A comment on commentary

Hi folks,

Some of you might notice that this isn’t the Perdita picture post you were promised. Well get over it. That one will come later… Maybe… If I remember.

This post is going to be about commentary, and specifically a conversation which cropped up on twitter earlier today about the technicalities of “streaming” Malifaux. This was largely prompted by watching some hearthstone coverage from big events (specifically the IEM Shenzen tournament in this case) and noting how good it is.

Of course there are different technicalities in streaming a tabletop game compared with computer based games. For one you need to set up some form of video link etc. But let’s ignore that for the time being. Let’s talk theoretical.

The benefit of this kind of streaming is that you can actually see the action, rather than vaguely hearing about the highlights via a blog or whatever. I find there are a few benefits to this kind of approach. It’s much more engaging than the written word, it’s easier to see what’s going on, you can see the setup to the big plays you usually hear about on the blogs. The major thing I like about these though, is the commentators.

Let’s take this semi final between Amaz and RDU as an example.

So first, you’ll notice that the commentators are passionate about the game. They speak really enthusiastically about everything that’s going on, and can fill you in on the background of the match (ie a bit of history of the two players etc). They’re very energetic and clearly very interested in what they’re talking about.

The next thing you’ll notice is that the commentators are very knowledgeable about the game. Indeed 2 of the commentators are extremely good players (Masson and Gnimsh) who were previously playing in the tournament, and tend to be high up in tournaments. The third commentator, Frodan, (taking the roll of “host” as it were) also knows plenty about the game and is a good casual player, though not a tournament player. This gives a good range of views, all well informed, but having the casual player thinking the way your average person might think, and then the two experts who can give a bit more detail. What I particularly like about this is that you get some insight into what is going on in the player’s heads in different situations, and you also get a good idea of the possible plays and their strengths and weaknesses. This is something you simply don’t get if you’re just watching the game, or reading about it on a blog. As a “casual try hard”, I find this kind of information really handy, both from a point of view of understanding what’s going on, and from a point of view of wanting to improve my own playing ability.

The final reason I like this kind of commentary is it really ramps up the excitement of the games. For instance if you skip on to 37:30 (ish) on the above video, we’re in the final stages of a game which could go either way, and you can hear that the commentators are struggling to stay sat down as the hysteria builds and the game swings one way then the other, bringing into focus how exciting the plays are in the context of the tournament. This again really helps to keep you engaged in the action.

So why is this relevant to Malifaux?

Well, as the Malifaux scene continues to go from strength to strength, I think having coverage of some of the high level events (for instance adepticon, the UK masters etc) would really help to ramp up excitement for them, and certainly I for one (as an example of your average Malifaux playing person) would really enjoy watching some good games, and understanding what’s actually going on in them.

Oh sure, there would be issues. As Oldmanmyke rightly pointed out, Malifaux games can be 2 hours long, which is a long time to follow a single game (especially if it’s an uneventful one). There would be issues with commentators following the specifics of what’s being done (such as “oh, Rasputina is doing something to that terror tot which involves flipping some cards”), and commentators would have to be entertaining individuals. But Malifauxer’s are a resourceful bunch, I’m sure solutions could be found.

Anyway, that’s just a random brain splurge of thoughts about something I thought would be interesting to some folks. Will it ever happen? Probably not. Would it be awesome if it did? It sure would. Am I the person to give it a go? No.

Oh, key point as it came up in the early twitter chat: the aim of this wouldn’t be to tell new folks to the game what’s going on in the game. It would be assuming people already know the terminology etc. For instance in the above example they kick off talking about ” BGH”…. And various other hearthstone terminology which a total beginner simply wouldn’t follow. There are other resources for beginners intros etc.

Until next time



2 responses to “A comment on commentary

  1. This could be really interesting if done well, but I fear that the amount of effort needed compared to the interested audience means that it will be hard to get off the ground. Still, if it works for other wargames, perhaps it could be an opportunity for Malifaux too.

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