Showing posts with label twitch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label twitch. Show all posts

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Living in interesting times

Hello all. It's 2020. The world feels... different. Hopefully you're all doing OK!

A recap of what I've been up to --

In these days of social distancing, remote classes, and quarantines, I taught my class about streaming on Twitch... by streaming the class on Twitch. Some writeups:

I'm also getting into Quake 1 mapping. The modern tools are great, the video tutorials are on point, and the community is lovely. Come join us. I recommend Andrew Yoder's comprehensive guide for getting started.

Until next time...
-- R

Monday, September 23, 2019

The streaming life

This year I'm investing a lot more of my time and energy into streaming. For better or worse.

First, I'm continuing my Level With Me project, where I play through games and offer level design commentary by flying around, staring at walls, and nitpicking lighting. To ease myself in from my summer hiatus, I am playing something "easy" that I know pretty well -- I'm streaming fan-unfavorite Half-Life 2: Episode One, broadcasting every Wednesday 2-3pm EST at

Second, I'm leading a new streaming initiative at NYU Game Center: our new weekly streaming show Game Center Live premiered on September 19th! As an academic department studying game design, it feels foolish to ignore streaming as the dominant discourse in games culture, so that's why we're running this experiment as a weird cross between a high school yearbook class and college radio for the 21st century. We'll cover school announcements and showcase student work, but we'll also discuss the week's game industry news and host special guests. We plan to broadcast every Thursday 1-3pm EST at

So although I'm blogging much less than before, you can still catch the same ol' Robert with the same great taste. I'll just be talking at you through a screen.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Level With Me, BioShock 1 (2007) complete

Last week I finished playing through all of BioShock 1 for my weekly level design let's play series Level With Me. My playthrough wasn't without its problems -- I was playing lazily and haphazardly, which means I relied on the same combat tactics all the time, and I also actively avoided exploring audio diaries / optional areas / player upgrade systems for the sake of brevity. Playing on easy mode also meant the boss encounters lost their pacing, and side areas remained unexplored instead of desperately scavenged for supplies.

Most people fondly remember BioShock for its narrative and setting, but I was consistently surprised with how much ol' fashioned game design went into it. Lots of classic hub-and-spoke level design, and several chains of fetch quests about looking for parts and materials -- remnants of an abandoned inventory / crafting system according to former BioShock dev JP LeBreton, who occasionally graced the broadcast with his presence and offered interesting trivia or context. I also played through the famous Fort Frolic chapter by BioShock 2 lead Jordan Thomas and felt strangely disappointed -- its scripted sequences and theatrical flourishes were interesting, and it made novel use of BioShock's "camera" mechanic, but the critical path overall felt a bit weightless. Again, I couldn't really play leisurely and explore the other 50% of Fort Frolic that was purely optional, so maybe also take my reactions with a grain of salt.

Friday, December 22, 2017

LEVEL WITH ME will return in January 2018

Hey viewers -- sorry if you're waiting for the next installment of Level With Me. You're going to have to wait for a while, since I'm on holiday / traveling, and lugging around my streaming setup is going to be impractical. But we'll be returning in January 2018 on a new day and time, so watch out for that.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out the entire Level With Me archive on YouTube if you still need your regular dose of lighting complaints and texturing nitpicks.

Be good, and see you next year!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Level With Me, Half-Life 2, complete!

I've just finished playing through all of Half-Life 2 on my level design streaming show, Level With Me. Much like with my playthrough of Half-Life 1, I've played through this sequel several times already, and I thought I knew it pretty well -- but there were still sequences where I was surprised, impressed, or disappointed.

There were several main themes throughout this playthrough:

1. The current version of Half-Life 2, the only one now available on Steam, has been poorly updated and maintained. When Valve added HDR lighting to Source Engine 1, someone dutifully went through Half-Life 2 and updated all the maps -- but that process only involved recompiling the maps with HDR lighting. That broke several things: there are no LDR lightmaps (it's impossible to play Half-Life 2 without HDR now), and the unchanged settings are poorly calibrated for HDR, often being too bright / too dark / with lots of halo-y hotspots everywhere. If you want to play a better version of Half-Life 2, I recommend the Half-Life 2 Update mod, which fixes a lot of these issues.

2. Another frequent theme has been how Half-Life 2 keeps mixing itself up; one chapter is a horror survival segment, and then 2 minutes later the next chapter is a road trip driving section. This is pretty unusual in 2017, where AAA action games usually feel more consistent, systemic, and homogeneous. (Of the big franchises, maybe only Call of Duty maintains this roller coaster setpiece structure.) You could argue that Half-Life 2 sort of tries to do 10 different things, and doesn't really excel at any of them. Or on the flip-side, maybe the Valve of 2000-2004 was really impatient and bursting with ideas, and in the end, executes all of these ideas decently enough.

3. Rugs!!!

Check out the full Level With me archived playlist for Half-Life 2 on YouTube, or watch future broadcasts live on Twitch.

Monday, January 16, 2017

rescheduled for Spring 2017: "Level With Me" Twitch level design show now on Tuesdays at 6 PM EST

Just a quick note that my weekly level design show on Twitch, called Level With Me, is now on Tuesdays at 6 PM EST (GMT-5) for the new season. (That's... tomorrow!)

Keep in mind that it's a different kind of video game livestream show -- I talk a lot about the level design and environment art, and freely use cheat codes during difficult segments. I care more about analyzing the game rather than experiencing it "purely" or whatever. It's more like a guided improvised tour than anything.

Feel free to tune-in and hangout as I stumble / cheat my way through Half-Life 1! See you then.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Why I am one of the most banned game developers from Twitch, and 3 steps they can take to fix their broken policy

EDIT, 14 July 2016: this original post has been cross-posted (with a few additional excerpts, for context) to Polygon.

A few days ago, Twitch banned my newest release Radiator 2 from all broadcast by anyone throughout their entire site. This is the third release of mine that they've banned. I am now the 3rd most banned game developer from Twitch (or perhaps the 2nd most banned, if you count each part of Radiator 2 separately).

I'm no stranger to Twitch game bans, but this is new even for me: the games bundled in Radiator 2 are actually kinda old! For the past year and a half of press coverage, interviews, game festivals, art exhibitions, and viral videos, these games were OK to broadcast on Twitch. I had thought I found a safe ground of "acceptable sexuality" (an extremely dangerous concept in of itself) but with this move, they've now banned basically everything I've made. Now, nowhere is safe for me as a creator.

What's too gay for them, what's too sexual for them? Why did they change their mind when I re-mastered my games and put them on Steam?

I have no idea, and that's the biggest problem: Twitch never says anything. No e-mail, no notification, no rationale, no reason, no pity tweet. Am I just supposed to keep refreshing the ban list page to see if they banned me, for every single game I make, forever?

This is humiliating and dehumanizing treatment, and I wish Twitch would stop it.