I've read through a mix of what I personally feel are malicious reddit comments and also very supportive messages to gather the opinions which I comment on in this post. All I ask is that if you disagree or have further criticism, or if you want to continue the discussion on any of the topics I write about here, to please try and post it in a constructive way.
Why no co-caster?
A lot of people have the feedback “I don’t watch because I don’t enjoy solo-casts” or something to this extent. Some people don’t like them, some people think my casting is bad when it is solo. That is fine. The reality is I am not going to be casting with a co-caster on a
regular basis on my channel.
I’m going to pre-face this section by saying that every time I do have a co-caster on the stream, chat is incredibly negative toward the experience. I have gone back and looked through chat logs to check if it was just me, but there is a genuine large percentage of viewers that are not happy with the co-casts in the past. They also tended to be streams which gathered less support than my usual streams. Of course, if it was a regular thing this could shift, but I always thought this an interesting trend considering how often I am told that my biggest issue is solo-casting.
The biggest issue with a co-caster: paying them. I do not agree with people working for free on a regular basis. A one off helping hand is very different to a regular position and I do tend to stream most days of the week. A lot of people have been very forward with me saying that they could help me out and just to ask (CatZ, Rotti, ToD, feardragon and more), but the reality is I feel bad that they are trying to be a helping hand and I have nothing to give in return. And even when I have had some of them on in the past, it feels awkward to ask them to come on so much more regularly, giving up their own time to essentially work for free, or “exposure”.
A lot of people have said, well then just hire some up and coming talent who would love exposure! My straight up honest opinion on this is that up and coming talent who want “exposure” and nothing else for casting multiple times a week are probably not at the level of casting that I want to have on my channel. You can’t just get people on because they want to be casters, there are a lot of skills and experience that they are lacking: not knowing when to talk, cutting in when they shouldn’t, struggling to find synergy, lacking game knowledge/understanding, lacking player knowledge, and so much more. Now not everyone has all of these problems, but for me those that are at the level which I would be comfortable with putting on my streams are really at the point where they should be growing their own brand at the very least, not just being my co-caster.
To quickly go back to paying somebody: people are saying that I would naturally increase my sub count massively if I was to have a co-caster and hence be able to pay them. Even if I doubled my sub-count, if I had a co-caster who joined me for every stream I would be paying them less than minimum wage for their hours spent on the channel – and that doesn’t help me either because I would not be benefitting from the higher sub count.
I also personally find solo-casting less exhausting than co-casting. I can solo cast for hours, but I could not co-cast for that long. This is an opinion and experience I have that I know a lot do not share, so I will not go into it much further. I enjoy co-casting when I don’t have to worry about production, creating lobbies, shout-outs and so on, but I don’t share that same enjoyment when I do have to do all of those things on a regular stream.
Looking forward I’ll look into the guest casting thing again more, but solo-casting is the direction the channel will continue to take. I truly understand those that do not enjoy the solo-casting, in which case I say the channel isn’t for you. This is not a topic I just brush off lightly, I have thought about it a lot to get this conclusion.
The way I talk
Another piece of feedback was that I have poor enunciation, diction and in general am monotone. I can get behind that I do not have the best of voices for speaking – I have actually come a huge way in terms of my speech since I started casting. If you go back to my first YouTube videos you probably won’t even believe that it’s me – I certainly don’t. Before casting I could barely hold a conversation, never mind the thought of speaking out to an audience. I’ve already come along leaps and bounds with my voice over the years and it is something which I feel like I work on every day.
Some days I’m tired, or I had a bad day and it can be hard to get the passion going and my mind trails off, which will definitely make me talk in a less interesting manner. I think that’s just the reality of trying to cast every day, some days I’m not going to be in my best shape. It’s not like at the big offline events where the entire set-up allows you to fully focus on casting the matches. If you compare my casting at WCS Leipzig for example to some of my streams, I think you will be able to hear a big difference immediately in the way in which I talk.
And I do bring that to my streams sometimes – just it is difficult to keep it up for multiple hours and it’s something I need to keep working on. I’m always listening back to VODs and talking to myself in the car to figure out how I can say things differently or how I could phrase something in a different way to make the casting more interesting. I have thought about hiring a voice coach, but I don’t think it is something I am in a position to invest into at the moment.
