July 2018 - Weekly Update #3

Hi all! Hope everyone’s doing good, this weeks update is a bit on the lighter side as I’m taking a short break from the channel for about 10 days. This passed week has been really really good for growth which has been hugely motivating. Since the last weekly update video I just released one video discussing the Ancestral Update for Total War: ROME II and a wider look at the design direction of the game. As usual Total War videos perform well on my channel, but combined with the previous video’s momentum the channel gained a lot of new subscribers and views this week.

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDFTI2bUSFQ

This has also coincided with the most consistent period of growth on the channel to date, for the first time the channel was positive for subs every single day in the last month, all green 😊 

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I streamed a lot this week and had great viewers throughout and new subscriptions too, we’re averaging around 85 subs on the channel, with high points of around 90+ with certain members gifting a lot of subs to others really helping the channel. We held our 3 days session of Stellaris, explored the Rome II update and Battled JackieFish in Rome 2: DEI (a series you can watch back on my youtube channel by scrolling to the bottom, and checking “past broadcasts” ) We also took a quick look at the beta launch of Post Scriptum, which was a lot of fun, but sadly I won’t get to make a video for it until I arrive back from my break.

 

So while I didn’t release many videos, I was working on several to bank them for when I leave. I managed to get three done; My most anticipated strategy games coming in 2018, this video showcases what stuff I plan on covering over the next 6 months on the channel. Next was a condensed version of our 12hr, 12 player stellaris game and the last video is an AMA with me. The latter two videos are both over 1hr long, so hopefully for those who will miss the streams, will have a lot of content to chew through. 

 

Unfortunately I feel it will probably hamper the momentum of the channel by going away right now, but this was booked around 8 months ago so it’s out of my hands in a way as it’s been organised with a group of friends. Either way, I’ll be back in early August before the Rome II DLC comes out, Post Scriptum Release and a bunch of other games I’ve got lined up, so big reviews are coming in August!

That’s pretty much it for this update, hope you enjoy the vids while I’m gone, I’ll still be online checking comments and chatting in discord when I can! 

-Darren

July 2018 - Weekly Update #2

Hi all, hope y'all are doing good and enjoying the summer heat ( or winter cold depending where you are! ) here's the weekly recap and update for the second week of July! 

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So in terms of videos, I've released three in the passed week. "What is... The Banner Saga" which is a sort of first/early impressions video of that game. (The game is really good!) 

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I also reached out and got sent Phoenix Point's current backer build. As I was late to the party with this, I wanted to make my content stand out more somehow, so I drew from the similarities to XCOM to ask "What's the difference between the two" by creating a video focusing on that, instead of a more generic "Phoenix Point Preview". This resulted in my video: "5 Phoenix Point Features NOT in XCOM" - These types of videos are a bit more "clickbaity" or at least sensational than I prefer to do, but I feel the content within stays true to my analytical style of commentary and reporting.

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Following that, I've been studying my analytics more, asking why certain videos do well and certain don't. It's a hard process to figure out, but I tried some experimentation with it in my latest video "7 Confirmed Features in Imperator: Rome - Dev Diary 1-7" and that seems to be doing well. I didn't want just a static screen while I talk about screenshots, from diaries, so I also spent a bit of extra time playing around in After Effects and learning some new things which allowed me to better bring to life the screenshots from the developer diaries by moving a camera around them in 3D space. I think it looks cool, and I've got it down pretty good now so I can make them quite quickly. It was a lot of fun figuring out and learning new techniques too, been a while since I've done that.

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So those were the videos for the week, I also streamed 37 hours in the last 10 days! Streams have had great numbers and I've got to play with JackieFish and LegendOfTW in different games and host my Stellaris MP Game which has been a blast (it's my favourite thing to stream by far). These streams can all be caught on my twitch channel, and some of the best ones make it to the past broadcast playlist on my YouTube too.

So looking to next week, this is a super super busy time for me, as I'm going away on the 23rd for about 10 days, so I'm preparing content in advance as best I can. Last chance to get in on my AMA now btw so if you have a question, shoot it over here: http://www.therepublicofplay.com/ama

I'm planning on covering some of the updates to Total War: ROME II and I've gotten some access to games I've been meaning to cover while also queuing them up for while I'm away.  

