My favourite Twitch voices

More bloggers have found their way to Twitch over the past year. Additional free time during lockdown and a desire to connect with others more immediately gave many the opportunity to try streaming for the first time or to do it more frequently.

There are three main elements that combine to make a good stream experience for me. First, it’s more fun when other blogger-friends are in char because it feels like we’re all hanging out; then next, it’s more enjoyable when the game being played is from a genre I’m interested in. The last factor may sound strange but it’s something we’ve talked about on a few occasions recently: it always helps when the streamer has a soothing voice you could listen to for hours.

Many of my blogger-friends now stream regularly (shout-out to the #CoolKidsofWordPressonTwitch) and each of them have something special that makes them worth watching. Today’s post however is about those who are worth listening to; their voices leave me hypnotised and make me feel disappointed with my own Essex accent. Check out the following streamers when they’re next live and you’ll hear what I mean.

Darkshoxx from Darkshoxx

With Darkshoxx, it’s not so much the sound of his voice but what he says and how he phrases sentences. He’s a highly intelligent person and this makes for interesting conversations about gaming and a range of other subjects during each stream; and although he isn’t shy about honestly voicing his point-of-view, he does it in a way that’s polite and is always willing to listen to others’ opinions. He also plays some great adventure games and I’ve added many more titles to my wishlist thanks to him.

Fed from FeddyGamer

I love how conversations with Fed are always so down-to-earth. Forget about hard-hitting subjects and breaking news: what you’ll find on his streams are discussions about normal, everyday things such as how hard it is to keep your kids to sleep through the night and comparisons between brands of cola. You can tell he’s a good dad. There’s something about his voice which is incredibly soothing and it’s always a pleasure when someone redeems their points to get him to sing a nursery-rhyme.

Nathan from GamingOmnivore

Ever since Nathan played Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers for our game-swap last year, I can’t help but think of the protagonist each time I tune into one of his streams. In fact, if a fourth game in the series were to be announced, I’d have an extremely hard time deciding between whether I wanted him or Tim Curry to be the main voice-actor. Nathan’s streams are fun because he never takes himself too seriously and there are plenty of impressions to keep you laughing.

Will from HudsonGamingUK

Will’s voice is a familiar sound in the Later Levels’ house of a weekend. My other-half will have his stream on while he’s messing around with something on his laptop at the kitchen table, and I listen in while I’m baking or sorting out lunch. There’s something about the smooth sound of his voice which makes all the screams and gunfire from Escape from Tarkov fade into the background instantly – it’s easy to focus in on him and forget he’s talking over a digital warzone.

hungrygoriya from hungrygoriya

I sadly don’t often get a chance to tune into hungrygoriya’s streams regularly due to the large time difference between the UK and Canada. But when the opportunity arises to catch her live, I love listening to her voice because it’s so lovely (even when she’s talking about murdering all the people in Skies of Arcadia). What makes it even better is that she clearly knows a lot about retro gaming and is a kind person, welcoming everyone to her channel and being interested in what viewers have to say.

Heather from KiaraHime

Heather has been a regular visitor to our streams over the past year and recently decided to start streaming herself. She’s doing a great job so far and that’s partly due to her voice: she always sounds so clear and has a lovely ‘British’ sound, which makes me feel thoroughly jealous when I compare it to my own Essex accent! We’ve had the pleasure of hanging out with her at expos in the past and she’s just the same in person as she comes across on her channel.

Special mention: Phil

Friend-of-the-blog Phil bravely stepped up to the challenge when we asked if he’d like to get involved with our GameBlast21 streams this year and we’re grateful to him for his help! You’ll be able to catch him on the Later Levels’ Twitch channel on Thursdays and Sundays up until the end of May. If you listen to him closely, you might be able to figure out that he’s related to another streamer on today’s list: he and Heather are siblings and have the same well-spoken tone to their voices.

Thank you to all the friends on today’s list, as well as the other #CoolKidsofWordPressonTwitch, for making the past year a little more bearable with their streams. Are there any other streamers who have great voices that you’d like to recommend?

Twitch times: the future for Later Levels’ streams

Over the past fortnight, we’ve discussed streaming. We’ve looked at what it means to accept an Affiliate invitation from Twitch, the games are made for playing on air along with advice for new streamers. I’ve also introduced you to bloggers who stream that are well worth following.

