A Love Letter To #AGDQ2015 And The Speedrunner Community

With AGDQ2015 ending soon, I am surprised to find myself experiencing a rush of unexpected emotions.  I feel sadness, excitement, hope, intrigue, and perhaps some confusion.  There’s only a few hours left in the event.  I can’t wait to claim my free time back (and get back to streaming myself) but I also feel like a bit of a fanboy here..  I don’t want it to ever end.

AGDQ, Awesome (or Awful) Games Done Quick, is a yearly event where speedrunners play games in marathon sessions to aide wonderful causes like the Prevent Cancer Foundation.  It’s a joint effort between Speed Runs Live, Speed Demos Archive, GamesDoneQuick.com (and the respective Twitch.TV channel), their sponsors, and the fantastic gamer geek community thereof…  But saying just that does not really explain what makes it so awesome!

I feel like AGDQ is the Christmas of the gaming community.  It’s the warm fuzzies and feeling of being at home with family that often lacks otherwise.  Sadly, just like Christmas, it’s over just as fast as the hype builds up.  DOH!

 

Stigmas Surrounding The Speedrunner (& Pro Gaming) Community

I used to think that the speedrunner community was just a bunch of young elitist hardcore gamers looking down upon the filthy casuals.  I worried that it was more of the exclusive behavior that scares people away from what should be a more wide-spread, accepting community as a whole.  I can just picture the stereotypical anti-social, pimple-faced kid in his mom’s basement, telling everyone to be quiet as he attempts to shave .5 seconds off his best ANY% time.

Speedrunning is so hardcore that there are even games coming out dedicated to the speedrunners.  It can be off-putting for those that want a challenge but don’t have the skill or time to invest.  It’s even more discouraging when pro gamers are beating games literally blindfolded (yes, that is a thing).

Does this mean that we are not skilled if we can’t accomplish these kinds of feats?  Are we merely filthy casuals to the speedrunners?

Zelda: Ocarina Of Time blindfolded run SUCCESS with Runnerguy2489 - his reward?  SILLY STRING!

Zelda: Ocarina Of Time blindfolded run SUCCESS with Runnerguy2489 – his reward? SILLY STRING!

Of course, there are the silly fools who refuse to share tips and tricks.  This is not exclusive to gaming but it happens often throughout our beloved community.  Everyone tends to feel that they know something super-secret that no one will ever figure out.  They wrongfully think this exclusive knowledge is their secret weapon.  What’s encouraging is that I’m starting to see, more and more, that AGDQ and other communities are really trying to share the fun and expand the space.  Most speedrunners today WANT others to succeed!

I’ve also learned that, while all that bad stuff mentioned above is sometimes true, AGDQ and other efforts are trying to share their passion for gaming with other and there’s really something here…

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Christmas Merriment, Hope, Joy, & Musings For All – Happy Holidays!

I just had the pleasure of enjoying a heart-felt article written by Alister Kennedy of 42 Level One and Star Wars RebelsCast UK.  It is so authentic and moving that I felt I really needed to open up more myself as we celebrate the holidays.  I hope I get a chance to share Ali’s words but, for now, I hope I can at least find the courage to share what my heart and soul feels I should.

For starters, this year has been the hardest year for me and my family, though I try to shelter them from my pain and struggles as much as possible.  It all started with when two folks, Patty Vollherbst and Lauri Flaquer, stole all the credit for the hard work I put into a web site I was developing.  I was willing to do tons of work for free and on the cheap (and I did end up unpaid for most of the work)..  But apparently the fact that I asked for money for the tons of work I put in didn’t make me a team player.  I think it’s fair to ask for less than a fourth of what would have otherwise been a $15,000 job just for starters by other standards (I know because I check what the competition charges).

If you want to know just how much I hate thieves and stealing of credit for work, read my content/creative work theft article on Y3B.  I am a very forgiving and understanding guy, more than most, but theft is something that really makes me a sad panda, whether you steal someone’s work or you refuse to pay for it.

Usually, I don’t like to call people out but I need to release this burden and, since addressing it calmly with the offending parties did not work, I will share with ears that will listen and hearts that care.  This event set off a chain reaction.  Rumors were spread that I was over-charging or trying to milk customers.  Of course, these rumors did not include the fact that our Project Manager was MIA for over two weeks and the lines of communication / chain of command were vastly unclear.  I lost other clients in the process because, you know, negativity is more pervasive than anything good.

Then there were deaths in the family, betrayals by loved ones, fighting off sickness, endless car problems, and much, much more.  It all seemed to come together in spikes.  Just when we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel, things went pitch black all over again.  Needless to say, it’s been rough.  Losing Robin Williams didn’t help either.  Sure, I didn’t know him but it felt like the end of a great era, perhaps a portent of things to come.  I’m not saying suicide is the right choice but I can relate.  Depression really does hurt.

In spite of all that darkness, I still feel a glimmer of hope and joy.  It’s hard not to during this time.  I look back, even at recent years, and recall better days…  I know better days will return, too.

