Setting Up A Good Streaming Layout

So let’s have a chat. There simply isn’t enough good quality streams for Paper TCG’s outside of a very select few. In this series of posts I’ll discuss everything about streaming a paper event! I’ll be using a lot of MTG based examples (since that’s the game I personally play and stream) but you can adjust for you’re game accordingly. Every aspect from software to equipment will be covered.

First of all let’s talk about a few key rules for a layout.

  1. You HAVE to have a 1080p camera (not simulated, REAL 1080p) minimum. This is important, because viewers WANT to see what the players are playing. Anything with a lower resolution simply just won’t do in my experience.
  2. Make sure any and all text is easily legible. Sure logo’s are fine to have with fancy script writing or whatever, but honestly a plain Arial or similar font should be used for life totals, timers, ect.
  3. Make the content you’re streaming more important than anything else. Sure you might be sponsored, but for the love of all that is fantastic. People want to see the games that are being played. Not Amp Energy Drinks covering 30% of the screen space.

Now let’s break this down in images.

The Good:

SMC stream


Disclaimer: This is my own layout that I made in 5 minutes.

As you can see it has a roughly 75% or so space relegated specifically to the game area. It’s fairly simple and doesn’t offer too much, but it literally works and that’s all that’s needed.

Here’s another example:

Screenshot from 2017-04-14 12-34-40


In this one they have yet an even simpler layout. It literally just displays he players names, decks, life totals, and the match results. They even got a little fancy and try to show what’s in the players hands.

Then we have probably the most viewed layout



This layout does it all basically. it matches everything our first layout accomplishes and is more refined yet.

Now Bad

This is where it gets painful for me.

dmc stream.png


This is just painful to watch, sure it provides everything, but your text is in front of a too fancy graphic that can make it hard to read at a glance and actually intrudes on the play area. Worst of all IT’S NOT EVEN 16:9 aspect ratio! that means there’s all kinds of wasted space that literally could be used to fix all these issues.

scg ohio regionals.png

Credit: Comic Town Gaming Center

Now there’s something to be said here. Comic Town doesn’t actually use this screen throughout the whole match (they rotted in and out of it), but that said I’m using this specifically to show an example of what you really don’t want showing for an entire game. Remember what i said about advertising? You don’t want that much Amp Energy all the time. Same with player cams. They simply shouldn’t be up there. In this image I’m not even sure why you bother showing the play area since the players are resolving mulligans.

How to setup a layout:

First of all you need streaming software, I don’t care really what you use I personally use OBS myself so that’s what you’ll see in all these following images.

First of all let’s cover Scene’s. You’ll need at minimum 1, but you can really make as many as you want.

Let’s cover the main 3 I use in my streams:

The first Scene is what I call a Prep Scene

prep scene.png

Basically this scene gives viewers something to look at while you setup cameras, mics, ect without really showing the play space. you can also use this or an “Intermission”scene to setup your “Play Space” scene in between rounds.

Here’s my Intermission scene:


Again it’s similar to the Prep scene with really just different text on it. literally I use it in between rounds and I show it right at the very end of the stream too.

I also have 2 other scenes I use.

1. I actually have named “Intermission”intermission memes.png

It’s basically an even more simple intermission scene that scrolls through various MTG related meme’s (because, Internet).

2. A judge call scene


This is how I notify viewers that a judge has been called. It’s only really shown for a short amount of time at most.

And this is my “Play Space” scene


I didn’t have a camera active when I took this shot but the red rectangle shows where the image would be.

Now let’s break how I run this

First of all I have to make the disclaimer that I run a Linux based OS. So some of my solutions won’t necessarily work for you.

All the text in my scenes are read from various text files.


I edit these fiiles and save them and have OBS read from the files. This enables a more professional look when life totals and ect. are modified or changed.

Now for my round clock I can’t necessarily do this. On some platforms you can download a program that will run a clock in a text file you can OBS read from (I believe it’s called “Snaz” not 100% sure). This simply isn’t an option for me so i have a work around.

I literally record the window of a task timer program called “Pomodoro”


It’s a little wonky, but it works quite reliably enough for me, literally I only need the time text myself so that’s all I capture. It also kind’ve forces my colors too. So my text in’t black on pure white it’s a little brownish on a very bright grey colored backround. Which is nice to look at after a while so I’ll live with it.

Sure my own layout might change over time, but this is what i’m personally working with.

As you can see I have our local magic club’s logo with the LGS’s logo this is important to have somewhere in your stream since it’s technically a sponsored stream. Might as well try to pull in some business for the place your playing at right? You can also use a store branded playmat if they have them like I was using above (the store only had 1 left in stock though so I had to live with the SCG playmat >.>)

In the next article I’ll talk about the equipment I use. As well as setting up audio.

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