Improving The Stream

AKA What I've learned from a few days of streaming and commentating MWO, and my next few projects as a result.

I've mentioned it in passing before (I think), but my alter-ego "Wayde Willson" which I may or may not be retiring depending on PGI's name change policy plays for the cReddit Expendables and I do some webdev and some casting for them because I enjoy the game and like my fellow cRedditors.

A few months back I realized that the striking visuals and fantastic art of Mechwarrior Online, let alone the team play aspects, could make for an interesting casting community around an already dedicated player base from the proud BattleTech universe.

Now, it may seem the easiest thing in the world to download OBS, get a twitch account and start sharing your point of view and commentary with the world and that's more or less what I've done. The hard part is making it something that people want to watch!

Despite my aspirations, MWO draws relatively few views on twitch.tv. I intend to experiment with the twitch API and try to collect some exact data which will appear in its own post, but I've never seen a MWO stream with more than 15 or 20 viewers at one time. Meanwhile the major Starcraft and League of Legends streams can draw hundreds of views even for pro players doing their thing with no commentary. What's the secret? What are they doing right that I'm doing wrong and how can I (and the rest of the cReddit Stream Team) improve?

Points of work

  1. Timing & Predictability. "Viewers" for lack of a better term have a schedule and can (and will) make time to tune into scheduled broadcasts. Random broadcasts at unpredictable times will have necessarily poorer outcomes because the majority of the target audience won't hear about events in time and won't be able to make time to watch as a result. The 1v1 and 2v2 format matches which the cReddit Expendables specialize in are scheduled weekly for Monday nights, and I just need to get my stream into that groove. The rest of the Stream Team is probably already there but that's one point.

  2. Publicity. "Viewers" find content somehow. In order to achieve any sort of mass appeal or audience, we need to make sure that we are making public in a consistent manner all the content which we intend to offer. This means that we routinely have a post on r/mwo, a post on the official MWO forums and live twitter coverage. Now I'm a statistics nerd as is the Doc, and while publicity is great, it is also important to be able to profile our efforts. Twitch (for whatever reason) doesn't offer a way to gather information on how viewers reached your page. This is, as you can imagine, critical information because it provides an indication as to what our most successful PR efforts are and who our viewers are as a result. The traditional solution to this problem is to use a redirect tool which allows you to meter traffic through your redirect. I will be developing a tool to provide this service this weekend. More details as they exist, but the goal is to allow us to track clicks on a by-link and by-post basis.

  3. Stream Quality. "Viewers" want to see high quality video played smoothly as though they themselves were playing the game. This means that those casting cannot for any reason cause the video to lag or stall. I made the mistake of alt/tabbing a few times tonight and I had an average loss of three viewers due to the resulting video stall. Don't friggin mess up the stream.

  4. Continuous Gameplay. "Viewers" don't want to see my desktop for five or ten minutes straight while we hang out bullshitting o