Lastly we also got a bunch of new emotes on our Twitch channel by SpartanVI - I'm loving them and love seeing them being used!

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Let me know if you've any feedback or thoughts about the content/direction of the channel! 

Darren

July 2018 - Weekly Update #1

Hi all,

Each week I’ll be posting an update here and to Patreon to recap what's going on in terms of content and The Republic!

First off we had our “Senate Meeting” on July 3rd in our Discord Server in #The-Senate-House. This covered the month of June and if you want you can go there and read over the topics we covered. Generally speaking; things are growing, but just very slowly.

We have a new and updated Stream Schedule for the month of July – This month there are barely any “new” big PC games to cover for review, so I’m using the time to catch-up on older games I’ve missed, such as “The Banner Saga”, “Battle Brothers” and I’ll be playing Europa Universalis 4 with LegendOfTotalWar and Divide Et Impera with JackieFish.

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Also, based on some feedback, I’ve created a “PAST BROADCAST” playlist on YouTube with my streams hosted there. These are all unlisted (meaning they won't show in the videos tab, or in your sub feed), but if you go to my channel, you can check them out and watch them on YouTube or even download them to watch on the go if you have YouTube Premium. Currently, the full “Divide Et Impera” streams are available there with JackieFish, a super fun Head To Head Campaign with me as Egypt and Jackie as Rome, and also my first playthrough of "The Banner Saga".

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Another thing we’re starting up this month is playing games together. On Sunday, and hopefully Sundays going forward for now, we’ll be playing Europa Universalis 4. This isn’t being streamed, it’s just a way for us to come together as a community and play games together and make friends. Joining our Steam Group is the best way to prepare for that, and our Discord. 

That’s pretty much it for this week, so far I’ve released a Battlefield V impressions video, and am working on covering some older interesting games like The Banner Saga this week and some games I picked up in the Steam Sale.

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Lastly, I’ll be away at the end of this month for about 10 days, so I’m doing an AMA video and taking questions at this link: http://www.therepublicofplay.com/ama - so if you have a question you want to ask, or think would make a good talking point, shoot one over there!

As always, feedback about the direction of the channel is always appreciated.

-Darren

Partnered on Twitch & Name Change!

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Just yesterday (June 1st) we got partnered on Twitch! I had been working towards this for the passed few months, and couldn't have done it without the support of the Senate and the Republic at large. 

Also couldn't have done it without the consistent help from a few streamers; LegendOfTW, Ninjahund, Nerdragefitness, ElichTV, MordredViking, AlexTheRambler, HaxoTheHunter and I'm sure more that I may be leaving out. 

This has brought with it some changes to the channel: 

  • The channel has now been renamed from "darrentotalwar" to "republicofplay
  • We can now stream in 1080p and you can choose your preferred quality.
  • We now have 10 available emotes to use, and earned the emote prefix "rop" for them.
  • We've unlocked loyalty badges and subscriber icons.
  • I get a bigger revenue share on Tier 2/Tier 3 subs and earn revenue from the ads that ran on the channel anyway.

That's pretty much it! Be sure to check http://www.therepublicofplay.com/schedule any time to see our monthly schedule.

-Darren

PATREON GOAL REACHED

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Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since I did a big update, and now seems like a good time. First off, I want to send my sincerest thanks to all who’ve supported ROP so far and especially for those on Patreon in the month of May. For the first time, we surpassed the $600 goal (and by a pretty significant amount).

This goal means the month of May is profitable right from Day 1. I haven’t mentioned it yet, but April was also profitable thanks to stream donations throughout the month, which means I’ve also hit my personal goal of having two profitable months in a row!

So I just want to say thank you. It’s not lost on me how generous of a community we have. The average patron pledges around $12 which is extremely high and a lot of them double up by subscribing on Twitch as well. When someone lowers their pledge or deletes it, they always regretfully reach out to me explaining their situation, which is incredibly humbling.

As we get more donations/pledges/subscriptions, I feel a great responsibility to make better content that’s deserving of such generosity. It actually weighs really heavily on me, as I judge my own content pretty harshly, often scrapping videos because I feel I can’t make them good enough.

