Cleveland Ohio, home of the Rock ‘n Roll hall of fame, rollercoaster park Cedar Point and of course home to our wonderful Xtremes member Wolfstar76. We catch up with Wolfstar while he’s eating some sort of sausage and probe him with our questions!
What did you last eat?
Leftover kielbosa. Terribly exciting, I know. This interview is off to a REALLY solid start. 🙂
Share a little about yourself
Anyone who’s read my channel description knows I’m the WORST at talking about myself – but I’ll try. Born and raised in Ohio, I’ve lived here my whole life (except for a six month stint where I lived in California when I was 22…). Currently located in the Cleveland area, and I actually kinda like it here. Cleveland can be the butt of a lot of jokes – and it even deserves a few of them (I mean, how many times can your river catch on fire before you deserve to be laughed at?). But on the whole, Cleveland is a great place to live, as there’s something going on in every season (and we actually HAVE four seasons, not everyone can say that), lots of art, and we’re up and coming on the foodie scene.
Throw in some of the regional attractions (like Cedar Point!) and while I sometimes daydream about escaping the snows in the winter – if I’m going to live in the midwest, I don’t know of any other community I’d want to be a part of.
I share my home with two cats and a dog (and a wife and children, but don’t show them this article – they’d hate to know I even thought of them while asked about pets.)
Fitting streaming around my life is EASILY the hardest part about streaming. If I didn’t have to support myself, I’d totally hang it all up and stream 6 hours a day 5 days a week, and fiddle with side projects related to streaming in my free time besides. Alas, as it happens, I’m lucky to stream three times a week for 3 hours on the regular. A full-time job (with a 45 minute commute), wife, kids, pets, and being the President for the Cleveland Guild of Extra-life, along with just day-to-day life stuff… I’m lucky every time I get to turn that camera on. (And even then I’m usually sacrificing sleep to do so – but it’s SO worth it to make others smile and laugh, and have them return the favor).
Have you ever bought something online and instantly regretted it?
Instantly? Not that comes to mind. Though I’ve been disappointed a time or two. Bought a sticker of my logo, and found it was about half the size I expected once (and then my kids used it before I could… scamps!)
I’m actually pretty careful about most of the things I shop for online – not being able to see/handle things before buying them means I try to make sure I know what I’m getting.
Can you remember the first game that you played?
The first CLEAR memory I have would be unboxing an Atari 2600 around 1982. Came with Pac-Man if I remember right, or maybe a Pac-Man\Space Invaders combo. I played with that system SO much. And this! This was back when you had to MANUALLY switch an RF switch to convert your television between signal sources for antenna/cable vs the Atari.
Those RF switched burned out after about a year of use, so I quickly learned how to hook them up by screwing them into place on the back of the TV. Ah, nostalgia.
You’re favorite game ever: What is it?
I’m way, WAY too finicky to have any one clear favorite game. In fact, I have a hard time picking my “favorite game of the year” and trying to keep a running log that way.
My favorite game series is probably the Zelda series (ZOMG, you guys, I splurged on a Nintendo Switch, and Breath of the Wild is SO GOOD! Difficult, but SO GOOD). Because I grew up on that series. I remember playing the original Legend of Zelda and talking with friends at school about how far we were in the game, and when someone made it to Ganondorf for the first time, and hearing about how he could turn invisible and walk around and thinking I’d NEVER be able to beat him.
That said, what I really, REALLY like best are weird/quirky/funny multiplayer games. My best video game memories growing up are of Mario Kart and (the ever divisive) Mario Party series of games. Games that were quick and silly and easily digestible – but that you could REALLY get into some trash-talk with your friends over. Trash talk that didn’t mean anything because the games were just a vehicle to have a shared experience for a couple hours – and if someone crossed the line, you were all on the couch together anyhow, so you just slug ’em in the shoulder (or knock the controller out of their hands at a critical moment so you can steal the lead…)
Beam, What brought you to Beam?
I started on Twitch around 2013. I’d just heard about Extra Life, and thought it was AMAZING that I could take video games, and instead of playing them alone (all my old-school RL friends are scattered to different time zones and schedules…), I could share what I was doing with OTHER PEOPLE who liked the same games I do! AMAZING!
Something about Extra Life and streaming just really struck home with me. The idea of sharing what I already love to do – and being able to help a charity while I do so? It’s all winning from where I sit.
And at first it was awesome. Then, around 2015, they changed something in the way they handle RTMP – and delay went from 2-3 seconds to 20+. I bought the messaging, however, and I was SURE they’d figure out how to get it back down to 2-3 seconds in a few months time. Then I discovered player.me – and again, I was amazed at the opportunity to find like-minded gamers. A community of them! And see people who stream stuff I like to play! GREAT!
