Friday, September 2

Tournament talk: Live Video feeds


   Live video feeds are all the rage currently in the tournament circuit.  Adepticon was the first to truly implement it, and many others have come on board.  The question is, how do we do it right?  I want to talk today about live video streaming and what I think works and doesn't work.

One thing I want to make crystal clear (Because its the interent and you have to disclose disclosures).  I am not trying to point out any one web-stream.  for the most part I really enjoy all of them and we will have web streaming at Feast of Blades this November.  This is just my view of what I like and what I would like to see in the casts to make them just that much better (From an A- to and A+).

The Do's: 

Have an overhead camera: 
  Many Web casts have tried two angles or a roving camera.  Those things are great for additional cameras and PIP (Picture in Picture) shots, but the main camera, i.e. the one your watching 90% of the time, should be one overhead camera.  Why? Well, Im glad you ask!  Its simple really.  At angles people have a harder time figuring out what side of the table they are looking at (dumb, I know)  Keeping it overhead makes it easy for all us simple people (Or is it simple for all us easy people???)

Have someone babysitting the feed:
Hearing that first few "good game," comments after the game is great, but I don't want to hear the winner of a table telling his friends the same story over and over and over and over (you get the idea).  Also, you need a babysitter so that if there are technical difficulties or wardrobe malfunctions (Nasty!) then someone is around to act quickly in resolving the issue.

Have solid audio:
Try and have the players wear a mic if possible, if not then at least get a good mic for the table so we can hear them clearly, I actually love hearing the ongoing talking between the players, it makes it very interesting to hear how they are handling things.  

Have '40k celeb interviews,' and gamer interviews in-between games:
When a game is over you lose viewers by saying "next game in 30min," Try and have pre-recorded footage of interviews that you can plug into the video.  Or, failing that, get some live interviews.  I know I love seeing the people who I talk to on the net.
One of the down sides of the forums is that I could run into someone I know from the internet and not even know it was them.
This can get particularly interesting if you have some interesting piece you can go off of like "Stelek we hear that you just lost your third game, how do you think this will affect your view online? Is it time to take down your win/loss record?"  Then you can get him raging on camera...pure GOLD!  

Recap arguments over rules after the game is over:
dos and dontsSometimes players will discuss/ argue over rules they had in the game.   I think it would be cool to have a webcaster go over the rule and what the argument was about.  This would be similar to the way Sportscasters go over calls made on the field during a football game. 

Every few minutes repost the army lists and the mission objectives:
I hate it when I am looking at the game in progress and I don't know why people are moving for certain things and ignoring others.  It would help if the mission was posted up every so often so that I know/ remember what is going on in the overall scheme of things.

Have a roving camera/ extra cameras: 
Yes, we want the main camera to be overhead. But one serious downside to streaming one camera is that I never get a true feeling for the 'con,' all I see is the head table and the two guys playing at it (maybe).  I want to get a feeling for the con and what is happening.  Overall I think this is one of the biggest opportunities left on the table because this alone will make people want to come to your event next year.  ---- I can see it now, "Lets cut to Aaron in the Painting competition,"  "Thanks James, Im here at the painting competition and it is really exciting...look at this model... and this one... Back to you."  You could walk by tables and give live updates on how games are going between power players and some funny things you see happen during the event.  You get the idea.

The Dont's:

No Full time game-caster (Sorry Madden):
I mentioned this a little bit above, but in all honesty I don't want to hear what you think is going on all the time.  Sure, make a comment here and there if you need to but for the most part the gamecaster should be talking during slow times in the game or between games.  Put simply it is more efficient to hear the players talk about what is going on than it is for you to tell us.  It would be nice though to hear "If the game ends here it looks like Player A will win, lets see."

Don't block the table with the footer or header:
This one actually has two parts.  Part one: don't hide the game with a huge header or footer describing who is playing whom.  Yes, someone should pop that information up every so often, but it doesn't need to be covering the table the whole time.  If you want it up the whole time try to place it in such a way that it doesn't cover a vital part of the table.  Part two: Keep it consistent, if the format is PLAYER (ARMY) vs PLAYER (ARMY) don't post up later PLAYER VS PLAYER (ARMY vs ARMY)  we're wargamers, changing things makes our heads hurt.

-If it is possible, and you can get it to work in the right way, it could be beneficial to have extra 'view,' cameras on the table you are streaming.  One obvious suggestion for this is the 'dice camera.' it all depends on how you are able to pull this off though cause if it is done wrong it is now just another PIP blocking up main table space.  The other downside of this is you have to ask the players to roll in the video's viewing area.

- Give the Players at the top tables specific dice to roll so that it can be seen better on camera.  I know that we are a superstitious bunch, but it would be cool to be able to see the dice rolls without having a dedicated 'dice camera.'  Normally I hate casino dice, but they are very good for webcasting.  I think this is something that sounds great in theory, but what gamer would rally hand over his dice? Not many.

Well, that is all for now folks, what are your thoughts about webcasting?  Should we keep refining the process until we get a well oiled standard, or should we just stop now and let hand written battle reports be the way we find out about games?



  1. Your blog sucks. I'm fine with you deleting this, because that means you'll read it.

  2. HA! That made me smile. Its funny that someone who cant even put up a screen name thinks that the world cares. Enjoy you tiny anonymous life, bye.

    On to the task at hand. I for one didnt care about the cam untill I clicked it on for the first time. Then I was hooked for life.

    There is almost no way that it will go away IMO. There are already enoughf people to ensure that, and as a tool for promoting the game it has a million aplications.

    I agree with the not getting a sense of the entire event and I think that is easy to fix with little effort. Doing things like the mobile cam giving hilights, after hours chaos, interviews...

    I also think that a news style ticker at the bottom with table ranking and info would be great. If it can be done.

    And seeing the awards would be nice too.

    Putting up still photos of the good looking forces is a good idea and would fill time.

    One thing that is a must is the audio like you said. If we cant listen to the game it is not as much fun. As for the dice box I agree a dedicated cam would be nice but not a deal breaker if its not there.

    Last I think this is a great tool for others to learn from. I mean how often do you get to have a birds eye view of the top players going at it.

    Seeing them use their stratigies and put their forces to the test is an outstanding bonus. Anyone who thinks they cant learn from this should be winning every game/tourny at every event.

    I cant wait to see more, and im not even getting onto the aplication of ad space, the ability to rewatch your own game, bla bla bla...

    Thanks for the article, I will be looking for the action at Feast of Blades!!!

  3. AD SPACE!!!! can you imagine having the top table look like something fro NASCAR? that would be hilarious.

    We did notice one thing when looking into 'roving cameras,' to get access to IP cameras (Wireless) you need to upgrade to a premium service which is several hundred ($600 iirc) which would explain why you don't see a lot of live roaming cameras. You could still pre-record video and play it later with the camera hard-lined into the computer.


  4. I like recorded interviews but not live ones. The webcasts of the games at nova were really bad in many ways due to the rampant cheating that was displayed... It's not good for the hobby.