This was the lead-up to my other-half and I making a return to the Later Levels’ channel last weekend. After realising at the end of May that we’d stopped enjoying ourselves on stream through feeling as though we had to be constantly online, we decided to take a break for several weeks. It was difficult to admit it was what we needed to do back then but it turned out to be for the best: it gave us the space we needed to refocus, and the chance to think about how we want to do things going forward.

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us for The Great Blog Crawl 2020 stream on Saturday evening, and congratulations to Frostyilyte from Frostilyte Writes who was this year’s winner. I’d also like to give a massive shoutout to Solarayo from Ace Asunder, my partner-in-crime for this event and all-round awesome friend. We had so much fun putting together the quiz and would love to do it again next year – we’ve already had some ideas about how we can improve and get more blogs involved so there’ll be more news coming soon.

The blogger-friends who joined us for that session and Sunday morning’s hangover stream may have noticed that the channel looked and behaved a little different. This was because Pete and I didn’t just sit around eating cake during our break (although we did a lot of that too); we took the time to really think about what we wanted to achieve and introduced a few new things to help with that. Here’s a round-up of the changes and what you can expect from Later Levels’ streams in the future.

New branding

Pete was never all that keen on the channel’s old retro-style branding so one of the priorities on our to-do list was to update it. After an awful lot of hours spent watching Adobe After Effects tutorials, he came up with something which looks far more modern. We realised that we needed a design which ties in with the blog rather than being an entirely separate entity, and I think this is why we’re so happy with it; it finally feels as though we’ve got a ‘brand’ which is a cohesive whole and represents us.

Still no subs, but more viewer interaction

Taking some time out from streaming confirmed for me that not accepting the Twitch Affiliate invitation last year was the right thing to do. Being Affiliated has no bearing on whether we’re having fun with the channel and seems like a way to turn an enjoyable hobby into a job. That doesn’t mean we aren’t able to show our viewers how much we appreciate them though: check out the Affili-cat panel on our Twitch page for a list of commands and try using them in chat when we’re next live. There’ll be more coming soon.

Plenty more #KaraokePete

Although Pete still insists that he doesn’t constantly sing while we’re on stream, this video proves that he does – and you can expect plenty more #KaraokePete in the future. Along with the commands mentioned in the section above, I’ve also created a few which allow VIP viewers to play one of his songs whenever they feel the need to hear his smooth tones. Keep making clips of his performances when we’re live and we may have enough content for a charity album for next year’s GameBlast21 marathon event.

Games we want to play

I think the biggest lesson we’ve learnt through all our streaming experience is not to play titles we’re not going to enjoy, even they seem as though they’d be good for Twitch. It’s a sure-fire way to turn a maintaining a channel into a chore: it’s not fun for you and that means it’s no fun for the people watching. From now on we’ve promised ourselves that we’re only going to play games that appeal to us, regardless of whether they might attract viewers. So that means more adventures, full-motion video (FMV), Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and Eurovision Division events.

Fun without the pressure

The thing that kicked off our need for a break from Twitch was the feeling that we had to make ourselves constantly available online, whether to stream or to watch others do the same. That’s not good for anybody. We’ve realised that we should only go live when we’re feeling motivated to do so and it’s ok to put down the controller when we’ve had enough. If we’re live when the desire to stream grabs you, go for it; please don’t feel as though you’re stepping on our toes, and let us know what you’re playing so we can give you a shoutout.

That’s enough about writing about streaming – it’s time to start doing more of it. Thank you to everyone who has supported the Later Levels’ streams, and congratulations to those who started their Twitch journeys during the past few months. We look forward to seeing you live soon.

Twitch star: #KaraokePete

Earlier this week, I shared my recommendations for Twitch channels worth following. Not only will the streamers featured in this post keep you entertained while they’re on air, they’re also talented bloggers who we can all learn a lot from.

There’s one person who didn’t get a mention in Monday’s article though. It’s not that they weren’t worthy of being included in my list; in fact, I chose not to feature this streamer because I didn’t want them to completely overshadow everyone else. They have so much on-screen presence and talent when it comes to both playing video games and making original music, that they need an entire post dedicated to their content and the way they have touched all of their viewers on a deep and emotional level.

