1.4 Equipment

cover 01 FGC

Here is the web edition of the book, totally free to read. If you would prefer the kindle version, you can get it here!
Or you can buy the paperback, very soon!

1.4 EQUIPMENT

 

You will obviously need a console or pc. Many FG titles are available on pc, which means a light laptop setup makes packing very very easy.  At time of writing, Xbox 360s are cheap due to the release of the Xbox one.  A Playstation 3 can be bought for £99.  These consoles, like the xbox, the dreamcast and the Playstation 2, don’t really have an expiration date, it simply depends on the games released and the games that you want to support.  Older games are still played at a tournament level for big stakes, and the only reason they aren’t run on older hardware is the high definition resolution.  Put a hardened tournament player in front of a CRT screen with an arcade perfect port, and as long as they can use a controller they are happy with, the only people complaining will be the viewers on stream.

 

However, using  just one perfect setup is only good for a small (and very patient) group of players.

 

You will need to do one of the following:

 

i. Spend a lot of money

ii. Get support from the FGC

iii. Get official support

 

Of course, a combination of all the above will make things a lot easier.  There are other options to consider:

 

1.4.1 Rental

 

It’s possible to rent equipment from certain game stores.  It’s also possible to rent consoles directly from Microsoft and Sony, who will drop them off and come back for a pick up at the end of the day.

 

When dealing with brand new hardware you should analyse the area and type of people coming to the venue.  Consider security, insurance or simply make sure someone is watching the consoles at all times.  The latter is the cheapest option but finding someone reliable who won’t be distracted by a hype match is a harder task than you think!

 

If you are established you can convince the publisher to help you with costs, whether it be with the supply of consoles or games or hooking you up with contacts for cheaper rates.  With a launch title, companies normally have a budget for promotion and marketing.  Your event can save them money in many ways, and it doesn’t cost to ask.

 

If you’re starting out and don’t have the track record to backup your claims of being able to run a good event, you’ll need to have friends in the FGC with a lot of heart.

 

A car is not necessary, but makes things a lot easier!

 

1.4.2 HDMI versus Analogue

 

HDMI is wonderful with that sharp image but it soon became apparent that you can’t use just any old HDTV to run a game.  Many horrified owners realised there was a rather large discrepancy between their button press and the action happening on screen, especially with the bigger family sized displays, which was mortifying, to say the least.  Many can relate to the pain of spending $400 on a TV only to find they couldn’t play games on it.  This was the beginning of the LAG era, and perhaps the ultimate excuse.

 

Monitors generally didn’t have this problem and were much cheaper than TVs, only problem being many displays didn’t have sound, so some jiggery pokery was often needed to add speakers, which created more bulk in needed material. With monitors that did feature speakers, an additional audio cable was still required.

 

For analogue capturing, for example from a Dreamcast, you’ll need to split the signal from each composite cable (yellow, red and white) and so need … quite a few cables.

 

HDMI is certainly more convenient, and as the cables are the same each end and generally the same build quality wherever you buy them from (£1 hdmi cables excepted), they are easy to pack and count, but if the games are run with laggy setups, you will hear no end of complaints.  I once organised a tournament trusting in the equipment at Gamerbase in Trocadero, London.  Loading up KOF 94 on PS3, we discovered the game had around 1 second of delay.  You normally hear people arguing about milliseconds of delay.  This was a full second.  Try to imagine playing a fighting game, or any game for that matter with 1 second lag.  It boggles the mind that people were playing (regular) games on this setup on a regular basis.  It just goes to show how technically minded the FGC is.  When it comes to running tournaments, don’t expect for one second to get away with lag.

 

You saw what I did there, right? :p

 

For more on lag, see ‘1.4.3 Televisions vs Monitors’

 

HDMI is nice but low resolution games with their comparatively ‘large’ pixels weren’t really meant to be seen at that clarity and size. Games of this era were meant to be played with blurry smoothed edges. Some games need to remain on CRT.  Budget wise, it can be cheaper to use analogue and if you are streaming at a low resolution  – people may not notice the blurred pixels until they go view full screen – until the day that everyone has a bulletproof 10 mb (up AND down) broadband connection, you can assume that many won’t.

 

Viewers are quick to criticise.  If there are no comments it means there are no problems or it’s dead boring.

 

You get what you pay for.  If you just feel like trying the whole streaming thing but don’t want to blow all your money at once, you could go quite happily with an xbox 360 and an ezcap.  IMPORTANT: this device was heavily pirated and comes in versions cheaper than the shipping itself.  Buy at your own risk. Make sure it is capable of capturing 60hz in colour (unless you’re planning to stream certain PAL games at 50).  Do the research and you should hear that the version DC60+ was the favourite.   I personally bought a spin off of sorts called “Climax Digital VCAP” and before long, I was pumping out  videos and streams.  It worked wonders, most of my KOF XIII tutorials were made with it, only setback was the image being a bit blurry at high resolution.

 

You may have heard that many HDMI capture cards have problems with streaming, some work with Xsplit while others work with OBS and many don’t work with Wirecast, and most fatally, can’t connect to twitch, 3dtv or ustream (see also Streaming software in section 1.4.5).  Do the research before you buy, read amazon comments, google “device name + problem” and you’ll see exactly what you may be in store for.  There’s a reason companies do flash sales: without the time to think, that short amount of time leaves you exposed and vulnerable to that desire to grab a bargain. Everyone is tired and has no time, of course.  Make the effort, be prudent and you will profit; not being left with a shiny box that has the functional equivalent of a brick.

 

Speaking of sales, when you narrow down your choices, you should follow and subscribe to the company AND certain retailers.  Keep an eye out for sponsors of an upcoming event as they often give out discount codes during that time or even on stream.  Be aware of shipping costs when finding offers overseas (and the exchange rate!). I bought an Avermedia Live Gamer Portable off a NewEgg offer during Evolution 2013, saving me $50 on the local retail price.  It was delivered to a friend in the US who was going to give it to a friend who was attending EVO.  I was pretty happy until it was stolen from a car break in – just goes to show that walking into a shop and buying it sometimes can really beat all the hassle of making a saving.

 

A quick note to thank SRK for replacing the LGP, this kindness will always be remembered <3

 

When you’re an established streamer / organiser, companies may approach you for sponsorship and throw in a review copy.  Or you can ask for one.

One thing to note: If you plan to run a tournament for classic games that are not natively played in HD, you will need CRT monitors, which are generally bulky, heavy and take up much more space than modern day flat panel monitors/televisions. CRT monitors have no lag and are the standard for games such as Smash Bros, Marvel 2, CvS2, ST, 3S and the majority of games released before the PS3/360 era.

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