So here I am contemplating, musing even, and remembering the merriment and goodness of this holiday season.  I hope you’ll allow me to share these emotions and unadulterated thoughts with you today…

 

What Christmas Means To Me

Christmas has always been a special time to me.  It’s not because I can expect some neat gifts and maybe extra spending money, though that is nice, but rather the love and spirit that the season usually brings.  This is a time of reflection, family, compassion, and countless memories.

As a parent, I get to enjoy the merriment and laughter of young ones running about and opening presents frantically.  Truth be told, this year won’t be big for gifts at all and we’ll be happy to at least enjoy one big meal.  The key is that we’re together as a family.  Hopefully, we can put our worries aside and enjoy some board games, reminiscing, and much needed laughs.

Christmas 2009 at Casa Yogi

Christmas 2009 at Casa Yogi

Friends and family.  That’s what Christmas means to me.  When I say “friends”, I mean the few that actually give a damn and stick around.   Those are the rare treasures that the holidays bring us.

As a Christian, I do believe we should bring back Christ into the holiday but I do not force that upon others.  As long as we all exercise a spirit of giving, compassion, and gratitude, we can all get along.  With the weather getting colder and the days getting darker, it’s easy to fall into depression and angst.  This is when we need hope and love more than ever.

Christmas now also marks the one-year anniversary of HorsePLAY! LIVE and the Geeky Antics network (well, almost).

 

HorsePLAY! EP53 – Christmas 2014 Special PART 1

After some crazy tech issues with HorsePLAY! LIVE Episode 52, we decided to keep the one-year anniversary celebrations going.  With Christmas right around the corner as well, we were feeling particularly nostalgic.  Most of the memories took us to happy places but there were some anger-inducing memories too.  We try to keep the salt to a minimum as we share Christmas memories, favorite HorsePLAY! moments, and rants.

We play quite a few voicemail messages and enjoy many laughs with our live chat.  One of my favorites was the drunken karaoke game review with DekardC.  Of course, to kick off the episode, we have a hilarious (and pretty catchy) dubstep Christmas intro theme.

Please leave us some well wishes via voicemail – (206) 415-4987 – we love you!

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Walker Stalker Con 2014 Atlanta Highlights & Musings #WSCAtlanta #TWDFamily #TWTT #HorsePLAY

Happy Halloween!

I know it’s a little early but the coming weeks will be very busy for us on the network.  We’ll be with our families and catching up on projects here and there..  Don’t worry: while we may not be streaming, blogging, or podcasting much, we’ll be here in spirit..  And probably watching lots of horror movies and shows.  I know I will be watching American Horror Story and maybe Sleepy Hollow with my wife.  YAY!

Happy Halloween - Trick Or Treat - Tasteful Anime  Witch Wallpaper

 

I’m still on that Walker Stalker Con high but, sadly, I can’t enjoy it as much.  Duty calls as projects pile up and my family prepares to move…  But enough about me!

Here are a few videos that cover the highlights at Walker Stalker Con Atlanta 2014.  If you’ve never been to WSC, you’ll know what to expect.  If you went last year, you can get a feel for what has changed.  Read onward for some highlights and the burning question:

Is Walker Stalker Con [or conventions in general] a mere money grab?

I want to say that I really enjoyed the convention but, as with anything else, there were opportunities.  We’ll get into that after the “video break”.  Sit tight, friends!

 

HorsePLAY! LIVE EP45: Walker Stalker Con Post-Show

The GANG Minute / Geektastic Vlog Mashup: My Personal WSC Highlights & Concerns

On-Location At AmericasMart Atlanta: Walker Stalker Con Fan Reactions & Event Photos

 

Walker Stalker Con was a fun event to go to as a fan and there was plenty to cover as media.  There were tons of panels, celebrities, vendors, and other attractions.  WAY too much to cover in proper detail.  Here are the main things that stood out for me.

Before I share my impressions and opinions here, I want to note that this was my first Walker Stalker Con but I have been to many conventions.  Typically, conventions are forgettable to me but WSC has something special to it.  I believe my feelings here may be in the minority because I don’t get excited by autographs and star-studded events.  Before I share my thoughts, here is what I look for in a convention to consider it worthwhile:

  • You’ll enjoy the event regardless of how much money you spend.
  • Vendors get enough foot traffic to justify booth costs.
  • Autographs and photo ops are subsidized or minimal to provide more time/focus for other events.
  • Event schedules account for waiting/travel times, breaks, and the like.
  • Merch mark-up covers costs but does not exhibit extreme profit margins (i.e. greed).
  • It is clear that fans of all kinds are the priority.
  • Media is given proper access and treatment without taking away from paying guests.
  • Behind-the-scenes information and anecdotes..  Stories worth sharing!

These are some of the things I’ll be pondering as I share my thoughts on Walker Stalker Con Atlanta.  Now let’s jump in!

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What’s Your Podcasting End Game? #NationalPodcastDay @zmblpodcast @gamingdeath @freemandaddy5 @spydersvenom

In honor of October 1st (or is it September 30th), #NationalPodcastDay, here is my rather epic diatribe on the state of podcasting and how we can bring about positive change.. You may want to grab a large cup of coffee or tea!

