Last Thursday I made my live-streaming debut on my very own Twitch channel. It was something I’d been going back and forth on for a long time, but thanks to a combination of discovering the right game and receiving some encouragement from my fellow bloggers, I finally decided to give it a try. The outcome was just about the most positive I could have expected. I was genuinely floored at the number of people who decided to make an appearance, whether they did so only briefly or stayed for the entire (!) stream. Not only were they there, but they were active – my chat was hopping for essentially the entire stream, making it so easy for me to stay busy with different subjects to talk about and giving me lots of fun jokes to carry me through the evening.
It wasn’t perfect, of course. That reality struck me pretty hard the moment I watched the stream back using the recording I made in OBS. The footage looked very choppy, and while at first I thought it might just be my local copy, once I checked the VOD I knew for sure my frame rate had been garbage. After working with my streaming mentor to check to the logs and discover the issue, I learned that I had dropped over half of my frames (55%) due to encoding lag. “People must really love me and want to support me,” I said, “because there’s no way they could have sat and watched that mess otherwise!” Seeing just how bad the stream looked during that first run made me even more grateful for the people who decided to support me throughout the course of the night.
I expected maybe one or two bloggers to be interested in coming by to support me, and I figured that family and friends simply wouldn’t be interested. Leading up to the stream, I was surprised to hear from multiple friends who were planning to make an appearance. When the stream actually started, I was floored by how many people I knew from the blogging community showed up even just to say hello before needing to head off somewhere else. Each new name in the chat was an injection of energy and positivity that helped to make the experience fun and memorable for me.
The game I chose to stream was Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. It is my favorite video game, one I know backwards and forwards after years of replays. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect – the very same day of my first stream, the trailer for Paper Mario: The Origami King was released by Nintendo, giving us plenty to talk about during the evening. I couldn’t have planned it if I wanted to. One of the decisions I made for the game was also to show off a challenge run where no badges were utilized, a challenge that certainly made the end of the stream a lot more exciting! My fight against the first boss was one of the closest I have ever experienced in Paper Mario, and I had to use every non-badge resource at my disposal to try to win the day.
Paper Mario also turned out to be a good choice from a structural standpoint. For the most part the game’s chapters fit pretty nicely into the timespan of a single livestream (2-3 hours), meaning I can break the game up pretty nicely into segments for each stream and advertise the stream based on those segments. This article is going live on Wednesday, and tomorrow (Thursday May 21st 2020) I’m planning to show off chapter two of the game, a chapter focused on witches and wind spirits in a magical forest. It’s a shift from the classic castle-and-dragon scenario of the first chapter, and the whole scenario should fit nicely into one stream just like the first.
The Thousand-Year Door also offers me a variety of options when it comes to conversation topics not generated by the convenient announcement of another game in the series. During battle, I can focus on the strategies that are useful against each enemy. In the overworld I can describe puzzles or share trivia about the game. In dialogue scenes, the quirky dialogue can be funny for new listeners to enjoy, and it’s easy to image silly voices that each character might have. While chat kept me pretty busy last time, if there’s ever a time where swoopa troopas aren’t keeping the conversation going then there are plenty of ideas to keep me busy so that dead air isn’t too much of an issue.
As I’ve already mentioned above, I’m planning to continue my streaming journey tomorrow. Not just tomorrow, though – for now, I am committing at least to finishing Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door over the next seven to ten Thursdays. This is an opportunity for me to get lots of practice hosting a livestream, testing and refining my equipment, and learning if keeping a regular streaming schedule is an experience that I enjoy having. Once I finish the game, I’ll be able to look back on all those experiences and see if it is something I want to continue doing for the foreseeable future, and perhaps whether or not I want to push myself to grind towards affiliate.
I want to take some time to thank the key players who make my streaming experience possible, and of course I can’t talk about me streaming without a shoutout to my mentor and friend Jett over at In Third Person. Jett has been very enthusiastic in his support of me, patient with my questions, and informative in the breadth of his knowledge about the hobby. And it’s more than just the direct, intentional help – Jett fosters an atmosphere on his own channel that is instructional, and I imagine it is difficult to come away from an In Third Person stream without having reflected on the hobby of streaming in some way or another.
