posted on the website for the organisation I am a part of for Star Citizen. I even managed to get into contact with ‘BoredGamer,’ a YouTube veteran I’m subscribed to.

After a few really helpful people chucked in their two cents, I did some more research, ummed and ahhed, then tried out a few more recording software. I am currently on OBS or Open Broadcaster Software, freebie and open source.

OBS

I’m no video techie, but I managed to get it recording, utilising different sources e.g. my display, video camera and Stellaris. The quality out the other end was brilliant. Most of the hard yards was done by a setup wizard which is in beta, but I had a bit of a looksee in the settings.

Stating the obvious, you don’t want to change your file format to one with any compression for recording, lose quality (Think lossless image format like PNG then going to JPEG or something) and if it’s like any video software I used back in 2006….. Very bad things happen.

Here is a link to OBS if you are interested: https://obsproject.com/

Anyway, when plans go astray, just come up with a new idea. At present OBS is it, my placeholder draft banner can be modified and the next stage is finding some video editing software.  I will probably start by looking at Adobe Premiere, cause that’s what I know, but I will most likely do research and throw my net wide to find the best thing for me. Most likely a free open source alternative to begin the experiment.

If you have any thoughts on good video software, free or otherwise, feel free to comment or tweet me.  Happy also for any advice, video editing, banner creation etc etc.

Take care now.

Seb

 

 

YouTube Banner – A human needs a ship

There is of course the most important feature missing from my universe designs. That is a spaceship. What sort of spaceship? Well I am thinking of maybe trying to create a spaceship for one of my races in my sci fi universe from my stories. Going with sleek and elegant with a very advanced tech feel that outpaces humanity by a crazy long time.

What inspires me for ships currently well at the moment one of my favourite ships is a Romulan D’Deridex Warbird out of Star Trek the Next Generation onwards. I love the profile and the sleekness of the vessel and whilst it is sleek it is also intimidating in appearance. I mean look at them wings and profile. See that decloak and you sure as hell are not going to hang around for long.

Here is a picture of a model I own:
warbird
You can see a much cooler picture, which Memory Beta have used here: https://goo.gl/images/bBVPAS

My next inspiration is Star Trek Voyager, I mean Voyager is a real smart looking ship that also gives it an air of speed. The slight ovoid primary section and streamline nature of the vessel just is cool.

If you haven’t see Voyager before, here is a link to Memory Alpha’s picture of it: https://goo.gl/images/bgDygZ

Ok ok, so from that info we know I’m a fan of Star Trek (My childhood), but I also have inspirations from outside that.

Turning to Star Citizen, the Endeavour class science ship. I love the fact she is big, sleek for a big ship and still manages to pull off a science look. Even with out bio domes attached, it looks pretty damn nifty. Gives me the feel, of older science fiction. Big lumbering behemoths, ploughing through space. Very very cool.
Image with bio domes: https://goo.gl/images/1UFtE4
Image without: https://goo.gl/images/dt4sED

I really like the reliant from Star Lancer, for similar heavy set old school feel that isn’t too old school sci fi. It of course like that D’Deridex is more military focused.
Image: https://goo.gl/images/DwQyvf

So these inspirations, what does that bring to the table? Well it brings me sitting at the table, trying to remember how to sketch and draw, another skill I haven’t used since the dawn of time.
DSC_0175

Let’s just say work in progress. I also need to devise how to turn an end product sketch into a fully blown 3Dish ship for the banner. But you know, I’m sure I will either figure it out or find a tutorial for that. I think it extends a bit beyond my grade 8 or 9, digital production skills.

I really want that advanced exploration feel, without dipping into old school or completely retro sci fi ship concepts/hard sci fi (E.g. no big rings for gravity or super bubble ships).  But we shall just have to see were my imagination takes me on this one.
Anyway, I am all up for tips, any thoughts or advice, feel free to comment.