For many podcasters, their shows are labors of love. They stay on the grind because they have built an audience and, with that, have developed a sense of responsibility. They might really enjoy what they do but they are not necessarily compelled to up their content marketing or social media game. The tragic part is that, to them, there may not be much value in podcasting beyond sticking to habit/ritual.

Why is that?

Well, podcasters tend to have day jobs and other responsibilities well beyond the general umbrella of social media, online business, and marketing. That is not the primary challenge but it does impact how producers and creatives approach their podcasts. The more other projects and work take precedence, the more podcasts suffer in quality and growth. This happens in business and it’s the result of not having a deliberate direction or clear plan early on.

My challenge or, better yet, burning question to podcasters is this:

Why can’t your podcast(s) support your other endeavors? Brah, do you even social media strategize?

I’m all for labors of love and doing your life’s work, but eventually something has to give. You also have to think about your collaborators. They may have other expectations and obligations… But we’ll get to that.

What I have found is that many podcasters do their shows “just for fun” but, deep down inside, whether they realize it or not, they are desperately seeking motivation and purpose. They wish they could monetize the content or justify doing it full-time. In some cases, our fellow podcasters simply use podcasts as an excuse to catch up with friends. Remember, folks: podcasts may be one of the last forms of free media left but that doesn’t mean it should be devoid of rewards.

Success in podcasting, like all social media, starts with being honest with yourself.

Friendly podcasts are nice but there is a growing number of brocasts these days. Brocasts are typically defined by pointless banter, lack of diversity, and the chaos that ensues from lack of preparation, organization, and/or motivation. I’d hate to say it but pointless brocasts are the direct result of doing things “just because you love it”; a nice notion that is usually not 100% true and leads to resentment. Without some path to revenue or incentives, podcasts become mere technical feats, time killers, and space fillers.

Not all brocasts are inherently bad.. Our friends at the Gaming Death Podcast go deep on gaming news, social issues, and other relevant matters, but they keep things fresh with banter and sophomoric humor that some geeks find endearing. The podcast is not for everyone (no podcast is or should aim to be) but they make it clear what their tone and voice is early on in each episode. Love them or hate them, they’re authentic and passionate about the subject matter they discuss.

Let’s be clear: pursuing some personal gain is not a bad thing. So long as the art and message come first, no one can really blame you for trying to do more through and with a medium you love. We all have to make a living, after all. Monetization doesn’t have to be a dirty word.. Just don’t be a shark – be honest and social about self promotion.

If only money did grow on trees...

Perhaps if money grew on trees, we wouldn’t have to worry about the stress of making money.. But it’s not that easy, sadly.

 

What’s Your Podcasting / Social Media End Game?

A theme I often revisit in business and marketing coaching sessions is the notion of maintaining a deliberate direction. The idea is painfully simple: identify and support systems for repeat success. In order to do that, you need to set milestones and have goals. With deliberate efforts towards goals, momentum will be steady and your direction intentional. Of course, there are plenty of people that have random luck and simply stumble into big success but that’s usually reserved for those in niche markets with timing or brand power already on their side.

With that in mind, think about what your “end game” is. It can be an exit strategy or a major milestone. What will happen when you reach that goal or if you don’t in X amount of time? When will you feel most or least satisfied? You need to know your limits and those of your team members. Before you can think about your ultimate goals, you have to look at the road laying right in front of you.

As weeks, months, and years pass by, what will keep you and your collaborators engaged?

We simply must pace ourselves and not jump TOO far ahead. Again, it all boils down to what will give you the most satisfaction and motivation. Running on fumes is no good. Plan ahead but also enjoy today for everything it brings. Be content and grateful.

I saw our friends at Zombie Life Podcast tweet about how podcasting is the last of free media. They tweeted (and I’m mostly paraphrasing),

#Podcasting is the only truly free media left. We dont do it for $$, we enjoy it

I LOVE that sentiment but podcasting can only move forward if we start think more strategically. Sharing compelling content we are passionate about is awesome.. But love alone won’t get you through the rainy days, folks.

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Is Doctor Who A Proper Kid’s Show?

We have been having a debate whether or not Doctor Who is is still a kids show. In TWTT EP 6,  Yomar Lopez & Stan Faryna talk about whether or not Doctor Who is appropriate for kids. Yomar & myself think Stan is over-thinking things. I wouldn’t say its a show just for kids, rather than a family-oriented show where you can watch with your family or your children can learn something from it as well. I know what you are thinking, ” So KiNg, You are telling me my kids can learn something from TV other than rotting their brain cells?”, YES! Yes they can. I will touch on that subject in a sec, but first a brief introduction:

I am a father, blogger, Browncoat, gamer, geek, graphic designer, techie, vaping enthusiast, and Whovian. I have a <3 for ampersands, & just plain out of my mind.  Now that that’s over, thanks Yomar, on with the show!

Do you think Doctor Who is just a revisited & reimagined show from the 60’s with a silly man in a blue box?

If you said yes, then you are correct, but it is more than bow ties, fezzes, fish fingers & custard.  If we know where to look the Doctor can teach our children some very important lessons.

You Are Fantastic

If it is the only lesson your children ever take from this Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey series, then that is enough. They are fantastic. The Doctor teaches us to be the best that we can be & sees that in everyone, but he also values himself & that is such an important understanding to have. In the words of the Ninth Doctor
You were fantastic, & you know what? So was I!

