Updates on Things

Sorry I haven’t posted recently, I’ve got so many different things I’m doing here and there.

1. New Emilena story! This one was started ages ago, but I finally finished the other 80%. It’s readable here and takes place directly after “Orphanage”, the story where she returned to her childhood orphanage and killed her old warden. In this story, she confesses to the murder and is incarcerated in an all-women’s prison. It explains why she’s no longer a police officer in the follow-up “private investigator” story, and it gives her the chance to butt heads with a bunch of characters she defeated from older stories, most of whom are excited for a chance to even the score.

2. I’ve added a number of categories to the Darwin’s Soldiers Wiki, including Destroyed objects, destroyed locations, books, and family trees. I dunno why, encyclopedic cataloging just relaxes me. Sometimes I wish we had an Into the Black wiki, and other times I thank god we don’t have one because there’s way too much content to even fathom starting now.

3. I’ve shoutcasted a ton of Overwatch matches on Twitch. Most are part of League Zero, but there’s also a fair amount of pick-up scrims I’ve been publishing on VGFAQ. I’ve really enjoyed making videos for that channel, since it gets way better traffic than the SPUF of Legend. Maybe it’s possible I should feel bad for letting my own channel grow stagnant while earning click revenue and a bunch of unearned views on someone else’s site, but the SPUF of Legend has almost completely lost its fanbase since I gave up on Payday videos so I don’t think anyone’s particularly sad. And I might make more videos every now and then, but right now I’m scrambling to keep up with the many videos I want to make for VGFAQ. I need to start on a video for Inside the Magic as well…

4. I have taken out two extensions on the eSports course for the sole reason that I need to finish that darn final essay. It’s not even particularly long but its got a lot of parts and I’ve constantly had more important things to worry about. But I really should button that up one of these days so I can take it off my mental checklist.

5. I haven’t had much time to game for fun, sadly. That kinda happens when its your job to play games for various sources of income. Pretty much my only guilty pleasure is ARK Survival Evolved, which is an awesome survival game and the only one I’ve ever heard of that remains fun whether you’re playing with 0 other people, 100 other people or any number in between. Personally, I don’t have the time or patience to deal with online idiots, so I play on a solo server with Sydney and most of our time is spent taming dinosaurs and creating Miasmata-style outposts throughout the map. You can see our complete idiotic adventures in this playlist, which is finally populated enough I feel okay letting people know about it.

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Look at how cool my bird is! She has ‘FEAR ME’ written across her wings!

Esports and other current events

As you may have noticed, I’m putting the finishing touches on that Esports course! I learned some great things and turned a lot of the content into articles for DailyEsports.gg. I also qualified for E3 and will be attending to make videos for VGFAQ, not to mention I’ve resumed shoutcasting (after a 3 year absense) and now have a number of casts to showcase on this YouTube playlist. I’m hosting the VODs on VGFAQ so I can get some pennies for them!

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The longest was the Kilgore College cast, which was 6.5 hours long and consisted entirely of me covering 1v1s on Xbox! I was downright babbling by the 4th hour of it, but the audience and tournament organizers say they loved it so I can’t complain. Would do again!

Storywise, the Emilena story I mentioned in an earlier post is finally finished and readable here, I incorporated it into the old cycle because it doesn’t break anything, and even covers some ground the other stories didn’t. (This is the first story we see where she lives outside of work). I’m not sure what I’ll write next, might not write anything an instead spend my creative time learning how to animate or make 3D games in Firefly.

Esports Week 8 – Sponsorships (last week of the class!)

Prompt: Create a sponsorship proposal from an endemic sponsor and explain what they are sponsoring, value of the sponsorship, why they are choosing this specific game or event, and what will make it successful. Identify and research an issue in the assigned reading and in your independent reading. Feel free to consult and explore a wide variety of resources! , (200-750 words). Post this summary in SMWW e-Arena in the Week Seven Discussion Board by Friday. Have some fun with the discussion of this week’s theme.


This hypothetical sponsorship is addressed to Backpack.ow, a mobile app for Overwatch players to access and organize their in-game inventory (They’ve previously advertised on a news site I used to write for, and I share a contact with them through previous employment with said site.)

Dear Backpack.ow,

Hello! My name is Nicholas Halsey, and I represent League Zero, a competitive Overwatch tournament that runs once a season. We’re looking for sponsors, and Kyle Wai mentioned you’re looking to expand your esports presence.

Right now, Zero League is seeking a sponsor who will gain credit for replays and “player of the match”. Said sponsor will have their logo appear in the corner of replays, have their name read out by casters before the match, and will audibly be given credit for ‘bringing’ player of the match to the tournament. We’re seeking a donation of $300 per tournament to become this sponsor.

