Sea of Thieves and story telling
Today was a pretty busy Sunday and despite the fact that I got up at a reasonable hour I'm still getting a late start on this. Maybe by now that's just the norm. There is no late start. This is just protocol. There wasn't a lot of time for reflection today so instead, I'm going to be talking about something that I'm still pretty hyped about. Sea of Thieves.
I don't know if I consider Sea of Thieves a good game. I streamed the game for seven hours on Saturday, had a ton of laughs, brought in an admirable amount of concurrent viewers, and a plethora of clips, but I don't know if I would recommend the game to someone. In fact, the question, "is it worth it," was brought up a lot but every time I was faced with giving the same conflicted answer of, "I don't know." The gameplay loop is short. Get a treasure map, sail to the island, find treasure, and bring it back without getting harmed by the environment or other human players. The first few go-arounds are fun but it's something that should get stale pretty quickly, especially if you're playing solo. The islands are all pretty similar, the enemies seem to be limited to snakes and skeletons of slightly different varieties, and as far as I can tell the only real use for treasure is to buy more items to dress up your character. Bear in mind though, I am me after all, so there is a pretty high chance that I'm doing something wrong. However, if that's not the case then I feel like I've seen just about all this game has to offer in a relatively short time. So why am I still so hyped about this game? Because the game finds its strength in facilitating ways for the players to tell stories, something that is incredibly invaluable as a streamer.
The very first time I loaded up this game I spent thirty minutes terrorizing other players with an accordion. That's it. I didn't even mean to play for that long but I was instantly hooked in watching what the other live player would do if I just constantly followed them around while the same sea jingle belted from my player. At first, it was fun and games as they would respond with the proper emotes of dancing or clapping, but eventually as they grew annoyed they tried to outrun me. Their escape sent them straight into the ocean where they thought they would finally find safe haven from my antics, but no. The game didn't care for realism, I continued playing my accordion underwater and I couldn't stop laughing. When I actually streamed the game I found myself befriending wild chickens and giving them different names and 'jobs,' while I continued on with my pirate business. Sometimes that business involves finding ways to distract other players while trying to turn in your buried treasure and then having that go horribly wrong.
Sometimes it's as simple as just sailing out on the open sea and enjoying the scenery while having good conversations with chat only to be quickly alerted to the pressing need of patching up a boat that's taking on water in the middle of nowhere. Other times it involves spending a good amount of time securing a bunch of treasure only to return to your ship and find out that it's been captured by enemy players who are ready to ambush. Success brings moments of elation and celebration where failure leaves you stranded on a new island trying to decide how to get yourself out of that predicament with whatever loot you may still possess. Either way, you're in control of the narrative. Sea of Thieves has found this sweet spot of being just enough of a blank slate where the streamer gets to take center stage, while still offering up enough things to keep things from being too stale. You're ability to tell stories and flex your improv muscles shines in a way that many games don't allow. My main concern is how much mileage can you squeeze out of a game that's already feeling kind of thin? I definitely don't have the answer, but I'm willing to give this game more time to find its groove. After all it's only been one stream on my end so far. There'll definitely be more to follow. If you got Sea of Thieves stories of your own though feel free to share. I can't be the only one getting into this much mayhem!
p.s. My schedules are about to get a lot more lax so hopefully we'll get back to less excuses and more words. We'll see
I'm sick. Go easy on me
One of these days I'll start this at a reasonable hour, but that day isn't today. I feel bad that the last three blogs have been sort of rapid fire off the cuff entries with no real structure to them but it happens. The reason I'm getting a late start on this is because I spent two hours working on a video and right as I finished Premiere decided to crash and not keep any of the work I made. The wind has been sucked from my sails, but I'm gonna limp into station with this blog post. Oh yeah, there's no embed spotify song this week because apparently it was messing with the site? Who knows, I'm not an html wizard but I know enough to know not to test the fences in the same spot. Suck it Muldoon.
Okay, big takeaways this week? I finished A Link to the Past. That game was equal parts fun and frustrating. There were quite a few times where I thought I wasn't going to finish it but luckily I was able to lean on chat in some of the more difficult parts of the game. Zeldas are always fun for the stream and I'm glad that I'm spacing them out. It really helps ease the time in between Breath of the Wild and whatever sequel to Breath of the Wild we get. The next Zelda game I'll tackle will be Twilight Princess but for now we're moving on to Momodora. There was a small reprieve in the video game cycle but we're starting to get to the point where bigger hits are starting to surface. We've got God of War at the end of next month and I've got to find time to position myself for that. I've never played a God of War game so I'm not entirely sure if I want to do a series run leading up to it. The only series run I've ever done was Uncharted and at 4 games that was a bit of a commitment. We'll have to continue to play it by ear.