You Were Fantastic - The Ninth Doctor Played By Christopher Eccleston

Friends Are Important

Rose Tyler’s painful goodbye,  the first companion ever to die, The Doctor shows how significant it is to have friends & to trust them. The 10th Doctor would never take pity on anyone when he is alone, he is Fire & Rage but when with a companion he is passionate, & caring. It shows us why we need our friends to help us stay on track & to give us a slap (or a gentle nudge) when we’re out of line

Change Is Good

Children experience change throughout their young, delicate lives – from growing to finding their feet to being taken around the world by their parents. The Doctor regenerates, he becomes someone new & he faces each change with eagerness & joy. Change means success & evolution & the Doctor makes this light.

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SATURDAY: Deconstructing #DoctorWho: The Caretaker, a Shrew and Mouth Garbage

Tune in Saturday, October 4th at noon ET for a friendly, live chat experience of TWTT Episode 7 on http://www.twitch.tv/geekyantics or http://www.allgames.com.

October 4th. Noon. That’s 9am for the U.S. West Coast, 4pm for Madrid, 5pm for London and 7pm, Bucharest.

Don’t press play.

Not all is wrong with The Caretaker. The Doctor is working on being heroic despite the pressing need for him to tame the mouth garbage. Spoiler: He saves the Earth again and he doesn’t even break a sweat.

Not all is wrong with Doctor Who. We can return to the 11th Doctor…

It does not escape Stan’s lack of sense of humor that Danny Pink saves the day as a “PE teacher” might and not by the force of his maths or brains. However, Samuel Andersen did shine for a moment (at last!) when “Sergeant” Pink called the Doctor out as an elitist, manipulative and authoritative one percenter. Go Danny!

The Guardian writes about Danny:

Danny’s inability [to] understand the “different” way that Clara might love the Doctor has become my only real problem with him. So much that I almost get the Doctor’s antipathy toward him.

Which makes Stan think that racism is so deeply entrenched in British culture that the BBC and company are completely unaware of what would and would not suggest racism. Nevermind the recent Liverpool incident in which anti-semitism came off like an old Hitler rally. Contrary to all present representations, however, TWTT is not a voice for social justice or social change. Our own humanity is challenge enough.

Equally problematic is the suggestion that if your romantic interest is spending a lot of time with another person (more time than with you), you shouldn’t be concerned. This is misdirection spoken only as a cheater would speak.

Moving on. It does not escape our sense of irony that Forbes (the publication for one percenters) now has things to say about Doctor Who. And it loves the Doctor. This should worry us! The fact that he does not confess his one percenter allegiances makes him innocent. Or so says the collective Forbes’ consciousness.

No Humans Allowed

Can a tongue be tamed?

Did you ever say or write things that you later regret?

Did you ever feel rejected, humiliated, diminished, or angered because of what someone said about you (or yours)?



Call in and tell us: 1.206.415.4987 (add 00 if calling from outside the US). Or send text, mp3 or other communication protocol to stan.faryna@gmail.com

Tell us in the live chat during the show: http://www.allgames.com/live

Or email us: mail@geekyantics.net

Listen to TWTT Episode 6 and ponder the Doctor like you never pondered him before.

 
Part One: Timey-Wimey Tea Time Episode Six (#TWTT EP 6.0)
Part Two: Timey-Wimey Tea Time Episode Six (#TWTT EP 6.5)
 
Part Three: Timey-Wimey Tea Time Episode Six Extra (#TWTT EP 6.X)

 

Why #GamerGate Doesn’t Really Matter – Let’s Just Enjoy Games!

In recent months, you could not even peek at a social media stream without catching talk about feminism, offensive video game tropes, journalists selling out, and inauthentic game reviews. That was just the tip of the iceberg. All these things culminated in what is affectionately (not really) called GamerGate.

Do not confuse #GamerGate with #GamersGate – they are two VERY different things!

 

DISCLAIMER: Though this always applies to myself and our independent contributors here on the network, let me reiterate that the opinions expressed here are not those of our partners, affiliates, team members, and the network as a whole.

GamerGate went beyond the issues of feminism, alleged “sex scandals”, and the need for reformation in the gaming industry as a whole. It is culmination of the desperate outcry of gamers, consumers, and even industry professionals who are tired of the BS. We feel cheated, used, underappreciated, and deceived. Those feelings were sadly focused into fear of change, finger-pointing, dirt-slinging, and other petty drama.

Many attribute the GamerGate fallout to the Zoe Quinn debacle.  I won’t re-hash the whole thing but it sure got ugly.  Certainly, there are double standards when it comes to adult relationships but people sure LOVE jumping to extreme conclusions.  The trolling was real.  Heck, the whole thing went beyond trolling..  Hacking, Total Biscuit, Phil Fish, and more craziness got thrown into the mix!

I would say the breaking point really came thanks to Anita Sarkeesian.  Her web series, Feminist Frequency, may have served as a catalyst to the turmoil and resentment.  Opponents felt she was merely playing the self-righteous role (i.e. #SJW, Social Justice Warrior) to draw attention to herself.  The reality is that all the debate and angst came from tension long in the making, through no fault of her own or any specific parties.