Our tournaments have run successfully every season for the past two years, and enjoy a sizeable community of followers. We have over 200 players in our tournaments, many with Open Division experience, and our streamers received over 12,000 views on Twitch last tournament. That’s a sizeable audience that will witness our chosen sponsor’s branding on an audible and visual basis every single game in our 16-seed bracket. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

Our Spring season runs this May, and we encourage you to watch our first game this Saturday at 8pm EST on http://www.twitch.tv/ZeroLeague if you’d like to see what you’re signing up for. Thank you for your time and we look forward to hearing from you!

Esports Week 7 – Casting the Clash for College Competition!

Prompt: Design a preparation worksheet for yourself. The worksheet should include a checklist of things that you need to have done before the actual broadcast; include timelines. It should include scouting reports, previous game analysis, predictions, and hot stats. Identify and research an issue in the assigned reading and in your independent reading. Feel free to consult and explore a wide variety of resources!


This preparation worksheet isn’t hypothetical, I’ve got a real tournament coming up I need to shoutcast! A fellow student has hooked me up with the Kilgore College 1v1 Overwatch Double-Elimination Tournament, which is going to require a number of preparations on my end.

The tournament is in just over a week. Here’s my worksheet checklist for things that need to be done by then:

1. The tournament’s going to be on Xbox, which I have literally never played in my life. In order to connect to the server, I’ll need an Xbox. Nathan says he can loan be his by Monday. There’s a series of sub-items on this bullet:

  • Setup the Xbox
  • Purchase and install Overwatch (currently 60% off!)
  • Hook up my Twitch to my Xbox
  • Hook my microphone/headset to the Xbox
  • Play Xbox Overwatch for a while and practice with the spectator controls.
  • Run a practice stream from the Xbox and ensure Twitch broadcasts are stored and accessible by computer (I’ll want to be able to upload the tournament VOD to Youtube for posterity)

2. I’m also not that familiar with Overwatch 1v1.

  •  See if I can find some other shoutcasts online of the gamemode (I’ve never casted anything but classic 6v6)
  • Watch some tutorial/”How to win” guides for the gamemode
  • Watch some VODs of grandmaster-level 1v1 play so I can intelligently mention high-level strats and (if not forced-class) note the frequency each hero is played.

3. I need to learn some info from the tournament. Preferably what heroes are available, what map pool we’ll be using, and what ruleset (there are 2 official 1v1 game modes, and they may be using something custom). This will help me narrow down what elements I need to learn more about so I can cast intelligently. (For once I don’t need to research teams or players, since these are high-schoolers with no prior Overwatch careers)

4. Once these bits have happened (which essentially means I’m prepared for the tournament) it’s time for marketing.

  • Leave a hole in my YouTube publishing schedule for the VOD to go live
  • Change my Twitch banners to reflect the tournament
  • Inform my Twitter, YouTube, and Daily Esports audiences when and where the event will be happening

 

If I were Mitch McConnell part 2

(part 1)

Sometimes I wonder if I’m making the right call when it comes to how I spend my life. Game writing, game journalism, game development, and vide editing all make me incredibly happy, and I’ve felt more fulfilled than I’ve felt in years. The YouTube channel is taking off, I’m attending conventions and gaining attention from all the right places. My LinkedIn has become a well-oiled machine of connections.

But outside my personal life, and the virtual worlds I’ve immersed myself in, the real world is becoming more and more unhinged. The Mueller report just dropped, we finally get to read the darn thing, and nothing’s changed. Republicans continue to stonewall in the Senate, Trump supporters continue to insist there’s no cause for collusion, and there doesn’t seem to be anything the common folk can do to make their voice heard. Protests are irrelevant. Voting occurs too rarely to make a difference. And I have a sinking suspicion voting isn’t going to matter come 2020.

A particular Republican strategy is worrying me more than the others. The senate, lead by Mitch McConnell, is stripping many of the abilities normally available to the minority party in order to push legislation through despite Democratic opposition. Most people I read are saying things like “this is a foolish strategy that will come to bite them when they’re the minority party next.” The news is painting the Republicans as a party trying to take maximum advantage of a dwindling period of power, a party who knows they’re going to lose the 2020 election in another blue wave. Indeed, the neverending Trump scandals and the blue wave of 2018 suggests that the Democrats are entering the next election period with a massive advantage.

