What Should You Stream?

I see this question or a variation of it pop up fairly often in my Twitter timeline: “I’m thinking about streaming. What do you want to see?” Most recently @Jaedia brought this up yesterday:

I’m not an expert on this, and I’m sure my preferences on streaming don’t align with the majority of kids today. But here’s what I like:

I like to see games with a beginning, middle, and end. I don’t like to see repetitive gameplay, at least not for more than one or two videos. If the story is good, but the gameplay is repetitive or not viewer-friendly, I prefer that unnecessary gameplay be cut out.

I like to see “regular” people playing games. I don’t particularly like to see “radio voice guy or girl” playing games.

But still, I like to hear the player clearly over the game audio. (While still being able to hear the game audio clearly.)

(I do not like to hear eating, coughing, sneezing, or other weird bodily noises.)

I like to hear the game music, but not too loud. I don’t like to hear whatever the favorite playlist of the day is.

I don’t care if a web cam is used or not. If you do, don’t cover anything important on the game screen. Just my two cents but it’s a waste of screen space unless you’re planning to interact with the camera or make funny faces or something.

I don’t like to see people hyped up on Red Bull or whatever it is the kids get high on these days. (Although they are very funny to laugh at in Twitch Fail clips.)

I hate overlays on streams. I don’t care who your last subscriber was, how much they donated, etc. I definitely do not want to see the chat on the video itself. It makes the stream look like a bad game show or a QVC channel. The important thing to see is the game.

I like to see episodes around 30-45 minutes long. Less than a half hour if the pace of the game is fast.

I like to see the player’s enthusiasm for the game they are playing–to know that they are having fun with the game, and not playing it as a chore because everyone else is playing it or to get more viewers or partnerships or whatever.

I like to see the player’s first attempt at playing the game blind, with no foreknowledge of anything in the game. I want to see and hear their genuine reactions and their thinking process for learning how to play the game and solve the game’s challenges.

I like to see exploration of the game environment.

I like to hear the player explain their strategies and why they are doing the things they do.

I like to see and hear every cut scene and every piece of dialog from the game, uninterrupted by the player as much as possible.

This might be controversial, but if there is text-only dialog in the game, I like to hear it read out loud. I am usually listening to game videos, not watching them, and even if I were watching, I wouldn’t want to read the text in a blocky YouTube video anyway.

As a followup, because I’m usually listening to these videos, I like to hear the player describe what they are seeing in the game so I can get a sense of what is going on without having to look at the screen.

I like to see the player interacting with the game, not the chat. (I am constantly talking to the characters in the games I play.)

I like to see what the player likes and dislikes about the game mechanics and the story, and what they might do differently.

Of course everyone should ignore all of this and do whatever they want, because the most important thing when creating content is to do whatever you want to do. The best advice is to make content that you want to see.

Featured image from ustream.tv.

YouTube Gaming Or Something Like It

I don’t stream a lot but I like YouTube Gaming so far. Twitch is okay, and Hitbox is okay, but I almost always see a lot of stuttering, lag, and painful dropouts, both when I stream and when I watch other streams. With YouTube Gaming I’m just going to go out on a limb here and guess that they’re going to have the best possible video streaming technology working behind the scenes. I had no difficulty uploading at 60fps, 1080p, 9000kbps. I could never get Twitch to work higher than 720p and around 3500kbps.

YouTube Gaming

(I don’t exactly know how I got YouTube Gaming… as of this writing, it still says “coming soon” on the landing page. I guess it’s one of those open beta kind of things that anyone can get into. I can assure you I did nothing special to activate it. I think I might have clicked on the “get notified” button at some point, but I don’t remember. I don’t see any evidence that I received any emails. I think I just stumbled upon it on my regular YouTube video page.)

(Come to think of it, I may not even being using YouTube Gaming at all. But somehow I’m able to stream directly to YouTube which I don’t remember ever being able to do before.)

I’m probably alone in this opinion, but I love that you can turn off chat. I’m not a “hey let’s hang out together and chit-chat” kind of a streamer. I’m more of a “hey I’m playing a game, and I tend to talk to myself when I’m playing anyway, so you can watch if you want, but I’m trying to concentrate on what I’m doing, so I can’t monitor a chat and try to think of witty responses and also get off my damn lawn you hippies” kind of a streamer. On Twitch and Hitbox I believe you’re stuck with chat whether you want it or not.

One thing I don’t like, though, is the length of time it takes for archived streams to publish to your channel. On Twitch, it’s very fast, but with YouTube Gaming it takes basically the same amount of time that it would take to upload a recording from your desktop. That is, a long time. I don’t care so much about my viewers (ha!) but sometimes I want to replay something I did during a stream and I have to wait like a half hour.

If nothing else, it’s a handy way to store my videos on the YouTube servers instead of my hard drive. Videos take up a lot of space, yo.

This post was for Blaugust Day 4.