Prepare yourselves for #KaraokePete.

This is the nickname my other-half Pete has been given by friends who have watched us on Twitch since our 50-day challenge for GameBlast20 at the start of the year. Although he maintains he doesn’t sing, he just can’t help himself and his lyrical genius bursts out whenever he’s in front of a camera. Below are the lyrics from a selection of his songs so you can see just how talented he is – who knows, maybe there’ll be a charity Now That’s What I Call #KaraokePete album released in time for GameBlast21 in February.



Track 1: Earthworm Sally (cover)

Earthworm Sally
Spreading diseases from Florida to Calli
Earthworm Sally
Earthworm Sally
I’m an earthworm, flying through the air
I’m an earthworm, I don’t care
I’m a barber, I’ll cut your hair

Track 2: Fish for Weirdos (original)

Creepy weirdos
Have some fish, you weirdos
Have some fish
Have some fish
Have some fishy fish
Does anybody want some fish?
Egg people, do you want some fish?

Track 3: Go Go, Trophy Hunters! (original)

Go go, trophy hunters!

Track 4: Helicopter (original)

Dun dun dun dun
He is flying the helicopter
Bah bah bah do do dah

Track 5: Looking For Bombs (original)

Looking for bombs
Going to turn them off
There is a bomb
Got to turn off the bomb
We’ve got a minute left
Oh yes, we have
I’ve just realised they’re not on the map –
I wasn’t looking at the map
Oh no, I wasn’t
No I wasn’t, but now I am
La la la

Track 6: Missing Link (original)

What are we looking for…
We’re going to link the vid!

Track 7: My Heart Will Go On (cover)

Near, far, wherever you are,
I believe that the heart does go on

Track 8: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (cover)

They’re the world’s most fearsome fighting team
They’re heroes in a half-shell and they’re green
When the evil Shredder attacks
These turtle boys don’t cut him no slack
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Heroes in a half-shell – turtle power!

Track 9: The 14-Second Song (original)

La la la la la
La la la la la
This is the 14-second song
La la la la la
La la la la la
It’s not very long

Track 10: We are the Champions (cover)

We are the champions
We are the champions
No time for losers
Cos…

Twitch tips: advice for new streamers

Going live on Twitch for the first time can be a scary experience. There are many things to think about: making sure your set-up works, choosing a game that people will want to watch, keeping an eye for anyone popping up in chat and trying to involve them in conversation.

Even after over five years of streaming with my other-half, I still get nervous each time before we press the button and things still go wrong. Sometimes we’ll have sessions where nobody feels like chatting and it’s a very quiet affair; bots turn up to annoy us with their offers of followers or rude comments occasionally; and sound issues seem to follow every streamer regardless of how good their set-up is. These are all problems you learn how to deal with but it can take a bit of time, and a few streams, to get used to handling them.

Fear not though: after introducing you to bloggers-who-stream on Monday, some of them have been kind enough to share their best advice for people who are new to streaming or considering giving it a go in the near future. You may have already seen my post about picking the right games for your streams and that’s a good start, but these wonderful guys are here to top up your knowledge and inspire you to give streaming a try. I’ve given links to their Twitch channels below too so you can go see them in action.

Brandon from That Green Dude

Blog:   https://thatgreendude.com/
Twitch:   https://www.twitch.tv/ThatGreenDude95/

Twitch, stream, chat, That Green Dude, ThatGreenDude95, Brandon

“Since I started streaming in the last week of April, I’ve learned a lot about live-streaming and how cool it is but also how tough it is to grow. My first bit of advice is to not think you’re going to be become a super huge streamer within a few weeks. It won’t happen, and it’s something you have to work for and have patience for. I’m nearly ready to become a Twitch Affiliate now and it has taken me from April til now to get there.

“Another bit of advice is not to fret too much about not having the latest top-of-the-range equipment. I stream via my PS4 using its streaming capabilities which is a good starting point for anyone wanting to become a streamer. Do I want stream the normal way by using PC, capture card and various other things? Sure I do but I’ve got to make do with what I’ve got. A way I look at it, is that when the time comes for me to upgrade to a more traditional set up, people will notice the technological upgrade even more.

