Overlay Advice

Let me just say, early on, that much of this is subjective and coming from my perspective of best practices, and based on the type of feedback I often hear others express. It is by no means fact, definitive, and exceptions will be many. It’s very important that I express that. I’m trying to keep you from appearing on https://twitter.com/badlayouts, as hilarious as that account is. 

General Rules of Thumb:

Less is more. Many of the biggest and best streams on Twitch have extremely minimal overlays, when playing games:

    • DansGaming: A single unified donation/subscriber item and green-screened webcam. Screenshot
    • Futureman Gaming: Nothing but green-screened cam when in game mode (screenshot), and perhaps the highest-produced spaceship view in full-cam mode. Screenshot
    • Towelliee: A nice frame around webcam and a small sponsor banner. Screenshot
    • CohhCarnage: Has the most on screen out of this group, but done in a minimal way. Thin, all-in-one notification bar at the top, and a tiny sponsor box above a death-counter at the bottom right. Screenshot

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Keep in mind, if footage is good, you’re probably going to want to make an export to YouTube, and many elements of Twitch aren’t very helpful to someone who only watches YouTube, so that’s something to consider when picking elements to add.

Overlays should feel somewhat natural, like they may sort of match the aesthetic of the game.

Webcam doesn’t have to be green-screened, but if you do greenscreen, you can fit more of you into the game without your potentially-distracting background. Be careful on placement (bottom-right is sometimes covered by Twitch with image of the game) and be careful of overall size (the game is the focus). An example of poor webcam sizing would be this one, as it is both too large and in the center, blocking the view.

Things people put on the gameplay screens:

    • Death counter (Find it here. I like this, but not appropriate for all games)
    • Donation tracker (I like it for fund-raisers, but not all the time)
    • Top/Today’s Donators (typically considered ok, if small, and only for the last donator or two)
    • Followers: I wouldn’t put followers on screen all the time, as you’ll make them feel self-conscious. Might just have a very subtle, minimal thank you message alert appear in a place that doesn’t block the game action.
    • Chat: There is some debate if you should put chat on screen, because those watching VODs or YouTube later may want to see the chat reactions to items. I am in the camp that views screen real-estate too valuable to do that. And if you are going to, use NightDev’s OBS chat which is very configurable to not hide as much of the screen as monitor capture: https://www.nightdev.com/obschat/
    • Follower/Sub goals: I used to like these. Now, I’m not sure they’re important. I would do sub goals over follow goals, since that could motivate some people to sub. But there should be some kind of reward for reaching goals if you set goals.
    • Social Info: I prefer this going into chat or the profile, not the overlay, because it’s clickable then.
    • Info relevant to the game, like BattleTag. These temporary, often requested things are fine to bring in when needed.
    • Current song: I like this one, but text-only via plugin, not monitor capture of video or album art.
    • Multiple webcams. A “cat cam” or “ferret cam” can be interesting, if maintained so  something is in focus. But many people that do this have a view of like the back of their head or something, and I find those camera angles typically unnecessary.
    • Schedule: This is one of the most-important things to have, but not on an overlay. Put that in your profile info.

Example 1:

Feedback I would give:

  1. Is using screen-captured chat, not the plugin, and it’s reducing her game size.
  2. Donate messages are referenced three times. Top scroller, bottom scroller, and to the side. I’m all for donation messages, but a tactful number would be a single reference on screen.
  3. The gameplay is dark. Gamma settings in Nvidia control panel can tweak that up so we can see more of what is going on.
  4. The color is strong pink. I would recommend using that strong of a color sparsely on screen because it can really overpower the two most-important things: the streamer’s reactions to the game and the game itself.
  5. Top D” and “Biggest D” and every other variation of this sexual innuendo is a bit crass. I really would steer away from that sort of thing if you want a classier image on Twitch.
  6. I have no idea about what “F’S” is or why it’s on screen. Keep the terms simple. It may be followers, which I wouldn’t leave up on screen (do as alert only).

 

Example 2:

 

Feedback I would give:

  1. The sponsor image in the top left is unreadable and probably not necessary
  2. I like the combined image of a black bar at the bottom, because you don’t notice you’ve lost the screen space as much, but I think it could be adjusted for the dialogue on screen
  3. The sub goal/newest/sub/today’s donations/top donator are a good top-four choices, but you could do it in less room.
  4. The current-song box could be included as text if you knew how to set up the OBS plugin and put in the bottom bar easily.
  5. Minor, but camera in that bottom-right is sometimes ill-advised because that’s where Twitch puts the image of the game when you’re browsing through category lists on Twitch and they may not see you.

Example 3:

Just wow. Not wow good.

 

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