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October 19, 2020
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What To Expect When You’re Expecting (A Content Creator)

by Benjamin Glover on 09/29/20 07:48:00 am   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

Hi there! I’m Benjamin Glover and I work as a producer with Stellar Jockeys. I’d like to pass on a few pieces of advice about interacting with content creators, and what you as a developer can do to assist one another in your mutual interest in video games. While I will be using the terms “content creator”, “streamer” and “video editor” interchangeably, please be mindful that there are important differences between each one and the various platforms involved.

For context, earlier in 2020, Stellar Jockeys’ first game Brigador was covered by a noted video editor on YouTube with a substantial Patreon following. We knew there would be a video because the video editor regularly announces to their Patreon audience one month in advance what their next video is. A member of our own community, who is also subscribed to that video editor’s Patreon, informed us about it. Here’s what we did following that news, and what we think are some things that can help you too.

Support the content creator and start doing your research

Start by subscribing to the content creator’s Patreon and going through their back catalogue of posts. In addition to watching videos and reading posts to understand both the content creator and their community, you also open up the means to the next step. On Patreon, initial subscriptions can be as low as a dollar, which will typically not gate you from viewing posts from before you joined.

Most Patreons have different membership tiers

Most Patreons have different membership tiers

For streamers, it’s worth sitting in on a few livestreams and hanging out in their chat, while VODs of previous streams usually stay up for a couple of weeks. Many Twitch streamers post when they’re broadcasting on the “Schedule” tab of their channel so you know when to tune in.

If funds permit it, consider subscribing to the streamer’s channel much like you would via Patreon. Doing so on Twitch puts a special supporter icon beside your username in chat.

Only proceed to the next step once you feel you have taken in enough of the content creator’s existing material.

Get in contact and provide assets

This step is two-in-one. Most content creators with YouTube channels intentionally list a business email in their channel’s About section, and this should be your go-to. Sidenote: if you plan on gathering a large number of emails from YouTube in a short period of time (e.g. to quickly build a mailing list prior to a release), be careful. YouTube will penalize that behavior and will only reveal a certain number of email addresses to you in a particular time frame.

You will need to pass a reCAPTCHA every time you do this

You will need to pass a reCAPTCHA every time you do this

Patreon also gives you the means to contact those you are supporting, or grant access to Patreon-only Discord servers but note that this also applies to everyone else that is subscribed, and it’s not uncommon for content creators to tune out certain communication channels prone to receiving a flood of messages.

Lastly, many content creators have Twitter accounts, which has DMs, but so does Twitch in the form of “whispers”.

Once you’ve figured out the best way to get in touch with a content creator, you will want to provide them with assets. Presskit() is an excellent tool for press, but less so for content creators. Therefore, depending on your research on the content creator, here are some things to consider providing:

High resolution images of your game’s splash screen and logo

Content creators and streamers frequently have to make YouTube thumbnails or waiting screens for Twitch. It is in everyone’s interests that the best quality versions of such visuals are available.

Brief guide to any in-game developer tools or cheats

Video editors might have a specific situation they wish to recreate. Give them the means to do so. If it’s possible to easily remove the UI or change the camera zoom, tell them how.

In-game music

If your game is noted for its music and you own the rights to it, then consider making it available to the content creator.

Miscellaneous SFX or UI assets

Particular voice lines and sound effects (like a level-up ding noise) or interface elements and fonts that you already know are popular will be of use to streamers. Let them know which fonts you use and send them OGG-format audio files for use in Streamlabs.

Game keys..?

This one is debatable and highly dependent on your research from the first step. If you are 100% certain that the content creator would be receptive to receiving keys, such as if they frequently run giveaways within their own community or during streams, then consider asking them if they would want this. Do not just semi-anonymously send keys out: at best you are wasting your effort (and keys); at worst you run the risk of offending people. Typically, content creators are extremely transparent about their actions and have very discerning audiences, because a fundamental appeal of them is the bond of trust that forms between the content creator and their audience.

