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How and Why Streamers Pick Games and Why I No Longer Care

11/03/2018 23:50:02

I've been streaming for almost a month now and the the list of things I now know that I didn't know continues to grow with each passing day. So much so that it has almost become a running joke now. Nevertheless the last two days of streaming have been replete with various technical issues for me. In the midst of all this chaos one of many lessons has been that some games are better for streaming than others.

But why is this and why the hell wasn't it obvious to me? Well I'll tackle the second part first. It isn't obvious because most of us subscribe to successful streamers that have already figured this out so we never have to see the resulting train wreck. But as with most new ventures the old adage "you got to break a few eggs to make an omelet" handily applies here. And oh boy have I broken some eggs.

Right out of the gate I streamed Caves of Qud (coincidentally my favorite game at the moment). But it didn't take me long to realize that this was not a good game to stream. The primary reason for this is that the game is so complex, nobody really understands what it is they are watching. Only experienced Caves of Qud players have a decent of understanding of what they are seeing and even then, most of them would probably rather play the game themselves than watch somebody else play it.

In addition the game is full of text. Lots of text. When you stream a game with text content that is a requisite part of the experience it is expected for the streamer to read that text aloud. This isn't an unreasonable expectation either. A lot of people use Twitch as background for whatever activity they are currently engaged in, so they aren't looking at the screen all the time. At least that's how my circle of friends and I primarily use it. Though we are all coders, so your mileage may definitely vary. Feel free to let me know if it does.

So right off the bat, my favorite game hit the cutting room floor. This was disappointing. I finished my run with the surprisingly long lived character I rolled, poor old Ishruun, and then I moved on to other games. But I'm not going to lie. I really miss Caves of Qud. I actually had visions of streaming that game one or two days a week on a semi-permanent basis. I love playing it that much.

I had planned on streaming a complete play through of the Quest of Glory series (well at least 1 through 4, as I don't personally care much about 5). But on a test run earlier this week I realized that the first three games suffer from a real issue: They are full of text and I would have to read all of it on stream. Reading lots of text on stream can be rough and requires constant hydration and regular breaks. In addition, a lot of viewers don't seem to care for games like that as the pace of the stream slows down accordingly.

In addition I had it in my head that I was going to stream a complete run-through of all four of the Gold Box Forgotten Realms games. I absolutely love these games. It took me decades to complete all of them in sequence with (mostly) the same party in each game. I cannot describe to you the joy I felt when I finally accomplished this. In fact finishing the final sequence of the last game was so difficult, I have literally only beat it once and it required a literal fuck-ton of grinding and as much bending of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons rules as was possible in a cRPG short of cheating. This is by far my greatest accomplishment as a gamer.

While researching the other day I found a few VODs from somebody else who streamed the first game in the series, Pool of Radiance. I was thrilled. I wasn't alone in this endeavor. I had found a kindred spirit. Well then I watched some of the VODs. Holy shit they were hard to watch. For starters the games don't have much background music, so you have to provide your own. Well that's easy enough with Pretzel. Then in those VODs the streamer pretty much just bitched about how shitty the game was to stream because of the endless battles with creatures he considered to be mere cannon fodder.

You know what I realized while playing Willow today? I really absolutely do not care. If I can't stream games that I love then I would rather not stream at all. I don't want to be sponsored by some mega-corp looking to recruit another spokesperson for their latest piece of MBA approved theoretically entertaining bean counter licensed garbage (Pro Tip: If you say that with a French accent it doesn't sound so bad, I promise).

Now don't get me wrong. I do love some of the games I'm streaming. Sadly Willow isn't among them. Its a decent enough game but I hate how much its shitting on the plot of the movie so hard at this point. I would rather just let it rot. On the flip side its hard as sin so gaming it with save states doesn't really make me feel that bad. But Hand of Fate, MechWarrior 2 and Privateer are all games that I dearly love. They also happen to be wonderfully suited for streaming and thus I have every intention of finishing them.

With all of this in mind, I've made the decision to stream less on Saturdays. The reason for this is simple: I've been streaming so much over the last month that I don't have the time or inclination to play games outside the stream. This is something I very much want to continue doing. I've already sacrificed one hobby (coding) for professional gain and I'm loathe to go down that road again without making every attempt to carefully curate and manage it. As of right now I don't know whether I'll stream less or not at all on Saturdays. Either way, the age of the six hour Bumbling Rogue Saturday stream has come to an end... for now.

Let me put this another way: I streamed six hours today and I peaked at a single viewer according to Stream Labs. Who am I entertaining exactly? If not myself, then who? That's the core of the conflict that I've been grappling with as of late. In light of that I have made another decision: I'm only going to stream games that I would play anyway. Nothing more, nothing less. I'm going to entertain myself first.

The best way I can think of to do that is to stream only the games I think are insanely fun regardless of what you might think. That even includes the games that I know I shouldn't stream for the variety of reasons I stated above. The over-arching goal here was to always do something different. I can't very well accomplish that by boxing myself into the same corner that everybody else has by following all of their rules, now can I?

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