Tech issues are ever present but I think I finally figured out the issue with my SNES Classic and capture card. For whatever reason OBS doesn't like it when the SNES Classic is on before opening up the program. Annoying but not a deal breaker and something that's super easy to keep in mind moving forward. It bums me out that it continues to plague my OBS though because I missed out on a really cool moment where Hubbit and I played through Journey which was his first experience. I really wanted to record it and upload it to youtube but we ultimately decided to just play it without recording. Next time.
I got into the Fortnite mobile access which is super cool. FrankieFastHandz, my cousin, was kind enough to share his invite with me and I've been enjoying the hell out of it. Call it bandwagoning but I'm really getting sucked into the game. Playing it on PC was a lot of fun with Rex but now that I have the ability to play on the go and continually upgrade my character cross platform I'm feeling myself going all in. I definitely want to find more ways to incorporate Fortnite into what we're doing with TheTap because it's a goodie. I just gotta work on getting better. Maybe.
Okay, so it's a super brief entry this week which I feel bad for but I don't want to stay up too late tonight. I need to stay ahead of whatever this sickness is that I'm feeling. I'll adopt the Gavin Free ideology and just will this sickness out of existence with pure defiance. To make up for it I'll leave this video that I always find myself falling back on whenever things start to boil up and get to hard to take. I feel like 2018 has been testing a lot of us this year by throwing curveballs and moments of doubt. So watch this. I'm not entirely sure I 100% understand it all but it makes me feel comfortable. Okay, goodbye.
Mixer Plans and Smash Bros
Another week and now another late Sunday where I'm starting entirely way too late on this post. There's no excuse. I spent the majority of the day sleeping and being lazy. Guilt and laziness aside, I needed the rest. It's been a pretty busy week and they don't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. I guess the biggest take away this week was the second stream in a row on Mixer and a new commitment to streaming on Fridays. (Except this coming Friday. Family time, yo. Also as of writing this I just realized that I didn't update the schedule whoops. I'll get that tomorrow afternoon.)
Some of you may have seen that on Friday I spent the evening playing Halo on Mixer.com. For the unaware, Mixer is an alternative streaming platform that is very much like Twitch. There are some bells and whistles that Mixer has which makes it an enticing platform but it's still very much suffering from the younger brother syndrome. Despite its secondary status, there still seems to be this push to stream on Mixer given that there is more room to grow on the platform due to less saturation than on Twitch. I honestly wouldn't have batted an eye, (that's the horrible decision making in me,) if it weren't for the Ask Broman podcast lauding the opportunities on Mixer and advocating the importance of being first. I want to make the point clear because conveying this can't be said enough, I have no plans in the immediate future to make a permanent move to Mixer. I've got a pretty humble momentum with Twitch right now and I like the direction that my channel is heading. So, everything we're doing on Twitch isn't changing anytime soon. However, the more I listen to the Ask Broman podcast the more I'm worried that if I don't make some sort of effort to branch out the more it might bite me in the ass.
Every time I start to describe streaming to family or friends the first thing I say is that I honestly feel like I've been given a time machine and have gone back before Youtube exploded. We're at the forefront of this streaming space and it's honestly one of the most exciting things I've ever been a part of. There's an unspeakable amount of gold in being the first to something, no matter how much shit online forums give you for that dead horse, 'first,' comment. It's why I worked so hard on making the Mario Make My Day series whenever Twitch introduced uploads. My thought process was that I wanted to be up with consistent content first on the off chance they started really pushing uploaded content. That didn't pan out but I still stand by that logic. So when I'm faced with the opportunity of being among the first to be consistent with Mixer, or Facebook Gaming, or whatever platform that arrives next I feel like I need to bat an eye. I don't want to be so quick to write off an opportunity. Everything I'm doing right now is planting seeds in hopes that something starts to sprout. I used to fear that spreading myself too thin would segment the audience but with this website, discord, twitter, and our lovely community I think we're strong enough to bring in as many people as we can. So that's my plan, and it starts with these small Friday night Mixer streams.
