EXPERT TV PRODUCTION

Just wanted to write this stuff down before I forgot, then the next time I’m tooling around this site I’ll either be impressed with myself for getting it done or disappointed for not.

STREAM TO DO

  • Flash intro (> 1 minute long).
  • Outro/credits (no time limit).
  • Animated “starting soon” cards.

I’m trying to make the streams into “shows” rather than 6+ hour marathon sessions of yelling at videogames and random strangers (the defacto style of most popular streamers).

Ideally I’d like to be obligated to just an hour or two 4x a week. With that in mind, like any good “show”, the stream needs some standardized bookends. Gonna work at putting something together in After Effects, and rolling them out ASAP.

Follow the stream here, and check out the YouTube archive here.

Keep calm, and game on.

A SIMPLE PLAN

tl;dr

  • New streaming schedule: Tue/Wed/Fri from 7PM and Sun from 9AM.
  • Social media consolidation: /darkacrejack is the “brand”.
  • 50 Twitch.tv follows then at least 3 people tuning in per broadcast over 30 days enables monetization.

Compromise

Last time I talked about this whole live broadcasting my videogaming thing I’d gone from a strict schedule of daily streams to a more “do whatever the hell I want” approach. It seems that the sweet spot might exist somewhere between those two extremes, and with a very busy semester of computing science rapidly approaching I’ve come up with what looks like a comfortable fixed schedule (you can hit the “+” in the bottom right to add it to your calendar app if you want):

Sundays is a new-ish show I call “Dark Acre Church” where I go through one round of my Steam Discovery Queue, critically analyzing 12 random games and deciding if they’re worth Wishlisting. Here’s an example from this morning:

The other three broadcasts will be “The Unplayed”, where I spend at least an hour playing a game from my vast library that I’ve never played before. Here’s the last one I did (starts around the 5-minute mark):

We’ll see how long I’m able to stick with this before changing it up again.

Slash Dark Acre Jack

From the outset of this streaming thing I wanted to leverage the existing Dark Acre Digital brand to try and shoehorn whatever scraps of an audience remained from my indie game developer/author days into watching me play videogames. I’ve since decided that as the core feature of the broadcast a) is wholly different from those now-dead careers and b) revolves around me as a personality, it makes more sense to simply point to my personal spaces on the web. I own the /darkacrejack extensions on most URLs that matter (twitter.com, facebook.com, twitch.tv) so it only makes sense to boil the pointers all down to one.

I’ve re-opened my personal Facebook to the public, insofar as allowing random folks I don’t know to “follow” me there and view any posts I mark as “Public”. This means retiring the Dark Acre Digital page, something I should’ve done a couple of years ago. The same thing goes for Twitter. The YouTube channel needs a little transitioning, and I’ll be using a new channel there to archive all the Twitch broadcasts going forward.

Hopefully this simplifies and somewhat personalizes things. If nothing else it’ll mean updating two fewer locations every time I want to announce something livestream-related.

Road to Affiliate

Twitch’s direct monetization requirements as of August ’17.

We’re going to be taking it easy in the coming months, but the real goal is being able to squeeze some passive monies out of the broadcasts. To that end there are really only two things to accomplish with the Twitch.tv channel:

  1. Reach and surpass 50 channel follows.
  2. Have at least 3 people tune in every time over a 30-day period.

The first will happen in the fullness of time, so long as I keep to the schedule and remain consistent. The second will be a little more difficult to pull off, but I think that when it happens it’ll prove the entertainment value I’m providing. If neither of these requirements are met, I guess it’ll mean that either my scheduling sucks, my overall passive marketing is garbage, or no one’s interested in what I’m selling. Let’s give it from now until January ’18 before pulling the plug.

Thanks for checking out this update. Until next time, keep calm and game on.

OLD MAN TALKS TO SCREEN

I’ve been Twitching for a little over a month now, less so in recent days.