Which is why I’m skeptical people are interpreting the Republican strategy correctly. The Republicans, more than anything, are patient. They developed Fox News in response to the Nixon scandal and waited decades for it to permeate their target audience. They’ve spent multiple presidencies filling the courts with right-leaning judges, a strategy that takes forever to slowly redefine the nation’s legal balance. Even the Trump campaign was supposed to be a stepping stone to a future presidency; I firmly believe the Republican plan had been to lose the election and use fake news to erode public faith in the electoral process. None of this behavior is that of a party that does anything “desperately” or “last-minute.”

So, if that’s the case, why are Republicans stripping the Senate minority party of power? Personally, I suspect they don’t plan on ever being the minority party again. But before I go into that, let me explain Donald Trump’s current predicament.

President Trump is in something of a pickle. While he’s done an admirable job of dodging scandals by flooding the news cycle with too many stories for anything to stick, the fact remains that he faces prison as soon as he relinquishes the presidency. Even if he uses the Ford-Nixon strategy to pardon himself of all federal crimes, he can still be charged on a state level. So, how can Trump remain president indefinitely? He’d have to either (1) repeal the 22nd Amendment (downright impossible) or (2) suspend elections.

And believe it or not, the Republican senators’ behavior makes a lot more sense if they ultimately plan on suspending elections and retaining power indefinitely. Here’s my theory for how they plan to do that:

  1. The Republicans allow the Russians to hack the 2020 election, but have the Russians hack in the Democrat’s favor
  2. “Uncover” the hacking after the Blue wave sweeps the election, use the hacking as an excuse to doubt the results and suspend the elections
  3. Use the fact that Russia hacked for the Democrats to distance themselves and cast doubt on the Republicans and Russians working together

I bet a bookie would give me great odds if I put some money down on that idea. And hopefully my screenwriting background is just letting my imagination get the best of me. But even if the Republicans are planning something less theatrical, I can’t help but feel I could be doing more to fight back. Sydney is living in Portland protesting ICE every day and completing street medic training. Admittedly, protesting in Oregon seems a bit like preaching to a choir, but it’s more than I’m doing. When I was younger, I was positive I’d join the underground railroad or help defend common people if I lived in a more exciting time. Now here I am, witnessing a proto-fascist government stuffing the courts and deporting migrant children, and I’m earning money playing games like a Weimar bougiose.

Sport Stories

I’ve been hitting the esport train pretty hard recently, and that isn’t going to stop for another couple weeks. This course has been awesome; I’ve met some great people and might even shoutcast an Overwatch tournament for one on the 26th. I plan to convert several of these weekly articles into DailyEsports.gg content (like I did this one), and I’ve been cranking out dozens of VGFAQ videos at the same time.

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t found time to write a few short stories at the same time. Apparently I’m in something of a retrospective mood, cause they’ve all tied into ancient long-completed cycles:

  1. First I wrote a new Darwin’s Soldiers story,
  2. …then a new Flora story, (which is actually now the longest story in either canon, beating Card of Ten by a margin of 5K words)
  3. …and finally a new Hemlock Gang story of all things.

And coming up next, mostly cause it’s the only untouched cycle left, one more story starring Officer Echo back in her police days. She’ll be investigating a restaurant suspected of being a hub for drug-peddling. Exciting!

(There actually was a different completely-standalone story written somewhere in there too, nominally tied to a different RP universe but I instantly dropped my main characters back on Earth so they could explore the Into the Black and Darwin’s Soldiers universes in a time-traveling non-canon crossover. Was fun to write, and mainly an opportunity to see characters from both universes bouncing off each other.)

Coming up in the professional sphere: Honestly, more esports articles and a few VGFAQ videos. Keeping my nose to the grindstone for probably another week or so.

Esports Week 6 – An Article About Articles

Prompt: Find and review three esports related articles produced from teams and breakdown the purpose of the article, how the author address their topic, what makes it a catchy article, and how they engage the fan. Then write three (less than 750 words) articles on your chosen esports topic as if you were writing for your team. Send your “best” or “favorite” article for review and evaluation, and in Peer Review, list reasons why you like your peers’ articles and what they could change. You will only post ONE of your articles that you will write for this week.

Article 1: Interview With Forge Arena Publisher Artur Minac, published 9/7/2018

I’m interviewing Oliver, CEO of Demise Esports, as one of my two interviews for the quarter, so I poked around his franchise’s site to see what sort of content they had. This article stuck out amongst a sea of more generic announcement/recap articles, so I checked it out in order to learn their goals in publishing it.

And…I’m still not sure. It’s a lengthy interview with one of the publishers of a 5v5 FPS I’ve never heard of, and most of the article is dedicated to Artur explaining what Forge Arena is, and how they’re hoping to make an esport out of it. Demise doesn’t have a Forge Arena team, so I can only assume they were considering/planning on one at the time and this article was a gateway introduction for their fans. I can’t think of any other scenario why this interview would exist. Only a single question mentions Demise, and if I were the editor I’d have cut it before the article went live (Interviewer asks Artur his favorite player from Demise, Artur replies he doesn’t have one because he’s never paid attention to them.) At minimum, remove the giant Sad Pepe Frog meme that calls attention to this moment of the franchise getting shot down, it’s terrible optics.

