tl;dr It’s not about me, Streamers are awesome.
This week I’ve been lucky to play with two Streamers in very different circumstances, let’s wander around how streamers use Twitch. A Streamer is a micro-broadcaster and wants to provide engaging entertainment. They want the community to grow. The entertainment value is the lever that grows the community.
Inviting a sub into the place where they generate the raw materials of their financial recompense is very dangerous for them. The community is very charitable during these ‘sub events’ but the streamer is putting their entire revenue source at risk. Even at the most basic level, if the sub stream isn’t engaging then they’ve lost an evening of ‘good’ content creation, revenue has been displaced. The channel is at risk. It’s not riskless.
And for some streamers, this is their only source of income some streamers live on their channel incomes (in very many cases only just)
So when you get picked for a sub stream, you’re going to go and do a thing you love doing (the reason you’re in a channel) with a person who loves doing it (streamers who are mercenary don’t last very long) in front of a peer community of people who want entertainment.
That’s an immense pressure
And remember it’s entirely possible that no one in this equation has ever verbally talked or seen each other in any way shape or form. You could put 30 of them, the included sub and the streamer on a 4 hour bus trip and people could get off not knowing they were all from the same community.
So as a sub in a ‘sub night’ the only thing that binds is really the commonality of the channels material and the inclusion in that channels community. That’s really not a great start for pretty much voice only communication between the sub and the streamer.
Lets make a detour to the ’24 hour’ and marathon streams phenomena just for a moment. Broadcasting for 24 hours is hard, it’s very very hard. Look how many TV programmes do it. None. You could count maybe Children in Need a UK charity broadcast, but even that doesn’t have the same people broadcasting non-stop for 24 hours. It’s relly hard and it’s really hard on people that do it. But it generates buzz and is marketable, and the impact can be a huge percentage upswing in followers (engaged mass) and subscribers (engaged supporters).A 24 hour stream or even longer is really really hard. Not only is the streamer broadcasting, the Mods are also modding, and some mods sit there for the 24 hours supporting. And so do some subscribers and so do some followers. ‘I’ve been here for 18 hours’ is a badge of honour.
Getting back, so a sub going into the content creators broadcast is a dangerous moment. The first ‘hello’ the amount of time it takes to say ‘hello’, the quality of the subs mic, everything is being super analysed by the streamer to try and gauge what content thy’ll be able to produce. The worst thing in the world is a boring person which a bad mic and an inability to communicate. That’s an amount of content that’s going to be hard to fix.
Now I want to switch the point of view somewhat to talk about me
So I got invited to join someone who I’d got to know over maybe a couple of years. The community had grown and he and the older members of the community had been through a lot together in that time. And yet I don’t know him and I don’t know anyone in the community. It’s literally the strangest thing. I love them, I don’t know them.
To make a DayZ reference, it’s almost like when you log out in a tree on one server and log back in on another server, you’re brain is screaming ‘Everything is the same’, but you have to make yourself recognise that everything is different, it’s the opposite of that, you think you know someone, but all you know is the persona they’ve presented online.
There’s another couple of facets that need to be mentioned. Imagine you’ve suddenly been asked to be on a TV show, to bring your A-Game, and imagine on that TV show is your favourite actor who’s going to quietly judge you. And imagine hundreds of people are watching that. Live. And then imagine you’re the kind of person who thinks that a great night is sitting in watching someone else play computer games.
Specifically speaking TheRunningManZ (who I’m going to call Paul from now on because it’s easier to type) was struggling towards the end of a 24 hour stream. Everything had started getting hard in the mid-teen hours and it was taking it’s toll. He was at the point of doing anything and everything to make it to the 24 hour mark. And the anything and everything he did was pull a sub draw, where subscribers got a chance to play with him. A very high gambit risk, at 5 am in the morning. Shit or bust.
While we’re being specific about DayZ lets talk about a few of the game mechanics
- DayZ is a vast map, probably one of the biggest maps in computer gaming. It’s immense and a feat of software engineering
- On that map are realistic looking towns and roads and villages. It’s a family of games that strives for realism. Stuff like this happens: TV company use game footage in Terrorism programme
- A lot of the building models are used in multiple places, the layout of them is the clue to where you are
- It’s a free roaming sandbox game, you can go anywhere at any time and do pretty much anything (within a set of constraints).