A YouTube Banner – Designing Begins

On to banner design for the YouTube Channel. Time to dust of the old skills, unused since 2005 or was it 2004. I don’t quite remember, that’s how long ago it has been since I have done digital imagery things. I guess somethings you learn in school do stay with you, even if they are lost in back half of the filing cabinet of the mind.

So this will take a bit longer I think. I’m not sure were I want to take it yet, so it will involve playing around and experimenting. So let’s start with what I think I want shall we. That would have to be, to make the banner, science fiction to the max. There needs to be stars, endless universe, maybe nebulas, a few planets and well what’s not more space opera than having a starship!

Let’s begin and see what GIMP and my rusty skills can do.

Here is me playing around with a few design ideas:

I wasn’t sure about this first design. That primary star and planet looked a bit odd and the scene looked a bit overcrowded with the nebula. I was going to put in a moon as well, but it isn’t in there for the same reason. I think it will fit a starship coming in from the right hand side though. Would really enjoy putting in a few more planets and make it a larger star system. What do you guys think? I feel like its a not bad effort first effort, got a long way to come but we are getting there.

Space background 1

My second design:

I think the stars are a bit dull. You kind of need to zoom in to see them. I am loving the blue gas giant though. I found a really useful texture website https://www.textures.com/. It essentially gives you x amount of free credits to download textures usable in anyway you choose, pretty much, except reselling them as textures (Their website has a full FAQ on what they will and won’t let you do with it). I completely forgot about using textures to be honest and used some internal gimp effects on the previous planet. I’m loving what the texture pulled off. Bit of Gausian Blur and some motion blur really altered the ice texture to look like layers of gas.

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make planetary rings in GIMP, everything was coming out a bit like lines, but you know the internet provides (http://www.scottphotographics.com/creating-planets-and-planetary-rings-in-gimp/). That link takes you to Michael Scott’s website and step 6 is were I learnt how to do the whole planetary ring thing.

Part of me is not liking that I seem to keep these planets to that lower left hand corner, but I guess it is as good as any.

attempt with rings

Third design so far:

So here is my third design so far and I am loving the ice planets. Main issues in this one really are the overcrowding. I was going to try and fix up the spacing so I can put in a star with GIMPS supernova effect and the use lighting effects to have the shadows across the planets, but then I won’t be able to fit a space ship in. Once again the background stars seem to be a problem. Too dim.

A new attempt

Overall that is my first three designs, I am not sure were I will take the next design. I might try and go for a multi-planet view with better spacing. Experiment more with nebulas. Do I want asteroid belts? Naaah I probably don’t want asteroid belts. Most importantly, I need to design and stick in a spaceship.

On a side note on the software I used:  GIMP is a free open source editing tool. Pretty much download and off you go. If you need more scripts or bits and bobs just add em in there. It appears to have a huge crowd of people around it. So far I am really satisfied with the program, considering A. my rusty skills B. Macromedia Fireworks is extinct. It is a close enough substitute for my skills and knowledge so I can’t complain. In all honesty in this case, it’s not a case of you get what you pay for. It’s a pretty damn good program and I am a happy chap. If this experiment is a success, I may move to photo shop or something else later.

Anyway, here there be planets. Feel free to offer any tips, thoughts and advice in the comments section. Have a great day!

P.S. This is actually surprisingly a really fun challenge. I mean I know stories will be my thing, but this has definitely been a fun adventure so far.

 

 

Don’t leave your keys in the ignition: My early experiences with Star Citizen

Ok here is my first gaming post. I won’t lie there probably will be a lot of Star Citizen, maybe some Europa Universalis IV in my posts and who knows what else.

I love science fiction in games, just like I love it in books. Star Citizen to me, when it’s finished, will offer the closest experience to simulating a bit of what it might be like to live in a space age, sometime in the future. Taking Sci Fi in gaming, well beyond anything  ever made before and on a scale not quite dreamed of. At least that’s my hopes.