Article 2: Why ‘one-trick-player’ Specialists Ruin the Competitive Experience, published 10/11/2017

This one’s a little different as it’s Jake’s private blog (Jake is a DPS player and the face of the Houston Outlaws), but the Outlaws have a nonexistent internet presence so it (and Linkzr’s post-match MS Paint posters) are the only real internet presence the team has so they’re still treated with a level of representation. I love this blog because it’s so much more than just a mouthpiece for the Houston Outlaws; Jake writes long, passionate articles about Overwatch’s game design and development choices, the sort of thing you never see in a normal team blog. It shows that Jake didn’t stumble into the Overwatch League on accident; he’s put in the time to understand the game and its esports scene on a core level. Of course, it can also get away with a lot less muckwork because of its unofficial nature, not to mention because the Overwatch League has a webpage dedicated to each team that handles more typical news like signings and previews.

Article 3: San Francisco Shock Sign Striker, published 12/3/2018

And here’s an analysis of a more typical article, just because the last two were a bit unusual in design. This was published by NRG, one of those big names that has a major team for every big esport, and I suspect the brevity and tokenism of the article stem from how the fact that it needn’t worry about anything beyond simply existing. NRG doesn’t need to market themselves with this article, they have enough fans and impact that the esport community and third-party journalists are more than happy to shoulder the effort of spreading this story far and wide, speculating on the impact it’ll have and voicing opinions on the ramifications/intelligence of the signing. That last paragraph is straight-up copy-pasted from every other 1st-party article about the SF Shock, and otherwise the article is a mere six sentences long. Thesis statement, a clarifying sentence on Striker, an obligatory quote from the Head coach, and a conclusion sentence; couldn’t be more textbook if they tried.

And now for my article:

Recently, Primal announced that Enzo “WarKr0Zz” Conte has signed onto the team as a flex tank in time for the 2019 Fortnite Open Division. We took some time today to sit down with Enzo and chat about esports, his career, and his future:

Tell us about your background, and how you got into esports. 

I started playing esports when I was very young, maybe 9 or 10, for the Call of Duty games. I quickly fell in love with the spirit of competition, so when I came home after school I’d rush to the computer to try and improve my skill. At 16 I started to play Overwatch. When I reached Top 500 on ladder, a lot of teams contacted me and I ended up joining HuBesport. When I saw the cash prizes available in Fortnite, I started working hard in this new scene and have won several tournaments and cash prizes.

What are your training/practice methods for tournaments? How do you get ready? 

I have two major preparations when training for tournaments: Mentally, I try not to think about losing, and I make sure to spend time with my friends and family the day beforehand. All other days I’m training in Fortnite’s Creative Mode. I watch a lot of videos to learn new tricks and practice them in Creative Mode, especially the endgame because it’s the most difficult part, you always end with like 50 people in a zone smaller than a room.

I notice you stream as well as play competitively. How do you balance your time between streaming vs. participating in esports? 

The stream is a part of my training. I stream almost every time I train, because after the stream I can watch it again to see the mistakes I made. Also, it’s really cool to stream because you can share some moments with your viewers who saw you in a tournament.

Do you think streaming is a valuable resource for esport players to utilize? 

Streaming is a huge opportunity for professionals because you show everyone that you can regularly play at your level. And sometimes, when I do something good a viewer will clip it and share it on Twitter…so all the teams and community will see it.

You worked as a manager for Underrated from October 2017 to April 2018. How different was it to manage an esport team as opposed to simply play on it? 

When you are a player, the only thing you have to do is play and practice. When you are a manager, it’s more difficult, you have to personally know all the players on the team and how they work mentally. When I was a manager I regularly planned “scrims”, which is where you train with other teams. The whole organization of the team rides on your shoulders.

What advice do you have for others hoping to follow in your footsteps and break into esports?

Becoming an esport player is really difficult, you have to be really good from the beginning. After that it’s all about rhythm. Sometimes you’ll be playing for up to 12 hours a day but you can’t quit. I had to balance my practice routine with my studies, but it’s something that feels really rewarding when you stick it through to success.

Enzo streams regularly at https://www.twitch.tv/warkr0zz, and you’ll also see him on the island fighting for Primal when Open Division starts! For more information, visit PrimalGaming.com, and follow @PrimalEsportOrg on Twitter.