The goal of all of the above is to put you in the mindset of a content creator and make the job of production as easy as possible for them. Depending on how you’ve contacted them, don’t expect an immediate response. Instead, thanks to all your earlier research…

Check out what happened to other games

Go look at the Steam reviews of games the content creator has previously covered. Steam allows you to easily look up customer reviews from specific time periods by clicking the bar graph located above the customer reviews section.

Clicking one of the bars will display the reviews for that period

Clicking one of the bars will display the reviews for that period

Extra attention and awareness are too often considered a boon, but such awareness often translates into a lot of messages that will need addressing. These messages will take the form of an increase in bug reports and possibly even negative reviews. Given the upcoming influx you may not be able to address all of them promptly which is why you should…

Make an FAQ and pin it

If your game has been out for some time, you will have noticed the same issues cropping up from your player base. Maybe there is a common technical problem with DPI scaling on the latest 4K monitors stopping people from viewing the game in full screen, maybe some players have trouble getting that one specific achievement, or maybe someone just wants to know what a particular thing is referencing. Rather than spending your time repeatedly responding to the same things, gather all those frequently asked questions into one post and make it as visible as possible by pinning it to your Steam forum, subreddit, Twitter account, Facebook page or anywhere else you expect people to turn as a hub for your game.

Prepare your community

Assuming you have an existing community such as an active Discord server, chances are likely that this community will increase in size. Your current community may or may not be aware that more attention is coming its way, and it’s up to you to make sure your community will be respectful to newcomers. A much longer article can be written about Discord specifically, but let’s keep the list short:

Get more moderators

A very approximate rule of thumb is for every 50 active chatters (i.e. non-lurkers) you will need one moderator. If you only have a handful, consider bringing on a couple more from within your community, particularly ones who are not in your native time zone.

Turn on Server Insights

If you haven’t turned on this feature already, providing you meet the requirements, this will grant you access to some metrics on your Discord server going back several months.

Server insights provide some basic demographics and activity reports

Server insights provide some basic demographics and activity reports

Tidy up your channels

Much like with preparing the FAQ, make sure you have channels in place for bug reports and game-specific discussion along with other themes of conversation.

Spread the word

Tell your community about the content creator. Chances are high that if that content creator is into your game, you might unearth common interests with both communities that you weren’t aware of before.

Enjoy a watch party

Depending on if it’s a YouTube video or a stream, consider tuning in at the same time as your community and have fun!

Keep an eye on mentions

Set up Google alerts to notify you any time your game gets mentioned on news portals. Depending on platform, you’ll likely want to devote a column on Tweetdeck to your game’s title and see people’s reactions on Twitter to the content creator.

Nest your game name in “inverted commas” to specifically search for it.

Nest your game name in “inverted commas” to specifically search for it

Other places to look at would be subreddits (particularly if your game has one), your Facebook page as well as the Twitch chat or YouTube comments.

Deal with the influx

In the case of Discord, tools for managing channels like slowmode will limit the rate of incoming messages, and you should give moderators the necessary privileges to activate such things.

If you’re truly getting swamped and don’t have enough hands available, then various bots like Dyno have auto-moderation features to ease the load.

Dyno’s automod module is highly customizable

Dyno’s automod module is highly customizable

Not everyone is going to come to you via Discord, however, or even notice the FAQ you spent time on. Be sure to keep an eye out for new discussion threads appearing on Steam or GOG. Finally, after the dust settles...

Thank everyone

Make sure to thank all the people involved – especially your moderators for keeping things afloat.

How you choose to thank the content creator depends entirely on your previous interactions with them. The best way would be simply to ask if they would be comfortable accepting any sort of gift from the development team and go from there.

Hopefully by doing all of the above, you’ll not only have set up a path to onboard any future newcomers to your community and help deal with recurring issues, but you’ll also have set up a useful suite of assets for use by other content creators. Thanks for reading!


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