Online streaming is booming. You only have to look at the investment by Facebook, YouTube Gaming, and other major players to see that the future is rife with opportunity in the live streaming space. And at the forefront of these efforts for gaming: Twitch.
I’ve admittedly been lax in learning more about Twitch. I try to avoid being on camera whenever possible, and have allowed that aversion to justify being lazy. So when I recently got around to digging into it, I was really impressed to see what’s now possible. I’d always seen Twitch as a mostly passive medium; A basic chat room stapled onto a live video feed. I was quite impressed to see the level of interaction now possible through the use of the Twitch API and the help of the dedicated Developer Success Program.
A quick look at what I’ve found thus far:
A Quick Look at Twitch Integration
The most infamous of the Twitch integrations, thanks to Twitch Plays Pokémon and latter examples.
In this instance, viewers in the chat room directly control the game as a collective hivemind. Viewers input directions through the chat, and the game responds in turn. After the enormous success of Twitch Plays Pokémon, a new category was announced: Twitch Plays. By many of the accounts I’ve found, creating a ‘Twitch Plays’ experience is a substantial effort, so it may not be a good first choice unless you’re really into Python.
One of the more basic of the Twitch integration options, and the one that I’ve found the most examples of in my search. In this instance, viewers in the chat room are able to influence some aspect of the game through a basic voting mechanism. This can be both positive & detrimental to the gameplay, allowing the viewing audience to act as both savior and antagonist depending on the community mood.
Streamline – Official Website
Streamline has built their experience around the concept of the viewing audience voting to impact live gameplay. The game has three player types: Hunters & Runners being actual players, and Viewers as the Twitch audience watching the stream. Viewers are able to vote on rule changes that directly impact the gameplay, such as turning the floor to lava.
“the Viewers can ratchet up the pressure by voting for one of a selection of rule changes that might, for example, turn the floor to lava, or force the players to walk sideways like a crab for a period of time. They also lay bets on which Runner will clock up the most points and even play bingo against other Viewers.”
Giving viewers the opportunity to be sadists or saviors to the player. Viewers directly impact the gameplay by voting on a series of polls, such as which weapon the player should receive, how many lives they should get, etc
When things go well, viewers seem to like acting as “torture artists,” he says. “They want to keep you alive as long as possible, while putting you through as much pain [as possible] without killing you. Whenever the chance to give you more lives comes up, they’ll always give you the maximum number of lives. (Source)
Party Hard – http://tinybuild.com/partyhard
In this case, the viewer voting allows for special, rare events to occur. This provides a bit of added incentive to stream it, as the player might not otherwise encounter those options.
“Twitch integration was one of those things that we thought we’d try out, and make it a tiny feature in the game,” Nichiporchik says. “Then we play-tested it and it was fun to play with just 10 people watching. Constantly having the odds flipped on the player is incredibly entertaining. So we decided to go full-on with the integration and designed a dozen different scenarios that fit in the game. Because of this nobody on the team had proper sleep for about a week.” (Source)
A few developers have taken viewer interaction one step further, and have designed ways in which those watching via Twitch can feel more directly integrated into the live game. By more directly inserting the viewer into the game itself, developers have an opportunity to create a more personal, more emotionally charged connection to the experience. What’s more fun: Watching a player be devoured by an unnamed zombie… OR… as the viewer ‘being’ the zombie that takes down the player?
Basic voting mechanics, but also a bit of viewer love in the form of allowing viewers to have an in-game zombie named after them.
From the release notes: Who wants to become a nasty zombie? – (Type the magic word to have a chance to attack the player!) – 60 sec to say #me then 2 zombies randomly named by the voters will come to attack
In this instance, the viewers are used as pawns within the game. Broadcasters act as a warlord leading their subjects (viewers) into battle. The viewers can impact the game directly, by choosing where to place mines. Viewers gain experience by participating, or even just lurking in chat, and can use that experience to get better weapons and gear.
Thus far, I’ve only found one example of this out in the wild. The folks over at tinyBuild have created a cross-game rewards system.
tinyBuild have built a whole viewer rewards system into their streaming integration. This allows viewers to level up and unlock discount codes for their games. In addition, it also has a leaderboard element that encourages a bit of additional retention via competition. Viewers are also able to place bets on in-game outcomes.
They did a great blog on making your game more appealing to streamers: http://tinybuild.com/how-to-make-your-game-appeal-to-streamers
- Twitch Developer Success Program
- Developer Success Forums
- TwitchPlays Category Announce
- How Livestreaming is Changing Game Design (Ars Technica)
- tinyBuild – How to Make Your Game Appeal to Streamers
Integration with livestreaming platforms is giving developers unprecedented new ways to connect with the community. With over 1 million concurrent viewers, Twitch offers a huge opportunity to connect with a larger audience. If you have the opportunity, consider what Twitch integrations make sense for your title.
Know of a fantastic Twitch integration that I should really check out? Post it in the comments, or drop me a line on Twitter @boopsocial!
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