Because of this I’ve been working on improving myself and my work routine; I’ve been eating better, reading more, started going to the gym and think this will lead to a clearer head and better content. It’s early days but I can already see results.

A priority now for me is working towards creating more content for both YouTube and Twitch going forward. I have a few ideas of how to do this in the short term, and some big plans for doing this in the long term. The main one in the long term is getting my own room/office space, as I currently operate out of my living room which can be invasive for the people I live with.

So that’s my next personal goal, saving and working towards getting my own space. Again, thank you to everyone who has donated so generously. I don’t expect Patreon to be that high every month (I’m just cynical in that way!) but it’s extremely motivating to see it grow every month and have such dedicated support.

And as I’ve mentioned before, to anyone that watches my videos regularly or my streams, they are the backbone of the channel and I’m very grateful for them supporting the content.

I’ll leave it at that for now, I’m always around to chat on Discord/Twitter/Patreon if anyone has questions or just wants to reach out.

-Darren

My First Profit!

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Hi everyone,

February has marked an important milestone for Republic of Play. It's the first month since the launch of Republic Of Play where I actually made a profit. That's right, for about six months, I was losing money each month as I worked on YouTube and Twitch full time. (I had saved enough for about six months so I cut it pretty fine!)

Each month has gotten a little better than the one before it, and in February we finally pushed out of the red and into the black! 

This is primarily because of the Senate we have. Around 100 people, give or take, put down their hard earned cash on Twitch or Patreon each month to directly support me and the channel. Not just that, but they give me constant feedback each month on Discord and through emails and messages, trying to help me figure out the best way to deliver my content and balance the different platforms. They push me to be better, to chase developers for access to games, to keep a better schedule and to communicate better. This monthly feedback process I believe has had a direct impact for steady growth month over month. 

It fluctuates depending on the month, but in March, the Senate accounted for 86% of all revenue earned for Republic Of Play. It's almost entirely fan funded.

So thank you for the incredible support over the months. It's been a big learning process for me, but I think in the last couple of months we've started to hit our stride with regular videos and streams and varied content. I also want to throw a shout-out for the other content creators that also support me, either monetarily or by throwing me a host on twitch (or any of the other forms of promo!) They've been so helpful and great mentors to talk to.

The response from developers has been incredible, with many of them thanking me for covering their games, even when it's not a totally glowing review. I really appreciate the developers, PR teams and CM's taking the time to respond and give a small channel a chance.

And of course it's not just those who drop cash who I am thankful for. There are thousands of viewers that watch every single video, leave comments and likes, tell their freinds and link my videos around the web. The support is always incredible and I literally read every single comment. 

So that's it for this little update! I'm not expecting to turn a profit every month, but it was good to finally get a win, and my next goal will be to get 2 months in a row and we'll build from there!

-Darren

A Change Of Direction For Future Content

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In order to help improve my channel and grow the community around it, I’ve made some changes to the planned content.

1] I will be stopping daily streams.

I haven’t been able to grow the viewership on these streams enough to justify spending three hours a day on them, plus the time it takes to make graphics and everything that goes along with it.

The viewership we do have, is strong and very generous. We actually have more subscribers than we do viewers most of the time, which has to be some sort of weird record for twitch.

2] “ROP Live” is gone, for now.

The gaming news show pulled in a decent amount of viewers, but ultimately didn’t grow. I’ll now cover news in videos on my YouTube. This will allow me to react faster to things, not having to wait a week to talk about industry news.

3] Multiplayer Friday will continue.

I love playing games with the community, and want to focus on this more. On Friday’s we’re going to group up with as many as we can and play our favourite games together on stream. These streams are now going to last longer also. I recommend joining our steam group if you want to take part.

4] Streams will happen when I have something cool to show.

With these changes, I’m only streaming one day a week, on Friday with multiplayer. However, if I’m playing a game for review, or get sent one early, then I’ll look to stream that.

This means the games will always be current and I’ll be talking about them in a review aspect, instead of just playing a random campaign of a random game.

If you tune into a ROP stream, it’ll be something worth checking out. These streams can also go on for longer too. If this is ever the case, I’ll post it to my twitter, and probably post a “Live now” type video to YouTube.

So that’s the current plan.