I've only done two so far but it's been a really fun experience. I've met new people and even have a few regulars that followed me over to Twitch that I wouldn't have met if it weren't for branching out. I'm averaging about 5 viewers a stream and peaking around the 10 mark which isn't exactly setting the world ablaze but it's more than enough to get started somewhere new. After all the focus is just meeting as many people as possible. My entire gambit is that there are more people who use Mixer AND Twitch than there are people who use Twitch and any other secondary platform. I'm going to spend my free time going out and introducing myself to those people and then end every broadcast by letting them know that they can find more of this content on my main home, Twitch. It's worth a risk I think and at the very least I'll have a foot in the door should things take a turn for the worst on Twitch. You know, like guilting people into resubbing to their favorite broadcasters without the broadcaster's consent. I'm in this for the long haul and the more I can establish my base the more I think I can sustain my channel. Rooster Teeth always makes the point that they were never the biggest channel to be watched on the Internet but they're definitely the longest running due to their adaptability. There's no better model to learn from than them in my opinion.
Being that Mixer is a Microsoft service it felt fitting that I would stream Halo, but after two test weeks, I'm thinking of trying a new game. Again, there's a reason Mixer is second to Twitch and that's the lower viewer base. I spent some time looking at the Halo directories and for the most part, they're pretty dead. I'm interested in seeing what I can do with a more popular game right now so the next time we're on Mixer I'm gonna continue our Monster Hunter run there. There's that general rule that you should always steer clear of popular games when you're first starting out but I feel like it'll be a fun test. Which I'm fully aware of my ego here. Part of the fun of being in a new space is getting the chance to start over but with all the things you've learned. We'll see how that goes. Oh, and for all the drum beating, it's worth noting that I'm actually not going to be able to stream this Friday on Mixer due to family plans. Mixer is supplemental after all, so I'll see you all on Twitch for our regularly scheduled chaos.
I know what you're thinking, "Trey didn't you already cover this in your tantrum post about your emotes?" You're right but it was brought to my attention that my plan for streaming on Mixer wasn't entirely clear so I wanted to spend some time hammering that point home. With two years under my belt, I've learned that you can never go wrong with communicating your information multiple times. Hence the reason I usually post my weekly stream schedule in like 3 different places all while still being prepared to answer the, 'what are you streaming this week,' question.
It's been a bit since I've recapped what's been going on on Twitch so I'll give a quick recap here. Monday night CarelessRex and I switched things up and played Fortnite and it was an absolute blast. I take back all the negative and irrational opinions I had about Fortnite. The game is fun plain and simple and is honestly making so many strides in the gaming space it's honestly crazy not to jump on board now. We're poised for another Minecraft style take over here. Being on all consoles, PC, and soon mobile? There's no telling how high this ceiling will go. But you're right, this is supposed to be a recap of my stream. Rex is currently on break but I think we're pretty much settled on streaming Fortnite once we get back into the swing of things.
The rest of the stream weak was consumed with Zelda A Link to the Past. It's my first 2D Zelda game and BOY is it a toughie. I'm absolutely enjoying it though even if it takes me quite awhile to make any progress. Not to discredit Zelda for the amazing series that it is but I know I never would have gone back and experienced this classic, as well as others, were it not for having this streaming space to share it with. The stream keeps me consistent and I'm thankful that I get to share this with people. Which leads me to the final thought on this post.
Nintendo featured their Nintendo Direct this past week where they outlined their upcoming games for the year. This was the first time that I've ever gotten to watch one live and it was probably one of the most memorable moments this week. In case you didn't know, a little game called Super Smash Bros was confirmed to be coming out this year and the Internet went absolutely crazy. Personally, the experience of watching my discord EXPLODE with little notifications after that announcement brought so much joy to my face. Not because of Smash but because it all boils down to the fact that we get to share this. Maybe I go back to this over-sentimental well one too many times but I'm always baffled and humbled by the home that we've created in this space. It's moments like these that I'm going to remember as we grow older. We all reached this points with different backgrounds, different problems, different goals, but we're all united by our common passion of gaming. I've formed so many friendships, and have watched friendships form outside of me all because of this place. It's enough to put a smile on my face, especially when I think about how much I'm going to beat their butts in Smash Bros.
I could've stayed where I was and have a life you'd be proud of
After weeks of shouting, thetapLurk was approved. I'm still not sure whether or not anything I did had an affect or if it was just random chance by the grace of a coin flip at Twitch. As I sat down to write this blog post I didn't think there was a way to get through this without acknowledging it. There's still a small part of me that feels self conscious for all the borrowed mind space, but every story needs an ending so let's put this one to bed.
This past Monday I finally got the email that my thetapLurk emote was approved. I was caught off guard by the fact that it was actually approved, especially after being told multiple times about the 'no single letter,' rule. Obviously I believed I had a fighting chance, else I wouldn't have made all the ruckus that I did, but I was surprised that my immediate reaction wasn't elation. I was first caught of guard by a resounding, 'oh.' Only at first, and then that's when the excitement started kicking in. I was at work and I rushed over to my dad shoving the cellphone in his face exclaiming that the emote had finally been approved. (What? You thought the Internet was the only one that had to deal with the brunt of my rants?)
