Conclusions about the Hackathon & Livestreaming
This hackathon was a blast for me! I ended up doing 5 livestreams with a total duration of about 12 hours. You can find links to them including short summaries in the previous blog post.
Here are my main impressions and learnings:
I ended up doing less livestreams than I hoped, but with higher quality than I expected
- Each of them ended up much longer than I thought I could handle
- There was a lot of work that I needed to do off-stream, including all my work after the Day 3 stream - that's why it became silent
- Inversely, this means that the livestreams contain exactly the most interesting-to-watch work that I did during the hackathon
- I was really proud and happy about my setup, now with a DSLR as webcam, better microphone...
- ...and most importantly the iPad screensharing for graphical notes!
I love doing livestreams, I wish I could do them everyday, I want to do them much more
- I love explaining stuff
- I love interacting with you guys, even if it is just through chat
- Having a constant monologue helps me structure my thoughts during easy to medium difficulty tasks
There are some difficulties and barriers in livestreaming that I still need to overcome
A) Difficult and boring parts
- I'm really afraid to hit boring parts of coding on stream.
- This might be either really tricky parts (like debugging, figuring out an algorithm from scratch) where I need to concentrate to the point of becoming silent...
- ...or just mundane code maintenence tasks (refactoring)
- ...or waiting for the code to compile, every built took almost 2min
- Rather than avoiding streaming completely, like I did now when such things turned out to last longer than, say, 15min, I would love to find a way to make even the "boring" parts entertaining
- I think I already did a much better job of keeping my monologue and interaction going during difficult and boring parts compared to the past, but I can improve further
B) Keeping everyone on the same page
- In the beginning of every stream, I had to basically redo a 5-10min explanation just to give the current work context and then another 5-10min to introduce/review the current microtasks that I'm working on
- People who joined later during the stream missed that and were left quite confused (I think)
- People who don't have time to watch the livestream at all are left with very little info (only my short summaries)
There are concrete steps I can take to ease problems A) and B)
A) Embrace boring parts and show game development as it is
- The most important mental change for me will be to accept that I will have to show you boring parts of the development if I really want to stream a lot in general
- It is important for me to realize that by verbally expressing even more of my thought process or maybe just my feelings as I go through difficult or boring parts, they can become interesting as well
- And: Livestreams are a slow format, a lot of people watch it very passively or even in the background and don't mind even long quieter stretches
- Getting a regularity of streams going with the overarching goal of documenting all aspects of development is a much higher goal than optimising the interestingness of any individual stream
B) Find a simple out-of-stream place to keep track of the current work progress
- This could be as simple as a Google Doc that is continually kept up-to-date where I jot down both the general high level topic that we're working on as well as the concrete, small tasks that we are working on right now
- This adresses both people who have missed earlier livestreams as well as people who join in the middle of an ongoing livestream
- It can also contain an "archive" part to serve as a more detailed summary of what happened for people who can't or don't want to watch the streams
- Creating short video highlights from the most interesting parts of livestreams (development success moments, funny-looking bugs, interesting Q&A sessions) can be a way to make the sometimes very interesting content that livestreams spontaneously produce more accessible to a wider audience. I'll see if there is a fast way to cut these together, I think I can even just do it online with the YouTube video manager
There can be three different flavours of livestreams that are interesting
1) "Let's Build Citybound" - Development Livestreams
- This is the classical development livestream (like I did during this hackathon) where I cover mostly my ongoing everyday development which I extensively explain and comment on, interspersed with Q&A sessions about the game vision
- This will be the most common/frequent of streams
2) "Let's Talk Cities" - Research & Discussion Livestreams
- This is my idea for evolving the "Patron's calling" livestreams
- My main takeaway from those was that I can happily just talk for hours with my most engaged fans (who might not necessarily be Patrons) about all kinds of city topics and I understood that that results in something really interesting, podcast-like to watch
- I realized that this would be an opportunity to showcase another important part of Citybound development: non-programming research - learning how real cities actually work
- Having a selection of concrete topics for each stream to learn about would give a little more structure and inspiration
- Mixing live voice and chat discussion with me screensharing Google-searches and reading relevant articles (as I would on my own, but loudly) seems to strike a particularly nice balance between a linear show and open-ended interaction
3) "Let's Play" - Playing existing city-building and related games
- This was an idea that I expressed already during the hackathon, but then didn't end up having time for (I prioritised making progress on boring parts of the code)
- The idea is that on "off-days" I would just relax and stream me playing some existing games that can serve as positive and negative inspiration, trying to both be just a normal player, but also analysing gameplay and design choices together
The most important conclusion that I can take with all this in mind is:
Citybound is a huge project that takes unpredictably long but is interesting throughout its development for a diverse audience. I should realize that this allows me to continously produce video content that 1) I love to create 2) showcases the development 3) draws in more people 4) increases my actual focus on steady progress.
Finally, I am only not completely sure yet how to make this happen logistially. How would that interact with my release process (that I already threw off course anyways) and how do I make sure that I find the time, energy and peace to do livestreams as regularly as possible? These are questions that I will ponder over the next days and that I will try to make life adjustments for. I'll keep you in the loop and I hope you're looking forward to a more video-driven time as much as I do.
Love you all,