The Evolution of Speedrunning: Crowd Control
Speedrunning is nothing new to the Twitch community; in fact, it’s a formula that complements the Twitch platform perfectly. If you’re not familiar with speedrunning, it’s where skilled gamers smash through levels in a battle against the clock while viewers get to watch the best-of-the-best gamers flex their chops. It’s a win-win for all involved.
Recently, with the help of an Extension built by Warp World, speedrunning has evolved. Some of the most successful Extensions take the viewing experience from somewhat passive to a new level of dynamic by enabling viewers to join in on the action — and that’s exactly what the Crowd Control Extension does for speedrunning.
When streamers have the Crowd Control Extension enabled, viewers can literally help (or hinder!) the game by dropping in a range of in-game items. For example, while playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, viewers can gift armor, a heart, or Blue Potion refill to assist Link in a time of need.
“The way we see it, audience interactivity is the future of speedrunning and game streaming, so we’re making sure that Crowd Control enables streamers to interact with and connect with their audiences in never-been-done ways,” says Matt (Jaku) Jakubowski, CEO of Warp World.
This might feel risky — to trust that the viewers’ actions will enhance the game versus derail it, so to keep the flow of incoming items manageable and fun for the streamer, viewers exchange Twitch Bits for Crowd Control Coins in order to unlock the different in-game effects. Items which carry a stronger effect on the game require more Coins, which effectively limits over usage.
The Extension adds a “new dimension” to the interaction between the streamers and their audience as well as to the games themselves. When the streamer is using Crowd Control they are no longer just playing the game, but rather playing alongside their community.
The Crowd Control Extension is integrated with a handful of retro speedrunning favorites, including Super Mario World and Zelda: A Link to the Past, but the Warp World team is working hard to get more games and platforms supported, both retro and modern titles.
In fact, today Jaku and team are announcing support for Pokemon Red & Blue in conjunction with a 3-day charity event for Direct Relief, a non-profit organization with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies. The Pokethon stream will be the first to showcase the Pokemon integration and Warp World will donate their 20% developer share of Bits received to Direct Relief. The GA release for Crowd Control Pokemon support will come immediately after their run.
Origin of Warp World
In October 2015, Jaku, CEO of Warp World, was streaming Super Mario Maker, a Mario spin-off which allows players to create and play their own custom Super Mario courses, share them online as well as download and play courses designed by other players, and realized there was not an easy and/or practical way to accept viewer levels via Chat. All “solutions” required users to go to another website, which may or may not have verification that the level they submitted was actually valid.
In turn, Jaku decided to create his own solution, Warp World, a service for streamers to accept Super Mario Maker-level requests from viewers in their Chat. It was geared toward solving multiple problems, but the primary goal was to provide a solution that was easy for both the streamer and viewer alike. It was quickly adopted and embraced by the Super Mario Maker community. It became an essential tool for the Super Mario Maker streamer community and that community is where Jaku recruited many early Warp World staff members like GrandPooBear, xwater and Chudbreeder.
As Jaku’s streaming community grew so did Warp World, but Jaku quickly realized that Warp World needed to expand outside of Super Mario Maker. So the development company started building other tools and services for streamers. At its core, Warp World is a company of streamers and developers. They use their knowledge and insights to bring unique tools and experiences to the Twitch community that you won’t find anywhere else.
Crowd Control IRL
As Crowd Control neared release, Jaku and team decided they wanted to showcase their closed Beta at an event, since at its core, the Extension was made for the crowd. They partnered with recognized Twitch streamers from the Randomizer, Retro and Speedrunning communities to showcase Crowd Control to their communities and viewers. It had an awesome reception, and it kept people hyped for the Open Beta.
Next, they hosted a “Live! from TwitchCon: Crowd Control Showcase” campaign with streamers at Warp World’s TwitchCon booth. Streamers were invited to demo a game on stream with the Extension active and people live at TwitchCon could interact with the game from the booth as well as the viewers who were watching back home.
That same weekend Crowd Control was featured at Mario Master’s Colosseum, a three-day marathon that raised over $100K for Direct Relief.
The Crowd Control Race Feature is still in the works, but they’ve already teamed up with communities like speed gaming and Super Mario World to showcase the feature on crowdfunding events.
“We’ve seen a huge amount of positive responses from viewers and streamers alike. The amount of game ideas, effect ideas, and overall feedback we have been given by users have been tremendous,” Jaku says.
To add icing on the cake, streamers have seen a significant increase in Twitch Bits used on their channel when the Extension is active. Warp World reported that in October 2017, the month they launched, over a million Bits passed through the Crowd Control Extension. This is core to the ongoing growth and momentum the Warp World is riding.
The Warp World team is heads down focused on adding more games and new features to the Extension, having just shipped mobile compatibility which was a highly requested feature from launch. They are also actively in talks with certain members of game communities to help get more games supported as soon as possible. They have some big plans for some future Extensions on Twitch, because as Jaku says,
“We see them [Extensions] being a crucial part to the growth of the platform and our company in 2019. Our primary goal for this year is to work with new and interested developers to bring additional unique, Twitch game experiences and also see those games with a ‘Supports Crowd Control’ as a listed feature.”
Get inspired. Get the audience more involved. And start making your own Extensions today!