Siddarth RG

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Indiecade 2020: Ruminations

Posted on 2020 Nov, 1st

Thanks to the pandemic, this year's Indiecade was completely online which presented a whole different set of logistical challenges. In addition to providing our gameplay trailer, we were asked to record an Artist's Talk for our game that was used in the interstitials between live streams. We also had the choice of picking a format for our one-hour block of streaming during the festival. We decided to run with our team discussing the game and its development over pre-recorded gameplay footage. We hoped that this would give our audience the best picture of how our game plays while avoiding potential live-play mishaps or laggy video of the game.

I was in charge of recording our gameplay footage of Zenith Junction and it gave me a better appreciation for the logistics that go into streaming. I used OBS (a popular streaming and recording software) to record the footage and immediately found that I couldn't record audio directly from my computer because Mac OS do be like that.[1] Many Youtube tutorials and OBS forum posts later, I was setup and ready to go. In case you've run into the same problem, here is the post on the OBS forums detailing how to setup audio capture on Mac OS that saved my proverbial bacon.[2]

You essentially need an extension that captures your computer's audio output (in this case iShowU Audio Capture) which you can think of as a virtual mic. Then you setup a virtual Multi-Output audio device using the Audio MIDI setup program which basically sends the gameplay audio to the virtual mic and your speakers so you can hear what you're recording.

My crude sketch of the audio setup
Selecting the Audio Output device on Mac

I setup two separate devices, one for when I was using my default MacBook speakers and the other for when I was using external headphones.

Setup 1 - default MacBook Speakers
Setup 2 - default speakers + external headphones

It was interesting to muse on my playing the game for the purpose of recording the gameplay footage because it was explicitly performative. I had to intentionally slow down and choreograph each of my actions with a phantom viewer in mind, ideally giving them enough time to read the text on each card and process what was happening onscreen. Additionally, I tried to keep in mind our own phantom-stream-selves who might be narrating gameplay on stream based on a list of card combos and talking points we had discussed and decided on beforehand.

I truly miss the presence of people in person with all of these online events. It simultaneously makes you feel connected with the community yet lonely. I think that's because I miss all the ordinary social cues & mundane interactions, and the lack of it makes me question the authenticity of the digital interaction.

That's the cynic in me talking, and the truth is that it was really heartening to see folks conversing with each other and expressing their excitement through the chat during the festival. Indiecade had setup a greenroom channel for the nominees to hang out in during the awards and it felt really warm and encouraging to see everyone congratulating each other and having casual conversations and quipping about the missing biscuits.[3] In fact, it was pleasantly comical trying to keep up with multiple chats on different platforms. At one point I had the Festival Twitch stream, the Indiecade Discord channel, a Slack conversation with my teammates, a WhatsApp window to message my family, and a Zoom call with a peer all open at the same time. I'm sure I wasn't the only one!

I said it last time but I really hope the situation works out in favour of an in-person event next year. In the meantime, I'm going to go play all the nominee games I haven't finished yet! They've all been such brilliant experiences so far and I have a lot of respect for the community of amazing people behind them. :)

[1] Mac OS is cagey about giving users default access to the direct audio output.

[2] If it were real bacon, I wouldn't be able to eat it. Shame.

[3] We never found them.

Indiecade Zenith Junction Page

© 2020 Siddarth RG