New Year’s 2.0: My Second Year on Twitch

This post has been rattling around in my head for over a month now, and I’d actually considered folding it into my “Representation Matters” piece at first. But then that post became what it is now and this one has kinda just… lingered. But it was still something I wanted to talk about, because it speaks almost directly to the practical effect Black Panther has had on me.

You see, prior to Black Panther, I’d honestly been struggling. I was still getting up in the morning, jotting down story ideas and writing as much as I could force myself to. I had a goal, I had a dream, and I was going to make that dream a reality. Out of sheer spite, if nothing else. I’ve had plenty of people play the role of doubter and naysayer in my life (some of whom you would think shouldn’t play that role), and before Black Panther, sometimes the only thing that could get me out of bed and working in the morning was the vindictive desire to prove them all disastrously wrong.

Full disclosure: I do still use that spiteful desire to give myself a bit of an extra boost whenever I feel I need it. 😛

Point is though, running on spite exclusively can only get you so far and it will take a considerable toll on your psyche. It pains me to admit that, speaking as someone who’s spent far more time on the Dark Side than the Light (I will never apologize for Star Wars metaphors), but it’s the truth. And it’s a truth that I hadn’t truly understood until I got a big, healthy dose of the Light in Black Panther.

Black Panther revitalized and empowered me in ways that I hadn’t thought possible, and once my mind finished reconstructing itself after that movie blasted it into a million pieces, my actual first thought was: “If T’Challa can do it, why can’t I?” Superhero theatrics aside, it was that thought that convinced me that I really could become the best possible version of myself. And since I already had a fairly clear idea of what that version of myself looked like, the only thing I had to do was actually do it!

This is the thought process that’s led to the recent changes & adjustments I’ve been making to both my writing workflow and my Twitch streaming, both of which have revolved around the general concept of embracing who I am and running with it, rather than trying suppress it so I can chase a particular trend. And while this has always been easy for me to do with my writing, it has been enormously challenging to do with my streaming.

This is where my New Year’s 2.0 thing comes into play.

You see, my one year anniversary as a streamer was February 24th, about a week after Black Panther came out. And once the celebration stream was over, I realized this was kind of the perfect chance to re-examine what I was really doing as “TheGamingAuthor”, and what I both wanted and needed to do as TheGamingAuthor not only to achieve my goals, but to make sure I didn’t burn myself out in the process. It may not have been the start of a new calendar year, but at least in a way, it was the start of a new year on Twitch. And after a further few weeks of thinking, organizing, and planning, I finally have a new, two-part game plan to go along with the new year.

So here it is:

Part One – You Are TheGamingAUTHOR, Write Like It! Calling myself “TheGamingAuthor” doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if I’m not actually writing, and since my morning writing time almost invariably bled into and delayed my streaming time way back when (a situation I found unacceptable), I realized that the only viable solution to this problem was to bring back the writing segments of my stream!

Now, this is not to say that I’ll be writing everything live on Twitch all the time. There are plenty of elements to my creative process that I feel are still done best behind the curtain. The world building, character building, and plotting out the story itself (what I call “Pre-production”, to borrow a filmmaking term), are all things that I do best in isolation. Usually in the wee, dark hours of the morning where most of the rest of the world is still asleep, and I can think clearly in true peace and quiet.

This is also generally true of the “Post-Production” phase, to borrow another filmmaking term. The part of the process where I and/or an editor go through a manuscript with a fine-toothed comb to pick out any errors and inconsistencies so we can turn the raw draft into a proper, bright and shiny new book.

However, as a chronic over-thinker who’s chronic over-thinking has resulted in him deeply struggling to ever finish a draft in the first place, I’ve found that doing the actual writing part of the job (the “Production” phase, if you will) live on stream has been a fantastic method of keeping myself accountable. It forces me to think less and write more, and that is a very good thing for me in terms of getting that all-important first draft actually done.

So what does this mean going forward? It means that for the foreseeable future, whenever I’m in the drafting stage of a particular writing project, I’ll be starting my streams by writing a bare minimum of 500 words on whatever that project may be. Once that word goal has been hit and/or the creative flow has ebbed, my streams will transition over to the “Gaming” part of my name.

Speaking of which…

Part Two – Embrace the Variety: In news that will surprise precisely no one, half the reason I chose “TheGamingAuthor” as my Twitch name is because playing video games is one of my most favorite things to do, second only to writing. However, I’m not the kind of gamer who can spend endless hours in competitive multiplayer environments day in and day out, much as I do enjoy certain games in that venue (I miss you, Battlefield 4). At the end of the day, I’m the kind of gamer who feels the most joy when playing single-player games. Be they narratively-driven open-world adventures like Horizon: Zero Dawn and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, style-oriented beat-em-ups like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry, hardcore role-playing games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Final Fantasy X, or any weird and lovable hybrid of the three!

Now, while this is all fine and dandy in isolation, on Twitch it presents a challenge in that it means you’re constantly drifting through different directories with different audiences who hold different expectations. This is the big reason why I’ve talked so much about finding a kind of “home game”; a game the stream always comes back to between the various story-based adventures. Trouble is, the kinds of games best suited for that are the kinds of games I don’t enjoy enough to play them that consistently, despite my best efforts to do so anyway.

So, I’ve finally decided to Hell with it! If I’m going to put my best foot forward as a streamer, I need to play the games that I truly do enjoy playing and embrace the variety rather than try to suppress it and stress myself to the point of burnout in the process! To further this end, I thought it would be helpful for all parties to list out the numerous games I’ll be playing on Twitch over the rest of the year!