This is feedback which is always going to come up I feel and it is something I am already working on daily to improve.
Only saying what I see
It feels like a lot of people are frustrated that I only “cast what I see” and that I don’t give any insight or analysis into the games. I personally feel like I have a good balance of play by play and analysis in my commentary, but let’s talk about that. Today I was casting a Blink Stalker all-in from PartinG against Nerchio. When I was watching the VOD back and reading chat, somebody said something which when summarised meant “why is he just saying what is happening on the screen?” This happens a lot, but I personally don’t feel like during these big game deciding fights it is time to analyse the game and what could be done differently when it is just a straight up fight already happening.
It can be difficult to switch gears, maybe when PartinG pulls back I could try to talk more about how he could reposition or why he is going to continue building Stalkers or what Nerchio might try and use these few seconds for. Perhaps this is a downside to solo-casting, because when in a “hype” play by play fight, it can be hard to think ahead to what you can analyse, where as if you are co-casting you have the time to think about that for when the other caster throws to you.
A lot of my casting does describe what is happening: “he is building some Hellions, an Overlord is moving up to this location” etc. I tend to think of this as filler speech: it keeps the audience generally on track with a couple of things that yes, they can see, but is now also being slightly mentioned too. It fills gaps in analysis / true play-by-play. I agree, these phrases do not always add a lot to the game, but it’s often because I am just building up to say something more interesting and I’m trying to think about how or what I am going to say.
One really good suggestion has been to maybe reduce this time by talking a bit more about players play-styles or typical ways certain races approach maps and so on, which I actually really like. This will definitely take some time and practice to phase into my casting, but it’s something I would like to do more of. There will definitely still be some of this filler-speech, which I think is fine, but it will only get better if I can find ways to phase that out more. For now it is a useful crutch to allow me to not just have straight up silence in the cast.
As for my analysis/insight: I genuinely believe I am capable of analysing somewhat in-depth. I’m not going to give you the insight of a pro-player, nor even that of PiG or Rotti, but I definitely feel I understand the game well enough to deliver meaningful analysis and summaries which can help viewers to understand tech choices, moves which have been made or whatever else. I would appreciate if people who genuinely believe I can’t do this show me proof, because otherwise I can’t identify that I’m not doing it as I personally feel as though I am.
Be more hype/excited!
When you are sat in a studio in front of your PC casting online cups, it is very difficult to be hyped for every single game. Some feedback said I should be getting excited about the game and the builds and the action – which I do! Maybe I’m not very good at expressing my excitement and perhaps this is something I should work on more? Someone in a thread some months ago said that they think I do get excited, but it doesn’t come across in my voice well because of my accent which I try to suppress. It feels like this loops back to a previous topic about always trying to improve my voice work.
I would like to say I think it is unfair for people to compare me to TB, Maynarde or other big casters when it comes to being excited, because they are very rarely casting in the same situations I am, naturally at big offline events it’s much easier to express excitement and hype throughout entire games, series and the tournament. For larger online events with more on the line and great players, it is too (and again I do feel like I get excited when sick matches are coming up, but maybe it isn’t coming across?) In online qualifiers and $100 cups, that same excitement is not going to be there naturally.
Promoting ways for people to support / “begging for subscribers”
Yes, I promote the ways in which people can support the channel a lot. It is something I started to do a lot more on the suggestion of Rotti, who said he didn’t think I do it enough. I generally aim to mention how you can support me / the channel once per hour or so (either by quickly stating you can follow/sub, or benefits from subscribing etc.) – repeating yourself at this rate is fairly common because of the constant turnover of viewers.
The issue is I have limited times when I can do this. Sometimes I can do it after a game, or before a game, but often times I have to throw to a break in order to rest my voice, grab a drink and take a moment to mentally refresh. I actually streamed today for 5 hours with one single 5 minute break to try it out, and it simply was not feasible. These breaks also give me a good opportunity to find the next match, sort out vetoes and get lobbies set up.
