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Your game's been selected to showcase at a big livestream at a show. Congratulations! This is your moment of glory. Now you should spend countless hours over-preparing a recorded video that you should talk through on stage in front of thousands of people. Don't forget to practice the exact marketing pitches you're going to say!
That is the worst advice you'll read today, and something I wish we knew a year ago.
Pictured: the Party Hard livestream from Gamescom 2015
Me & Mike Rose have been on a dozen streams lately, including featured spots on the twitch stage during conventions like PAX and Gamescom. It's been an incredible learning experience and I want to share top tips of how to make the best of these streams, or any kind of exposure you get on a livestream.
Let's start with preparation.
- Don't do videos, always do live gameplay
It's important for the audience to see exactly what the game is. If your segment is 15 minutes, just dive straight into the game, time flies when you're on stage. Nobody wants to watch a pre-recorded gameplay video of something that's built to be interactive.
- Test your build, this is what you should spend time on
Yes, things may go wrong and glitch out - and you can make a joke about that. What should never happen is the awkward moment when your build crashes or isn't responsive. You're wasting time trying to figure it out.
- Follow guidelines provided by the showrunners
If they say it's a .MOV in h.264 for your trailer, it'd better damn be that specific format. If it's a PNG of a specific size, make sure it is indeed a PNG of that size. I'm talking about intro and outro segments of your prime hour. Make their lives as easy as possible and don't be the person that e-mails back and forth and then assets get lost in translation.
- Schedule a time to test your equipment
You know what I hate most on any stage? When someone is hogging my time by "testing" or "making sure it works", when my presentation or segment is on in a few minutes. This doesn't fly at all on live programming when you have thousands of people watching. Test your shit beforehand, and schedule a time with whoever is running the stage to do so.
What I hate more whenever I host panels or do shows, is when someone is running late and you're not sure if they'll turn up. It's OK to be in much earlier, you can mingle, network, chat about. It's NOT OK to arrive 5 minutes before. If you also haven't tested your equipment/build, it's even worse. Everyone's on a schedule, so be on time!
Everyone at tinyBuild constantly gets annoyed at me for being the guy that rushes everyone out the door, but I won't be late for an event. Punctuality is important if you want to grow relationships. If your team is disorganized with early mornings at a convention, make sure that the people that are constantly running late aren't the "Faces" of your group. What I found works very well is just saying that you'll leave at XX am, and actually leave. If you're running late - take a cab at your own expense. At least the person who left early will arrive to the event and assure the organizers it's all happening.
Pictured: testing our games the day before PAX South
Ok, congrats, you made it to the event! On the livestream itself....
- Do not try to "sell" your game
This is probably the biggest mistake anyone can make on their livestream. Twitch is all about watching people play games. Nobody wants to hear you sitting there talking about how great the game is, what its features are, and why everyone should be excited about it. If you have super interesting talking points that'll make people laugh - great, use those, otherwise just jump straight into the game.
I think the best example of this was when we did the Party Hard stream at Gamescom:
It was genuine and fun. Most of the chat had no idea what was going on, but it was just plain fun.
- Have someone who is genuinely likable take the lead
I'm good at writing, and when I'm drunk I can be a fun host. Sober me pales in comparison with Mike, so it's great when he takes the lead in our appearances. If you're not sure what to talk about - just play the game and have fun. Viewers love watching the player have fun, and that's the best marketing for your game.
If you're sitting there looking bored and just hitting bulletpoints off your marketing list, nobody will be excited about your game, and viewers will drop off.
Pictured: Our E3 segment where we had 4 other people to make it feel lively :D
If you don't have someone like that - just invite streamers or Youtubers to participate! More than once we had Jesse Cox with us on stage. At PAX South I literally just ran around the showfloor trying to catch him, said "YOU, TWTICH STAGE, NOW, LET'S GO!" and he went on stage with us. (ok, there was e-mail correspondence back and forth beforehand, don't just tackle people like that).
tl;dr prepare for the livestreaming by making sure your build works and all the assets are in, arrive on time, and just have fun playing your game