Spark Patronage changes on Mixer, and what that means for me and my community.

I just wanted to make a quick post regarding spark/ember changes that are now being discussed in Social Media.

I just wanted to make a quick post regarding spark/ember changes that are now being discussed in Social Media.

As you may or may not know, after August 6th, spark patronage is changing. Instead of milestones giving a flat cash reward to a partnered streamer, they will instead contribute to ember value for that streamer, increasing the value of embers spent during each milestone period.

So let’s look at the facts at face value for myself. I will be earning considerably less money from streaming, as I see very little ember spend in my channel. That isn’t a complaint, just a fact.

So what does this mean for sparks in my channel and for my community? As far as interaction goes, I am planning no changes to stickers/MixPlay. Costs will stay the same and you’ll be able to interact how you wish. What changes for YOU however, is you get to use the MixPlay for what it is intended, an interaction system. No longer will you feel the need to weigh up when you spend them for the sake of milestones, which frankly, is great news.

I have always been apprehensive about spark milestones being monetized. Money doesn’t grow on trees and patronage as it exists was always going to go away. We, as partners, have simply had the privilege of receiving free money through this programme. I am not sad to see it go. So many people have abused the system in its current form and it has been a cause of stress for both streamers and viewers alike.

So what else going forward? Here’s a quick Q&A

What will you do to bring in more ember spend?
Honesty, not a lot. I may see if I can find a gentle way to incentivise using them, but at the same time, I will not be driving the idea hard. I haven’t done this far and I don’t intend to going forward.

What about viewers who feel they can’t contribute anymore?
You were already contributing by watching, chatting, sharing my streams and clips on social media and otherwise. Money isn’t, and never will be, the single way to support me.

Does this mean you won’t be able to afford games/equipment/etc?
Not at all. Let me level with you. I could take an extra shift at work, any time, and earn more in that one shift than I earned in patronage for a month. Patronage was always a bonus. If I am ever stuck for cash, that will never be on my community for as long as work is an option to me.

What about taking PayPal again?
First of all, not an option, and even if it was, I wouldn’t use it. PayPal is bad.

I think that covers most, if not all bases. If anyone has any questions please feel free to tweet at me @slinkonage or join The Discord Server!

Thanks for reading!

I Don’t Like the Nintendo Switch Lite. Hear Me Out.

Now I feel I must preface this by saying, the Switch Lite is not aimed at me. I am not the target audience for it. But I still don’t like it, and I think it has the potential to harm the Switch in general, which is why I don’t like it.

So, the Switch Lite is a Nintendo Switch. Only it’s not. It’s a games machine that plays Switch software, but it’s not a Switch. It is a piece of hardware with a 5.5″ screen (as opposed to the Switch having a 6.2″ screen) and weighs in at 0.61lbs (as opposed to the Switch weighing in at 0.88lbs).

Here is why it’s not a Switch.

It has no dock, so therefore has no connectivity to a television. It is a dedicated handheld device designed to be more portable than the flagship Switch. It has no tabletop mode, as it doesn’t have removable joycons which means you have to buy joycons to play certain games. And then how do you charge those joycons if you do buy them? They don’t attach to the Switch lite.

It has none of the features that make the Switch the Switch. The whole point of the Switch was the fact that it was versatile. It was a home console and a handheld, and you could “switch” how you used it at any time. Or you could detach the joycons and “switch” it to a portable multiplayer device. The Lite feels like a branding disaster.

We all sort of knew that the Switch lite was coming, but when it doesn’t have any of the features that make it a Switch, what does that mean for the brand?

I was reminded of the 2DS and the fact that it didn’t have any of these branding related issues. But the 2DS was genuis. Already in the name it was obvious that they dropped the 3D functionality and the lack of folding, whilst hurting the portability of it a touch (and this was also fixed in the New 2DS) it was a small price to pay for a budget system that played 3DS games. And it was branded as such. The Switch Lite is branded as a Switch, so it should come with the features that make the Switch what it is. And it doesn’t. Like the 2DS, the branding should have been altered to make it similar enough that people will recongise the hardware, but seperate enough so as to not hurt the Switch brand.

Remember the Wii U? It was branded as a Wii, and wasn’t actually a Wii. It was hardware that played Wii software and allowed Wii peripherals. And what did that do to the Wii brand?

I hope the same doesn’t happen here with the Switch, but I see people buying this up without reading the information available and expecting a lot more from it than they are getting, and that it going to lead to disappointment. I love the Switch and it’s a great time to be a Switch owner, but my advice right now is save up for the flagship system. It’s going to be $100 more but you’re going to get a lot more out of the versatility of it than you will the Lite.

