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

 

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.

Esports Week 5: Contracts – SingSing’s vs. DeMoN’s

Prompt: Find two different contracts from separate teams within the same game, argue for why one contract makes more sense than the other. How would you fix the “bad” contract and why is the “good” one the standout? Take a stance on Unionization in esports and create an argument for why it should/should not be implemented. How will it work? Is it game specific? Is it nation specific? 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 Five Discussion Board by Friday. Have some fun with the discussion of this week’s theme.


I’ve done literally all of my reports on the Overwatch League, so I thought for once I could branch out and look at a different esport (it helped that OWL is very secretive with their contracts and nobody’s posting theirs online!) So I decided to look at Dota 2, another very popular esport made by my favorite game studio, Valve.

The first contract I found was for a player named SingSing who was joining the team ‘RattleSnake Gaming’ for a period of three months. Overall, I found it a relatively fair-looking contract.

  • RSnake agreed to handle travel expenses, equipment, lodging, and $1000-2000 in salary, the larger values dependant on the team’s success in any tournaments during that time period. (That being said, they were rather vague on what they would actually spend for all those things, and the player would basically have to trust the management doesn’t skimp and leave them with substandard fare.)
  • The most important part (how much money the player makes) is spelled out clearly and variations are defined with hard numbers.
  • The biggest problem with the contract, in my opinion, is the mere 1 week’s notice for renewal or not-renewal of the contract going forward. That wouldn’t be nearly enough time for me to sort my future out, and would basically leave me at the mercy of the org once approaching the end of the three months.

But all in all, I’d probably still sign RSnake’s contract before the other Dota 2 contract I found, this one for a player named DeMoN potentially signing with Admiral.

  • Before I start complaining about it, I must note that the salary and winning %age are clearly spelled out, which I always consider the most important part of a contract.
  • However, while it does a good job stating clearly what responsibilities the player must fulfill, it gives the org far too much leeway in dropping the player with only 3-days notice. “Unprofessionalism” is a very open-ended term with pretty much no oversight or universally-agreed upon definition.
  • In addition, the contract gives the org permission to use the player’s likeness/image with no stipulation on length of time. As I’m reading it, it appears to give them permanent rights to the player’s likeness even after the player has stopped playing for the team.
  • The “buyout” value is not specified in any way. What does it cost if I want to leave early?
  • Unlike RSnake, there are no mentions about the org covering travel or lodging expenses. Honestly, the team appears to do very little for the contractor as per their stated responsibilities in the contract.

The good contract needs very little adjustments, I would simply insist on some more solid numbers regarding what the org will be spending on travel/lodging etc. The 1 week seems rather short, but I suspect it wouldn’t be enough to stop me from signing.

The bad contract needs far, far more explanation on what the org is responsible for and what the player is getting from the contract. Right now it seems like he’s signing away almost everything and getting nothing in return other than a spot on the team.

I strongly support the unionization of competitive esport players, just as I support unionization in every new industry (especially ridesharing, not to get too off-topic but holy cow does Lyft and Uber abuse their contractors’ rights). Sports are already a messy and complicated business, subject to all the moral and legal shortcomings of entertainment plus the increased chance of workplace injury and a competitive environment that encourages overworking yourself. Without unions, esport players are at a disadvantage when negotiating their terms with the orgs, and in many cases they have little option but to accept a bad contract just for the chance to get on stage and show themselves off. If pretty much every other sport gets a union, esports deserve them too.

I feel like we could just have one giant esport players’ union rather than different unions for each game, since every esport has identical equipment costs. I guess we could segregate unions by league, but my worry is that it would give Riot and Blizzard too much power; what’s to stop Blizzard from telling the hypothetical Overwatch League union “I don’t care what you want, you gotta play by our rules or we’ll drop you for those who will”? With a global union, there would be pressure from other developers who don’t want to see their players go on strike because of something happening in another league.