i46 was a pretty big deal for everyone who either attended or watched the streams from the UK’s largest LAN party, hosted by Multiplay in Telford. That statement is true for a great many people (500+ listed Team Fortress 2 players under one roof including two visiting teams from NA) but especially so for Comedian and his merry band of shoutcasters representing VanillaTV. We take this chance to recap some of the things that went absolutely according to plan, including the 1milliion viewers on their twitch.tv live stream, as well as the things that didn’t like the day1 audio issues.
i46 may have contributed to the requirement for a slipstreamed method of editing, encoding and uploading video on demands (VODs) for VanillaTV. Comedian takes us through the current solution they have in place. It appears that Skyride has invested a great deal of time creating software to do the task of many men hours. Not to let his new found skills go to waste he’s now turning his attentions to Open Broadcast Software (OBS). This open source solution for live streaming stands as a new, cleaner and faster streaming solution with a small footprint allowing the casts play at a much higher quality level. Needless to say VanillaTV are looking to it rather than the paid-for alternative, XSplit, as the future of eSports casting. Skyride himself is working on plug-ins and has produced a rather nifty how-to for other casters.
Sadly it’s not all sweetness and light in the land of eSports casting. VanillaTV’s North American counterpart eXtelevision has undergone some dramatic upheavals this week. With some of the 6v6 casters looking to move out from the shadow of the main man Jeff eXtine. Comedian explains the position he was placed in and why he’s chosen to offer VanillaTV as a new home for these leavers. In doing so the American market opens up to him but at what cost to his friendship?
Lastly Comedian takes us through their hopes and plans for European conquest. Both Dreamhack in Sweden and Assembly in Finland are possibilities for 6v6 TF2 events though it’s impossible to ignore the problems that lay ahead in realising those dreams.
VanillaTV has many stars. The Team Fortress 2 shoutcasting site seems to collect tallent in much the same way Valve Software do. Not only has CUBE been able to find his own place but he’s rapidly reshaping their YouTube to page.
CUBE was with the original TFTV crew but initially decided not to come over to VanillaTF2 when VanillaTV was being formed. Since then he’s joined (arguably) the strongest Highlander team in Europe, SNSD. The team have won everything they’ve entered but in his opinion the competition is catching up.
Under his guidance their YouTube channel has changed from a repository of previous live shows into being a collection of brand new crafted content specifically for drawing in new subscribers; informing and teaching the public the finer points of competitive game-play.
The three new video sets are:
Insights – digging into an individual protagonist’s experience of a TF2 match
Analysis – an expert breaks down retrospectively some of the plays in a match
Frag movie review – frag movie makers critiquing the best frag movies the community has to offer
In the gap between Thanksgiving and Christmas every day is crammed full of everything happening all at the same time. VanillaTV have a habit of making every day feel like that. When WIP last talked to them they were finishing up i43 so we start this show from there.
Comedian opens himself up on reddit to an AMA (ask me anything) though it seems unnecessary; he’s so open and truly excited by everything he’s doing he could easily be living an AMA everyday. In fact when South Africa’s own TF2 community interviewed him they have to pair him off with Salamancer to get any exclusive content.
That’s the thing with streaming live content, it’s addictive. As Comedian puts it, you’ve got to enjoy the spotlight at least a little. Little wonder then that VanillaTV is looking to other forms of media than the live shoutcasting, namely podcasting. With no current competition in the European market this can only be a smart move for them. Another smart move was Byte patching tings up with eSports hero, ThePledge. Now those two are back on friendly terms vtv has an excellent new caster on their roster and everyone is happy.
One of the more interesting moves for vtv was away from their video streaming partners, TwitchTV. Comedian discusses the thoughts behind the jump to own3d.tv and the benfits it provides in combinations for an increased presence on YouTube.
I personally feel in some way responsible for Comedian meeting Ruskeydoo, the 3D artist behind so many TF2 items (including the KritzKast Lo-Fi Longwave). With that encounter a sketch on a napkin has turned into the living, breathing model of a unicorn strapped to spy’s head. On its mention Comedian almost breaks down with pleasure, I can see why. The hat is ultra dopey looking but caries the charm of random excitement of the whole VanillaTF2 team. While no promises have been made that it will make it into the game yet, it stands a reasonable chance even on its own merits.
Not content with hats, WIP has a second exclusive from this chat. VanillaTV are organizing their very own two-day TF2 cup. Sometime in the next couple of months we’ll see two tiers of players battling it out to win mousemats designed by Torden. I’ve not seen them yet but I have a suspicion unicorns may be involved
As the Multiplay iSeries LAN i43 draws to a close we catch up with Comedian to find out if it all went as smoothly as he expected. For Comedian and all the crew from VanillaTV.org this had been a harrowing few days. A continuous stream of casting on Friday and Saturday lead on to the dramatic final match on Sunday morning. The sound and computing rigs VanillaTV used were a hodge-podge of tried and tested mixed with borrowed and even gaffer-taped equipment. Possibly the most successful idea Comedian brought to this event was the Cheerfuls. The premise was to simply hand out card and marker pens then ask the crowd to draw a images to cheer their teams on. On the day this unexpected opportunity for crowd participation brought out the cheeky and creative streak in the audience and made the Team Fortress 2 final one of the most fun experiences of the weekend.