So anyway off into the stars I fly in the current Persistent Universe module and Arena Commander module here I come, (little lousy at FPS so star marine can wait a little bit). Mostly I’ve played on free days, but in 2016 I saved up and bought in. I got an exploration pack with a Anvil Carrack, Anvil Terrapin and a Dragon fly. I won’t lie I would have loved a MISC Endeavour, but at almost $1000 for a master set or something like $500, is a little bit out of my backing range especially when that’s not in Australian dollars. So I am going to probably do it, the old fashioned way, when the game is fully released and earn my Endeavour in game free of charge. After all you don’t need to pay extra and back the game, pledges are for people who want to back the development of the game in exchange for in game stuff. You can just get in by buying the game, everything can be earned in game. E.g. You get a starter ship some credits for I think about $30-$35ish USD or there is a current deal on for valentine’s day which also nets you in addition to the star citizen game the squadron 42 standalone campaign for $55.

For the better part, I have been playing Star citizen sitting at my coffee table off of my server, which is attached to the TV. The desktop is a beast :D, sadly though this means A. No Hotas B. Using the el cheapo mouse/keyboard. Not a great combination. But great sound. So I haven’t really gotten round to a lot of playing. Recently though there has been a game changer.

My laptop, which I normally game (Zenbook U500VZ) and write on is very powerful. It however hasn’t quite been powerful enough to run Star Citizen in the past, but I stumbled across a great forum post which helped reconfigure my graphics card and made it Star Citizen friendly: https://forums.starcitizenbase.com/topic/9822-nvidia-control-settings/. So it might not have been 1600X900 and it definitely wasn’t 1080p, but I still managed 1024 X 768 on my laptop (Hey at least she is running smooth).

Dive in, Saitek X52 Hotas  check! Laptop check! Standing desk check! Window with a view for day dreaming check!

My first discovery is that the Constellation – Andromeda variant (the place holder ship for my Carrack) looks a lot more polished. I parked the Connie in the Arena commander module, above the local planet so I could go exploring inside. It’s exciting, it looks a lot cooler than in Youtube videos. I mean there is 61 metres of ship here, nice smooth white and black metal, with some really neat furnishings.

screenshot0020              It gives a good contrast, to when you step out back to the cargo hold.screenshot0019

They even have the little Merlin snub fighter in there (Beyond that hatch across the hold). Albeit I can’t figure out how to launch it. So what does one do… Get out and see if something is jammed or if there is a magical external button.

I promptly headed to the cargo hold, because, well it has got what looks like an eight metre hold hatch that opens vertically. Why not start there to leave the ship.  I hit the button for it to be lowered, the platform starts to lower, pneumatic pistons whirring. I suddenly found ships gravity warring with space. The extended cargo tray won however, with no magical clipping or walking through solid stuff.  I jetted off towards the aft with my space suit, then suddenly realised the ship was rotating.

ScreenShot0011.jpg

I guess I forgot to kill the engine or steady her out…. The bottom side of the snub fighter and the Connie whooshed over head. With a sip of coffee, as I stood at my standing desk, I watched her slowly  drift towards the planet. No way the suits thrusters could catch it. All I could think of was David Bowie’s song Ground Control to Major Tom.

ScreenShot0016.jpg
God that planet view is so beautiful. Even if my ship is…….. About to have a bad day. I really can’t wait to explore the stars and planets. I think they are meant to implement planet surfaces in 3.0. I could just imagine that Constellation falling. It would have been amazing to watch it come down. Knowing my luck on my head.

I’m really looking forward to the next update, in theory they are implementing regional servers next update. An if memory serves there is one going to be in Sydney!!!! 😀

So moral of the story folks…..

Don’t leave your keys in the ignition.

Space kills.

All spaceships have damn gremlins.

P.S As I have been writing this blog, they released the update for the regional servers. My laptop is now singing Star Citizen. I have gone from barely tolerable 1024X 768 resolution on low graphics to 1080X1920 resolution with graphics on medium. It’s smooth as, not just in single player in the Arena Commander module, but also in the Crusader persistent universe module, connecting to the Australian server  (I’m 90% positive its in Sydney). Just just, wow such a change, so smooth.