Tuesday, January 3, 2012

the stream effect

So the past few weeks I've been getting some of the most enjoyment out of EVE in months. The reason? My stream!

I was really curious if streaming could work with EVE. It's such an information driven game - most aspects of the game are entirely player driven, and therefore player competitive. This means that by showing the player screen (MY SCREEN) I'd be giving away many of my 'trade secrets' which I rely on to win. Not only in PvP, but my alts, friendly alts, how I make money (niche market info) friendly activities, so on. I've really been afraid that this would be an utter failure, resulting only in people using the information against me.

Yeah, that's happened. In fact, I'd say at least 1/5 of my viewers are people I fly against regularly, or have in the past. There's been a few times where people I'm shooting are actively talking (and mocking!) me in my stream chat! In a way, it's only going to get worse as people examine the stream, or look up old footage with a keen eye to pick up intel. By streaming, everything eventually is made bare, and that sucks.

Has it been worth it? HELL YES!

There's been a huge shift in how I approach the game, how I fly, and how I spend my time in the game. I'm a lot more aggressive: I'm trying to make the stream as enjoyable as possible! I've pretty much abandoned using expensive implants, have taken to roaming frequently in nullsec, and have been getting way more interesting, and perhaps more importantly, solo and small gang engagements. Do I lose a lot more ships this way? You betcha, but I'm rediscovering what made me love this game by trying to show others how to have fun. The aggressive play style is a bunch of fun, though I'm not looking forward to having to build my ISK up again!

When I roam, it's not all explosions. In fact, most of the time I'm just moving through systems scanning for stuff and finding fuck all. To try the pass the time, I explain what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and try to walk the invisible friend at my shoulder through the ins and outs of the game. I explain scanner usage. I explain how to learn a system, and how to scout quickly and efficiently. I explain why I check some systems, or parts of systems, and not others. I explain why places are busy, and why others are barren. I tell the stream about my fit, what I'm looking to do with it, why it works, the ways it doesn't, and tricks I use to make it better. The narration helps pass the time, and honestly has improved my play a fair amount, forcing me to focus on what I'm doing and why I do it.

When I encounter other players, I do my best to walk the viewers through the fight: often when soloing, I'll explain what I'm thinking, as I'm moving through the process of scouting the target, my approach to the fight, getting the fight, the engagement, and how I felt afterwords. This analytical approach to the game again helps get my mind working about tactics and strategy, rather than the rather dull approaches I've been using towards achieving PvP success in the past. Every fight is now a lesson, rather than merely a gank, a kill or lossmail.

Lately I've been getting burned out logging in only to find pilots working without cohesion; we don't have many FC's, and my guys have come to rely on me leading them about and organizing efforts. It's honestly extremely tiring when all I wanted to do when sitting down to PvP was look for a fun engagement, and end up managing several to well over a dozen pilots on moving around systems, organizing pilots, assigning roles, explaining tactics, so forth. The stream eliminated this: instead of the lengthy wait of all that organization and management, I've just been jumping in ships by myself or with one or two others and striking out. No hassle, no fuss, no bullshit. Just a few guys looking for some honest give and take PvP.

While I've been dreading stream interaction in the form of giving up information, and having it used against me, it's been quite the opposite in practice! I will often have pilots point out glaring errors (evemail: you forgot your drones! you forgot to update your clone!), give support or ask questions about the game. I've had a lot of people compliment me on the informative nature of the stream, on the ease in which I seem to PvP, and have had a lot of really good dialogue with stream viewers. While I'm in combat with those that are using the stream information to 'cheat' in playing against me, I feel I can deal with that well enough while giving the viewer a fun, educational and entertaining result.

All in all, it's been a huge success. I enjoy the game more than ever, I get as much fun and excitement as I ever remember having, and honestly think I see what most people which term themselves 'bittervets' did wrong: they forgot to focus on the things they love, and just have fun.

I'm currently brainstorming ways to improve the stream, mostly on how to get it out there, encourage PvP discourse, and interaction between viewers and myself. I'll write another post with the specifics of what I'm looking for, and let you guys lend your opinions: I can use the help!