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Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #12 - Twitch Extension

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Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #12 - Twitch Extension

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 14 December 2021, 19:00:00

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

Last year, Larian published a community update detailing their plans to implement Twitch integration in Baldur's Gate 3. It was obvious to me that this sort of thing would eventually become a standard feature in premium RPGs, but I don't think anybody expected Expeditions: Rome would be the game to take it to the next level. In their twelfth dev diary, THQ Nordic reveal that they've commissioned the development of an expansive Twitch extension for Rome, which they describe as the most ambitious to ever exist for any game. In addition to selecting dialogue options, the extension actually lets viewers directly influence combat in a variety of ways. Witness the future of your genre, Codex:

We’ve spent time with streamers, talking with them about the challenges they have with strategy games. While fun to play, they can be tricky to stream. They are, by nature, more complex, cerebral, and slower than action-oriented titles. By using extensions in daring and new ways, we can both drive more active opportunities for streamers to entertain their audiences as well as reduce the learning curve when audiences tune-in for the first time.

For those who don’t know, a Twitch extension is a piece of interactive software built right into Twitch’s video player. Viewers can interact with the Twitch extension like an app on screen. In the case of the Expeditions: Rome extension, it will provide information about the current state of the game while also providing Twitch viewers with unprecedented options to directly affect the state of the game they are watching.

From in-game controls and notifications crafted to streamline how streamers interact with their audiences to a laundry list of audience interactions, Rome’s extension leverages years of focus testing, experimentation, and research to create an experience laser focused at transforming how Streamers play strategy games forever.

Audiences can directly influence nearly every aspect of gameplay. During Rome’s turn-based combat, audiences can direct AI targets, heal or knock-down both enemy and streamer combatants, re-name units with their TwitchID, set fire to the battlefield, and much much more. Streamers can ask for help or beg for mercy as the audience directly influences how challenging or easy each combat encounter can be at every step of the process.

Streamers can also use a variety of interaction options in the RPG dialog system to start a vote in-game on a dialog choice, allow the audience to control a specific dialog decision, or even turn full control over to their audience for all of their roleplaying decisions, all in real-time. The extension is designed with a number of in-game controls to help streamers modify and curate their interactive experiences with their audience so they can pace their streams around what type of moments they want to create.

Think the next mission will be tough and don’t want the audience to mess with the integrity of the encounter? Go into the in-game options and disable combat behaviors for a time. Have a tough choice about whether you should sentence a potential traitor to death or spare him for later use? Trigger a vote right in the dialog box to see what the audience thinks before moving forward. Audiences can browse through the streamer’s quest log, inspect their unit’s builds and stats, view the combat log, send care packages… you get the idea.

One challenge we had to overcome was how to streamline the way viewers get to leverage the extension. Some of the functionality is by vote, and are free interactions, but some actions are designed to be based on donations to your favorite streamer. With how the Twitch Bit donation process works, it was difficult to tie bit donations directly to actions, as someone could go to heal a combatant, for example, but then never complete the Twitch Bit process and lock out that option for all other viewers indefinitely.

To solve this, we introduced a currency called Denarii in the extension. The relationship between Bits and Denarii is 1:1, so each Bit is worth 1 Denarii; we’re not trying to make anything shady here, just streamline the feature usage so that everyone can have the most fun. Viewers can donate some Bits to their favorite streamer for a pocket full of Denarii in the extension, then use that Denarii to play with some of the crazier features within the extension. This gives viewers a fun way to support their favorite streamers and directly interact with them in the game at the same time! We also give complete control to the streamer to set whatever Denarii values they want for any action, so they can customize the experience however they want to fit their audience size.
Some people have worried that THQ Nordic have done a poor job promoting Rome ahead of its release next month. Perhaps this feature is the ace up their sleeve. Or maybe nobody will care and the game will flop. Still, it's likely to be a valuable proof-of-concept for future titles. They plan to announce a beta launch date for the extension during their devstream tomorrow, along with some other "exciting announcements". We shall see.

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