The livestreaming universe is a strange one, populated by all sorts of folks from all walks of life. The barrier to entry is as low as the user’s ability to connect their camera and/or gaming device to the internet, so it limits almost no one from participating. There are superstars with thousands of regular viewers who voluntarily pay hundreds of dollars to support them. There are mid-range stars who make enough to call it their livelihood, with enough of a viewership to earn an income on donations, subscriptions, and sponsorships. Then there’s the newcomers and the hobbyists, folks who aren’t chasing the dream hard enough, don’t care if they blow up, or are in the process of blowing up: grinding hours in front of their machines in the hopes of catching their potential audience’s attention.

I’m not sure which of the last category I fall in to, though I do know that it’s been 3 weeks since my last follower and I’ve yet to have more than a single concurrent viewer with any consistency (much love, Joel). 3 weeks ago I started to get a little worried, 2 weeks ago I was somewhat despondent, but a few days ago I more or less stopped trying and now I’m just letting it ride.

At the outset I wanted to make the stream as professional-looking as I could. I invested a bunch of time and energy into producing branded assets with a unified theme, got my broadcasting environment set up similar to how I used to broadcast way back in the day on CFUV: cue cards, sequenced events, and a standardized opener and closer with appropriate bumpers. I set up a regular streaming schedule, and intended to play the more popular games for streaming.

The trouble with that setup was that it immediately felt like work. I’d underestimated how much effort it took to sit there and play to an audience. It’s really like any other performance-based medium, where it takes preparation, focus, skill, and fortitude just to do your thing. Most streams tend to be long, which is unusual for other kinds of live performance. A live television program, while requiring a lot of preparation, is typically only 22 minutes of focused effort for an actor. A rock concert from a fledgling band could go an hour, but is more often less than 30 minutes. Starting stand-up comedians generally shoot for a 5 to 10 minute set. Only athletes have lengthy, physically demanding performances that go more than hour, and even then there’s rotations where they can sit on a bench and relax for a few. The most successful livestreamers go for hours and hours, anywhere from 4 to 8, with many doing charity streams of 24+. That’s a long time to be “on” for an audience.

In the beginning I shot for 3 hours, and I’ve managed to fulfill that many times. I’ve always felt supremely drained afterward, though, to the point where I questioned whether it was worth the effort. I think part of that exhaustion came from having to play games I wasn’t really all that interested in playing. I can’t imagine the boredom some of the high-profile streamers who focus on a single game must feel some days. I’m sure some of the time it’s fun, but having to play the same game for hours on end 5 days a week must be soul-draining.

So I moved away from playing a set of fixed games to a “variety” stream where I played random games from my collection. This was hit and miss, mostly miss. The live broadcasts got little traction, despite my attempts to leverage my sizable social network, and the video-on-demands (VODs) have almost no replay value.

There's more than a few zero views on the VODs.
There’s more than a few zero views on the VODs.

In recent days I’ve backed off from the aggressive schedule I had planned for the summer (6 days a week, 3 hours a night). I’ve been re-evaluating how to approach the universe of livestreaming, and I think that just streaming when I feel like it and seeing if anything catches on might be the best way to go. I still don’t have a camera that captures my face set up, and I think that’s hurting the initial discoverability. It’s a feature that stream viewers have come to expect, and when browsing for something to watch in the Twitch app/website any stream lacking a face is likely to get passed over. I’ll probably have a facecam set up before the end of summer, and we’ll see how much that goes toward attracting new viewers. Destiny 2 and Fortnite launch soon, and I plan on playing both of those games a lot, so perhaps we’ll find a niche to occupy in there.

If you’re not already following the Twitch channel, I’d sure appreciate it if you’d head over and slam that button. Even if you don’t watch, it helps move the channel closer to affiliate status. If you know people who are into watching livestreams, maybe share this to them. And if you’re like me, trying to navigate the vacuum of the livestream universe, keep doing your thing. Hit me up on Twitter with a link to your channel and I’ll check it out, and if you have any advice I’m all ears.

Until next time, this is Dark Acre Jack saying keep calm, and game on.