When out of breaks if the game is ready to go I can’t take forever because I don’t want to slow down the players or the action for the viewers! So sometimes I do my sell-out speeches at the intros of games, mostly when the build orders are looking normal and slow-paced for the first couple of minutes. Some people have said there is so much else I could say in this time – which is definitely true, but mentioning the ways to support the stream is something which I have found to be very important to growing the channel, so it makes a lot more sense for me to say it then than 10 minutes into the game.
I am always trying to judge when the time is right to talk about stuff like this, and sometimes I do get it wrong, it is something I can always work on and look back to and say “should I have seen that this was a bad time?” I am definitely going to be more self-aware going forwards that I get my speeches out quickly and concisely, to take up as little time as possible and also to try and keep it as far from the main action of the game as possible.
RE: “Begging for subscribers”, some people think I am constantly begging for subscribers, the reality is I am just being truthful that I love doing what I do, but to do it on the scale that I do I need the support. I am going to re-evaluate some of my sub speeches to make sure this is being done in a clearer way to make it not sound like “begging”.
Thanking supporters ‘during games’
This is a topic which just blows me away when people criticize it. For some reason some people tend to think I spend 80% of my streams begging for subscribers / asking people to spam wardiHearts when a new subscriber comes in, but I can only imagine that these are thoughts from people who have seen it happen once or twice when it causes me to miss something important and then decide it must happen all the time.
Thanks subscribers, donators, hosts and so on is something which every streamer on Twitch does. Most streams have visual pop-ups and sound alerts for when these things are happening as well. Because my stream focuses on casting I have always thought it too much of a distraction to have pop-ups / sound alerts which could come up at any point of the game. Now when I thank subscribers or so myself, I can choose when to do it and I will generally try and squeeze it in when not a lot is going on.
I will frequently say a quick thank you and mention I will come back to a sub or donation after the game. With the Twitch culture we have, some people do expect a response to the support, even if it is a simple shout out. It’s something every Twitch streamer does and I really do feel I rarely come out during a big moment of the game and say “can we all just stop and throw some wardiHearts in the chat because of THIS!”.
Yes, sometimes I misjudge when to say it, sometimes when you watch streamers playing games they will be thanking a sub and suddenly be like OH CRAP. The biggest reason I can come up with is that a lot of people who are bothered by this are tuning in for the game/players and not the stream. Of course they will find it non-valuable and maybe ‘interrupts’ the game, but without the support a lot of the games I cast either would not be cast in English or just straight up would not be cast at all.
Showing emotion on stream
Not going to write a lot on this, sometimes when I’m upset/mad I’m bad at hiding it on stream. I should be more careful with what I say and acting stupidly. I would say this is a rare occurrence though.
Looking for “sympathy subs”
Some people have stated they think this entire thing was a publicity stunt to gather more support/subs. Simple response from my end is that I often talk about being full time in StarCraft, I write blogs about it, I talk and tweet about it as I genuinely believe it is something which a lot of people who follow me are interested in. This was no different, the tweet just had a more negative tone to it than usual and as it got posted on r/starcraft it reached more than just to my followers, which was never the intention. I deleted the Tweet as soon as I realized it was on Reddit and people were reading it that way.
Why cast if you don’t enjoy it?
I do enjoy it, I love it. I could make more money in another job if I put my degree to use, but I don’t because I love casting StarCraft. I do this because this I my passion & my dream and my disappointment to lack of support is not because I’m hoping to make a quick buck, it’s because I’m sad about the possibility of not being able to continue with my dream.
I hope I’ve covered all of the feedback given in the thread, even some of it which I personally feel was given in an unnecessarily vicious way. I’ve read all of the comments multiple times over, but if you have further criticism I would be happy to hear it and respond to it (but please try and provide it constructively so I don’t break down again ;d, thanks!)
I want to take the chance to say thank you to all the people that sent me supportive messages over the last couple of days. Some people really took their time to write long meaningful messages and I honestly read them all, but I will be reading them all again in a day or two when my brain will process it better and make use of the valuable advice shared. I didn’t reply to anybody for the last two days or so, so please don’t think I just ignored you <3