Join Us On Discord

Discord

I recently posted about the new Curse user interface and how it’s a pretty cool community interaction tool. A few of you messaged me about Discord and told me about how it has remarkable voice and chat integration. I gave it a shot, and I agree: It’s pretty cool.

Curse comes off as tailored more to the partnered streamers. Lots of flare and chrome rims, all that stuff. Discord is more about pure functionality and integration. The chat is better, the voice chat is better and way easier to set up and mimic Ventrilo (which we currently use). As a community organizer, I like the permissions better too. There’s also a pretty solid app for phones.

Neither option seems perfect for me, or the community here, but I think Discord is a little more our style. We’re still using Ventrilo. Anyone is free to join us there. Paying less than $4 a month for Ventrilo still feels acceptable to me. We also use forums for our Keen and Graev Community — yep, we’re old school. However, the chat functionality in Discord is really enticing as a “Guild Chat” of sorts since it allows a history of chat for all to see. You can feel connected even when you aren’t playing. Like right now, I’m at work but in Discord talking to some community members already online.

If you want to join our Keen and Graev Discord Server, I’m keeping our #general open to everyone. We’ll have member channels for voice and chat too, and different channels for games. We mostly play WoW, Overwatch, and other random games. Hope to see you online.

Discord App

Twitch’s Bits are Stupid

Twitch BitsI think “cheering” and “bits” are stupid. There, I said it. Twitch’s latest monetization technique tries too hard and comes across way too gimmicky — almost desperate. Have you not heard yet about “cheering” and how it works?

It’s a form of digital ‘currency’ that people can buy and practically ‘tip’ to the streamer. Twitch and its employees evangelists — no, screw it, they’re practically employees — don’t want you to think of it as tipping. I’m sure there’s a tax implication there somewhere. Twitch wants you to see it as “cheering” (hence the name) and wants you to get involved in the “experience” of “cheering”. It’s no different than throwing pennies at someone. Literally. Streamers get a penny for every bit. So for the minimum purchase of bits, Twitch takes $0.40 and the streamer takes $1.00. It’s tipping. Stop trying to call it anything else.

Buy Twitch BitsTwitch and the employees select partners who were included in the beta program are quick to point out there are gifs and memes and achievements and badges and all sorts of MORE GIMMICKS to distract from the fact that this is a tip. I’m still dismayed by people throwing money at streamers just to use their chat emotes, and now we literally have people throwing pennies by the thousands at these monkeys dancing for their supper. It makes the Apple community’s behavior appear tame.

It’s more gimmicks. Bits are another step in the direction away from focusing on the games. Excluding the statistical outliers, sponsored events, etc.,  streamers who focus on games receive less attention than streamers who focus on the gimmicks and entertaining their audience. There’s nothing wrong with entertaining people. I support that. What I don’t support are the entertainers becoming influencers. When they are perceived as influencers (and why wouldn’t they be when 30,000 people would watch them wipe their ass) then they receive preferential treatment. That preferential treatment further perpetuates the problem of them being influential, which perpetuates designing games to their nitch and the people who watch, which perpetuates the shallow nature of gaming, and before you know it you have a run on sentence more reason to continue developing games we see today.

You Can Start By Being The Best (Or Trying)

Sorry guys, we had a great last week with all of the E3 news to comment on and then I went dark. I once again blame my rising side business and desire to spend some free time actually playing games.

I have a bit of a cross-dimensional post for you today. As you guys know, I work in marketing. I work with a decent number of clients (~150 give or take depending on the season). I’m responsible for the marketing strategies for most of them, as well as my company. We do a lot of work on the internet with advertising, building websites, growing brands, getting leads and reaching new audiences, yada yada. I started to noticed a trend these past few weeks.

Client: “How do I rank for ‘best doctor in Los Angeles’?”

Me: “You can start by being the best doctor in Los Angeles.”

Client: “Isn’t there something else we can do instead?”

Here’s another one from today.

Client: “How come so and so is higher than me in search engines?”

Me: “So and So has built a brand. People talk about him more on the internet. There are news reports, blog posts, tweets, facebook likes, newsletters, comments, and conversations going on about So and So. Google and ‘the internet’ are able to parse So and So more naturally and understand that So and So sells better widgets. If you want to be first in people’s minds (and in search engines) as a widget seller, then you need to be the first widget seller that comes to mind when people think about your industry.”

Client: “That sounds expensive.”

Yeah, so internet marketing sucks when you work for an agency that will take anyone on as a client. Other than that important lesson (Really, pay attention kids: Avoid agencies. Work for a company. Avoid internet marketing.), I tied this back to games while on my commute home. Screw you 91 freeway and caltrans.