I mentioned previously that I was floored by the number of AFK friends and family who decided to make an appearance. My wife Destiny of course is a constant source of support and encouragement for me, and while she’s not particularly a fan of The Thousand-Year Door she still chose to come and chat for awhile (be sure to check out her streams too at twitch.tv/switchtodecaf). I was pleasantly surprised to see my younger brother Deen in the chat as well! The stream took place the night before his 18th birthday, and there he was hanging out with me (albeit indirectly) instead of pretty much anything else he could have been doing. Quite a few of my friends from college decided to come watch and chat as well, including TC Clockworth (who has made an appearance here before as part of Blogger Blitz) and his spouse, XandyrBlueBlood (who I recently interviewed about our mutual Dungeons and Dragons experience), and even my college roommate SpaceMocha92.
Now just because I don’t know the rest of my stream guests in real life doesn’t make any of them less important! Every person who came by was a pleasant surprise and an exciting show of support. The fact that Gaming Diaries was up at 1 in the morning her time and dropped by to say hello before she went to sleep was seriously appreciated (if you’re not watching her streams, you gotta get on that). Hannie of The Hannie Corner fame also dropped by early on and reminded me not to jinx my stream. Jett’s brother Randy (who you can check out on Twitch) paid a visit right at the end instead of right at the beginning, and that extra support for the Hooktail boss fight was a very big deal.
There’s nothing more encouraging than seeing some of your favorite streamers in your own chat, so a visit from the ladies over at Double Jump was a pleasant surprise. Hoping to see them back on Twitch before long! I was also blessed with the presence of the blogging communities own goddess of wisdom, Athena from AmbiGaming Corner, whose fun gaming streams with musical interludes are absolutely worth your time. And while the Twitch personality I know as Mulligoon may not be a streamer for the time being, it was great to see someone I’ve interacted with only in other chats coming out to say hi!
I would be remiss, of course, if I left out the folks from the game blogging community who chose to come out and talk with my during my Paper Mario shenanigans. Solarayo AKA Genni AKA Ace Asunder is one of my favorite folks to talk to in blog posts or Twitch chats and having her there for essentially my whole stream was a serious source of encouragement. Compared to a lot of the people I’ve met in the blogging world, I met Frostilyte somewhat recently, but their solid reviews and hilarious Pokemon drawings are absolutely worth checking out if you haven’t yet. I also was excited to see Brandon AKA That Green Dude hanging out in chat since it’d been a long time in the midst of my own blogging break – by the sounds of things, he’s been doing some serious streaming of his own!
I really appreciate all of these folks for jumping into the chat, saying hello, and helping to make my first stream experience a positive one. It’s because of them that I had a great enough time that I plan to do this again. I know practically that I won’t always have that many people physically present for a stream, but just knowing that so many of us smaller creators are working together to support each other even just in spirit is enough to give me inspiration. I want to do my part to be supportive of them too, and if you want to do the same I encourage you to go check out their websites and streams. They are all great creators in their own ways!
If you’re interested in watching me stream and seeing my No Badge Challenge of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, you’ll be glad to know that in the last week I’ve been doing a lot of work on my stream to address the technical issues from the first time. My dropped frames have been zero for my last two practice streams, and I’ve fixed some of the audio problems that popped up as well. Combine that with adding a couple new features and I think the technical quality of the stream should be a bit closer to what I hope was a quality presentation and conversation. Chapter Two of TTYD presents some fun conversation topics, too, and a great opportunity to show off some new battle strategies. You can check out the stream on Thursday starting at 8 PM eastern time at twitch.tv/adventurerules. Whether you choose to support by lurking, chatting, telling a friend, or just sending me a quick “good luck” or positive vibes, I appreciate every bit of encouragement that comes my way. In return, I’m going to do my best to provide a show that’s worth watching.