Video Games from Playing to Watching Part 2: Livestreaming

“There’s nothing more boring than watching someone else play an RPG.” – Kazuto Kirigaya (SAO)

Apparently the main protagonist of popular anime Sword Art Online has never heard of Twitch.tv and the fact that it was purchased by Amazon for $970 Million.

Last time I covered YouTube’s part in making video games more viewer friendly in the form of fan created content and eventually Let’s Plays. In the middle I briefly mentioned why Let’s Plays are so successful both in terms of production and fan consumption. They provide the viewer an experience. The ability to watch someone else play and react to a game at a fixed point in time. If it’s boring then the viewer can just click away, but if something scary or funny happens then the viewer is hooked. What if instead of a video, the viewers were watching a live broadcast?

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Enter Twitch.tv “The worlds leading video platform and community for gamers.” Their words not mine. What Twitch allows for is a longer, more community driven experience that happens in real time. YouTube does not allow for a community driven environment because interaction is call and response. Video and comment. Twitch provides a live broadcast with a live chatbox where viewers can communicate with each other and the person streaming. They can have conversations, ask questions, and post emotes exclusive to the site like Kappa, PogChamp, and FrankerZ.

Another one of Twitch’s strengths is authenticity. A YouTube video is edited down and can be scripted or forced. You can play up your reactions for more views. Twitch is live and most streams last for hours. Full-time streamer Lobosjr said in an interview “I’m much more vulgar on stream but when it comes down to it, that’s pretty much who I am in real life, minus the obscenities.”

Twitch’s biggest asset however is also its greatest weakness. If something isn’t happening then people will click away. If a streamer takes a bathroom break or leaves to get food from their kitchen then hundreds of people click away. To avoid this problem charity livestreams like the bi-annual Zeldathon rotate out their streamers constantly so a game is always being played and something is always happening on camera.

Recently YouTube has developed its own gaming platform not-so-cleverly-named YouTube Gaming. It functions similarly to Twitch, but with the option to save the broadcast directly to your YouTube channel. It also functions as a mobile app allowing for people to stream games from their phone. A few years ago this would have been innovative and certainly would have driven traffic to the platform, but with so many communities developed around Twitch it looks like YouTube Gaming will have to settle for second best.

Did you miss the first part of this multi-form post? Read it here!

Video Games from Playing to Watching Part 1: YouTube’s Gaming Debut  

Clash Royale! Clash of Clans Meets Tower Defense Meets Card Games!

Everyone knows about the pay-to-progress faster waiting simulator known as Clash of Clans. It’s a game that brings in so much money that they got Liam Neeson for their Superbowl commercial. It makes  $5,000,000 a day!

Clash Royale is what many consider developer Supercell’s first attempt at an actual game in their almost six years of being a company and since its global release in March in has received a lot of support. It has had a couple of balance patches and a lot of marketing behind it. The game even had a tournament in Helsinki with a cash prize of 10,000€ last week.

This game however is fundamentally broken. The more you win the better cards you’ll unlock through in-game chests. These chests take a minimum of 3 hours to open and a maximum of 24 depending on its rarity. What’s so bad about that? Well you only have 4 chest slots and once they are all full then you won’t get another chest until you have an open one. This is only the first of many ways that the game limits your progression.

Each card has a level so the more you collect the stronger it can become if you combine them using in game gold. Eventually the number of cards becomes astronomically high and the gold cost is just as inflated. So how do you cope with this slow progression? Well it’s simple spend money. For the low price of $11,000 you too can make it to the top 50 of the leaderboards in about a month. The game’s global release was a month ago and its already projected to make a billion dollars this year.

Finally the game will match you against better players if you win consistently enough. I do not say better as in “higher skill or trophy rank.” I say better as in they are a higher level which means that their defensive crown towers do more damage and have more health. The game also does not factor card levels into the matchmaking at all so you could be matched against someone with a level 8 musketeer while yours is level 5.

Don’t even get me started on the games balancing. Not all cards are created equally. Prince is the most objectively overpowered card in the entire game and you only get it randomly unless you spend 2000 gold while it’s available in the shop. While Skeleton Army, another epic card is one of the worst cards in the game. Guess which one I got at the start? I’ll give ya a hint. It’s the garbage one.