I do not wish to downplay the personal attacks Anita got for speaking to issues she feels are important. Discrimination and objectification are very real things in any medium or industry, not just video games. That said, there are deeper issues here that the PC (political correctness) police are tucking away in favor of their own agendas. Right or wrong, it feels like the outspoken few are holding on to their own biases and skewed worldviews.

Let me be clear: it is wonderful and worthwhile for folks like Anita Sarkeesian to encourage perspectives that focus on the artistry and social issues driving or driven by video games. It’s equally important to remember to have fun and not assume every creative work is ridden with offensive material or tropes. It’s easy to find issues when you dig deep but is that really what we should be expending our energy on? More importantly, women should not aim to be the equals of men.. That is setting your sights too low. I kid, I kid.

The core issue here is one of trust, not social hierarchy or constructs. Even for more casual gamers, there is a substantial investment of time and money which we all feel justifies our serving as keepers or critics of our gaming hobby or lifestyle. The dissatisfaction and distrust with gaming journalism is a reflection of the course corrections we are seeing in social media, communication, and business [ethics] as a whole.

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Pixelated Pints Returns In The Glorious Episode 10 – Featuring The Nose Tampon!

Obligatory Guardians Of The Galaxy

Guardians is all the talk amongst comic book fans and the non-geek folk alike.  Fred wants everyone to know (including Chip Cella of The B-Team) that he has NOT seen it yet.  I haven’t seen it yet either but it is definitely on the must-watch list.  Sadly, it’s hard for me to go to movie theaters because we have a large family and, well, people are idiots at theaters.

Please turn off your cell phones..  And leave your kids at home.  kthxgg

I am Groot.

Groot Loops Cereal - I Am Groot - You Are Groot - We Are Groot

If you want an in-depth look at Guardians Of The Galaxy over the past several decades, check out Agents Of SHIELDcast.  I’m sure Fred and Heffe will be reporting back with his findings well.  Until then, let’s keep this a spoiler-free zone, friends!

Nose Tampon & Fred’s Recovery

Fred assures us that he is making a speedy recovery and we’re glad to have him back so we can officially-OFFICIALLY welcome Pixelated Pints to the GANG!  That said, try not to give him a hard time about the nasaly sounding voice.  Honestly, I kinda like the Keith Sweat tone to his voice now. *smirk*

Brace Yourself - That Wizard Is Coming

 Destiny Beta Talk..  Again

“That wizard came from the moon!”

Apparently, the wizard is no longer from the moon.  If you don’t know what we’re talking about, check out Fred’s favorite web site (sarcasm) for a little background:

http://www.polygon.com/2014/6/20/5828892/that-wizard-came-from-the-moon-shirt-destiny-bungie

Fred discusses his feelings on Destiny and why he canceled his pre-order.

If you miss out on the zeitgeist of this game, you will be very lonely.

Heffe likes Destiny.  Fred is not a fan.  His argument (and I am paraphrasing):

What happens if you try to play the Titanfall campaign now?  Disappointment.  Destiny might be different but will the consistent updates be enough.  Still, is Destiny the flavor of the moment.  Will it be relevant in two years?  And WTF is that zeitgeist stuff that keeps coming up on Pixelated Pints Episode 10?

zeitgeist – n. the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time.

I agree with Fred’s sentiment.  This is actually why I am taking a break from console gaming.  It feels that a lot of games are hot for a week or a few months, then they suck thereafter.  There aren’t many console games I can think of that you can go back to at any time or join late without feeling like you missed out on the full experience.  Destiny has one thing on it’s side: at least it’s not an EA game!

Kickstarter Projects And Explaining “Investment”

Fred has a big problem with Kickstarter.  Heffe sits back while Fred rants a bit.  Fred’s biggest problem is that media outlets refer to Kickstarter backing as “investing”, which is misleading.  Do backers/pledgers really feel that they are entitled to something in return?

Heffe agrees that Kickstarter projects are not investments because there is no profit sharing.  Does material result qualifies as ROI (Return On Investment)?  What do you think?  You can e-mail PP at pixelatedpints@gmail.com or leave us a VM with your thoughts at (206) 415-4987 so we can discuss further.  Don’t be shy – share your thoughts with the GANG!

The infamous Potato Salad Kickstarter project returns.  Fred jokes that the project had a better ROI than most other crowdfunding efforts.  LOL..  Now that may be true indeed!

Here’s a Kickstarter we’d love for you to support: Fire With Fire!  FwF is a PvP TD (Tower Defense) game in the spirit of Tower Wars or Warcraft III customs designed by our pal Theory with music from one of our biggest supporters – Stephen Gibson a.k.a. Esgee!

EA Access: Value Or Rip-Off?

For $30 a year or around $6 a month, you can subscribe to EA Access.  Think Netflix for video games.  While the EA library is very sports-heavy, you can play gems like Battlefield 4 and Peggle 2 FOR FREE for as long as they are available in the library.  It is worth noting that this will be a download service with limited availability.