“Last bit of advice is not to worry about using a camera. I don’t use a camera for streaming and I’ve been getting on fine. There are also tons of big streamers that don’t use a camera, so don’t stress about needing to use a camera. Does a camera add another layer of connectivity between the streamer and audience? Yeah it does but make sure, that you only start to use a camera when you feel comfortable doing so.”

Jett from In Third Person

Blog:   https://inthirdperson.com/
Twitch:   https://www.twitch.tv/inthirdperson/

Twitch, stream, chat, Ice-Cream Social, Jett, In Third Person

“Interested in streaming? Start today.

“The streaming barrier is lower than ever. Most modern consoles have built-in streaming capabilities. If you play on PC, you can download OBS for free and start in a matter of minutes. If you have a laptop or a desktop PC made within the last decade, you probably have a computer with enough juice to stream, even if it’s at the bare minimum for quality settings.

“Odds are, the biggest barriers you need to overcome are those you’ve created. Such barriers include (but aren’t limited to):

‘I’m scared that no one will watch me.’
‘I’m shy.’
‘I don’t know how to set up any of the cool technical tricks that other streamers use.’
‘I’m not good enough at games to be worth watching.’
‘I’ll look into it during the next full moon.’

“Don’t psych yourself out of it. If you have the desire to stream, just do it. You won’t know how exciting and fulfilling this hobby can be unless you give it an honest try. You don’t have to be a pro-streamer to start, either. Push forward with what you have and build from there.

“And if things don’t work out? That’s okay too! At least you’ll know for certain that this hobby isn’t for you, versus having the ‘what ifs’ linger in your mind forever. There’s no better time to go live than right now!”

Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes

Blog:   https://frostilyte.wordpress.com/
Twitch:   https://www.twitch.tv/frostilyte

Twitch, stream, chat, Frostilyte, Frostilyte Writes

“I think that the most important thing is to just do it.

“No, really.

“There will be technical issues. You will not be a Streaming Superstar right out the gate. But that’s fine. Start streaming, collect feedback, and improve. You can only get better as you continue to practice. But if you never start then you can’t start getting better. So get off your butt and start streaming.

“Or… get on your butt and start streaming?”

Nathan from Gaming Omnivore

Blog:   https://gamingomnivore.com/
Twitch:   https://www.twitch.tv/gamingomnivore

Twitch, stream, chat, Gaming Omnivore, Nathan

“As someone who’s pretty new to streaming, I don’t have a lot of advice stemming from my experiences. I’ve been playing games on Twitch here and there since February and making an effort to stream at least once or twice a week the past few months. My main area I’ve been focusing on is simply getting more comfortable while streaming. I’ve started out by primarily streaming games that I’m familiar with, like Resident Evil 4, Far Cry 5, or Overwatch – games that I can play pretty easily while managing to mutter something coherent. My main focus at the moment has been simply to build up my comfort level and experience while streaming and just take it from there.

“I guess my best advice to others can be summed up by simply saying – just try it. You don’t need the expensive set up just to get an idea of whether or not it’s something you’d enjoy. Consoles like PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have the ability to stream directly from them, like I did. I am glad I nudged myself just far enough outside my comfort zone to even give streaming a chance. I don’t necessarily have any sort of long-term plans for my channel and I’m just taking everything kind of moment-to-moment and managing expectations. For now, I’ve been having a lot of fun just playing games and interacting with other members of our gaming community.”

GD from The Gaming Diaries

Blog:   https://thegamingdiaries.wordpress.com/
Twitch:   https://www.twitch.tv/gamingdiaries

Twitch, stream, chat, The Gaming Diaries, gamingdiaries

“My advice to new streamers or people wanting to try it out is to go for it. Make it as simple as you can just to get going and play something you really like or know really well. My first test streams were Crash Bandicoot N-Sane Trilogy, which I restarted and dipped in and out of levels because I knew it would be fun even if I died 50 times. There was something quite relaxing for knowing the game, even if I’m not always skilled at it, and being able to try out streaming. It won’t all go perfectly, even now with a few months of streaming most days behind me it doesn’t always go well, but taking that step and trying it is so worth it. If you are worried about confidence reach out and get someone to come along as moral support or try to go live at a quieter time but your confidence does grow as you stream. It is so worth it and even if you don’t have all the fancy stuff or have everything looking professional it doesn’t matter. Your stream can be amazing because of you.”

