So You Wanna Mobile Stream?

For the past month, I've been honing my craft with streaming on my Xiaomi Blackshark Android phone. It's been quite a learning process but a very fulfilling one as I try to get around the fact that I don't have The World's Okayest Gaming Rig running Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) handling all of my scenes, media, and bumpers. I'm also missing access to my DIY chatbot (for some reason I have to manually launch and doesn't autolaunch when my Raspberry Pi reboots... but that's a different story...) so I don't have direct connectivity to my soundboard and all my followers & subs are missing out on gaining my in-world currency, GBCoins. In turn, they can't use their earned currency to play the interactive games, in chat... run by the bot. It's a vicious circle!

What to do???

First and foremost, I had to make sure that my phone was up to snuff. Primary factors to keep an eye on:
  • Processing power: Will I be able to put some of the most demanding mobile games through my mobile device of choice without being a laggy mess AND have enough overhead leftover to process encoding it to stream to Twitch?
  • Streaming software compatibility: Just being able to process the video data and reencode it out to Twitch is one thing. Being able to use the mic, mix audio channels, keep it in sync with the video feed... that's a different ball of wax!
  • Temperature: Is my phone going to be able to handle keeping up with all of these things and not cause any permanent damage or (at the very least) go into thermal safety shutdown.
As mentioned in previous articles, I went through the process of selecting one of the higher end gaming phones and the Xiaomi Blackshark made the cut. 

Here is the rundown of what goes into what Mrs GameBlips and I jokingly call "Couch Streaming"
  • Xiaomi Blackshark
  • Gamestick Bluetooth Controller
  • Gamestick Cellphone Mount
  • Streamlabs Mobile
  • Google Slides
  • Lots of Mobile Games
  • Parsec
Obviously, the hardware is going to be where my original criteria starts. If it can't keep up, why bother doing this at all. I can safely say that running Pubg and Shadowgun: Legends at max resolution and framerate is a reality on the Blackshark! The phone has virtually NO Bluetooth lag when using the Gamestck controller too! All of this can happen in and out of Shark Space, the built in gaming mode of the phone.

Shark Space: Well, if I wanna play locally, Shark Space is the place to be. It really maxes out all the settings and manages all the apps. But that means nothing when multitasks and swapping apps from one to the next is not a thing. It actually kills processes when you go back to the games list. This is great if you want to squeeze all the performance out of this little beast. Super bad if you need to do things like keep Streamlabs running in the background while you swap out to your actual game. You can start your stream, but are immediately booted out the moment you hit the home button to go to the streamlined app list. So Shark Space is not an option *Le Sigh...* Technically, you can turn off all the throttling in the system settings and then enable DND mode so no calls and other notifications come on the screen so there's that! Just a ritual to complete before going live.

OK, baseline is set and it's GO TIME!

But now how am I going to get around not having OBS available to flip scenes? This is where Google Slides comes in! I have created a presentation that has full 720p slides that simulate static versions of scenes for my primary bumpers: Starting Soon, BRB, and Thanks For Watching. Things look good, but it's dead silent and not very catchy when it's static image. This is where embedding comes into play.

While the Android OS is able to multitask without issue, it will lock out the audio path. So even though you can hear it locally from something like Google Play Music or VLC (or any other audio player for that matter) it will not route it out to the stream. Embedding a video in the slide will help get around this. I embedded one of my favorite chiptune 24 hour streams and resized it to a tiny corner piece. It allows me to still give them credit, since it's still visible, and not break copyright.

At this point, all I need to do is keep a well stocked set of widescreen games as portrait games are not as visually appealing. Over the months, I've been pushing how hard my phone can go with 3D games that have multiple render and FPS settings. Cranking all the settings up on Pubg Mobile, Fortnite (no I don't really play this game...), Real Racing 3, Shadowgun: Legends, and Diablo: Immorta... Ahem... Crusaders of Light. ;) With all of them set as high as possible, the Xiaomi Blackshark only get moderately warm and has never forced a reboot from overheating.

With all of these factors at play, I was able to bring together a decent mobile stream that allows me to still interact with my followers, play games, and change "scenes" with audio. All of this happens in a small form factor with minimal impact to system performance... and my performance!

This post will be just the beginning. In time, I will have a page dedicated to how GameBlips does. It'll cover how the primary gaming rig is setup and how the mobile setup works too. Till then, try these techniques out and see what works best for you!

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