I’m still confused what market they are aiming for with the Lite when the flagship system does exactly what the Lite does, and so much more.

Again, this is an opinion. Make of it what you will, but this is my two pence into the fountain.

A Half-Baked Review of Imperator: Rome

Imperator: Rome has been poorly received by the majority of people in the Paradox games community. I wouldn’t call myself a part of that community but I have found myself getting interested in their games since the start of the year. Imperator: Rome is the game I wish I had when I jumped in.

Paradox has a habit of releasing a game that is pretty barebones, but then over several years adds more to it through DLC until there is hundreds of pounds worth of the stuff. People who have been playing these games for a long time really shouldn’t be surprised with the product they got to be honest. Not saying that excuses anything but there should have been no surprise.

As I say, these games get supported for years. Europa Universalis IV was released way back in August 2013 and yet its latest DLC was released in December 2018. Honestly, I think Imperator: Rome has an audience, being fresh off the presses.

Have you been interested in Grand Strategy games for a while but been too intimidated by their complexity? Imperator: Rome is a great jumping off point. Being barebones as it is, it is quite easy to pick up and learn the basics of how these games work. The game uses 4 types of power points (also known as mana in the community), as well as gold, for you to use to make decisions, buy buildings, armies and technologies and the core community hates this. But it does make things remarkably simple to understand.

I played the tutorial for roughly 5 hours on stream, which gives you a bit of a leg up and actually teaches you the basics of the game, something that previous games have been bad at (The Crusader Kings 2 tutorial isn’t worth the 5 minutes it takes, you learn nothing).

I honestly enjoyed the time I played it, and will be playing more of it because of its simplicity. It’s a lot more chilled out than the likes of Europa Universalis 4 and Hearts of Iron 4 so creating Rome was a relaxing time.

The game does need to go in one of two directions though. They need to either minimize the number of different power points (or mana) or double down and make the power points more relevant to things. Religious points are only used for omens as far as I could tell, which means you end up with thousands of points in reserve and nothing to use them on. Oratory points was something else I also seemed to have a stockpile of.

I can see why established members of the Paradox community dislike the game, but honestly, I have so far enjoyed it, but I can see it getting boring in its current state. Other than invading other nations and growing your nation there isn’t a lot else to it and I hope down the line it gets more in-depth. But for newcomers, it is a great entry point.

And to be fair, who doesn’t like a good invasion?

Is a lack of variety really a “problem” in the streaming world?

As a variety streamer, there is something I see a lot which is really starting to, for want of a better phrase, grind my gears, and that is people suggesting that “We need more variety on streaming platforms”.

Excuse me first of all for pointing at myself, but joking aside I am actually going somewhere with this, so please bear with me.

Now just to make sure that I am absolutely clear and to make sure context is maintained, I am a variety streamer on Mixer. This is really important to the context of everything I am about to say, so just keep that in mind as you read what will end up being a round in circles rant, because this whole “problem” is a huge circle of issues.

First of all, the most important thing to note here, is that regardless of the streaming platform, variety does exist! I am proof of that, but I am just one person. But there are others, so many others, struggling to find their audience but hopefully having a lot of fun whilst they’re at it.

Despite this I keep seeing on twitter almost every day “We need more variety!” thank you for that. It’s nice to see variety talked about on social platforms. It makes variety a talking point and that is all to the good. You voicing your support for variety can only be a good thing. But how far does that support go? And keep up with me here because as I say, variety does exist. A lot of it. Lack of variety isn’t the issue.

The issue is that, despite the voicing of support constantly, variety actually gets very little support on the platforms. As I look on Mixer as I write this, I can find 6 streamers playing Euro Truck Simulator 2 (3 of which with 0 viewers), 52 streamers playing Skyrim (32 with 0 viewers, 15 with 1 viewer), 33 people playing The Sims 4 (14 with 0 viewers)… The list goes on but I’d be here all day. These are just a few examples I picked out of the herd.

It’s not that people aren’t playing a variety of games, it’s that people don’t want to watch a variety of games. People don’t want to support people playing a variety of games. I am generalising for sure as I have a solid community on Mixer that I have built on variety, but I am in a minority there. People like to complain that games like Fortnite and Apex Legends have taken over the streaming sites, without accepting that these games are simply the games that the majority of people want to watch.

The problem isn’t with the lack of variety content, the problem is in the genuine demand for variety content. But how much of a problem is it actually and what, realistically, can anyone do to change that?