- DayZ is about people. That’s the most important thing. It’s about people and how those people interact with each other. Some people like to shoot you, other people like to join forces, other people stay away from other people as much as possible.
- You start with nothing, you gather things you need on the way, clothes, food, weapons and nurses dresses.
- You are loot on legs and people are now hunting you
- Even though the entire game is the same on different servers, all server are entirely different, small subtle differences about what time of the day it is at what time of the day, to great big differences, like who’s on it and how that group of people generally play
- How far away a server is geographically can make life and death differences to game play
I was awake. I’d had a bottle of cider (I’d opened it thinking it was posh apple juice, but carried on drinking it regardless once the mistake was discovered). I was feeling brave. There were about 20 other people that entered the sub draw. But my name came out of the hat.
From that moment on I knew I had to keep Paul awake and keep my friends and peers in the community engaged, the last few hours of a 24 are pivotal for a streamer.
We said ‘hello’ on TeamSpeak (a voip program used by gamers to talk to each other. This may have been the first time Paul ever heard my voice) I changed my pants and logged into the game. A game I’d played for years and loved every blade of grass.
I’m used to a type of DayZ server that has an every changing group of people playing on it. This flux generates a type of gameplay that’s fairly unforgiving and hard. It’s rare for these people to talk to each other, but it does happen. I usually play on this kind of server, they’re hellish scary and there’s a LOT of subtle emergent game play mechanics around player interactions. There’s even interactions with non-players occasionally, in the game.
The server Paul was on is played by a group of people who somewhat know of each other, the server has some rules. I don’t normally play on these kinds of servers. They’re still scary as hell, but in a very different way. Players talking to each other can be more of a norm. I would say that this kind of server is safer, and, to me, that’s not pant shittingly scary enough for me. Other’s love it, and that is genuinely great (difference is good)
I logged in.
Literally where the fuck was I
I took a gamble and ran in that direction. How can I be lost, I know every inch of this map.
It was the same but everything was different. Everything was very different
After a while I got orientated, started making sure I could live and re-arranged where to meet with Paul (actually at a place where I’d been attacked by wolves a couple of nights before. In the same place, but not the same server, so actually a completely different place)
Imagine a friend said to you ‘I need a favour, I really need to do this thing, but I don’t think I can do it. Can you help me do this thing?’ You’d do everything you could to do the thing.
That’s what was going to happen. We were going to get to the end of the 24 hour. Come hell or high water I was going to get him over the line, even if I had to kill him to do it.
I was lost, on a strange server, surrounded by people who knew each other but not me and I didn’t know their rules. I set off to find him a few key building relationships and I headed to try and find him.
And Paul wanted to know where I was, and he hates it when people don’t know where they are.
You also have to keep in mind WE HAVE NEVER MET EACH OTHER face to face, so joking and having a laugh can be a touch and go enterprise, verbally emoting to indicate when a joke is a joke can be really important when someone is tired and falling to pieces. I didn’t need something jokey to be taken seriously. That could be disastrous to the 24 hours.
If you’ve ever tried to sleep when you’re angry or frustrated, you know it’s really hard.
DayZ is all about designing in an advantage to a situation you can’t control. I was out of control, but could that help?
You can hear him trying to compute it in his voice. I was wrong, but it didn’t really matter, I knew where I was, I wasn’t dying I just needed a little time to get to the arranged meeting place. The worst thing in the world would be to die on the way. I ran a route I knew kept me away from wolves and towns and found him. While all this is going on you can hear the mental jousting of him trying to work out where I am and me not entirely being able to tell him, firstly because he’d know I’d called wrong and secondly because I simply didn’t want to tell him, it’s more annoying. This insecurity could be the thing that keeps everyone awake for a while. The misalignment at the meet town is an accident of that town being a split location. Wasn’t intentional and was unintentionally very frustrating.
At one point he has to leave the game for a few seconds. I’m a mod, I’ve got friends in chat. They’re on my journey with me. I’m gonna break the 4th wall as a conspirator. The streamers in dead air else, I got friends in chat, let’s have a laugh. I’m their man on the inside.
When you play DayZ it’s very easy to fall into the same safe and known patterns. The traditional one used to be to spawn in, run with the sea on your left until you got to a certain place, turn inland and head through some military zones for guns and then die
over and over and over again. Boring is easy.
