Vtubers are doing 'next level stuff' on Twitch, says streamer who invites viewers to help break his Helldivers 2 streams

PC Gamer

In one of vtuber Shindigs' latest interactive Twitch streams, his chat became "Bug Twitter", a fake social media for Helldivers 2's alien faction.

Every time someone wrote a message in chat, like "MY EXOSKELETON IN BIO", it popped up on screen—with a username and icon just like a post on X—while a text-to-speech voice read them aloud.

"If you think A Bug's Life isn't offensive, you need to wake up," one Bug Twitter post read. "Buzz buzz," read another.

Monitoring Bug Twitter was "supposed to help Super Earth gather intelligence on the alien bug threat," Shindigs explained on X. "It turns out that Bug Twitter may be just as useless as Human Twitter."

Bug Twitter is one of many custom Twitch chat integrations Shindigs has made for his stream, which is part of a growing trend of other streamers looking to use the platform create what are essentially interactive performances. He spends a few hours before going live hooking Twitch chat into various programs to create interactive streams inspired by 2014's Twitch Plays Pokémon. For Helldivers 2, chatters can use Twitch Channel Points—earned by watching and interacting with streams—to activate Stratagems, like a "Virus Scan" that distorts the screen, and now, to post on Bug Twitter.

Shindigs played Helldivers 2 in the background as his chat's increasingly unhinged Bug Twitter posts went up. "These bugs just go onto Bug Twitter and complain, they don't actually say anything of substance," he said while taking out a few bugs crawling toward him.

"You would complain too if someone shot your wife," cyberspacenaut wrote in a reply on Bug Twitter.

I gave everyone in chat text-to-speech to roleplay as Helldiver HQ. Instead of combat strategy, they talked about using bug Tinder. pic.twitter.com/pu1CLttDoZFebruary 21, 2024
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I gave Twitch Chat the ability to call down Strategems for Helldivers 2 streams. These Strategems effect the stream layout in different ways. None of which are helpful at all. pic.twitter.com/urLWBlfgShFebruary 22, 2024
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Occasionally, a Pepe the Frog avatar acting as a member of Helldivers HQ would show up on screen like a Starfox character and repeat chat messages in fuzzy text-to-speech voice. "Commander, please, your social media addiction is getting out of hand." And, at one point, an "Australian Stratagem" was activated that flipped the whole stream upside down.

"I was surprised no one was celebrating these streamers more because they were all doing really next level stuff."


"The interactive element helps the chat feel like they’re actively co-creating the stream, which I think is the magic of live streaming," Shindigs told PC Gamer.

The heart of Shindigs' setup is SAMMI, a stream tool that connects Twitch chat and Channel Point redemptions to Open Broadcast Software, an open source streaming program that pretty much everyone uses. Viewers are assigned their own unique frog avatars and a voice using a text-to-speech system. "It’s a nice medium between the amorphous concept of 'The Chat' and still allowing each avatar to have its own personality," he said. And the Stratagems that manipulate his overlay are created using a plugin for OBS called Advanced Mask.

While most of this would be possible for a normal streamer with a webcam, Shindigs' use of a virtual avatar, or vtuber model, gives him a lot of creative freedom, since he can alter the avatar or place it in new settings while maintaining the integrity of his animated world. He's streamed as a gun with eyes, a "biblically accurate angel McRib vtuber", and a Costco hotdog. In one stream with his normal vtuber model, Shindigs went "back in time" every time he died in Lies of P, eventually turning the broadcast into a radio play.

Other streamers, especially vtubers, have also been finding clever ways to involve their viewers lately. CardboardCowboy, for example, built an RPG town where the NPCs are played by Twitch chat, complete with proximity-based audio for accuracy. Shindigs says these other streams are a huge inspiration for him and it's why he regularly highlights them on X.

"I've seen a ton of concepts that straight up felt like art—they offered a different perspective on the stream or evoked a strong feeling. I was surprised no one was celebrating these streamers more because they were all doing really next level stuff."

Shindigs says tabletop RPG games like The Quiet Year by Avery Alder and Microscope by Ben Robbins made him want to make streams "that feel as co-creative as playing these games were." He said he has "big things coming", including plans for "exploring longer story arcs" in the future, and live music, too.

"When people tell me about a stream they remember participating in from months or years ago, that's really motivating for me to keep exploring these ideas," he said.

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