Nothing livens up a performance like a little audience participation. Eddy Vegas has created a new twist on the idea by incorporating the names of his viewers in the fictional OOTP league that he broadcasts on Twitch.tv. He provides live commentary on the action, with a voice that sounds a bit like famous Dodgers announcer Vin Scully, as he guides the Las Vegas Mudcats through multiple seasons of the Eddy Baseball League.
Vegas says he “got totally addicted to casting” a couple years ago, when he discovered how easy it was to set up and run a Twitch.tv channel. “It totally blew me away!” he recalls. “I had no idea it was that simple; I thought you needed equipment and expertise. So I put a game up, Space Pirates and Zombies, and actually got a viewer to watch! The rest, as they say, is history.”
He decided to start broadcasting OOTP games because: “I wanted to cast games that no one else cast. I figured the Starcraft/Call Of Duty/League Of Legends market was already saturated, and anyway, I suck at those games.” In his search for intriguing games to cast, he stumbled across OOTP 8, which he used as his testing ground for setting up an OOTP league. He later moved on to OOTP 14 and established the Las Vegas Mudcats.
The idea for adding his viewers to the Mudcats’ roster actually came about while he was casting another game, XCOM: Enemy Unknown, in which a small group of soldiers battle aliens. “You can rename the soldiers and give them nicknames,” Vegas says. “So I said, ‘Hey, who wants to be in the game?’ Since the soldiers persist throughout the entire game, unless they die, the viewers enjoyed seeing their soldiers go up in level, get better weapons, rack up kills, be the hero, or die horribly.”
He continues: “This created a very compelling narrative because people really wanted to see what their soldier would do, and they would join the channel night after night to watch. Right away I knew this idea was a keeper. So when I saw that you could do the same in OOTP, I knew it would work as a concept.”
It turned out he was right: “Naming my players as my viewers is so compelling. People automatically relate and want to know what will happen, so they keep tuning in. It’s a winning formula.”
Vegas notes that even non-baseball fans have gotten caught up in the fun. “I have a viewer, Mauni84, who doesn’t even know the rules of baseball. He watches because he likes me. In the game he was a one-star catcher, a bench warmer. So of course in a game there’s two out, bottom of the 9th, runners on first and second, we’re down by two runs, and the pitcher is up. So I pinch hit him, telling him, ‘Okay dude, it’s all up to you. Even though you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s our last chance, I’m counting on you.'”
He adds: “Yeah, he hit a homer. I laughed for about a minute straight. We all did.”
Vegas has even added the OOTP Developments team to his league, creating a Silicon Valley Bugs that includes Andreas Raht, Brad Cook, Sebastian Palkowski, Daniela Di Lena, Malte Schwartz, Jeff Riddolls, Markus Heinsohn, Paul Norman, and Marc Vaughn. He even broadcast a Bugs-Mudcats match-up. (Warning: Vegas tends to drop obscenities here and there.)
A Commentator at Heart
Vegas has been a baseball fan since he was a kid, rooting for the Red Sox from an early age. He says that his love of baseball simulations also started back then. “Oh my god, when I was a kid, I was crazy over APBA baseball,” he remembers. “Strat-O-Matic too, but I preferred APBA because the cards looked so much better. They put the nicknames on the cards. I saw an ad in a baseball magazine and sent away for the APBA documentation. I got all the neighborhood kids into it as well. Good times. Even as a little kid I was commenting on the games. I guess I’m just a commentator at heart.”
In addition to his videogame channel, Vegas runs a poker channel too. “I have a solid bunch of hardcore viewers over there, the best viewers in the world,” he says. “If you like poker, you’re all invited to check it out. I’m also considering making a baseball channel along the lines of my poker channel, where I just play OOTP.”