Sony must have seen this as a conflict of interest since they have their stinker of a streaming service, Playstation NOw.  Sony turned EA Access and now it will be an XBox One exclusive.  Even if you are not interested in the free offerings and yesteryear’s hits, the biggest benefit of the service will be early access granting you a 5-day headstart on new releases.

Fortengard in the “chat” says EA Access will be a paywall within paywall..  And EA is notorious for nickel-and-diming consumers.  As much as I dislike EA, I see the value for your buck.

For some reason, everyone picks on EA.

Fred and Heffe urge gamers to stop complaining about the free stuff we’re getting now with, say, XBox LIVE Games With Gold.  Console gaming is really trying to drive value for gamers.

To put things into perspective, SNK is charging $9 for their Neo-Geo renting services, when you can own the games for that much.  What??  Now, who would be better-suited to do a streaming or rental type subsciption service?  Activision, Ubisoft, Square-Enix, Deep Silver..   What library would get us excited about getting freebies?

Defining Value In Preorders/Retail

One of the recurring themes we have here at GANG is the matter of preorders and retail pricing.  With that, there’s stuff like early access games and Steam Greenlight.

Are preorders and early access good for the consumer?

I’m not a fan of pricing on the console.  When you consider the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) for console gaming, you’re easily spending thousands upon thousands of dollars in a two to five-year span..  Even if you are a “casual” gamer.  PC offers an investment that will last you longer.  The initial entry point can be rough but, after that, there is value around every corner.

Preorders I feel are losing their appeal.  The bonus content rarely warrants the initial buy-in.  For most of us, waiting for a sale makes more sense, unless we are worried about missing out on the zeitgeist for the particular game.  Essentially, we’re paying for the water-cooler conversations and the bragging rights that come with being early adopters.

Fred notes that PC pricing will always be more competitive than console pricing because they have abandoned the retail model long ago.  Consoles also subsidize the hardware cost through attachments, which keeps the initial cost lower than comparable gaming PCs.  Fred goes on to say that early access is a great idea but it needs to be quarantined from the completed games because a lot of these games never quite get “finished”.

Here’s my argument: early access games are often no different than a lot of full retail offerings..  Except you’re paying less for them.  There is less risk with PC gaming.  You get more value for your buck on the PC front, whereas console games are removing value from initial releases more and more.  Just look at how many iterations of Street Fighter IV there are!  And let’s not even get started on the DLCs and locked on-disc content…  Meh.

Unfocused Focus Groups..  And The Decline In US Education

Focus groups still have a place but do gaming companies and their research/marketing partners have any clue what they are doing?  Fred will tell you the answer is a resounding NO!  To illustrate this, he shares a story of a highly-educated woman who suggest a game with Kratos in a World War II setting.  Yup, because WW2 hasn’t been the theme of any game before.

Are focus groups too unfocused to accomplish anything of value?  Value..  There’s that dirty word again.  Furthermore, is US education getting that bad?  Come on, we must have better ideas than that Kratos crap!

Is Minecraft Is Over-Rated?

MOE-JANG pops up into the discussion.  Is Notch a total douche?  What is he doing with the tons of money that Minecraft has made him?

The PP crew agrees that Minecraft is an over-rated POS.  What do you think?  If you ask this guy, Scrolls is the real Mojang game of note.

For more rants and drunken gaming goodness, visit the PP crew at http://pixelatedpints.com/ and PixelatedPints on Google+/YouTube!

10 Twitch Myths Debunked… And How To Twitch (In Simple Terms)

Before we jump into this quick and dirty article, I want to be clear on a few things:

  1. I detest list posts but I realize that the ADD is real and people are “too busy” these days.  I appreciate that lists are easier to read but I find them lazy.  Just my opinion.
  2. I’m not a partnered Twitch streamer (yet) but that’s more a matter of priorities than knowledge.  I am a NISM-certified social media strategist so the info here is no mere speculation.

That said, I hope this list will entertain and perhaps help our fellow Twitch streamers step their game up.  More importantly, we want to provide a perspective that will make Twitch less intimidating and more useful, fun, and, well, doable.  If you are looking for a more detailed guide on how succeed on Twitch and social media, check out our unofficial Twitch/Social Media strategy guide (a.k.a. grow your audience). Here are the Twitch myths debunked and the truths revealed..  In no particular order!

1.  Google Purchased Twitch For One Billion Dollars [Cash]

Okay, let’s be very clear here.  The total amount of the Google acquisition of Twitch has not yet been confirmed and it certainly wasn’t when this was breaking news.  The original offer was for 1B but Google has not commented on the deal details thereof.  Anyone who says otherwise is full of it.  Even VentureBeat has offered “he said, she said” details and very shaky confirmations.  A rule of thumb on journalism is that, if anyone does not provide a solid source or says “basically” (or something to that effect), they are speculating, blatantly lying, or sharing an opinion.

That said, the deal is easily worth one billion dollars.  It is not known if this deal was done in cash or as a package with stock options and such.  Some media outlets have mentioned that this was a cash deal but do not back up the details.  SMH..  The real news here is what this means to Twitch streamers that are NOT part of the 1%.