Eventually, a new service appeared to link to on player.me. A little blue/purple/white ball. And it was called “Beam”. I fiddled with it and really liked the overall interface. I watched a couple streams and knew I’d be giving it a try myself that very night. I told my twitch fans (all 3-4 of the regulars), and we gave it a shot. And I was AMAZED at how much better a 3 second delay felt again. I could (almost) remember the jokes I’d just told when people were laughing/reacting at them.
A couple streams later Matt stopped in my channel, and we had a good conversation about Beam. I challenged them on “Is this three second delay REALLY sustainable if you grow? Twitch had to change protocols after all.” Even then he hinted at more. “Oh, we’re sure we can do it, we have plans.”
Of course, now we have FTL, and using RTMP feels like the dark ages again. Three seconds of lag? Who has time for that?
What was it about the Xtremes team that inspired you to come across?
As people may or may not know, I was also a part of Notorious Network. Notorious had a lot of the same ideas as Xtremes, but we somehow never quite managed to make all the ideas gel together. I really believed in the concept, so I stuck with Notorious for a while, but eventually realized it was time to throw in the towel. While debating if I should start my own team, interview around, or just go solo – I heard Lagby had put together another team. Many of my favorite streamers, and several of my friends were already there – and what I could see from the outside was pretty damn impressive. The things we said we were going to do before were getting done! The team was helping not just themselves, but anyone who needed some assistance, or advice, or just a good bit of pep.
I debated with myself for a couple days before applying, in truth. I’ve always threatened Lagby that I was going to ride his coat-tails to success, but I really don’t want to just follow anyone around like a lost puppy. So, I streamed a few more streams. I asked a few of my regulars in my community what they thought, and I decided to give it a go.
For me, it was Xtremes, or go solo. And I was really, REALLY happy to get an acceptance. There is just SO much positivity here, and so many opportunities to help others out, that I couldn’t be in a better place.
Have you ever had a bad experience while streaming?
Thankfully, I’ve only had one really blatent case of being trolled – but at the time, I didn’t even quite realize it.
It was a Saturday afternoon, I was still on Twitch, and I had a little time to kill by myself. I decided to stream some Garry’s Mod, and hopped on a random server or two for Prop Hunt and Murder.
I had maybe one or two people that I knew of in my stream, and was just doing my thing.
After a while on the server I was on, I noticed a couple people were on the server and. . . they seemed pretty clearly to be cheating. It was a suspicion at first, but eventually people were clipping through walls and getting insta-kills with no-miss shots.
There was also a voice or two with REALLY obnoxiously bad microphones voice-spamming something nearly illegible. Over and over and over.
I was getting to the end of my stream window, rolled my eyes at the rofl-trolls, and told my audience (after about 10 minutes or so of just dealing with it) that I was at the end of my time and going to call it quits for the afternoon.
It was about a minute after I signed off that, I finally figured out what the trolls were saying. It was something along the lines of “Hey fatty, say at the camera!”. OVER. and OVER. and OVER.
In retrospect? I was actually a little proud. I had my first trolling on Twitch! I was almost practically sorta SOMEBODY. What’s more – they took the time to find out what I was playing, and what server I was on, and came to join IN to troll! That’s effort! Plus, I didn’t feed the trolls (mostly because I didn’t know I was the target, but details). All in all, that was a great first trolling.
Since then, I can’t recall any major trolls in chat or elsewhere. Then again, that may be because I learned long, LONG ago to forget the trolls and haters. They WANT to live rent-free inside your head. So that’s the last thing you should give them. Just show ’em the door, and move on with your stream and your life.
If someone comes into your channel while you’re streaming, what makes them a great viewer?
BRING MOAR BACONS!
Well, at least… that’ll work when we perfect tele-bacon technologies. Slip me some fresh, salty meat from your monitor and into mine and. . . just. . . bliss. (Yeah, that’s right, fresh salty meat. Make your own innuendos, kids, that’s a freebie setup.)
What makes a great viewer is simple interaction. Talk to me. Tell me about your day. Laugh with me when I (invariably) fall off a ledge. Keep laughing with me when I do it for the 37th time in the last 5 minutes. Enjoy in life, enjoy in the other people in my channel. Have fun.
Streaming is hard when you’re talking to a blank wall. Chat and don’t be shy. I think most of us stream because we want to share (and because we like the attention). The best audience members joke back and forth with us, they keep things lighthearted when we’re facing some impossible challenge in a game. They let us know when we’ve hit that “fun point” of having a few drinks on a stream. They make it into our quote list.
