Friday, October 1, 2021

Avoid Streaming Dejection

What’s the worst thing that’s happened to you on your streams so far? The closest you’ve been to throwing up your hands and stepping away from your channel? Whether it’s a software glitch, a hardware malfunction, a troublesome chatter, a forgotten setup step, or anything in between, we’ve all had those singular moments in which our whole streaming lives flash before our eyes. At these times, the idea of getting back out there for the next broadcast feels like too much. One small event has the ability to short-circuit our entire creative drive. This is a moment of what I call ‘streaming dejection.’ 

I’ve spoken in previous entries about several such moments I’ve had on my own channel, from blue screens of death and internet outages to being forced to ban longtime chatters who just couldn’t follow the rules. These moments have all been difficult, and they’ve made me reflect on my streaming career, but they weren’t the worst I’ve encountered. This time, I’ll speak about the event that, though somewhat trivial looking back, threatened to damage my will to stream more than anything else. And more importantly, I’ll detail the strategy I employed to avoid streaming dejection. 


A year or two ago, I was playing The Hobbit video game on stream. This was a delightful PlayStation 2 & Gamecube platformer, with some surprisingly well-executed Tolkien lore and fun adaptational concepts. Having gone through many episodes, taking my time and exploring every nook and cranny, I suddenly came up against a message you don’t want to see while saving your game: “Memory Card error! Data may be corrupt.” This was quite troubling to see, and it became more troubling when I realized that it couldn’t be fixed. Then the thoughts came flooding through my head. What was I supposed to do now? The past sixteen hours of gameplay were lost. Would I play through everything again, subjecting my viewers to another identical playthrough until I reached the point where I left off? Would I try to speed through everything, missing all the collectibles I’d previously gotten and ruin my new character’s progression? Would I play the full sixteen hours again off-stream just to spare the repetition of doing it live? The thoughts continued swirling, and the more I considered these three evils, the less I liked any of them. Strangely, I began thinking it would be better not to stream for a while- the realization that I had wasted all that time was enough to sour my taste for live broadcasting. I had come up against a clear moment of streaming dejection. 

It's best not to react like Smaug when issues occur.

Luckily, I was able to recognize these negative thoughts for what they were, and I knew I had to do something soon. I utilized the strategy that I outlined in previous entries, by simply picking a choice and sticking to it. All three options seemed like nails on a chalkboard to my creative drive, so I just dove in. Before I could think any further about how annoying it would be to replay all the stuff I had already done, I went live again. I started from the beginning (making sure to keep multiple save slots this time) and played through The Hobbit game once more. I decided that I wouldn’t rush things, and would be just as meticulous as I had been the first time around. In collect-a-thon games of that sort, you’re only hurting yourself if you skip all the secret items, after all. And it was interesting- once I got over my initial gloom, I found that I was still having a lot of fun. Even though I was playing through the same levels and doing the same things, I was able to experience them in different ways, and dive even further into the storyline. Plus, now that I knew where everything was, I was able to traverse faster while finding even more secrets than I found before. All things considered, I enjoyed the game even more the second time around. It certainly didn’t factor into my plans to encounter this major detour, but going back through the old content was nowhere near as bad as my mind made it out to be when the issue first occurred. 


Just a week or two ago, this same issue happened to me again. While playing the Xbox 360 version of Assassin’s Creed II through my Xbox One, I found out the hard way that the backwards compatible version of the game has a glitch that deletes your saves when the game shuts down. It's a pretty bad glitch to have, and I suppose this is a cautionary tale not to play that version of Assassin's Creed II. But that time, I lost only about five hours of gameplay. Not too bad, and certainly nothing to complain about when compared with the larger chunk lost from The Hobbit. This time, I didn’t allow myself to think at all. I switched to the PC version and immediately replayed those opening five hours on stream. Since I already had experience with this problem, and the stubborn determination required to combat it, I was able to go back in without even hesitating. Before I knew it, I was back at my old place and was able to continue with the game. 

My console assassinated my save file.

Because I play games from so many different eras on my channel, I’m used to contending with all sorts of weird quirks when saving, setting up visuals, or even just getting them to run in the first place. Usually I’m able to catch whatever problems present themselves, but a few catastrophic errors are bound to slip through the cracks every once in a while. I try to chalk them up as occupational hazards. The important thing is to take these issues in stride. Despite panicking internally when the issue happened during my playthrough of The Hobbit, I was pretty proud of how calm I stayed on the outside. The corrupted save presented itself during my stream after all, so my reaction was being broadcast to everyone watching. This is another example where the techniques laid out in the entry Don’t Panic: A Guide to Facing Stream Problems have really helped me. If I had allowed myself to get overly upset about the loss of data, it would only have compounded the feeling of dejection. 


What I’ve laid out here have been very specific anecdotes from my own streams, in which I came up against potential feelings of streaming dejection. Though they stemmed from the loss of save data for me, these feelings may come from a totally different place in your own journey. Whether you feel bad after missing scheduled shows, you have trouble with a toxic viewer, your streaming PC crashes, or anything else, just know that there’s a way to come out on top. As I’ve said in various entries before, whenever you feel like you shouldn’t keep streaming, it’s usually best to just go live anyway. It may sound too simple to actually work, but you won’t know until you try. Time and again, I've found that staying in motion is the best way to avoid streaming dejection. 

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