This also means I’ll have to change around some tiers on Patreon, as some of them relied on streams. The reason I’m doing this is because I believe I have spread myself too thin, not being able to give proper attention to either platform, and both platforms are stagnating.

If it continues this way for much longer, I’ll have no way of making content for either platform.

This is an effort from me, to retreat, close ranks and give as much attention to one platform as I can in order to grow it. While Twitch has been monetarily really strong for me (on par with YouTube if not better) ultimately, I need to focus on growth first, and I’m a stronger video producer than I am livestream personality. These changes now free up over 10hours during the week to work on videos and get them out much faster.

These changes will take effect on December 1st.

Total War: WARHAMMER 2 - Mortal Empires Review

Mortal Empires is a complicated product to review. It marks a first in Total War’s history, and potentially even the steam platform; it’s content for a game that unlocks when you purchase a separate game. Further to that, the amount of content it unlocks increases if you bought DLC for that other game.

So for the uninitiated, of which there seem to have actually been quite a few of you out there, Mortal Empires is a piece of DLC content for Total War: WARHAMMER 2, that is only downloadable if you also happened to own Total War: WARHAMMER 1.

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What it adds to the game, is essentially a brand new map that combines the assets from both games in a familiar, all be it a little stretched landscape. Though the consensus in the community when Creative Assembly called it a combined map was that the maps of both games would fit together, this isn’t quite what happened. Instead, portions of the Warhammer 2 map have been clipped off and landmasses have been reshaped and pushed together. In fact its just a whole brand new map. This was revealed 3 weeks after the launch of Warhammer 2.

Now while ultimately the map is huge and the promise of the biggest map ever, pretty much has been delivered upon it is something worth mentioning, and honestly if this was Total War: WORLD, there’s no way they could’ve got away with squishing continents closer and reshaping Africa… like it just doesn’t hold up and I’m surprised they were able to with Games Workshop keeping them in check.

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The bulk of the playable content in Mortal Empires, is actually from Total War: WARHAMMER 1. That is to say, the geographical area it includes is fixated primarily on the old world, and the playable races and factions from Warhammer 1 make up the majority of the content.

So, this makes it a very tricky beast to review. If for instance, your fresh to the franchise, and pickup both games, you’ll have 9 playable races to try out and around 23 legendary lords spread around the map.

The more DLC you own, the more races and lords you have to play with, up to a current maximum of 12 playable races and 35 legendary lords. This means that essentially Mortal Empires is a great reward for loyal customers. Those that have bought DLC, now get another campaign to mess around with them in it.

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However the mortal empires campaign, if you’re playing as one of the old races is basically a mirror copy to the old game. I mean that’s kind of the point. Your lord or race will start in the same place, their mechanics will be the same, their quests, buildings, units, skills and objectives will largely be the same, there are some slight variations to one or two technologies or events here and there, certainly not something that changes the playthrough that much. The faction you play will behave 95% identical to how they did before. However, the most notable change is now you have the chance of coming across 4 new races in some expanded territories to the south and to the west.

I want to make a comparison to one of the previous games in the franchise, Medieval 2 Total War. After a certain number of turns you may discover America, and there’s new and interesting factions over there to fight, that play and look different and have different architecture and landscapes. This situation is kind of similar. Whether you discover it or not, you’ll play your campaign the exact same, but if you do go there, you’ll have something new to fight.

Now obviously these races you’ll encounter have a lot more to them than the ones in Medieval 2, but I wanted to drive home the idea that your faction is untouched by this new world. If you sit around and play as the vampire counts, you might never see the new world, just as Egypt may never have saw the new world in Medieval 2. Now of course, you as the player can make it a priority to do that, so the option is there, but that’s more of a self driven design.

So depending on who you choose to start as, you’ll have an increased chance to encounter these races, obviously factions near the south and the west, will reach them faster.  And encountering them is the largest new element to this campaign, it’s a race that you should be unfamiliar with fighting, and it could also be a potential new ally. Of course there’s also the chance that these races will come for you eventually which can happen, and skaven in particular have been dotted around the old world so you might run into them faster.

So on the whole, if you played a lot of Warhammer 1, you’re not getting too much new here in terms of your raw campaign experience. If you choose to play as one of the Warhammer 2 races, again, you’re probably already familiar with fighting the old world races, as they were present in the Vortex Campaign.