Google Buys Twitch For Around 1 Billion

It’s worth noting that Google realized they could not win the fight between YouTube and Twitch, so they bought them out.  This is just more of their continued 30B shopping spree..  Because Google.  Is this a move to mitigate potential threats or do they have real plans to improve Twitch?  I remain hopeful but I am prepared for the worst.  Let’s not forget the acquisitions Google killed off in the past.  Of course, if there is any company with the resources to make big things happen for Twitch, it’s Google…  Right?

We reckon that it’s possible this deal has not been finalized..  And that someone might buy Twitch out from under Google.  Who has that media buying power?  Microsoft, EA, AOL, Time-Warner, Amazon, Viacom…  Hmmmm….  Check back with the GANG and we’ll keep you posted on that.  Regardless, be wary of media misinformation and fake news sites.

2.  You Need An Nvidia Graphics Card/Processor

Nvidia seems to be favored heavily amongst gamers but it’s not necessarily the best nor is it required.  Shadow Play does allow for much easier native streaming but AMD, formerly ATI, products are still solid and may provide a more budget solution with great compatibility.  Along with a solid PSU and CPU, a graphics accelerator is a must for streaming video but don’t feel pressured to get Nvidia specifically.  Look at the benchmarks and you’ll find the differences is are too subtle to warrant price differences.

On a similar note, don’t be afraid to share your gaming rig specs with your viewers.  Some folks may only acknowledge bleeding-edge technology but there is such a thing as overkill.  If your kit suits your needs, don’t worry about the rest.  Note that if you generally play indie or retro games, the system requirements are significantly lower.  Your rig will grow alongside your rig so no worries!

I will say that audio quality trumps video quality every time.  If your audio pops or is inconsistent, ears will bleed and people will leave.  Note that some people will only listen to the audio of your stream while they multitask.  This places a greater importance on a quality microphone.

3.  You Should Stream Popular Games Only

These days it seems like everyone streams League Of Legends.  That’s a great game to add to your stable of offerings but we recommend playing more niche titles.  At any given time, there are at least 1000 LoL streamers so the space is quite saturated.  You have to offer something very special for LoL to be part of a sustainable streaming strategy.

Indie titles and games that allow for easy viewer interaction/participation are usually best.  For example, Choice Chamber and Cards Against Humanity both offer deep interaction with your Twitch viewers with the latter allowing for big games, whereas LoL really limits how many people you can play with at once.  If you like the MOBA and ARTS style, there is still opportunity in popular yet less-streamed games such as Guardians Of Middle Earth, Dawngate, Smite, and Tome.

The beauty of streaming games that have little to no presence on Twitch is that you can work with the developers to be featured in-game or on their social channels.  They love the promotion and will often hook you up by promoting your channel, sending you freebies, or giving you work.  With League Of Legends, the competition is just too heavy unless you are part of the fortunate 1-5% that has timing, contacts, and/or professional gaming on their side.

4.  Twitch Only Partners Streamers With Lots Of Viewers

I hear so much talk about the minimum milestones and conditions necessary for Twitch to consider you for their partners program.  It’s all bunk.  Here’s why:

Twitch has and will make exceptions for streamers they find attractive in some way..  Even if the numbers are not there.

Maybe you have a great personality or you do other content that has garnered lots of attention.  They will consider that.  I know this because I have been to channels where there were 10-20 viewers and the person had a subscribe button.  I also know people that got sub buttons almost as soon as they started, just because they knew someone or got lucky.  Mind you, these same people had NO social media following or marketing background at all.

When you apply to be a Twitch Partner, you will have the opportunity to build your case.  Share links to your social channels, web sites, podcasts, videos, etc.  These will help you in a BIG way!  If you still get denied, don’t be discouraged.  Having a sub button is not an instawin..  But it’s nice.

Free Twitch Overlays - Twitch Templates

Before you spend money, try editing a Twitch overlay template or getting a simple freebie.

5.  Professional Overlays Are A MUST

A video overlay (the stuff that shows on top of the gameplay video) is one of the first things people will notice when browsing new channels, alongside a face cam and any sort of branding you share.  While you could pay someone to have a professional layout/overlay created, it is not recommended to boot.  It is best to get into a routine with your stream and find what works best for you before investing too much money into it.

If you pace yourself, you’ll find that people will donate and support your channel if you engage them and/or offer unique content.  These donations can then be re-invested to upgrade your rig, purchase new games to stream, improve your branding, or just save for a rainy day.  Don’t rush things – you’ll get there!  A Twitch channel is a constantly-evolving thing so enjoy it at every step of the way.

It’s also important to note that a lot of the overlays out there are overkill.  There’s no reason for your webcam or any other assets to take up 33-50% of your layout.  Some people, believe it or not, want to watch the actual gameplay.  This Wildstar overlay from Dexter_BL commits a lot of Twitch sins:

  1. It takes the focus away from the core of the experience – the gameplay.
  2. It slaps people in the face by trying to show off a nice house/apartment/flat.

This particular overlay is likely going for the LAN party effect but it’s a bit much, regardless.  I have seen people showing off their setups overtly and it’s quite obvious, materialistic, and silly.  I’ve heard from countless Twitch viewers that they feel this practice just shoves success in their faces and makes them want to support the stream less.  I would agree.

wildstar-dexter_bl-twitch-streamer-wildstar-serious-gaming-twitch-team

Too much Twitch overlay dedicated to fancy junk. Where’s the gameplay??

