This time around we'll be handling the issue of how your stream appears and the various things that you can do to improve this. Not everyone has a fantastical rig to cast from or the upload speed to handle it, but you can at least ensure your cast appears at its best despite any obstacles you might encounter.
You will hear a thousand and one different ideas on what your best settings are for quality/bitrate/scale etc but the only correct answer is one that fits for your exact set up. Someone with 100mb upload and a beast of a setup will naturally have vastly different settings from those with a Kinder Price laptop.
As a general rule of thumb, if you want to cast at the following resolutions, you want to be hovering around these bitrates (note: veryfast preset uses the least processing power generally). Also, please take into account the minimum upload rates apply to you solely streaming and doing ZERO other uploading (multiplayer online etc):
480p 30fps: anything lower than 1500 @ veryfast preset (under 1.5mb upload)
720p 30fps: 1500-2000 @ veryfast preset (minimum 1.5mb upload)
720p 60fps: 2000-2500 @ veryfast preset (minimum 2mb upload)
1080p 30fps: 3000+, preferably 3500+ @ veryfast preset (minimum 2.8mb upload)
1080p 45fps: 3500 @ veryfast preset (minimum 3.5mb upload)
If you check below the player here, you will be able to see what the casters on the main Senshudo channel on Twitch use for a few ideas: http://www.twitch.tv/senshudotv
It really does depend what service you use as to what your maximum upload rate is, but the most popular (Twitch) caps you at 3500 bitrate, so I wouldn't attempt to push over that. Also, please consider that not everyone has your internet speeds. You can cast in beautiful 1080p but if no-one can watch it, its a little redundant. Typically, the 720p at 30fps option is about right for most people to be able to view things decently.
Other checkboxes and options to make sure you cover are to use CBR (constant bitrate) as this is the smoothest form of stream you can send. Also ensure you set your keyframe interval to 2, this again ensure better smoothness of your cast by effectively blending your frames together. These are all options readily available via the settings menu in the casting software of your choice. Typically, we recommend OBS as its both free and easy to use.
While people are there to see you play games and have a chat with you at the same time, it always pays to take a little care of your appearance. Some people slap a camera in the corner of their gameplay and have a fine time of it, but people do notice the small details that some casters put in. Whenever you might not be at your chattiest best, you'll want something shiny or nifty to focus the viewer's eye to ensure they stick around for your next burst of awesomeness.
Generally its good to have a nice layout with space for your cam (if you have one), some details of your social networks and maybe even details such as your chat and current viewer count can be nice additions. Read down to the bottom for some links to nifty tools that allow you to display this content on your stream easily.
If at all possible, it can be nice to tie in your stream graphics with those that you have placed on your profile. I can't really think of any better example than Syanarah and Bwoodsn2o for this. Everything is seamlessly carried across and they display a unique style all of their own. Again, while its not all necessary, these details can be the difference between keeping a viewer and losing them on occasion and it can work out being worthwhile.
If you don't have a cam or don't feel you want to use one, I urge you to at least consider purchasing one/switching it on. Its a lot nicer to put a face to a voice and/or name and having a cam displayed can help give the impression that you have a mic and know how to use it, even when you're not. Some users will duck out if they are given the impression they aren't going to be talked to and this can be the reassurance they might need to think they'll get an answer if asking a question.
To show your current Now Playing from your music player on stream: Snip - https://github.com/dlrudie/Snip
To show various stats such as current viewers, local time, PC stats etc on stream: Snaz - http://snaz1.software.informer.com/1.9/
To show new followers/subscribers/donators as they join your stream: Stream Labs - https://streamlabs.com/