You ever find yourself finishing a book and then left with that feeling of what now? Or maybe even finishing a video game you've spent 200 hours in and then checking off that last side quest? That's where I'm at right now. If you remember, I actually scheduled Tuesday night off this past week, and it was mainly due to the fact that I was on the verge of writing out a long open letter twitter thread to twitch about the inconsistency of their rules. That's just what my generation does. I wanted to be around to answer any, if at all, responses that would be headed my way. Luckily, it didn't come to that, but there was that, 'oh,' feeling again. I had all this pent up energy stored and was ready to make a fool of myself, but I ended up with my emote after all. So why am I writing this out? Partly because it makes a good read, I hope, and partly because I felt like there needs to be some acknowledgement after all the noise I made.
I spent a lot of time thinking about it and I came to the conclusion that if the only thing I'm doing is yelling because of one emote, then I'm just throwing a tantrum. There had to be a bigger reason for all of this than just what was at stake for me. I think there are still parts of the emote approval process that needs to be addressed over at Twitch. As difficult as the situation is, Affiliates should have the option to allow their current standing emote remain while pending approval of another one. If the process is going to be left up luck of the draw depending on the eyes of the approver then we shouldn't have have our fate be tied to chance. I'm not asking for instant approval like Twitch Partners, but I do think there needs to be a much more forgiving system. I was fortunate that the artist I worked with was kind enough to fix the emote without charging. This won't always be the case for everyone, nor should they have to experience it. These emotes aren't just some silly emojis, they're a representation of the streamer's cultures. The atmosphere that they are creating in their chats with their viewers. Any revamp to the system that allows Affiliates a little more control than what they're getting now would be a much welcomed addition, however like I said earlier this week in my tweets, I digress. For now, I have a feeling of pride every time I see thetapLurk flooded in chat, and not because I feel like there was anything I did, but because of the people that were supporting me. I spent a lot of time 'Jeff Goldbluming,' as I was pointing out this and that, and I had friends coming in support with their own examples. I had reassurance from viewers that they weren't subbing because of an emote, and I even had other viewers gifting out subs even without an emote to use. So everytime I see that cute little Captain America behind his shield, I'm reminded that I'm surrounded by a lot of amazing people online, and I thank you.
Oh man, okay so that was totally meant to be a quick final thought on the whole mess but it ended up being a lot longer than I thought. I swear, you can ask people in chat, I mentioned that I was trying to think up a theme for this week's blog post and I thought I had settled on tech issues, but whoops. It's getting late now so I'm not going to dive as deep into it as I wanted to. I think the best way to sum up this week's issues actually comes from Saturday's stream. Earlier in the week I had issues with my capture card not working and it actually caused my OBS (Open Broadcast Software, program used to stream) to crash. I took the time to get it all fixed and even did a really long test stream on Mixer. Everything was perfectly fine, but come time for Saturday's stream it started borking again. However, I found that as long as I didn't click 'ok' on the 'OBS has crashed,' window I could keep streaming. If that doesn't sum up technology then I honestly don't know what does.
That's the thing about tech issues. You never really know when they're going to pop up. You can go months without a single issue and think you're absolved of any more issues, but then there they go again reminding you that they're still haunting you. That paranoia is enough to suck the energy out of you, but I think if there's any silver lining to take away from it all is that it's kind of amazing to see the resilience. You never really have to look too far on Twitter for someone dealing with one thing or another, and usually without fail they keep coming right back after being knocked down. When I first started streaming I remember I straight up texted my cousin, RG, that I didn't think streaming was for me. I couldn't figure out how to sync the audio and video of both my camera and my gameplay and it was frustrating to the point of wanting to just quit. Thankfully there was still this spark that kept me going because I don't think I can imagine my life now without streaming. I guess what this is boiling down to is that there will always be the easy route of quitting laid out before you, but when given the opportunity to keep pushing past the limits of your knowledge, the limits of your patience, or the limits of your confidence, you'll often find that you had it in you all along. Now if you'll excuse the self congratulatory ending, I'm going to go to bed. Summing up the sum up? Don't give up. I once wrote 120 page script on the subject called, "For Sale," and now I just did it in one blog post. Progress. Goodnight.
Streamer, writer, creator. One day I woke up painfully aware of my existence and I've been apologizing for it ever since.