Most of all, they do the same thing I tell people who ask what to do in streaming. They be themselves. The share in our ups and downs with us, as we have those ups and downs. They share their own victories, and their momentary defeats. They become our friends – for a few hours, or a few months and even years at a time.
That’s what makes streaming easier. Knowing that people are there to share your time.
We all get streaming slumps, and quiet days – how do you deal with it?
I’m in the middle of that VERY slump right now! Work and the recent passing of my father, along with some other personal stuff that I’m happy to share on my streams from time to time, but doesn’t need a pity party in a website article – I haven’t streamed in a WEEK (breaking that tonight, at the time of this interview). When I ~do~ stream, many of my regulars have had their own busy lives to go through of late. Some of them don’t show up at all. Some of them don’t show up until I’ve been going for an hour or so.
It’s hard to keep smiling and cracking jokes to an empty room. It’s hard when you want to share multiplayer games, and can’t find anyone to play with you. Harder still when you’re a late-night stream and all your streamer pals are already done for the day, so you can’t quickly poke them and ask someone to play a game with you. My stream should be CALLED “WolfStar’s Slump Stream” – permanently. 😉
What works for me in those moments, is remembering why I stream. First and foremost, in my own busy life – it’s my chance to slip away, and get some gaming in. Its escapism, but properly managed, it’s a healthy bit of it. Secondly, I stream so that I can share my moments with anyone who wants to come along. New viewers? Regulars? Nobody? Doesn’t matter. I’m playing a game I want to play, and I’m playing it for myself first. An audience makes it better, but I’m still fortunate enough to have a really nice gaming rig, and the time to play something that entertains me.
Eventually, my regulars turn up again. There’s a warmth that comes from seeing people come back to watch you that is hard to describe. For the longest time I didn’t even realize I had regulars. I just thought of them as people who were showing up because I assumed they were waiting on someone else cool to start streaming. I eventually realized “Hey, dumbdumb! They’re here for YOU.” and most of them, while they may be busy, or a week of missed streams may throw off everyone’s schedules – they come back. For YOU.
Knowing that those people are out there – whether you have two of them, or two hundred of them – is an incredible lift. I wouldn’t trade that realization for the world. THAT makes the slumps worthwhile.
What I would also recommend to others (even though I’m not very good at it myself) is to simply stay in touch with your community when you’re in a slump. Post on your discord (you DO have a Discord, right? You really REALLY should), tweet. Reach out to other streamers you’re friends with. Wrap yourself up in this community we have at Beam. There’s no other streaming community like it.
If none of that sounds like the right path for you – I cannot say this sincerely enough – reach out to me directly. Maybe I can give you some perspective. Maybe I can help build you up a bit. Maybe we can do something together sometime, ‘cuz I always need more gaming buddies. I would love to help people out as much as I can.
As a member of the Xtremes team, you are responsible for upholding our brand ethics and reputation, has this changed your attitude to the way you stream or affected you in any way?
Not really. I joined Xtremes because they already uphold a lot of personal philosophies I like to think are part and parcel of who I am.
It does, however, keep inspiring me to try and do more with my channel/stream/brand. I’ve started to use Firebot so that I have an easy-to-use soundboard and other fun interactive toys. I want to take a “photoshop class” this summer so I can learn to make better use of the graphics for my stream. I want to keep putting polish on my stream (but am too stubborn to ask for help…).
Seeing what other Xtremes members are up to keeps giving me new ideas to try myself. That’s pretty amazing.
How would you like the Xtremes team to grow?
I hadn’t actually given that a lot of thought before. I think I like the idea of some sort of partnership or sponsorship. What would be really neat, I think, would be to see Xtremes become “Beam Ambassadors” to game companies. Publishers and Developers are wise to the fact that streaming has become huge, but in most minds – streaming = Twitch.
They likely know there are other “small players” out there – but I wonder how many of them really know about Beam, FTL, Interactive Streams, and the tight-knit open community we have here? I’d love to see Xtremes be able to reach out to publishers and let them know about Beam and the fairly unique opportunities we have here. A chance to get your game seen by what I would think is a far more dedicated audience, even if you “get fewer eyeballs”.
Beam. More Quality, Less Kappa. (Matt and James – you can have that one for free).
Lastly —- free chat bit– talk about anything you want..
A free zone to just ramble on about whatever I want?
You really shouldn’t have, SB.
So, a nun, a rabbi, and a horse walk into a bar….
…wait… what’s with the giant hook!? No! My fifteen minutes of faaaammmmeee!
(What! Where’s the end of that joke? Ask wolfstar76 in his stream at https://beam.pro/wolfstar76)