Cantwell Plays Counter Strike for the First Time

Cantwell Plays Counter Strike for the First Time

After last night’s SurrealPolitiks Member Show, I took the advice of one of our most generous sponsors to stream my first time playing Counter Strike.

There were, as has become the custom here at the Radical Agenda, some technical challenges. I’ll detail those in a moment, but for now I can say with some confidence that you’ll still find this very entertaining. I’ll acknowledge the echo of the game, before I continue. I became aware of this at the end of the stream and I know how to fix it. This won’t happen again.

I had initially thought that I should practice at these games and play them competently before streaming them in public. When I play by myself, I am, perhaps obviously (or perhaps not), not very talkative. As I was crashing cars in GTA and losing races in Need for Speed, I felt like sort of a loser and this was not something I wanted to demonstrate for an audience.

I am very grateful to Tony for his sound counsel here. While I found the technical troubles and my lack of skill personally frustrating, something does change about my desire to talk when there is a camera and a microphone in front of me, and I am often reminded that this is why people pay me to do these things. For which, I cannot state enough, I am tremendously grateful.

If the viewer can tolerate some pixelation and some toiling with the details as we get started, they are certain to laugh many times during the two hour broadcast, and I certainly appreciated joining them in this.

As for the technical troubles, they are easily solved. For those interested, I’ll detail what transpired in this respect.

Firstly, this was not a matter of equipment problems. My current equipment is more than sufficient. There are always things I can buy to make the streams better of course, and you can find out more about this using my Gifting Guide, or you can just send cash if you want to help out, but this was all operator error last night, and I’ve learned my lessons.

All of the game stream testing I had done was using my consoles before today. I mistakenly thought it would be a small matter to play them on the same computer I was streaming from, given that I’ve made some very costly upgrades that are designed to facilitate this sort of demanding exercise. The equipment is more than capable of handing the load, but I had not anticipated the configuration challenges at first.

Most notably, you hear some echo in the stream because the game is a source in my streaming application, and the game feeds audio into the mixer, and the audio from the mixer is necessary to hear me, which is sorta the whole point. I had not anticipated that the audio would be feeding into the streaming application twice, since I only hear it once. This was brought to my attention after the stream. This is easily solved in a variety of ways, among them by muting the game source in the streaming application, or by routing the audio to an auxiliary output that doesn’t feed into the stream.

I didn’t realize this until the end because I closed my web browser before I started the game and was thus not watching the chats. I should have this up and running on a separate computer so as not to increase load on the streaming and gaming devices, but thanks to your generosity I have plenty of those.

Pixelation, as I review the video, is very troubling. I did not experience this in my game play. The cause of this is streaming at a low bitrate, which is normally fine for the shows because the video is not very busy to watch me talk. Game play is much more demanding, quite clearly. This is a very simple setting for me to change and will be changed before I do this again.

Sadly, I did not make a separate local recording. XSplit Broadcaster (my streaming application) has two ways of doing this.

One is, it automatically records the stream. This will normally suffice for the Radical Agenda and SurrealPolitiks because, again, the video is not very busy. Since the video streams at a low bitrate, the recording this produces creates a manageable file size.

Despite its sufficiency, I still normally make a separate local recording just for good measure. This records in full 1080p, producing an extremely large file which I then need to compress in Handbrake to make useful for the Internet.

I foolishly skipped this separate local recording tonight, and I will not make that error again. Full quality local recording is essential for the demands of gaming, as I have now learned in the same way I learn all things, the hard way.

It may be still more prudent that I play the game on one computer and stream using another with the HDMI capture devices I’ve acquired with your generosity. This is how I’ve been testing the console games and that seems the best course for PC gaming as well.

Steam, the application in which the Counter Strike game is played, prudently uses a “Push to Talk” (PTT) feature for players. I am obviously not accustomed to this being a podcaster. I have a three pedal switch I acquired for streaming, and I attempted to use this during game play as the push to talk button.

There were a few problems with this, which I now fully understand and will fix before I attempt this again.

Most notably, the pedals are programmable to keys and key combinations on the keyboard. This is very useful for streaming, which is why I have prudently assigned these keys in advance. The first problem this presented tonight, perhaps obviously, was that they were already assigned to other functions.

Also, they were assigned, prudently, to key combinations. So, Left Shift plus F22, (a key not on almost any of your keyboards, and thus very useful for an application like this), performs such a function. This is necessary so that it only performs that function, and no other. Steam, I came to realize, does not record the key combination. So, when I choose my push to talk button, and I hit the pedal, it sees only F22, not Left Shift + F22. Then, in the game, when I hit the pedal, Left Shift + F22 does not perform the PTT function.

