I went to TwitchCon last week. It was a very interesting and eye-opening experience.
Here are some my thoughts based on what I learned and observed. It isn’t supposed to be a guide to development streaming or anything. Most of it is specific to my situation, but I thought it’d be of interest to others.
I started streaming on Twitch in June of this year (here’s my channel btw: http://www.twitch.tv/williamchyr)
Initially, I did a few random streams to test out the water, and then decided to go full throttle and stream every weekday. I did this straight through from the start of July to TwitchCon.
My schedule was Monday to Friday, 8:30pm to 10:00pm central. I did mostly development streams, and on Friday, I’d do a “game design critique” where I played a work-in-progress game and spoke with the designer. These were really awesome and I enjoyed it a lot.
My main motivation in starting to stream was just to understand streaming culture and what it was all about. Aside from owning an N64 as a kid, I didn’t play video games prior to starting development of Manifold Garden. I also rarely play multiplayer games.
My online multiplayer gaming experience consists of: 2 rounds of Rocket League, and 1 unfinished game of Civ 5 with a friend. Oh, and Journey (does that count?)
All this is to say, I’m still relatively new to video games, and even more so to streaming. However, I was really curious about it so I decided to give it a go.
TwitchCon was very much unlike any event I’ve ever been to.
There were a lot of people with purple hair and purple clothing (Do people wear blue at facebook events?) It also took some getting used to with everyone introducing themselves with their twitch handles.
It was really interesting to learn more about the community aspects of Twitch. I heard it a lot, but I really had to see it in person.
For example, I met several streamers in the Crypt of the Necrodancer Speedruning community, and it was really amazing to hear of the events they’d organize. Definitely a large part of this was that the developers really engaged with streamers early on with events like the NecroThon, but the community also took on a life of its own. The streamers told me about different play modes they had invented, how they would exchange tips/strategies, and help each other out in different levels. They also told me about “leprechaun hunting” mode in NecroDancer, which was a mode that was actually developed after seeing what speedrunners were doing with the game (I think?)
I’m not really sure how this would apply to my game. Several people told me that puzzle games don’t really do well on twitch, because streamer don’t like to look like they’re stuck. However, I did also meet streamers who told me that they love puzzle games, and it gives them an opportunity to have discussions with their chat.
Interestingly, Crypt of the Necrodancer, is supposedly a non-streamer friendly game because it’s super hard to play and talk/read chat at the same time. And yet, a really strong streaming community has formed around it.
So, I don’t really know what to make of this except that there’s a pretty big variety of streamers, and they all have different styles and preferences. I’m not really sure the format my game will take on Twitch. I’m not going to change the game just so it’s streamer-friendly. Perhaps speedrunning it will be very popular, or maybe the level editor? Anyway, just stuff to think about.
On Saturday, I went to a panel about development streaming.
The devs all seemed to be suggesting that you needed to focus on stream first and game second, and you had to appeal to people with giant alerts when people signed up (like explosions) or giveaways.
I’m not really sure I agree with this.
I watch these mainly for the content, and in order to learn from them. They all have very minimalist overlays. To me, the content alone is fascinating enough, and anything else would just be a distraction.
Of course, I’m not exactly the average gamer, and these are obviously interesting mainly to be people interested in game development or game design.
However, my game is also a slow, contemplative exploration puzzle game. For me to have explosions going off when someone follows the channel just doesn’t really make sense.
Anyway, this is just my 2 cents. Take from it what you will. I think I will continue with a very minimalist stream, and focus mainly on the game, as I think that’s mainly what people watching my stream are interested in.
New Streaming Schedule
After speaking with a few people at TwitchCon, I’ve also decided to reduce the number of times I stream.
This is not because I don’t like streaming. Quite the contrary. However, when I was doing it every day, I was always coming on to the stream at the end of a long day, when I exhausted, and the stream just consisted of me being frustrated that the code isn’t working.
If all you saw of me was what was on the stream, I would seem like a really angry and grumpy person.
There were definitely some really cool moments that were captured, like when I figured out how to solve the edge detection artifact that had been bothering me for almost two years, but those are pretty rare.
Instead of streaming every weekday, I’m just going to do twice a week. Wednesday evening when I do development and updates on the project, and Friday evening when I do the game design critique. This way, each stream can be much more focused and show a lot more content.
Quality over quantity.