What’s hard in DayZ is thinking creatively, of setting out to do something and then go do it. Drive a bus to Tisy, build a fire in the middle of Mysh. Only eating powdered milk. To get the best out of DayZ you have to be creative. Take delight in small and large things. The seek is to find things that are unusual and delightful on that journey. The journey isn’t about the getting there, it’s about what happens on the way. Dancing Cows.
The first time we met all hell broke loose and it was brilliant, DayZ is a game with a lot of problems. You have to embrace those. I died. It was spectacular and beautiful and vicious and unfair. That’s DayZ. And at least it was me and not him.
So here I am spawning in again. I nail this one and set off to go to an annoying place, a place he’s just been. My job is not to die on the way. His job is to come find me and not quit. Our job is to fill the time and entertain.
There are people EVERYWHERE. I can’t move without people. I don’t want people. I want a clean run. It would be intensely bad to die. I have to move past Staroye, which on this server is a hot spot. It was intense, but the stream isn’t about me being in action, I evade like a sneaky tree hugging ninja. Paul has gone to a PvP hotspot to fill the time and entertain. I’m trying to not talk too much in case he gets some action going. Paul doesn’t use Virtual Audio Cables so has to do a lot of editing to clean footage up. I MUST NOT DIE.
I pop out next to one of the most dangerous places on the map, Gorka. Brilliant!
Paul’s away from his keyboard so we’re 4th walling with chat
The next adventure plays out and finishes gloriously.
I’m trying to let him do the thing he and chat loves without interrupting. We’re above the Sobors very long range scoping.
How it finishes nearly ends the stream.
It feels like chat and energy drinks kick in at just the right time, well done chat!
I’m scoping Novy fields
Fuck I’m talking but muted (22:14) [Pro Streamers never do this]
Shits getting serious now, I break cover have a loop around towns and get back in to cover, it’s all gone quiet and I can’t find any bodies. I’m in a lot of character health trouble coping with blood loss and fractures and heading SE to go find him. I’m pulling every trick I know to make this character work now. I’m now trying not to be too mentalist for him
Guglova – Staroye somewhere there should be good, under 2 hours to go. C’mon Spaggie Level Up, this ones the end game. We need an end game. I need to go find him.
Staroye, where I was before when I was getting chased by angry guys. Staroye is full of people. People on this server have a set of social contracts I’m not used to. Paul is messing with them. I’m not good with people on this server. He’s up past “Osks Chicken Hutch” and cutting the corner over the hill
I’ve guessed his direction wrong, I’m sprinting north east trying to catch him now, we meet in Guglovo, now it’s the end game.
I’m talking muted again. I normally hot mic in TS when I play, but I’m cranking the physical mute button to keep quiet. I’m getting tired. I’ve done 3 hours. He’s done 23.
Staroye is lit up, we opt the road up to Guglovo and have another glorious adventure.
1 hour to go
I will not let him die again.
I’m dead, he’s not and that’s the best that could happen in that adventure.
While Paul’s adventuring I pull every trick I know to get back to him
25 minutes to go – my family is waking up now. The house is getting noisy (7 year old son)
The closer he gets to the 24 the more space I can give him
He’s hanging around Altar waiting for me, I’m sprinting up from Guglovo to Novy. There’s people everywhere. He’s sprinting from Altar to Novy.
There’s no one in Novy
We hear a shot in Stary but can’t find anyone
We need an end game. We need an end game. We need an end game
There’s no one anywhere
Paul’s heading to VMC for an SKS, Ah, there they are, they’re in the wrong place and moving fast, I need to slow them down and get them to shoot me. I only have a frying pan.
SPANG SPANG SPANG
The last adventure
My stream time about 10 years and 5 hours, I’m shattered
Paul clocks off on another completed ’24’ (which was actaully nearer 26 hours). Business as Usual
What did I learn?
Even when you think DayZ can’t get any more vicious and nasty and beautiful, it just keeps surprising. When you think you know everything it will bend you over and fuck you up
The difference between servers is massive, much bigger than I ever thought possible
Streaming is hard work, very hard work, the work load is immense
TheRunningManZ plays DayZ in a style that looks slow but is really fast, I couldn’t keep up
Why didn’t I stream, why don’t I stream, why isn’t this a video
I’m not a pro streamer, I don’t want to be a pro streamer, I don’t want to be in competition to a pro streamer. This is their domain, they’re very good at it. It’s their content it belongs to them. I was a visitor in their house and I was treated like a family friend. There were a hundred places where my shortcomings were known about, unspoken and covered over.