Even after I figured this out, there was the remaining issue of the pedal only momentarily hitting that key, even if I hold the pedal down. Since PTT requires one to hold the key down, and my holding the pedal down did not produce the desired effect, my audio did not go out over the game, at first.

I figured this all out during the game and my PTT problems were resolved before the end of the stream.

I struggled until the end however, with the movement of the pedal, which is made of hard plastic and moves quite easily across my smooth floor. This is not a problem during streams where I only need it to produce the desired effect in a moment, but it is a more serious challenge when I am hitting and holding it frequently, causing it to move each time. That is both a technical challenge and an unwelcomed distraction for me as I perform a complex series of tasks in a fast paced game. This is easily solved with a bit of Velcro.

Toward the end of the stream, I failed in my mic discipline, as I am now observing as I write this. I’ll be more conscious of this in the future, and I also purchased two different headset microphones which I may find useful for this purpose.

I tried to make use of my sound drops during the game stream, and I made a few that were not so well placed but have the potential to be very entertaining in the future. I’ve been meaning to try and make better use of these during shows, because I know they were very entertaining in earlier iterations when I was better at producing them at the right moments. I spent some money on making this possible, notably by purchasing a MIDI keyboard and an application called “Podcast Soundboard”. This is far superior to the Adobe Flash application I used for my original soundboard, and which became obsolete while I was in prison. Unfortunately, my current setup has this keyboard awkwardly placed, the piano keys are suboptimal for remembering what plays what drops, even with the small labels I’ve placed on them, and I have too many sounds in the application to scroll through and find the right ones at the right time.

I’ve done some shopping around for a better way to place the MIDI controller, but I haven’t decided on one just yet. These are not terribly expensive though, and I may just purchase a few of them and see what works. I’ve been trying to avoid wasting your money, as I always do, but my attempts to do this better tonight made it very obvious that time is money in this regard.

There is a better MIDI controller I would like to acquire. This is on my Amazon Wish List, the AKAI Professional APC Mini MK2. I just moved it to the top of my list and if one of you would care to acquire it, this is something that you’ll definitely notice changes all of my productions for the better. If you happen to notice a used version available at a significant (at time of writing, there isn’t one), this will do just fine for our purposes and I’ll be very grateful to have it even in “acceptable” condition.

In addition to the routine generosity of Tony, and Qekapp, and Afternoonshift, who have made their contributions public through Odysee stream tips, there are two people who I would like to thank specifically for helping me to recently purchase the upgraded RTX 4070 video card. They know who they are, but I have not gotten their permission to thank them by name. Another gentleman sent me a $500 Amazon gift card recently, his contribution was very useful. I expect to soon receive an RTX 3070 Ti, and this will be put to excellent use. 3 Monero was recently deposited, and in addition to the funds being very helpful, I always feel a very special sort of gratitude for any sort of cryptocurrency arriving, and most especially Monero, since these demonstrate a seriousness about the future in the giver that is very sadly all too rare.

I have been urged by several of you to do more cryptocurrency related content. I have been hesitant to do this because the information changes very rapidly and I am not in any position to be giving financial advice. If more cryptocurrency comes in, I could be persuaded to try. 🙂

There are obviously too many people to thank. I cannot make economic plans without those of you who make regularly scheduled payments, and those are for the most part in the $5-20 range. If I tried to thank you all individually, I’d obviously lose the attention of the reader, but you are collectively the most important part of my financial life. Our most generous sponsors make the big upgrades possible and allow us to advance, but I’d be fucking homeless without all of you, so from the bottom of my heart, thank you for every cent.

If you have been thinking about contributing, but think your means are such that your generosity would not measure up, please do keep this in mind. It is not the guys who send a thousand bucks who ultimately make this possible. It, it is the people who pay my rent in $5-$10 increments. I would have stopped doing this many years ago if not for those folks.

I was initially skeptical about the prospects of game streaming, but even with the technical challenges, I am able to recognize that we produced some very entertaining material tonight. Those problems will be solved before next time, and the production quality will be a thousand times better going forward. I now understand why people watch this stuff, and we’re definitely going to do it more often. This is definitely going earn us some new viewers and listeners, and our power level is about to increase substantially as a consequence.

I should perhaps extend my most sincere gratitude to all those who have attempted to stop us. You also, are too many to be named, but among the most notable obviously are Roberta Kaplan, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Emily Gorcenski, Kristopher Goad, Assistant US Attorney John Davis, the Boston Joint Terror Task Force, Ukraine’s SBU, Daniel Sproul, warden of the United States Penitentiary at Marion Illinois, Michael Collis, the “analyst” of the Counter Terrorist Unit who censored my communications in the Communications Management Unit, and the Dylann Roof fan club.

You fucking losers are like the dead weight and rubber bands I use to exercise daily, and I wouldn’t be shit without you.



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