Q&A with Fatshark Games and Warwitch
With tons of enemies attacking you at all times, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 is a hectic game. It’s hard for Twitch broadcasters to read their Chat or interact directly with their viewers. That’s why the game developer Fatshark decided to include an innovative Twitch integration that allows viewers to change the outcome of the game for the broadcaster. Every 30, 60, or 90 seconds Chat can vote on what happens in the game. The integration makes it easier for the broadcaster to play and comment on the screen.
We caught up with Fatshark and Warwitch, a Twitch creator that often streams Vermintide 2, to get the behind-the-scenes lowdown on why the integration is so cool and the technology behind it.
Q&A with Gunnar Johannson, PR Manager at Fatshark
Q: Can you tell me more about Fatshark and Vermintide 2?
Fatshark has been around for 12 years with the first title Lead and Gold debuting in 2010. It’s a tightly knit team of over 90 experienced and skilled employees, who do regular updates for Vermintide 2 and are always on the look-out for new and exciting projects.
Vermintide 2 is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Vermintide. It’s a fierce first-person, co-op slaughter-fest, featuring visceral and ground-breaking melee action set in the apocalyptic End Times of the war-ravaged Warhammer Fantasy Battles world. The game has sold over two million units and has about 397 million minutes watched on Twitch. It was also voted the co-op game of the year by PC Gamer — and is on the cover this month for the second time. Kotaku called it the “The Best Four-Player Co-op Since Left 4 Dead.”
Today also happens to be the first anniversary of the game. You can play for free on Steam until tomorrow!
Q: Why are you excited about this Twitch integration?
A: The integration is a really great way to get the viewers engaged in the stream as well as in the game. It lets a massive amount of people play together, even though only four are playing the actual game. The audience becomes the game directors, and for the players, it’s a bit like improv theatre. The viewers get their voice out there via the voting, and suddenly the players get a Chaos Warrior to fend off.
Q: Why did you, as a company, decide to invest in this integration instead of something else?
A: We have been talking with Twitch about possibilities since they first told us about the integration, and this was a long time before the game was even announced. We had it on our list of things we wanted to include at release or shortly after. About a month before release we had a meeting where we decided between what would be in the game on day one, and what would come within a few weeks after release. With the huge — H-U-G-E — success of the beta with streamers, it was an easy decision to include the integration at launch, because it would give the streamers more options to interact with their viewers, but also show that we appreciate what they do.
It’s also fair to say that our Twitch integration was a pivotal part of the success we had on Twitch when we released the game, and Twitch is an integral part of reaching out to gamers.
Q: What are you planning to do next?
A: The integration is played daily, and we get positive feedback from so many streamers when we visit any event, etc. We are looking into what we can add, and what would be appreciated by both streamers and viewers.
Q&A with Victor Magnuson, Game Designer and Producer at Fatshark
Q: Can you briefly describe your development process? Including how you came up with the idea, how long it took, what you did to test or troubleshoot, etc.
A: During the development of Warhammer: The End Times — Vermintide we realised that the system we use to populate the world (the Ai Director) would be pretty well suited for a integration of this type. The director already took into account how the players were doing and acted accordingly. For instance, if the players took a beating, it would lay off them for a while and if a player left the group, it would send an Assassin to kill that player. We realised that we could hand some of this power over to the streaming audience and let them be a part of the streaming experience in a very direct way. So when we started development of the sequel, a strong Twitch integration felt like an obvious choice. It was also during this time that streaming as a part of the general gaming community really took off.
Q: Describe the technology behind this integration?
A: It is quite simple actually. We ask the streamer to connect with their Twitch account name in the the game, we then send a request to “https://api.twitch.tv/kraken/users?login=” .. <twitch_user_name> to collect their data. If we get a positive response we check their user_id with a https request to “https://api.twitch.tv/kraken/streams/” .. <user_id> to see if they have an active stream going. We then use the channel name for the stream to connect to “irc.chat.twitch.tv” and join their channel. This allows us to constantly parse their Chat and use that to look for answers to the queries that we present on screen. We also make sure that the same user cannot vote multiple times.
Q: What learnings or best practices would you share about developing integrations with Twitch?
A: Keep it as simple as possible but make sure that whatever the audience is doing in the game is very noticeable; you want the viewers to feel like they are impacting what is going on in the game and easily recognise that what is happening is due to their involvement. Another thing is that the audience will most likely either try to always help the streamer or always make the life difficult for the streamer, so when you have multiple options for the viewers to choose from, try to make them balanced, otherwise the results tend to become very similar. For example, if the options are opposites (a good and a bad choice) dependent on the relationship between the streamer and their Chat, the result will always be the bad or the good choice.
Q&A with Warwitch, Twitch Creator
Q: Can you tell us about yourself and your Twitch Channel?
A: My name is Warwitch from WarwitchTV and I’ve been a Twitch Partner for nearly five amazing years. I play a variety of exciting games, Vermintide 2 being one of my favorites, and also my first experience with Twitch integration.
Q: Please describe (briefly) your experience with Twitch integration.
A: I had actually never heard about integration until the release of Vermintide 2. I was naturally excited and interested, so I tried the feature out as soon as I was able. I immediately loved the fact that my viewers were able to shape events in the game directly. It’s fun to watch as they laugh and chuckle when their votes have a lasting impact on what happens.
Q: What benefits does the integration give you as a streamer? How does it enhance the viewer experience?
A: When my viewers are integrated into the game, I find it improves every element of my stream. I always try to make my viewers feel that they are a real part of the show (not just spectators), and integration really helps to make that happen. One of the coolest things I’ve seen about Twitch integration is how it empowers lurkers who may not otherwise have much to say to get involved in the stream. That’s very important to me. I try to interact with as many of my viewers as I can, and with Twitch integration that becomes even easier.
Q: How did you find out about the integration?
A: Vermintide 2 was the first time I had actually ever heard of integration in streams. When the devs announced that viewers would be able to have a hand in the events of a game I was playing I was thrilled. It’s been one of my favorite features to use during my live streams since.
Q: Any ideas for how it could be improved?
A: More options to vote on is always a good idea. More ways the viewer can impact and change the flow of the game. People also love to see their own names “up in lights,” so to speak. I’ve seen some integrated games that even copy the names of viewers who voted and place them in game as a boss or enemy to face. That’s a very fun experience for a viewer!
Q: Would you encourage other streamers to use Twitch integrations or Extensions? If so, why?
A: Absolutely! It’s a super fun way to get to know your community better and let them either help (or destroy) you. Either way, it’s a win. Twitch integration is an incredible way to bond with your community and just a whole lot of fun!
For more information on Vermintide 2 or Fatshark, visit https://www.fatshark.se/.
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