YouTube Buying Twitch

Google is buying Twitch, apparently. Or YouTube is buying Twitch. Or something. I don’t report news, I just talk about it.

This seems like one of those “surprising but inevitable” plot resolutions that we aspiring authors are always told to strive for. At first you read it and think, “Whoa! Google is buying Twitch! No way!” Then a second later, you think, “Oh, of course Google is buying Twitch. We should have seen that coming a mile away.”

I know nothing about big-money corporate takeovers, but this strikes me as a case of one company buying the brand name of another company. You’ve got to figure that YouTube already knows how to stream video from a technological standpoint. (In fact, you can already stream games to YouTube can’t you? There’s a “YouTube” setting in OBS’s Broadcast Settings, at least.) Google just wants the Twitch name and the Twitch user list. They would probably throw out the entire Twitch back-end and replace it with those Google mega-god-servers or whatever.

Although, from my own personal standpoint, I hope they don’t. Because I have endless trouble playing YouTube videos. I mean, it’s almost a 100% failure rate when I go to the YouTube site itself. I click a video, it plays for 30 seconds, and then it sits there buffering for the next twelve hours, regardless of what I change the resolution to. It’s probably Verizon interfering with the packets, because with great FIOS bandwidth comes great corporate throttling, but whatever the reason, it’s very annoying. I don’t want to see that happen to Twitch. If it does, Pingzapper needs to branch out and support video too.

ArcheAge Stream – On the Road to Cinderstone Moor

It occurred to me that I should probably post the YouTube videos of my streaming “shows” here on the blog. (I am nothing if not a consummate professional broadcaster.) So here is the first episode from Thursday, May 1, showing the long journey to Cinderstone Moor to find PvP. Others to follow.

Trying New Things In May

The Newbie Blogger Initiative runs through May, so, to celebrate, I thought I would try a couple of new things and see what happens.

T-Day Streaming

I’m going to do a regular stream during the month of May. The stream will run Tuesdays and Thursdays at roughly 7:00 PM Eastern Time for about an hour, starting on May 1. You can find me at http://twitch.tv/endgameviable.

Why would I do such a crazy thing? Well, everyone else is doing it, and we are all slaves to trendiness. I often talk to myself or the game while I’m playing anyway, so I might as well click on the “broadcast” button while I’m doing it. Also, I want to create an example of the kind of stream that I prefer to watch.

What kind of stream is it going to be? Well, it’ll be MMORPGs, obviously. And pretty casual. Possibly informative and/or amusing. My target audience won’t be hardcore gamers.

At this time I am planning to stream ArcheAge, because it’s all the rage. Other possibilities include ESO and … well, that’s about it. ArcheAge or ESO. Maybe I’ll alternate between them.

NPC Fiction

I saw that one of the topics for this year’s NBI is “Creative writing articles and guides.” I wouldn’t presume to try tackling the vastness of a guide on creative writing, but a while back I had an idea for some writing exercises, and this seems like the perfect time to give it a try.

The goal of my project is to write very short pieces of fiction, perhaps as little as 1,000 words each. The inspiration for the fiction will come from a random NPC in an MMORPG, preferably one who doesn’t otherwise have a part in a quest. You know how you sometimes run across an NPC who doesn’t seem to do anything but add atmosphere to an area? He or she may not even have any lines to speak, or may not even have a name beyond something generic like “Pact Soldier.” Those are the ones I mean. Why are they there? What are they thinking about? What are their dreams? If you could interact with those NPCs, what would they say? What quests might they give out?

So I will try to publish a short fiction related to those NPCs every Sunday during May. (I suppose technically it would be “fan fiction.”)

Twitch.tv

Over the holiday weekend I started a new Twitch channel for EndgameViable, because I like to do weird stuff like broadcast my gaming sessions for the entire world to see. Plus, all the kids are doing it. (Actually I’m not sure if I like it or not, but I like it when other people do it.)

So yeah, tune in and watch me play games you’ve already seen before! Follow @endgameviable on Twitter and you’ll get an obnoxious tweet every time I go live.

I feel like I need to come up with some kind of gimmick for this. Because I don’t think people tune in to watch the games themselves, they tune in to see the commentary about the games. So maybe I should talk in a funny voice (besides my real one) or wear a funny hat or something to distinguish myself. Maybe I can get my dog involved somehow.

Anyway, one of my short-term goals is to find a way to capture/broadcast some of the old Quake demos I have. I’ve managed to install nQuake and play the demos, but I still have two problems: 1) All the players in the demo have the same default skin so you can’t tell anyone apart, and 2) ezQuake doesn’t seem to stream all that well. The only way I could get anything but a black screen was to run it in a window on my desktop, and then capture the monitor output, which looked pretty awful.

For the technically curious, I started out using FFSplit, but I was getting rather frustrated with it because it crashed quite a lot. So I tried something called Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). It’s a bit harder to setup but it’s a lot more stable, and it seems to have more flexibility in adding overlays and stuff. I just wish they would add some compression/ducking options to the mic input.