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Despite all of these glaring flaws I find myself enjoying the game immensely. Yeah it’s a broken pay-to-win extravaganza. Yeah prince is overpowered. Yeah Hog Rider Freeze decks exist. Yeah the game’s community is cancerous and the game works against you at every possible turn to stop your win streak or limit your progress, but it’s fun. Winning against these odds is oh so satisfying and if you’re a fan of Clash of Clans then you’re already playing it.

Want to suggest a game? Then leave it in the comments!

Wanna join my clan? Here it is!

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Bad Design or Shameless Cash Grab? Licensed Games

The Video Game industry has garnered a lot of respect due to its marketing successes. Triple A titles have grossed hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The industry also lacks quality control at all levels of entry so it is no surprise that someone looking to make a quick buck would release a sub-par or poorly made game to the masses.

According to an article on TV Tropes titled The Problem with Licensed Games, licensed games are marketed in two different ways. The first and most obvious being the quality of the game, and the second being the reputation or recognition of the game’s title. It also cites that even if a licensed game is made with good intentions, most of the production money goes into purchasing the license which leads to budget issues down the line.

Another article by Jared Cornelius of bleedingcool.com A History of Vileness: The Problem With Licensed Video Games provides a similar insight into licensed games, but takes a much more direct approach. The writer directly blames licensed video games like the infamous E.T. for the video game crash of 1983 that almost ruined the industry.

With so many terrible experiences and broken promises surrounding them, it’s no wonder there is such a stigma surrounding licensed games. YouTube reviewer SomecallmeJohnny reviewed Cory in the House for the nintendo DS. A game based on the kind of sort of popular Disney Channel sequel to That’s So Raven. In his video he mocks the game’s lazy mechanics and barely cohesive story. It is obvious that the game was only made to turn a quick buck and that the developers had absolutely no respect for the fans or the consumers whatsoever.

Although all games should be skeptical of licensed games, there are several examples of successful ones. The Batman Arkham franchise has been heralded as “The Best Super Hero games on the market.” by YouTuber Angry Joe. He has released reviews for every game in the franchise and they have all been fairly positive. The Lego games franchise has drawn in fans of Star Wars, Indiana Jones Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings with its charming art style and unique game mechanics.

YouTube personalities like the Angry Video Game Nerd and PewDiePie have their own respective licensed games like AVGN Adventures and its recently released sequel AVGN Adventures 2: ASSimilation while Pewds has Legends of the Brofist. These games serve as love letters to the fans and are full of references to their own content. I personally await Jim Sterling‘s Licensed Game Adventure! 

Our Dark Souls Stories

Dark Souls 3 has finally released and now everyone is free to explore Lothric. There is loot to be found, souls to be farmed, and bosses to defeat!

Many gamers, myself included jumped into the Souls series in Dark Souls 2 and I suspect many more will start with Dark Souls 3. So why not catch up on the lore of the series with a brief fan-made video featuring beautiful animation and intense narration? I can’t think of a single reason!

This video and many others were made for a contest that BANDAI NAMCO  held in honor of the release of Dark Souls 3. The grand prize was $10,000 and for the video to be featured as official promotional content. This was the winning entry by TerraMantis.

It is impossible to not feel pumped up after listening to it.

Slashy Souls the Game Nobody Asked For

Welcome to week 1 of Mobile Game Mondays where I give my unfiltered opinions about the games that I’ve played on my phone. Some are good. Some are bad. Some are Clash of Clans. Let’s get right into it!

Dark Souls 3 comes out tomorrow and if you have less subscribers than Silver Mont, then you probably didn’t get an early copy. So how do you pass the time? Do you play other Souls games in preparation? Why play a game you have 1000 hours on when you can play a brand new, even more difficult game?

Slashy Souls is a free to play mobile runner game distributed by BANDAI NAMCO and Gamestop as a promotional tool to generate hype for the release of the most anticipated action rpg of the year, Dark Souls 3.  It combines the the oppressive aesthetic of Dark Souls with the shallow simplicity of Temple Run.