And head’s up. It’s a long list.

  1. Horizon: Zero Dawn (In Progress)
  2. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
  3. God of War
  4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  5. Detroit: Become Human
  6. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  7. Jurassic World: Evolution
  8. Middle-earth: Shadow of War
  9. Life is Strange
  10. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
  11. Life is Strange: Before the Storm
  12. Tomb Raider
  13. Vampyr
  14. Rise of the Tomb Raider
  15. The Walking Dead
  16. Final Fantasy X
  17. The Walking Dead: Season 2
  18. Final Fantasy X-2
  19. Dishonored
  20. Watch Dogs 2
  21. Dishonored 2

This is what the future holds for The Writer’s Room in terms of gaming content, and while many of the games on this list are on the older side in terms of gaming years, I am still incredibly excited by the thought of finally getting to play through them. 😊

So yeah, that’s all I’ve got for ya today and if I don’t step away from this keyboard right now, I fear my stomach is going to digest itself. You all take care, and I’ll see ya on the next post.

Or, if you can’t wait that long since I’m a notoriously infrequent poster, feel free to swing by The Writer’s Room & hang out for a bit. We’re playing more Horizon: Zero Dawn today (3/29/2018)! 😉 https://www.twitch.tv/thegamingauthor

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The Destiny Reset Challenge: A Guardian’s Return to Destiny

GuardianCon 2017 was a life-changing experience for me. It reminded me of why I fell so in love with the community and how badly I wanted to give back to it all that it had given me in the first place. It reminded me of why I’d first decided to become an author/Twitch streamer hybrid, and perhaps most unexpectedly, it made me miss Destiny (the game that GuardianCon was founded around) in a way that I hadn’t really felt before.

As some of you may know, I’ve had a rather… fraught history with Destiny. Upon it’s initial release, I found it’s amazing core gameplay undermined at every turn by it’s embarrassing failure to tell an even partially coherent story. A failure made all the more painful by developer Bungie’s outstanding record with video game storytelling in the Halo franchise. However, when Bungie released The Taken King expansion to kick of Destiny’s second year of release, they also reconstructed the entire base-game in a way that fixed roughly eighty percent of the problems I’d had with it, and finally turned Destiny into the game that I’d first hoped it would be. This trend then continued with Bungie’s second and final major expansion to Destiny, Rise of Iron, which further strengthened the game’s storytelling with expanded in-game cinematics and deeper narrative integration with the game’s quest system.

All of which combined to make me extremely impatient for the announcement, reveal, and release of Destiny 2, so I could finally see what the full strength of Bungie could do now that they had so clearly learned from their previous missteps with Destiny. Combine that with the fact that I’d already done pretty much everything there was to do in Destiny (or at least everything that I’d wanted to do), and as much as I grew to love the game and wanted to stream it, I just couldn’t figure out make any stream of it entertaining. For me or anyone else watching.

Enter Angry_Iceberg’s Destiny Reset Challenge.

Prior to GuardianCon, I hadn’t thought to participate in this challenge, as it requires setting up an entirely new account and I just wasn’t all that thrilled by the thought of it. After GuardianCon however, and all the excitement and rejuvenation that came with it, I realized that this challenge is actually the perfect way to make Destiny fun and engaging again, because it robs you of all your previously acquired weapons, armor, and money and forces you to start from the absolute lowest rung of the ladder all over again.

And truth be told? I cannot wait to get started!

Participating in this challenge will be the closest thing possible to going back into Destiny like I’ve never played it before, only now my second first time will be with all of the improvements Bungie has made to the game over the last three years included right from the start. That’s an experience I can’t wait to have, and is why I now plan on having Destiny as part of my game rotation on stream when I’d previously just been planning to wait on Destiny 2 and go through my backlog of PS4 games in the meantime.

So I hope you all will tag along as I tackle this challenge, and if you do, I’ll see you on stream this Friday at 1PM Pacific Time.

Take care. 🙂

Controllers: Time Twitches Into A New Schedule

As many of you know, the primary reason I started this blog was because every now and again, I’d start to type a tweet that would soon grow into a thread five or more tweets long. And while Twitter has vastly improved its functionality in this regard since I first starting using the platform, there are still times where I’m just not comfortable with the 140 character limit per tweet.

Now is one of those times.

I’ve been mentioning several times for the last couple of weeks that I’ve been playing with and experimenting with changing my streaming schedule to allow for a better work/life/streaming balance, and after this last week in particular, it’s something that I’m officially pulling the trigger on.

As of now, my new streaming times are Mondays & Tuesdays, 5PM to 9PM Pacific Time.

I know this is going to be a significant disruption for some of you, particularly my international viewers, and I am sorry for that. The only reason I’m making this change is because it actually does allow me to have a better stream/life balance. Streaming in the middle of the day with my previous was putting an enormous strain on me because it allowed virtually no wiggle room in the event that something came up on my side of the screen. Mondays & Tuesdays are my weekends, essentially, and streaming from Noon to 4PM wound up making it so that if I wanted to do anything else with my day, I had to cancel a stream. Not a situation I was cool with.

By moving to a 5PM – 9PM schedule, not only do I get to end my day with awesome people and awesome video games, I have more freedom to not only keep writing on the days where the words just won’t stop flowing, but to also enjoy more of my life outside of being TheGamingAuthor, and that’s important to me.

So I hope you’ll all bear with me through this schedule change, as I know that in the end, it will allow me to be both a better streamer as well as a better writer and in the end, that’s gonna be the best thing for both of us. 🙂