The fact of the matter is, it’s not really a problem. If you are a good streamer (and let’s nip this controversial thing in the bud, not everyone is a good streamer) then you will know how to network. You’ll know how to entertain, or teach, or approach an audience, and you will grow somewhat from your own talent. This also ties into other things I’ve said in the past regarding being a streamer vs being someone who streams. It’s okay to stream and not identify as a streamer. It’s okay to stream to 0 people and not care. But if you do care, then getting good at being a streamer will help you find like-minded people.

The REAL problem, tying back to where I started all this, is people screaming how we need more variety, when in actual fact, they just aren’t looking for it. Streaming sites always list games by viewership, not by how many people are streaming them. It stands to reason that the popular games 99% of people want to see will be topping the list. It’s supply and demand. People will watch what they want, simple as that. Screaming that there isn’t enough variety is just a flat out lie, but by the same token, us variety streamers can’t just sit here and demand people watch our content if it’s not what people want to watch.

Similarly, people who complain about so many streamers playing the trending games are somewhat just as problematic. There are a good few streamers who stream for a living. It puts food on the table and it pays the rent. It makes sense that using the trends to help do just that is a thing. Hell, if I relied on my Mixer partnership to eat and have a roof over my head, I expect I would probably do the same. I am lucky enough to not have to do that because I have a steady job outside of streaming. My partnership helps me buy new games, increasing my variety and get upgrades and suchlike. People streaming trending games for a living isn’t a problem. Not enough variety isn’t a problem. People publicly claiming that there isn’t enough variety simply haven’t tried to support it properly, otherwise they would know its there. That is the “problem”, If you can call it that. I told you this would come full circle.

I say “problem” because it’s not really a problem. People like to claim it is, but it’s not. People will stream what content they want to stream. People will watch what content they want to watch. Where’s the problem?

Again, please remember I am generalising with this for sure. There are exceptions to this. There are people who say these things but do support variety streamers, but perhaps they just need to expand their horizons and see how many variety folks there are out there. Hell, even some of the trending game streamers will come out and find variety streamers because THEY need something different, but again, where is the problem? Was it ever a problem in the first place? Maybe we should stop calling out a variety problem and start celebrating our variety brethren. If you really believe it’s a problem, then go support some variety streamers, or be the change you want to see and stream some variety yourself! Be part of the solution to the problem you see.

Pokémon Let’s Go Review

Oh hey, it’s me. Did you miss me? No posts in November? Are you sure? Ohh yeah… Well I am here now, smack bang in post game land of Pokémon Let’s Go, and I feel like I’ve played enough of this game to give it an informed review. I played Pikachu Edition, which I bought for myself.

We return to Kanto, which is nice. A nice, colourful, HD Kanto and it is beautiful to look at. The Pokémon are emotive and adorable and the renewed soundtrack is delightful! The world itself though is still very square, as they have gone with the full 1:1 rescaling of the original Kanto, which isn’t a bad thing, but in HD almost feels a little fourth wall breaking. The NPC’s also feel lifeless as they stand around forever waiting for you to walk by and challenge you.

The trainer battles are what would would expect though. Abilities from the core games are gone, but this just serves to simplify the battles a little, so that is nice for newcomers and isn’t a deal breaker for experienced battlers. But you will have to bear it in mind. No Levitate Koffing means it can and will get hit by Earthquake for instance.

Catching Pokémon leaves a lot to be desired for me. On the dock the throwing mechanics are super wonky, making you throw balls in wildly wrong directions for seemingly no reason and requires a lot of practice. The game does very little to show you how to throw to the left and right and the throwing tutorial is very basic. As well as this, it has Pokémon Go mechanics, so you don’t battle wild Pokémon to catch them. Which brings me to the biggest issue I have with this game.