Luke from Hundstrasse

Twitch, stream, chat, Hundstrasse, Luke

Blog:   https://hundstrasse.com/
Twitch:   https://www.twitch.tv/hundstrasse

“I’m sure that there are probably boatloads of streamers out there who can offer a little more insight than me, but as someone who sits at the dabbling end of the streaming pool, an activity reserved for special carefully planned events, maybe I can say something that will inspire those who would also like to dabble. Don’t let tech stand in your way! From the outside looking in, there seems to be a culture of needing to have some kind of space-age technical setup to even get your foot in the door, but the truth is that it doesn’t really take that much to get started. Try not to get hung up on the resolution or frame-rate that you can deliver, but instead focus on what people actually tune in for; your own personality and enthusiasm!”

Dan from nowisgames.com

Blog:   https://nowisgames.com/
Twitch:   https://www.twitch.tv/nowisgamesdotcom

Twitch, stream, chat, nowisgames.com, nowisgamesdotcom, Dan

“Don’t be afraid to try something and fail. Streaming is something that can be as simple or difficult from a technical perspective as you make it.

“You don’t need all the fancy gear; you can download free software on PC and use the default options to go live the first time. Consoles have built-in or simplistic Twitch integration to get you started.

“Iterate on your setup over time. Experiment as you go and seek advice from the community if you get stuck on something. Most of all, have fun!”

Much love to everyone who contributed to today’s post. These guys are truly awesome, not only as streamers and bloggers but as friends too, so please do go and check them out. If you’re a streamer and have some top tips you can add to our list, feel free to leave them in the comments below along with a link to your channel so we can come say hello when you’re live!

Twitch friends: bloggers who stream

Many of us having been watching more streams than we used to since the COVID-19 lockdown started in the UK at the end of March. If you’re not in the mood for playing something after a day of conference calls, you can head to Twitch and still get that gaming feeling.

And there has been plenty to keep us occupied on the platform. A few blogger-friends have made their streaming debuts during the past three months and it’s been great to see them build their channels in that time. Some felt it was a good opportunity to start due to the extra hours they found themselves with, particularly those furloughed from work; others were searching for a new hobby to fill the hours; and some were inspired to finally give it a try themselves after seeing their friends do the same.

Following on from last week’s series of posts about Twitch and what’s been happening with the Later Levels channel recently, I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of these bloggers along with friends who have been streaming for several years now. They all play different games and have their own individual style, but they’re all well worth a follow: they’ll keep you entertained while they’re on air and you’ll learn a lot from them. They really are the #CoolKidsofWordPressonTwitch.

Adventure Rules

Twitch, stream, chat, Adventure Rules, IanAlthough Ian from Adventure Rules is fairly new to streaming after making his Twitch debut in May, he’s doing an excellent job. The time difference between America and the UK can make it a little difficult for me to join his shows while they’re running but I do enjoy catching up on the VODs. So far Ian has played Celeste, Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door and Undertale on stream, and you can expect to see a combination of indie games and some of his favorite GameCube titles.

AmbiGaming

Twitch, stream, Athena, chat, TheAmbiGamerAthena from AmbiGaming doesn’t just play video games on Twitch. She plays the guitar and sings too, and the musical interludes she combines with her gaming are so good. I’ve been watching this blogger since she completed her Athena vs. CORVID-19 charity stream in April and have been enjoying watching her work her way through Fable. In fact, I’ll be returning the favour and playing one of her favourite titles when the Later Levels’ channel returns this month: Metal Gear Solid 2.

Frostilyte Writes

Twitch, stream, chat, Frostilyte, Frostilyte WritesFrostilyte from Frostilyte Writes tends to stream on Fridays (hence Frosti-Fridays) and the highlight of these sessions for me is his commentary. He’s not afraid to say if he doesn’t like a game which everyone else loves and takes the time to explain his opinion, and I find this honesty refreshing and interesting. He’s also an absolute professional when it comes to platformers: you should have seen his channel when he was playing Hollow Knight. I was amazed by the moves he’s able to pull off.