 

It’s not to say the amount of familiarity is an overly bad thing, it’s just that… it is familiar. Playing as Belegar, I couldn’t help but think I’ve done this all already, and was forcing myself to try and encounter new races to shake up the gameplay I was used to.

Other conditions outside of that change how the campaign develops. For one, the new climate system, that the community clammered for in Warhammer 1, allows any faction to conquer anywhere and because of it, you’re seeing a much more random and dynamic campaign, where minor factions conquer well out of their usual areas and it makes it a lot more fun to experience and form allies and make enemies. The emergent narrative of Total War is creeping back in. Now the Dwarfs don’t just sit in the mountains all the time, they branch out a bit and it might be a bit weird for the lore but it makes for a much more interesting campaign, encountering races all over the world.

Another great aspect is that with Mortal Empires you can now play co-op or head to head with a myriad of different factions and races, and as I always advocate, co-op or head to head, is the best way to play. On-top of that, with Mortal Empires’ release, WH2 now allows multiplayer between WH2 and WH1 races and sub factions, so there’s just more diversity overall in the multiplayer scene.

And I think this is what the draw of Mortal Empires is for a lot of people, the fact that the world is much bigger and now that is has 12 races in it, it’s a lot more random creating a lot more interesting gameplay. Now remember, this is a Total War: WARHAMMER 2 DLC, so you also have the new additions that Total War: WARHAMMER II introduced, as I mentioned, we have the climate system, an improved UI, increased skill cap for lords, increased city sizes, improved trait system, encounters at sea and that’s pretty much it. If you want to hear my thoughts on those mechanics, check my Warhammer 2 review. To be honest the new feature set for this campaign, is basically just slight balance improvements which mods had delivered a lot of before and some quality of life stuff to the UI.

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It can sometimes feel as if this was the type of campaign many expected when Total War: WARHAMMER was first announced, one filled with variety and all the races you’d expect from the geography of the area. Athel Loren exists now. Beastmen raids and ambushes occur. Skaven are more than just a rumour. It’s a campaign with a better working trade and resource system. A campaign that let’s you conquer anywhere. And no doubt over time this campaign will fill up even more as DLC is created for Total War: WARHAMMER 2 and DLC from the old game gets patched in.

This is the best way to play Total War: WARHAMMER by far, the only issue is, to get the full experience of this campaign the bill is $195.

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It honestly feels like less and less is offered when the initial games come out, and you’ll rely on DLC and updates to make the product worthwhile over time. Some of these updates, the community really wanted, like small increases to lords levels, conquering anywhere, increasing build slots, these have now been placed behind a new full priced game paywall, while the original game is seemingly done and dusted now.

Of course there are sales on steam to help mitigate that cost over time, but there’s just something about a Total War game featuring 4 factions on release that will always seem bare bones to me. People can say the factions are far deeper and diverse than they ever have been, but I feel that any diversity or depth that was added, was removed from other parts of the game, such as campaign mechanics, unit mechanics, sieges, minor settlement battles and a bunch of other things.

I guess the problem is, if you’ve never played Total War Warhammer, getting that awesome experience is super expensive. If you’re a loyal customer and have purchased this DLC already, then this campaign is largely something you’ve played already. Its bigger and better, but only slightly.

 

So in that regard, I feel like scoring this content is super difficult, so I won’t score it in this review. For me, it’s a bit underwhelming, it’s a lot of what I’ve experienced already, it’s a little anti-climactic because its not as big as they said it was gonna be, it’s end game is currently messed up and some of the updates to the old game haven’t come over yet. For someone new, it’s probably one of the best experiences you can have with Total War, because it’s finally at the stage and perhaps even passed it now of what you’d expect from a strategy fantasy sandbox. I highly recommend trying it out if you haven’t, and wait for a sale for the DLC, it’s been 75% off before, and no doubt Christmas sales will see it drop again.

That’ll be it for my review of Mortal Empires, as I mentioned, the gameplay and mechanics carry over from Total War: WARHAMMER 2, so if you want a further in depth review of those mechanics, check out my review for Warhammer 2 here: https://www.therepublicofplay.com/news/2017/10/total-war-warhammer-2-review

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