Fleeing. Pokémon can flee at any time and seemingly with no way to mitigate it. Also the RNG on this, and catching in general, feels so arbitrary. There’s no sense of difficulty, and regardless of how difficult the game says the catch will be, it never seems to translate into reality. But fleeing, I believe, can be stopped with the Nanab Berry in the game, but if it breaks out of a Pokéball, be prepared to throw another berry. In Pokémon Go that is quite simple with a touchscreen. you press the berry button and select your berry. In Let’s Go, with lack of touch controls it is a slog through two or three menus before you can use the berry, and with Pokémon able to flee at any time, you’re on the clock. It can lead to situations where you are throwing ball after ball and catching nothing for twenty minutes and having nothing to show for it, and as a player, there is no feel-good feeling in this situation. I have found myself turning the game off as the fun stops and the frustration sets in. And bear in mind this game is marketed to the younger newcomers to the series. The Go catching mechanics just don’t translate well here and it feels clumsy. Not to mention in handheld mode it IS easier, with you able to track a moving Pokémon with the gyroscope in the system and it amazes me why that control scheme hasn’t been implemented into the Pro Controller (that’s right, no Pro Controller support). Not to mention with all this, there is a chaining mechanic where if you catch the same Pokémon over and over again, you get increased shiny chance (shinies are very low chance at an alternate coloured version of a Pokémon) and better stat rolls. Chaining mechanic with arbitrary fleeing with next to no mitigation is horrifying and leads to a lot of disappointment. The mitigation is if you miss a throw or two, you run away yourself to keep the chain, but again, there is really no place for the frustrating flee mechanic in the first place without something more solid in place to mitigate it. Running from battles just feels like a workaround rather than a legitimate solution.

Storywise, again, if you’ve played any Pokémon game, you know what to expect. Defeat eight gyms and beat the Elite Four. Team Rocket show up from time to time (including Jessie and James from the anime, which is a nice touch) to battle you and stop you in your tracks and all that jazz. It’s not too complex and doesn’t distract from the catching and battling that make up the core of the game.

All in all, I have had fun with this game, and the more I played it the more fun I had. But those moments where you just want to throw the Switch out of the window, especially when chaining and suchlike, really left a sour taste in my mouth. It may feel like a silly thing to moan about, but remember who this game is marketed for. If I was an 8 year old and having this happen, I’d likely never play the game again. Arbitrary RNG is not difficulty. It’s just arbitrary without proper mechanics to mitigate it. And that is my only real moan. Pokémon aren’t loot drops, they are the core of the game, and they just don’t feel like they are treated as such. The core games had abilities like Arena Trap, moves like False Swipe and different types of Pokéballs for different situations but this game has none of that, but if it had something, just something more than what it does have, I feel it would be a much more fun and rewarding experience.

I look forward to the release of the new core game next year!

 

 

Very Brief EGX Recap and my Game of the Year Candidate

So the last time I posted here I mentioned that I would be taking notes at EGX and writing a lot about my trip. I didn’t do any of those things. EGX was okay. Xbox didn’t show up at all, which was very disappointing. I had an argument with a security guard who couldn’t read entry passes on the Saturday, which upset me. I got to play Kingdom Hearts 3 though, so I got that going for me!

I also got to meet quite a few other Mixer folks while I was there. That was also nice, although I was, predictably, a bit timid about that whole experience. Maybe if we all meet up again another time I will be less timid.

As for the last few days though, I have been hammering Forza Horizon 4. It’s been a long time since a game has made me as happy as it has. It’s incredible. Almost perfect.Online is a little bit ropey. It likes to break up convoys between races which is annoying and not allocate servers to races, but when it does work, it is sublime!

One of my favourite additions has to be Forzathon Live. Instead of a few gamerscoreless achievements every week, you gain points from events that trigger every hour that you do with others in your shared world. You can then spend those points on cars or cosmetic items, or on wheelspins. There are also weekly and daily tasks that give you points on top of that. VIP players also get double points for free with a house you can buy. Non-VIP players can get this house for five million credits.

If I could imrpove anything that is just how the game is though, its clubs. Clubs are now handled through Xbox Live clubs, rather than being an ingame feature. As a result there is far less tracking for clubs as was found in Forza Horizon 3 and I miss the in-club rivalries to reach the top of the club board.

Anyway, that’s me for a while. WWE 2K19 comes out tomorrow for Deluxe Edition buyers, and I am working. But I shall be streaming that over the weekend and probably alternating between that and Forza for quite a while.

See you later!

Streaming Life, Burn Out and EGX!

Firstly, again. I am sorry I haven’t updated this more. I have failed horribly at getting stuff put out on here and I feel bad about it. I have a terrible memory and every time I think of something I want to talk about, I fail to remember this place is even here. I need to get better at doing things and getting into habits.

That said, streaming life update! I took a week off a few weeks back to recharge the old batteries. There’s been some dramas and some madness and some burnout (and even a touch of anger) that I had to deal with regarding streaming. But I got it out of my system. but burnout is something that is becoming a big issue lately.

So streaming, as a partner, is more than just going live and doing the stream. There’s a lot I won’t get into on here but just know that its not all about going live and performing. There is a lot goes on in the background. A lot of it becomes quite stressful on occasion.