6.  Video Quality Is The Most Important Thing

Wrong.  Wrong.  WRONG.

People don’t see video quality when browsing channels (they do see your title though *HINT-HINT*) and, in the first few seconds of being in your channel, what they will notice is your skills in the game and your personality.  If either are what they seek, less than awesome video quality will not take away from the overall experience.  There are people that insist on streaming at 1080p 60 FPS or some other silliness but it’s overkill and most people will downscale your quality to suit mobile devices or avoid having their bandwidth throttled.

I am not saying that aiming for better video quality is not a good goal but don’t become obsessed with it.  When it comes to overall stream quality, it’s best to have smooth video than high-resolution.  You’ll have to play with the bit rate, CRF, buffer sizes, and other items to get it just right.  Be patient and, again, don’t be discouraged if you get the occasional elitist that says your video quality sucks.

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E3 2014 Predictions And Why It Doesn’t Really Matter #E3Live #E32014

UPDATE:  Watching the Twitch E3 preview with @DJwheat and gang.  In just a few minutes, Microsoft is doing their Day 0 press conference.  There’s a lot of wishing and hoping for Fallout 4 (and a new Gears Of War).  That sounds AWESOME to me but I won’t hold my breath, simply because Bethesda has already shot down that notion and they’ll want to let Elder Scrolls Online marinate a while first.  The next Fallout won’t be for at least another year or two.  What do you guys, think?

In the past week, everyone has been asking me if I am excited about E3.  I don’t know how to answer without sounding like a bitter old man or being a wet towel..  Truth is: I’ve barely given E3 much thought.  Everything I want from gaming is here and now so it was not a big deal to me..  Then, during HorsePLAY! LIVE EP25, TCollins89 asked why E3 is on weekdays. It got me thinking:

E3 is not for the everyday or common gamer.  So what is it really about and does it really matter?

DISCLAIMER:  What you are about to read is an editorial.  This, like anything else on Geeky Antics, is the opinion of me, the author.  I may ruffle some feathers but I am being honest and open here.  Keep an open mind.  I am not trying to belittle anyone.  We can disagree peacefully!

As far as I’m concerned, E3 is a glorified trade show meant to hype up gamers who, somehow, can’t get enough content or want more fuel for the console wars. It is geared towards marketers, suits, developers, and journalists.  Think about this:

How many of the presenters actually PLAY games?  Are they gamers first or marketing/business people first?  I reckon the latter is often the case.

For most, E3 is just an excuse for a change of scenery or time off from work. I would venture to say the only way you are looking forward to E3 is if you want the social experience or are super hardcore about gaming (i.e. you have to play every single major game that is released).  This is wishful thinking but I think I’d care more about console gaming again if the entry points were more appealing, at least for the software itself.

That may sound harsh but I think I have finally converted back to PC for good. There are countless reasons but, for me, it’s simply because all my friends are sharded amongst different games and the PC offers too much bang for your buck to even consider dedicated console gaming. I can’t justify the cost or budget the time for a console right now.  As a family man, it does not help that my kids are growing up and playing games with daddy is no longer cool.  Without the bonding experience, console gaming is ho-hum.  I just don’t have the time or interest to do single-player games.

I love my XBox 360 but, for the first time in around ten years, I have let my XBox LIVE subscription lapse for more than two months. My video game wall of shame beckons yet I do not feel compelled to fire her up. I am satisfied by my options on the PC and I don’t have to worry about the hidden costs or suddenly finding that online support has been shut down.

Granted, I have been mostly playing Hearthstone, League of Legends, and SolForge lately but I have a library of games on the PC that excites me every time I look at it. With my consoles, I have mostly felt depression and regret for the past generation or so. I will eventually get an XBox One to play with friends but I do not feel left out of the water cooler conversations.

Now, I can already hear people saying that E3 is about electronic entertainment (hence the name E3 – Electronic Entertainment Expo) as a whole. That is true but it can’t be denied that the expo focuses on the gaming consoles more than anything. With that in mind, consider this fact:

During the transitionary period between console generations, we can’t expect fresh, innovative games. The developers will stick to the console with the greater install base until they figure out how to take advantage of the new framework.

I have nothing against Watch Dogs or Titanfall. I just don’t think they are system sellers for me.  They are the games that are good now because there is nothing else.  Besides, after how Microsoft botched up the original XBox to 360 transition, I think they will play it smart and keep the 360 going for another two to three years.

Glorious PC Master Race - Dirty Console Peasants

[ source: comicvine.com ]

I am no elitist but the future of gaming has been on mobile devices and the PC.. For a while now. $300-500 gets you solid upgrades for your PC and you’re good for a while. With consoles, you have the hidden costs of accessories, DLCs, micro transactions, macro transactions, forced annual releases, preferred server access, season passes, etc. Yeah, I am a smidge jaded and cynical..   But I am also hopeful, especially with so many brilliant small studios and indie developers paving the way (THANK YOU)!

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