I will give the game credit though. It certainly does live up to the Dark Souls slogan “Prepare to Die.” In fact it is the hardest Souls game in existence. In fact it is literally impossible to beat because it is an infinite runner game designed to only end with your character’s death.

Your randomly generated character will die in a plethora of ways including impalement by spikes, impalement by Nito’s swords, impalement by random enemy’s sword, and death by fire. You will also die if the darkness of the abyss that is constantly chasing you manages to catch up.

The game’s biggest weak point is ironically Dark Soul’s greatest strength. The game doesn’t tell you what to do or even how to perform the most basic actions. The controls are incredibly clunky because there is no interface. You just wave your finger around and hope that your character jumps over spikes and rolls under platforms all while your character swings his sword or axe like a blood-frenzied lunatic.

Slashy Souls is a game that’s fun for a couple of minutes before its poor design becomes apparent. It’s both impossible to win and impossible to enjoy. It hurts the reputation of Dark Souls more than it helps it. Just play Dark Souls again or Salt and Sanctuary.

Don’t just take my word for it though. Here’s Dark Souls streamer Oroboro playing Slashy Souls.

Video Games from Playing to Watching Part 1: YouTube’s Gaming Debut

His face is on South Park. His fist is on your nephew’s shirt. His name is all over the internet, and odds are you’ve seen at least one of his videos on YouTube. You probably can’t pronounce his real name Felix Arvid Ulf Kejellberg, but everyone knows his alias, PewDiePie.

Further reading:
Part 2 on Twitch.tv
Part 3 on eSports
Part 4 on Games as Art

YouTube has been a center for video game related content for years now, but it wasn’t always. The most popular videos on YouTube until 2011 were makeup tutorials and fashion vlogs.

Before the rise of the gaming community on YouTube, gamers used smaller more community driven sites like NewGrounds and Roosterteeth. Here users would upload their own video game inspired creations. This is where Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson started his flash animations, The Awesome Series. The only reason he made a YouTube channel was so that he could officially release his animations which were being ripped from NewGrounds and uploaded to YouTube.

Gameplay videos began to hit their stride not long after the release of Call of Duty Modern Warefare 2. Hutch, Seananners, Xcal, and countless others found success in making commentary videos. Where they would talk over their footage of the game. Eventually this developed into live-commentaries where the player would commentate while playing the game. This idea of reacting to the game in real-time launched what we know today as the “Let’s Play.”

For the five people that don’t know what I am referring to a Let’s Play is a gaming video where one or more people play a game and provide commentary. The commentary differs from channel to channel. Some seek to inform others seek to converse and way too many seek to entertain by overreacting for the camera.

The Let’s Play was a game changer because up until this point nothing else like it existed. YouTube’s gaming content was severely limited to reviews and the occasional animation. Reviews took time to write and capture footage for while animations took even more time and effort to create. Let’s Plays were simple and easy to produce. They paved the way for other popular forms of game-related entertainment.

Let’s Plays are of course incredibly popular because now you no longer need to buy or play a game to enjoy it. Instead you can watch your favorite internet personalities play that game and together you both experience the joys and frustrations that come along with it. 

Back in 2008 Roosterteeth started their “Drunk Tank” podcast. On it they shared everything form funny stories to the games that they were playing that week. After NPR got defunded they jumped to the number 1 podcast in the “Gaming” category.

RT is also responsible for producing the Red vs. Blue an animated series created inside the popular fps Halo. This type of animation is called “Machinima.”

Today Youtube is oversaturated with gaming content and unfortunately the vast majority of it is objectively terrible. However there are many gems out there if you’re willing to look. Join me next time for Part 2.

 

Weekly Feature Starting Monday!

I am happy to announce that starting Monday I will be regularly posting about different types of Mobile games. These posts will not be reviews or critiques, but my unfiltered opinion. You can expect games from all genres to make an appearance from Puzzle games to Clicker games to everyone’s favorite waiting simulator Clash of Clans.

I am also happy to take suggestions as my knowledge of mobile games are limited.

I will play each game for at least an hour and try to accurately summarize my experience with the game. Next week’s game will be everyone’s favorite Souls Game Slashy Souls.