Gaming Omnivore

Twitch, stream, chat, Gaming Omnivore, NathanI’m sorry to say that I haven’t yet been able to watch Nathan from Gaming Omnivore stream live due to time differences but I fully intend to get over his channel one day! So far he has been playing PC games he’s familiar with – including Far Cry 5, Overwatch and Resident Evil 4 – but he revealed last month that he has a capture card and may try older Nintendo or Sega titles in the future. This is another one of the newer Twitch channels on today’s list so go give Nathan a follow and show your support.

Hundstrasse

Twitch, stream, chat, Hundstrasse, LukeLuke from Hundstrasse isn’t able to stream regularly but when he does, I always make a point of heading over to his channel. He focuses on older titles for retro consoles and I love listening to his stories about his experiences with them. He’s great at getting the viewers in chat involved in the conversation – so much so that we’ve had entire discussions about boob-health-meters in Jurassic Park: Trespasser along with disappearing-stained-glass-windows in Resident Evil 2. I can’t wait to see what he plays next.

In Third Person

Twitch, stream, chat, Ice-Cream Social, Jett, In Third PersonJett from In Third Person streams several times a week and his voice is always in the background while I’m cooking a roast dinner on Sundays. He’s one of the most supportive people in the community I’ve ever met and is always there with advice and tips on your streaming set-up when you need it. I first got to know this creator though his Extra Life marathon streams, and it has been a pleasure to participate in his ice-cream socials; I can only hope he has finally forgiven us for the time my other-half sang Earthworm Sally to him…

nowisgames.com

Twitch, stream, chat, nowisgames.com, nowisgamesdotcom, DanLooking for something relaxing to watch, such as House Flipper? Or would you prefer something filled with action such as Dead Space? Well Dan from nowisgames.com is here to provide you with both and meet all your gaming tastes: expect paint-brushes and rooms one evening, followed by guns and Xenomorphs the next. His channel has only been going for a couple of months but he’s doing a great job so far – and I know Dan will put so much hard work and effort into it to make it a success.

That Green Dude

Twitch, stream, chat, That Green Dude, ThatGreenDude95, BrandonI first got to know Brandon from That Green Dude through his blog and several collaborations, and he made the move over to Twitch in May. The one thing I can say about his streams is that I always seem to come away from them laughing: my other-half and I were in stitches when we watched his escapades with a giant duck and rockets in Just Cause 4. He plays a wide variety of titles over on his channel, including SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom and Samurai Warriors 4.

The Gaming Diaries

Twitch, stream, chat, The Gaming Diaries, gamingdiariesThe Gaming Diaries started streaming during the UK lockdown and she has done so well: she has already built up a following and accepted an Affiliate invitation from Twitch in a very short time. You can expect a variety of games all the way from Uncharted to Zoo Tycoon during her sessions and she’s a far better gamer than she believes she is. If you’re looking for someone to keep you company while you’re working from home, I can recommend tuning in and listening to her soothing voice.

The Lawful Geek

Twitch, stream, chat, The Lawful Geek, This is How We Roll, Shadowrun, KevinI’ve known Kevin through The Mental Attic blog for a number of years now and started participating in fortnightly Shadowun games on his The Lawful Geek channel at the start of this year. It’s thanks to him and a lovely group that taking part in my first ever tabletop-RPG hasn’t been such a daunting or scary experience. He streams video games several times a week and you can also find him running a Dungeons & Dragons campaign called Aetherseed on Sundays, where we’re always wondering who in the party is going to die next!

This is by no means an exhaustive list: there are many other bloggers within the WordPress community who also stream on Twitch and deserve your support! If you are one of them, please feel free to leave your channel and schedule details in the comments below so we can join you in chat.

Twitch picks: choosing games to play on stream

One of the hardest parts of maintaining a Twitch channel is deciding on games to stream. There are so many factors to consider: the sort of titles your audience likes, the releases which are popular with viewers right now and what you actually want to play.

My other-half and I have been streaming together for around five years now and, if you disregard the audio issues which seem to plague every new streamer at the beginning of their journey, I’d say that choosing the right games has been the biggest difficulty for us. Participating in GameBlast marathon streams for SpecialEffect has given us the perfect opportunity to gain some experience though and our 50-day challenge for the event earlier this year was an interesting learning curve.