This is one of those painfully obvious posts, but in my mind it comes together all eloquently and epiphany-ish.

Presentation matters. Building a brand matters. Building a community matters. Having a quality product matters. Blizzard releases a me-too product and obliterates even the thought of failure in people’s minds. No one is even thinking, “is Overwatch good?” or caring that it’s a straight up copy of so many other games. Why? They are gods at what they do. They build a masterful product (even when it’s copycat), brilliantly position that game in the market space, and print their own money on the roads they pave for themselves. I needn’t go on.

Why do some Kickstarters for games fail? The game could be phenomenal. The idea could be even better than Warcraft. Did you present it the wrong way? Did you make people care? Or better yet, SHOULD they even care? That’s one people skip far too often.

Fooling people doesn’t end well either. You can pretend to be something you’re not, slap on a beautiful facade, wow us with your graphics, and even have a team of marketing savants drum up all sorts of demand. 2-3 months later everyone quits playing, bad mouths your company, and you play catch up for the next 6 years making F2P games or doing licensing deals until people are willing to forgive you at our sheer boredom.

We’ve seen a transition away from companies making great games to companies making games they think a large group of people want. To me that’s as absurd as my client wanting to be perceived as the best before actually/even trying to be the best — or worse, knowing he will never even try but wanting to fool people into thinking he is anyway. It’s backwards, and it will fail.

In hindsight I think this made a whole lot more sense in my head, but hey this is where I dump my thoughts.

The New Curse Is Impressive

I just recently discovered that Curse went through a major overhaul, and I thought it was cool enough to share. Curse is now more about providing community tools and acting as a platform for content creators, communities, and guilds to interact. Curse is positioning themselves as the facilitator.

Keen and Graev on Curse

As a content creator and curator of a small gaming community, I like that these tools are open to me for free. I use Twitch and Youtube to publish video content, and Curse is now positioned to augment those sites. That’s a much better route than some sites are taking where they try and compete. Instead of going against the grain, Curse is working on chat bots for streamers, facilitating giveaways for streams, helping creators grow their audience, and integrating with these sites through their APIs. Smart idea to tag along rather than stand toe to toe with these juggernauts.

Curse also hooks into lots of games and tries to connect you socially to others. Last night I played some Overwatch and I noticed that all of my friends on Battle.net with Curse accounts could be invited to be my friends in Curse. I thought that was neat.

The only area that I see for improvement right now would be in their execution of the mods side of their site. The new curse app is great and works just like their site, but if I want to use WoW mods I have to have the different mods app. I want both features in one app.

I haven’t decided yet to what extent I’ll use the new Curse. I set up a “server” where you can chat and interact, know when I’m streaming, etc. I may not use a lot of the community stuff, but the tools are pretty neat for streaming and interaction with community.

Hiring Artist for Twitch, Youtube & Blog Gaming Art

This is mostly the style I'm looking for. Can or doesn't have to be the minecraft style, but this has the qualities. Source: Finsgraphics (who doesn't take commissions?)

This is mostly the style I’m looking for. Can or doesn’t have to be the minecraft style, but this has the qualities. Source: Finsgraphics (who doesn’t take commissions?)

I’m looking to commission some work from an artist or freelance designer who wants to create channel art for our Youtube, Twitch.tv, and even the Blog here. I thought finding someone to create art would be easy, but apparently it’s crazy hard to find artists out there.  Few seem to actually have websites or know how to optimize their work to be found online. The ones I do find are so inundated that they’re all saying, “Sorry no commissions.” Huh.

So any of you out there with talent whose websites I can’t find, I’m willing to pay for this work to be done. Here’s what I want:

  • Heavily (as in 100%) related to video games (mixing in lots of games together would be awesome since we’re a variety show here) so the artist needs to have a familiarity with games and be able to infer what I mean when I try to explain what I want. Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed, Minecraft, Uncharted, even nerdy stuff like Star Wars.
  • Twitch.tv, Youtube, and Website art (avatars and custom logo included)
  • Styles I like include stuff like Finsgraphics (specially this one). Doesn’t HAVE to be Minecraft style, but I want all of the qualities of that type of work. I want cartoony, bright, youthful, colorful, polished and glossy. Not too cutesy or anime, but some cute is okay. Almost chibi but not really?
  • Would love our avatars (Keen and Graev) to be dressed up as these characters.

More Art references (I’ll keep updating these as I find them)

I’ve checked Fiverr and Etsy and /r/forhire and still can’t find anyone. If you know someone, forward this to them. If you are that someone, shoot me an email with some of your work or leave a comment here to your portfolio. I’m totally cool with you sharing links to your stuff for others to see.

If I’m using the wrong search terms or if you know where or how I can find the stuff I want, please let me know.