Or rather it does if you let it, and I let it, hence taking the break.

There is something I want to say to all streamers that are feeling the burn. We all have those times when we wonder if it is worth continuing on with what you are doing. I see streamers quitting regularly or at the very least taking long breaks due to stress. So here it is…

On those days when you aren’t sure if you want to carry on, take that break. Take some time for yourself. Ask yourself an important question. “Why did I start streaming in the first place?” Compare the answer to that to what your current goals and stresses are. Likelihood is, somewhere along the line you lost your way because you forgot why you started in the first place.

I started streaming to make friends, simply enough. I had very few friends to play games with and I wanted more, so I started streaming. Somewhere along the line I got stressed about growth and after getting partner somewhere I got stressed about getting subs and “selling” subs to more people. I am proud to be a partner but my intial aim was never to make money, I just wanted to meet people and play video games with them. Remembering this has pulled me out of one of the biggest slumps I have had since I started streaming and lately, my streams (I have felt, at least) have been better than ever, because I remembered why I started in the first place. And I have made a ton of friends, and I love streaming and hanging out with my friends. I am happy with where I have come.

So when you feel like quitting, remember why you started in the first place.

That all aside, it is EGX 2018 this week! I will be there all 4 days and hope to meet a whole ton of my peers and community there, as I know many of you are going. I can’t wait, but will admit I am a bit nervous. There are so many top quality people I respect and admire going, and I am a timid little sausage. I hope to post about my trip to EGX on here so I will be taking notes while I am there!

Anyway, until next time, have a great day!

Battle of Azeroth Buildup in Review (Kinda)

So I recently got back into WoW after not being super impressed with the premise of the new expansion, Battle for Azeroth, when it was announced. That was a few months ago though.

There have been videos flying around on the World of Warcraft YouTube Channel for a while now and it piqued my interest. I started to hear “The Call of Azeroth”, a pet name, if you will, for when I get that urge to go back to playing it again.

On resubbing I initially didn’t find my feet and I wondered after a couple of days if I would actually continue playing. But I then loaded up my old main, a level 110 Gnome Priest, and played the pre-quest leading into the events of the new expansion.

Sylvanas Windrunner, I have always been a huge fan of her as a character in the lore, but I never expected the literal burning of the World Tree, Teldrassil, home of the night elves. It all starts as a campaign to capture Darnassus, to prevent the Alliance from moving Azerite (the new mineral that has surfaced after that big ol’ sword kinda battered Silithus) to the Eastern Kingdoms. But something goes wrong.

In the scene leading into the destruction of Teldrassil, a wounded night elf, who as far as I know hasn’t been named, appears to question Sylvanas and her motives. This seems to be enough to force her into a blind rage, ordering the burning of Teldrassil, something that would trigger possibly the greatest war ever between the Horde and the Alliance. High Overlord Saurfang questions her too, citing the honor of the Horde, but this appears to phase her very little.

In retaliation, the Alliance attack The Undercity, once capital of the Human kingdom of Lordaeron. The attack, from the quest line, goes very well for the Alliance (props to Jaina in her wacky flying galleon with the arcane cannons, nice touch) and they find themselves eventually in the throne room, battling through waves of Horde troops and blight, blight that was also killing Horde soldiers…

With the figureheads of the Alliance confronting Sylvanas, who is apparently cornered, she shows nothing but disdain and is calm as a cucumber.

She literally detonates blight over the whole city. Everyone dies. Horde, Alliance, everyone. Jaina managed to teleport the 4 of them away, who appear to be the only Alliance survivors. Ohh and your player character. You live too, somehow.

For something that had such a weak premise of “Ohh The Alliance and The Horde are fighting again” they have done a lot to make it matter. Azeroth has changed and it hasn’t been dragged out. In the blink of an eye two cities have fallen, and now we turn towards the expansion.

I really have high hopes now for Battle for Azeroth. I really hope that it doesn’t fall flat like Warlords of Draenor did (for me at least). It’s also coming off the back of Legion, which was really good. I want to see the war escalate more. I want to see the tension between Sylvanas and the rest of the Horde. I want to see how King Anduin copes with the situation. I want Saurfang to get what he really craves. He is still missing that warrior’s death. The pre-quests have gotten me hooked again!! Roll on next week…

While I am here, I apologize for not getting more on here. I am bad at time management and need to force myself into some habits better. I do try, but honestly, not hard enough. But to all of you who come and read this, thank you. I appreciate you!