Our goal was to stream every day for at least an hour from 05 January to 23 February 2020, to raise funds and awareness for this awesome charity. That meant an awful lot of planning and having to decide which releases would be featured in our extended schedule. After 50 days, over 136 hours of streaming and more than 40 games, we met our objective and managed to raise £600 for SpecialEffect – and came to the realisation that some titles were far better for being played live on Twitch than others.

The most popular session during our challenge turned out to be the evening we spent with Detroit: Become Human. Some of the friends who joined us in chat had already completed it themselves and wanted to see how my story would differ from their own; while those who hadn’t tried it yet were eager to join in by giving their opinions when it came to making choices for the characters. It helped that the plot inspired some pretty strong emotions and those displayed on stream were all genuine reactions (sorry for the swearing).

The choice element could explain why Deathtrap Dungeon: The Interactive Video Adventure proved to be successful too. A tabletop-RPG title like this – which relies heavily imagination because it doesn’t show the action – really shouldn’t work but allowing the audience to get involved by making taking turns to make decisions enhanced their participation in the stream. The fact that this got our character killed several times during the session made it more hilarious and it was a fun, shared experience with friends.

These shared games result in some of the more memorable streams and Contradiction: Spot the Liar! provided one such session. Viewers joined in with this full-motion video (FMV) title by helping us figure out the location that should be investigated next, which non-player characters (NPCs) shouldn’t be trusted and ultimately who the murderer was. There was also plenty of discussion around the actors involved and how good their performances were; we all fell in love with protagonist Detective Jenks and his expressive eyebrows, played by Rupert Booth.

Moving away from narrative-based releases for a moment, we’ve found that games based around levels or quests also work well for us on Twitch. Taking a break between each section gives you the chance to talk to friends who have joined you in chat, stretch your legs or grab a cup of tea and sneaky biscuit. A good example is Neon Drive: it’s not the sort of thing we’d usually play but it was well-received during our 50-day challenge, with Pete and I swapping the controller between levels so we were both fully involved.

Diablo III is another title made for streaming because you can stop between battles without losing track of the gameplay – but be prepared to receive advice from viewers who are more experienced at it than you. It was a game we started just for fun but then stopped when we realised we were frustrating some of our audience by not playing it ‘seriously’ enough. We’ve had similar experiences with multiplayers such as The Elder Scrolls Online and Sea of Thieves, where people have popped up in chat to tell us how to play ‘properly’.

I love story-based games but, as much those mentioned above have been successful, they don’t always work well on Twitch. The final episode of Kentucky Route Zero was released during the 50-day challenge and I’d been waiting for a long time to play it but it was just far too slow for the stream. I also made the mistake of choosing to play Ether One at 04:00 in the morning during a previous GameBlast marathon: it’s a great game but there was a real danger of me falling asleep because there wasn’t enough action to keep me awake.

Perhaps the worst titles you can choose to play though are those you’re not enjoying. Streaming is meant to be fun and there’s nothing worse than having to sit game which makes it feel like a chore; it’s not fun for you and it certainly isn’t fun for your audience. My least favourite session during our charity streams this year was the evening with Felix the Reaper because the controls were horrible and I just couldn’t get to grips with them. So we made the best decision we could: turn it off and start playing Grand Theft Auto: V at our viewers’ request instead.

So you see, choosing games to feature on your Twitch channel can be a bit of a minefield, but there’s a bit of advice I can give you which will solve all your problems. Forget about playing releases which are popular or cool because chasing followers isn’t going to get you anywhere fast. Instead, focus on playing something you’re actually going to enjoy. Some of the best streams I’ve watched are those where the streamer is genuinely excited about a new game or are playing something older and are willing to share their experience with it.

This is definitely something Pete and I will keep in mind when we return to streaming later this month after taking a break. In the past, we’ve spent far too long stressing over which games are suitable for the Later Level channel and have even made the mistake of choosing things which seem like a good fit over our own enjoyment. From now on, we’re going to stream when we’re feeling motivated to do so – and we’re going to play titles which we’re truly looking forward to getting stuck into.

Hopefully, if we’re having fun, then our friends in chat will too.